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Eight Things To Do in Dublin This Winter

Dublin is one of the best places you can be in winter. What we lack in high temperatures, we more than make up for in warm welcomes, cosy bars and restaurants, and abundant shopping locations. Dublin comes alive in winter, and walking through the streets illuminated by festive lights, the energy and merriment of everyone around you is palpable. There really is something for everyone, from good food and drink to wonderful walking tours of the city along with many museums, breweries and historical must-see sights. Here’s our pick of eight things to do in Dublin in winter.

 

Christmas Lights


Dublin is famous for its unique character and atmosphere, and this is only heightened when the Christmas lights appear at the latter end of each November. As the days get ever shorter, and the dark sets in earlier each day, the colourful festive lights add a sprinkle of magic to the atmosphere. One of the best spots for this is Grafton street, take a stroll down here and see the lights while listening to buskers on the street and sipping on hot chocolate. If you haven’t already gotten in the spirit of Christmas, this will certainly ignite the festive joy of your inner child.

 

Multicoloured festive lights and christmas tree in Dublin city, Ireland

 

Another must see light display in winter in Dublin, located in Phoenix Park, is the Wild Lights at Dublin zoo. Dublin zoo has been passionate for the care and conservation of animals for many years and this display celebrates the life of all things aquatic. This spectacular show of lights is the perfect thing to do in Dublin this winter, with your family, partner or friends. The splendour of the illuminations is a marvel for grown-ups and kids alike and is something different to do in Dublin in December. Wild Lights at Dublin zoo runs every evening, and this year incorporates traditional Chinese performers and Asian food markets and tickets can be booked online.

A young girl admires an illuminated sea-horse shaped light at Dublin zoo wildlights exhibit

Source: Dublin zoo website


 

Christmas Markets


Christmas in Dublin wouldn’t be complete without a trip to some of our famous Christmas markets. One must-see Christmas market this year is the Dublin Flea Christmas Market, in The Point Square, Dublin 1. This extensive and unique market is easily accessible and is free to enter. It features 280 different stalls, so there will be something for everyone. There’ll be a wide range of local Irish crafts and foods on offer, as well as vintage and retro fashion, and much more - making it the perfect spot to find some one of a kind gifts to take back with you for friends and family, and don’t forget to treat yourself to something nice too, it’s Christmas after all! This market will be open on Thursday 6th-Sunday 9th of December and Thursday 13th- Sunday 16th of December so be sure to pop by if you get a chance.

 

A typical Christmas market stall selling confectionery and sweets

 

There’s plenty of other Christmas markets on around Dublin that are worth checking out too, of course. One of these being the family-friendly ‘Christmas at The National Botanic Gardens’. Located in the beautiful Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, easily accessible from the city centre, this is sure to be a wonderful day of Santa, seasonal treats, and Christmas choirs. This market is also free to enter and takes place on the 9th of December. While in the area you could also visit the Glasnevin cemetery where many important figures from Irish history are buried. There is a cemetery museum with interactive displays, so you could be in for a fascinating, informative and festive day all in one!

 

Shopping in Dublin


If you’re looking for things to do in Dublin this winter, there are great shopping spots throughout the city. Whether you are looking to get yourself a new winter wardrobe or find someone the perfect present, you’ll be sure to find it here. We have shopping centres and pedestrianised shopping streets renowned for their wide range of stores, quality and facilities.

 

Elevated view of the interior of St. Stephen's Green Shopping Centre in Dublin, Ireland, with Christmas decorations and clock hanging from glass ceiling

 

Grafton street and Henry street are the main shopping streets in Dublin, they both host a myriad of boutiques featuring Irish brands as well high-street brands, and such favourites as River Island and Top Shop, along with multiple market stalls, bakeries, ice-cream parlours and coffee shops. The beautiful St. Stephens Green park along with Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is located nearby to Grafton street, so you can enjoy a stroll through the park to unwind after a good shopping spree.

 

Food and Drink in Dublin


If you are more of an indoors person, or simply want to get out of the cold for a while, there are plenty of cosy spots in Dublin to nestle into, especially pubs! For a perfect pint of Guinness, pop into Grogan’s pub on castle street. If you want more than a liquid lunch, try the Stag’s Head off Dame street, or O’Neill’s on Suffolk street, both are excellent Irish pubs where you can get a delicious pint along with some wholesome traditional Irish food that will be sure to warm your belly and your heart!

 

Irish beef stew with a bottle of Guinness
If you feel like something a little livelier, while still being cosy, check out the Bernard Shaw or Berlin bar, both these bars have a great atmosphere as well as mulled wine so you can feel festive in style!

 

Nightlife in Dublin


Of course, Dublin’s nightlife is world-renowned and, with an abundance of amazing bars and an unrivaled pub-culture, partying in the Irish capital is a year-round activity. The long nights of winter lend themselves perfectly to such pursuits, so we highly recommend getting on a pub crawl in Dublin for an exceptional night out with lovely local guides and new friends while saving a small fortune too.
Two girls on a pub crawl in Dublin, Ireland, having fun and enjoying drinking Guinness

Ice Skating


Ice skating has, relatively recently, become a firm fixture of winter in Dublin that we are always excited for, and rightly so! There are many great ice-skating rinks around Dublin in winter. The biggest one is in the RDS in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. This is Ireland’s only outdoor ice-skating rink and covers an area of 1000 square meters! It has been a huge hit every year since it opened and is lots of fun for beginners and advanced skaters alike.

 

Two girls ice-skating on an indoor ice rink

 

There is another excellent ice-skating rink in Dundrum shopping center, so you can go shopping and ice skating all in the one place. There’s also lots of great restaurants around which is perfect after working up an appetite on the ice.

 

Dublin City Tours


Walking tours in Dublin are a brilliant way to get to know the city, it’s fascinating history as well as a real local insight to the country and capital today from an authentic local friendly guide. And, of course, it’s something you can do year-round, even in winter! The adage goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”, so wrap-up warm and venture out on one of the daily free walking tours in Dublin. You’ll get to see some famous spots such as Dublin castle and Christ Church Cathedral, as well as some hidden gems and learn fascinating lesser-known stories and legends from Dublin too!

A group of tourists with a tour guide on a free walking tour in Dublin city

 

Some other tours that are worth doing are Kilmainham Gaol and the Guinness Storehouse. Kilmainham Gaol has a guided tour where you get to walk through the old prison and learn about the harrowing stories of its inmates, these ranged from political heroes of the Irish Civil War and rebellions, to ordinary men, women, and children imprisoned for crimes against the Empire as trivial as stealing bread.

The Guinness Storehouse offers the ultimate Irish brewery experience mixed in with some Irish history. Learn how this famous drink became an icon of Ireland, pull your own pint, and even enjoy a pint in their rooftop bar, the highest in Dublin, with a delightful 360 degree panoramic view over the cityscape.

 

People drinking in The Gravity Bar in The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, with a clear view out across the Dublin skyline

 

Museums and Galleries in Dublin


If it’s more culture you’re after, some other places to visit in Dublin are any of its museums and galleries, many of which have free admission. Two such attractions worthy of visiting are the Natural History Museum, also known locally as "the dead zoo", and the National Gallery of Ireland, both located by Merrion Street. At the fascinating display in the Natural History Museum you will encounter wildlife from Ireland and all over the world, while in The National Gallery of Ireland, various exhibitions of art collections from many periods and schools await to captivate you.

 

Interior of the NAtural History Museum, Dublin, Ireland, displaying the skeletons and taxidermy animals

 

That’s it folks, should you be seeking out a destination for a winter city-break, weekend trip, or somewhere to spend a few days and nights over the Christmas holidays, Dublin aught to be at the top of your list. With plenty to do and see, warm atmosphere and friendly locals, a plethora of vibrant pubs, and an incredible amount of history and culture to absorb, the Irish capital is the ideal spot this winter.