A trip to Dublin in Ireland will probably leave your friends green with envy, however sometimes the weather doesn’t want to play ball. But don’t let a few drops of water dampen your spirits – this fair city has plenty of things to do even when it rains. Grab an umbrella, put your hood up, and head to one of these attractions in Dublin.
Here’s just a selection of fun things to do even when it’s raining. (And if you’re on a budget? We’ve got that covered too.)
1. Buy a Dublin Pass
The city’s sightseeing card, the Dublin Pass, could be well worth a shout when the weather is bad out. Choose from one, two, three or six day passes and get a free transfer from the airport, and free, fast-track entry into 33 of the top attractions in the city – handy if everyone else has the same idea.
2. Visit one of the most famous breweries on the planet
Most visitors to Dublin will have the Guinness Storehouse® on their list whatever the weather (the views from the rooftop bar are fantastic), but this is a great place to visit when it’s wet outside. From the moment you see the world’s largest pint glass, and look up the seven stories devoted to the black stuff, you know you’re in for a treat (including an authentic pint at the end). Book a tour or if you want to delve deeper into Ireland’s iconic drink, there are other experiences to try at the St. James’s Gate Brewery too.
3. Do a guided tour around a whiskey distillery
If you’ve got a taste for the harder stuff, go for a guided tour around the Jameson Irish Whiskey experience. The Old Jameson Distillery dates back to the 18th century, making it one of the most famous whiskey brands. It’s still in its original Bow Street location in Smithfield Dublin.
You can also visit the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin, which takes you through the spirit’s history if you want to find out even more.
4. Park up in a Dublin pub
You won’t need an excuse to head to a pub – but the fact it’s raining gives you the perfect excuse to stay a little longer. There are more than 650 licenced pubs in Dublin, so it won’t be hard to find one. Some popular drinking holes are:
- The Dawson Lounge, a.k.a the smallest pub in Dublin, and The Temple Bar – a quintessentially Irish pub which is first in all the guide books.
- The Brazen Head isn’t shy in declaring itself the oldest pub in Ireland. They claim to have started serving pints back in 1198 – and past regulars include James Joyce and Jonathan Swift.
- The Gin Palace has more than 150 brands to choose from, and prides itself on having the biggest gin collection in Ireland.
- The Dropping Well is a riverside boozer on the outskirts with a Victorian-styled bar, and was first licenced back in 1847 – if you look outside you might see an unusual sculpture of a Rhino surfing down the River Dodder.
- If you’ve got a car, or don’t mind a very long, soggy and steep walk, Johnnie Fox’s is the highest pub in Ireland. You can hear traditional Irish music here.
5. Shelter behind the walls of Dublin Castle
There’s plenty to see at Dublin Castle, with the historic site sprawling over 11 acres. Founded in 1204, the grounds, library and Revenue Museum are all free to explore – however you’ll have to buy a ticket to see the State Apartments (the most important “rooms” in Ireland). If you choose to take the guided tour, you’ll also get to visit the Medieval Undercroft and Chapel Royal – which has beautiful plaster decoration and oak carvings.
6. Take refuge in Christ Church Cathedral
Start from the bottom when you visit Christ Church Cathedral (est. 1028), as you’ll be well away from the rain down in the vast medieval crypt. Don’t miss saying hello to Tom & Jerry – the mummified cat and dog down there, they’re very famous and were even honoured with a mention in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Upstairs, you can have a go at ringing the bells in the Belfry or climb up the stairs of the bell tower for some amazing views. You can also do a guided tour of the cathedral.
While you’re there, don’t forget to visit Dublinia next door and discover more about the city’s past, harking back to the Viking age and medieval times.
7. Take cover in Kilmainham Jail
If you want a great tour explaining Ireland’s journey to independence from the 1780s to the 1920s – Kilmainham Jail is a great place to start. Tours are sold on a first-come, first-served basis – so if it’s wet – you might want to get there early to ensure a spot.
8. Look into Dublin’s literary history
Dublin has four Nobel Prize winners for literature, many famous authors, poets and playwrights.
- Start at the Dublin Writers Museum, set in an 18th century mansion. You’ll find out more about literary titans like Shaw, Sheriden, Swift, Yeats, Joyce and Oscar Wilde among others.
- You can also visit museums dedicated to specific writers like the James Joyce Centre.
- The Book of Kells and the awe-inspiring Long Room are high on most first-time visitors lists at Trinity College.
- The Chester Beatty Library is free to visit, and has manuscripts, rare books and drawings from around the world – all collected by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty.
- The oldest public library in Ireland is Marsh’s Library (1707) near St Patrick’s Cathedral and the National Library of Ireland also offers tours and they have a special exhibition devoted to W.B Yeats.
- Or head to independent bookstore Chapters on Parnell Street. There’s two floors of books to browse.
9. See Irish sporting culture at Croke Park
You won’t find a more Irish experience than Croke Park, especially on match day. The home of the Gaelic Games for more than a century, you can also visit the super museum dedicated to the country’s two national games, hurling and Gaelic football. If the weather isn’t too appalling you can take the Etihad Skyline Tour, which gives you amazing views across Dublin and beyond from the roof of the stadium.
10. Discover Dublin’s art scene
The free National Gallery of Ireland is a good place to while away a few hours, looking at some beautiful paintings. You can see works by stellar artists like Caravaggio, Gainsborough, Goya, Monet and Rembrandt. There’s also a thriving street art scene in the city, with Visit Dublin even commissioning their own piece in City Quay by James Earley.
On the wall outside of the Button Factory bar in Temple Bar, you can also see the portrait of BP Fallon on the outside wall (see above image).
11. Rain and mud won’t stop the rugby
If you can go to a match at the Aviva Stadium, there’s no better place to experience the ‘craic’ of a live game – if nothing else take a tour of the arena. The home province for Dublin is Leinster who usually play out of the RDS in Donnybrook. Or if you can’t get a ticket, local pubs around the grounds are always full to the brim with a great atmosphere on match days.
12. Find out more about the local folklore
Suspend disbelief as you enter The National Leprechaun Museum – this is a fun way to learn more about Irish myths and legends – and discover if there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
13. See how the animals cope in the wet weather
The penguins probably won’t mind a spot of rain at Dublin Zoo – and in any case they’ll definitely be out and about for daily feeding time at 2.30pm. Having been opened in 1831, this is one of the oldest zoos in the world, and they provide habitats across their vast site for more than 400 animals, including gorillas, giraffes, rhinos and hippos. Phoenix Park, where the zoo is located, is also home to the President of Ireland – you can tour the main reception rooms of Áras an Uachtaráin every Saturday.
14. Try your luck indoors at “The Dead Zoo”
This is what Dubliners’ affectionately call the Museum of Natural History, part of the National Museum of Ireland. There are plenty of skeletons and taxidermy of animals of all shapes and sizes, from a hamster right up to the giant Irish deer – one of whose antlers has a 3.5m span.
15. Take the tourist bus
Hop onto one of the sightseeing bus tours (maybe avoiding the top deck if its open) and get a real feel for Dublin. The green double deckers of Dublin Bus Tours have been a staple of the roads in the city for more than 25 years – and kids go free with adults on some tours.
The red open-top buses of CitySightseeing also do Dublin tours and if you don’t jump off – you can go round the city in one and a half hours. If it’s still pelting it down in the evening, maybe take the atmospheric night Ghostbus tour.
16. Escape the rain on a train
If you want to see some of the coast use the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) to travel a little further afield.
17. Walking tours run come rain or shine
Tour guides tend to be hardy people. and a little spot of rain won’t put them off. There is every conceivable type of tour available, whether its to look at the architecture, ghost hunting or the best pubs to visit. Some of the tours are free, while others charge a fee.
18. Go to Glasnevin
Head north from the city centre to the neighbourhood which is home to the free National Botanic Gardens of Ireland. Built in 1795, there are now more than 300 endangered plant species found here, and there’s shelter in the Glasshouses.
You should also visit Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum. One of the famous tours will show you where all the Irish leaders of the Independence War are buried.
19. Relax at a spa
The Fitzwiliam Hotel in Dublin offers five-star treatment in its Spirit Beauty Salon – it’s got a great central location, next to Grafton Street for the shopping and Temple Bar for the nightlife, or you can just eat at its Michelin-starred restaurant, Thornton’s.
20. Get some retail therapy
Some of the best shopping areas in Dublin city centre are focused around Grafton Street on the south side and Henry Street on the north side of the River Liffey. For some Irish design jewellery, Aran gifts, clothing and Irish crystal head to the Kilkenny Shop on Nassau Street which is next to Grafton Street and across from Trinity College.
21. Have a nice cuppa tea
Whether you want to try a strong Irish Breakfast tea in Dublin or something more exotic, there are plenty of cafes to pull up a chair and people watch.
- There are 150 in-house blends to try at Wall & Keogh, who also have a lovely bright and funky interior.
- The Joy of Cha in Temple Bar also offers the warmth of a real fire to go along with their teas in their lovely Georgian building.
- If you prefer coffee, Dublin also hosts the 2016 World Barista Championships.
- The Fumbally offersa double shot as standard, and have where the coffee beans are grown written on a board.
- 3fe supply more than 50 cafes in Ireland with their own roast, and you can visit their own cafe in Lower Grand Canal Street in the Southside of Dublin.
- If you’re after a luxurious cup of cocoa, visit one of Butlers Chocolate Cafés in Dublin, we recommend the original one on Wicklow Street – they’ve got around ten hot chocolates to choose from.
- If you want to do the full chocolate experience, you can book a trip to their chocolate factory, near Dublin Airport, and have a tour.
22. You’re wet anyway so….
… there’s no harm in trying some watersports.
The Grand Canal is a great place to start, with the first cable wakeboard park in Ireland, Wakedock. Rather than be pulled along by a boat, the cable guides you round the course.
See the River Liffey, which flows through the centre of Dublin, from a duck’s eye view by kayak – City Kayaking Dublin offer guided paddles along water. If you want to head out into the sea, try Shearwater Sea Kayaking, based a short drive from Dublin, who offer guided tours of the Dublin coast line.
Head down to the quayside in Dublin Bay, where you’ll be able to pick up a sightseeing boat tour of the coast from operators like Dublin Bay Cruises. You can also cruise up the River Liffey, sheltered from the elements, with Dublin Discovered Boat Tours.
23. Keep your eyes peeled for some statues
If you’re wandering about underneath your umbrella – you can watch the rain pour down some of Dublin’s most famous sons and daughters.
- “The hags with the bags” (Lower Liffey Street) and “The Floozy in the Jacuzzi” (Croppies Memorial Park) are just two of the irreverent nicknames given to two public works of art in Dublin.
- You can see the buxom figure of Mol Ní Mhaoileoin (or Molly Malone) pushing her barrow near Suffolk Street.
- Bespectacled literary icon James Joyce is jauntily represented leaning on a cane in North Earl Street, while playwright Oscar Wilde can be found reclining in Merrion Square Park.
- Phil Lynott, the singer with Thin Lizzy, can be found in Harry Street – he spent part of his early years in the city.
However one plaque honouring the life of Father Pat Noise on O’Connell Bridge is actually a hoax.
24. Listen to live music
Most pubs and bars worth their salt in Dublin have live music of some kind during the week – so it shouldn’t be hard to stumble on a gig (several of the pubs mentioned previously are famous for their live bands)
- Vicar St is one of the most popular larger venues with seating for just over a 1,000 people, and alternate bands with top comedians, like Dara Ó Briain. It also has five bars.
- For Jazz and Blues visit the intimate family-owned JJ Smyth’s, and for traditional Irish music, The Cobblestone describes itself as “a drinking pub with a music problem”.
- Croke Park (see previous) also hosts some of the biggest names in music, with the likes of Bon Jovi, Take That and Ed Sheeran taking the arena by storm – U2 consider it to be their “home ground”.
- To see some of the country’s finest musicians and international classical artists, head to the National Concert Hall.
25. Or catch a play
The city that produced playwrights Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde has plenty of places to get your theatre fill.
The Gaiety Theatre first opened its doors in 1871, and they still put on a blend of plays, musicals, opera and dance shows – and of course panto if you’re visiting over Christmas.
The Olympia Theatre started off life as a music hall. Radiohead, David Bowie and Adele have played there, along with the creme of Irish acting talent such as Cillian Murphy, Stephen Rea and Brendan Gleeson.
Staying there: We’ve got plenty of Dublin hotels to choose from if you want to make a night, weekend or week of it.
What did you do in Dublin?
We’d love to hear what your favourite things to do in Dublin are. Let us know your top Dublin tips by leaving a comment below – especially if they involved escaping the wet weather.