There are a ton of fun things to do in Dublin at Christmas, making it the perfect Christmas destination.
Updated: March 2020
WHY VISIT DUBLIN AT CHRISTMAS
Førjulstur: A term we have in Norwegian for when you travel somewhere to go Christmas shopping, eat tasty food and just enjoy yourself while getting into Christmas spirit. Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is a perfect Christmas destination like that and I had such a wonderful time when I went there with a friend last December.
There was a ton of things to do in Dublin at Christmas and the entire experience felt a fairytale. It might have been all that Irish coffee though, who knows, but Dublin is a wonderful destination regardless. What can possibly be better for your Christmas spirit than adorable streets and buildings decorated with beautiful Christmas lights?
We’re talking cozy pubs and live music on every corner, cheerful locals, great shopping possibilities, delicious food, and perhaps my favorite part about laid back Dublin – it is socially acceptable to have a pint early in the day.. It is also less crowded than it is during the summer months, and far less crowded than other popular Christmas destinations like London. I cannot recommend Dublin at Christmas enough! Keep reading for my best ideas on where to stay, where to shop, where to eat and things to do in Dublin at Christmas.
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WHERE TO STAY IN DUBLIN AT CHRISTMAS
Even though Dublin isn’t as packed with tourists in November and December as it can be during the summer months, it is still a popular winter destination. Do yourself a favor and pick a place to stay early in the planning process to avoid unfortunate financial surprises. There are a lot of great places to stay in Dublin, and what area you should pick depends on what you’re looking for on your Irish adventure:
TEMPLE BAR AREA
Temple Bar is loaded with famous bars & pubs and is possibly the most photographed neighborhood in Dublin. Although it is very touristy, it has a lot of great qualities and is a great area to stay in – especially for first timers and the younger crowd. We stayed here on our first trip to Ireland and it was so much fun – there is so much life in the streets and live music in every other pub. From Temple Bar you’re also within walking distance of most of Dublin’s best sights.
- Temple Bar Inn: A very welcoming inn in Temple Bar suitable for travellers of all kinds. Nice common areas with colorful decor and a great breakfast.
- Ashfield Hostel: Great budget option a little east of Temple Bar. It is super cheap, clean, social and has a great location. A neat breakfast is included. If you book a private double room it is just like a regular hotel.
- The Norseman: This Victorian building hosts a bar, restaurant & hotel in one. Lovely place to stay, bonus points for offering triple rooms which is ideal for 3 people traveling together.
- Westin: Incredible 5 star hotel a little east of Temple Bar. It has such beautiful interior and is super cozy around Christmas – their decorated tree makes such a difference.
OTHER CENTRAL AREAS
- The Grafton Hotel: This 20’s inspired 4-star hotel is a dream come true for any Gatsby fans out there like myself. It’s located close to the popular shopping area Grafton Street, perfect for Christmas shopping in Dublin.
- Moxy Dublin City: Brand new and super trendy hotel in the popular Moxy chain. A fun place to stay close to O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main street, with lots of shops and restaurants right outside your door.
- The John Jameson Townhouse: An apartment close to the city centre with free parking. Great option for a family or group that wants facilities like their own place with a kitchen.
- Clontarf Castle Hotel: Want the charm of staying in an old castle but the comfort of a modern building? This one is perfect for you. Clontarf Castle Hotel is a 15 minute drive outside of Dublin centre, ideal for travellers who want a little peace and quiet while in Ireland.
Psst! There are a ton of Airbnb’s in Dublin too. Here is a $54 discount if you’re new to Airbnb.
GETTING FROM THE AIRPORT
BY TAXI: Metered taxis are available outside the airport. Dublin airport is approximately 10 km from the city centre of Dublin and its roughly a 20-30 minute drive. The estimated cost is between €25-€30 depending on timing and traffic.
BY BUS: Getting from the airport to Dublin city with public transportation is very easy, as the bus stops right outside the terminal. The bus is called The Airlink Express and will bring you directly to Dublin city centre, Connolly rail station or Heuston rail station. Book in advance here.
MAGICAL THINGS TO DO IN DUBLIN AT CHRISTMAS
Dublin is a compact city with loads of fun things to see and do any time of the year. But as Christmas gets closer, the Irish capital transforms into an Irish wonderland and becomes even more magical. Here are my ideas on magical things to in Dublin at Christmas:
#1. Attend A Seasonal Event
One of the many perks of visiting a country’s capital is that there is always an event happening in the city, and the holiday season is no exception. There are usually a variety of seasonal things to do in Dublin at Christmas, so make sure you don’t miss out by keeping up with seasonal events in Dublin prior to your visit. Maybe there is an interesting festival happening while you’re there, or maybe a concert or a show?
In 2019 there were a ton of fun events happening in Dublin at Christmas. For instance, visitors could enjoy everyone’s favourite Christmas movie, Love Actually, with a full orchestra performing its soundtrack live to picture. Tim Burton fans could enjoy a similar experience by watching The Nightmare Before Christmas live in concert, while Broadway fans could enjoy the musical hit “ELF – A Christmas Spectacular“.
I’m certain events in Dublin at Christmas won’t be any less spectacular in the years to come, so don’t forget to check Dublin’s schedule before your Christmas trip.
#2. SEE THE BOOK OF KELLS & TRINITY COLLEGE
Pretend for a little while that you’re attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university. Here you’ll also find The Book of Kells, one of the oldest and most famous books in the world. This is a must-see for Dublin any time of the year, but the entire area is extra lovely around Christmas.
While in the area you should also check out Science Gallery, a space designed by Trinity College to ignite creativity and curiosity. It functions as both an event venue and as an exhibit space and is free to visit. What you can see & do at Science Gallery varies often, making it even more fun and interesting.
#3. ENJOY THE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS IN TEMPLE BAR
One of my favorite things to do in Dublin at Christmas is getting into Christmas spirit by taking a walk through the Temple Bar area. Enjoy the lovely Christmas lights and decorations while talking to cheerful locals, pop by The Palace Bar for an Irish coffee if you get cold, or maybe catch a live band in one of the lively pubs in the area? Don’t forget to have a pint of Guinness, too.
#4. GO CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IN GRAFTON STREET
Grafton Street is one of the most popular shopping streets in Dublin and at Christmas the entire area truly comes to life. The streets get decorated with lovely Christmas lights and it’s the perfect place to do some serious Christmas shopping. Make sure to stop by Brown Thomas for the best Christmas vibe ever – live music while shopping? Count me in. You can read more on Dublin shopping later in this post.
#5. Stuff Your Face At A FESTIVE FOOD FESTIVAL
After providing hungry Dubliners with a magnificent food festival the last fourteen summers, The Taste of Dublin finally made their festive debut in 2019. The Taste of Dublin – Festive Edition took place in the last week of November 2019 and it was a roaring success. It looks like the festive food festival is here to stay, so keep an eye on their website for more information regarding dates and location.
#6. SING ALONG TO CHRISTMAS MOVIES
Can you imagine watching your favorite Christmas movies while drinking cocktails, enjoying a bottomless (yes, bottomless) bucket of popcorn and SINGING ALONG? You know, without being kicked out of the cinema? In Dublin you can! At The Bottomless Singing Cinema.
In December 2019 visitors could choose Love Actually, Elf, Home Alone II or The Greatest Showman, and I can’t wait to see what movies are available next holiday season. This is honestly one of my biggest dreams ever and somehow Dublin read my mind and made it a thing haha. Tickets even include bottomless popcorn and 5 drinks!
#7. ADMIRE THE LOVELY CHURCHES OF DUBLIN
Although I’m not the religious type, admiring churches and cathedrals remains one of my favorite travel activities at a new destination. Especially at Christmas! It has such a special vibe to it. Dublin has several lovely churches to admire and you can see most of them in one self-guided walking tour. Make sure to pop by:
St. Patrick’s Cathedral: A stunning Cathedral from around 1220 well worthy of a visit.
Christ Church Cathedral: Lovely church, originally founded as a Viking church from around 1030.
Whitefriar Street Church: Pay a visit to The Shrine of Saint Valentine (yup, the Valentine).
#8. ATTEND A CHRISTMAS CONCERT IN ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL
Every year The Guinness Choir performs a Christmas concert in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I haven’t been myself yet, but it’s supposedly a wonderful experience. The choir sings carols from all over Europe and will surely get you into Christmas spirit. Tickets usually sell out early so book as soon as possible to guarantee your visit. Keep an eye on their website, for more information regarding the date and tickets once we get closer to December.
#9. ENJOY A CANDLELIT CHRISTMAS CONCERT
‘Carols By Candlelight’ is a Christmas concert where a choir perform carols in candlelit surroundings. I had no idea this was a thing until I heard about this event happening in Dublin at Christmas, but it sure sounds magical! As far as I know, there are two venues that arrange this in Dublin at Christmas every year; Christ Church Cathedral and National Concert Hall. Keep an eye on their December schedule for any information regarding dates, ticket prices and more. They seem to sell out early each year so book quickly when they’re available.
#10. GET SOME IRISH WHISKEY FOR CHRISTMAS
If you’re a whiskey person, Dublin is undoubtedly the right place for you. The Irish take pride in their whiskey and with good reason. Why not learn more about the process behind the delicious choice of drink while you’re in Dublin and cross some Christmas presents of your list while you’re at it?
World famous brands like Teeling and Jameson have distilleries you can visit in the Irish capital. And there is even a whole interactive museum dedicated to it: At the Irish Whiskey Museum you get to craft your own unique blend of whiskey – how cool is that? A half-day tour with several stops is a great option for the true whiskey enthusiast. There are some really great Christmas presents to be found in their gift shops, so make sure you stop by if you’re in Dublin at Christmas!
#11. VISIT GUINNESS STOREHOUSE
If beer is more your thing you should pay a visit to Guinness Storehouse instead. Here you can learn more about Guinness beer, another great invention from lovely Ireland. The Guinness storehouse is more than an a regular tour, it’s an interactive experience with a great gift shop for your Christmas shopping. It is very popular Dublin attraction and it gets quite crowded so I advice you to book your skip-the-line tickets in advance. If you want a more exclusive experience you should try the Guinness Storehouse Connoisseur Experience.
#12. VISIT PEARSE LYONS DISTILLERY
We got this distillery recommended by friends. And guess what? We had SUCH a great time and I cannot recommend this place enough. It wasn’t as crowded as the other distillery experiences, an the tour felt a lot more personal than other tours we’ve done. Pearse Lyons Distillery was a wonderful place to visit with an interesting backstory. And as soon as our guide heard we were from Norway he kept including extra information about the viking settlement in Dublin, and we learned so much about the city in general too. Their gift shop was also amazing and we bought loads of Christmas presents for our families.
#13. Find Your Christmas Spirit In NORTHERN IRELAND
You may or may not be aware of this, but the Republic of Ireland isn’t the only country located on the island of Ireland. The border to Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom, is only an hour drive north from Dublin so why not take advantage and go? There are loads of wonderful places to explore across the border, both nature sights and towns & cities. Belfast has a lot to offer around Christmas, and I don’t know about you but visiting the Titanic museum is definitely on my bucket list. You can either rent a car and drive there from Dublin yourself, or you can book a guided tour.
#14. GO ON A GAME OF THRONES TOUR
Not really one of the typical things to do in Dublin at Christmas, but since there are so many Game of Thrones fans out there it just had to be mentioned: There is an amazing Game of Thrones Tour you can do from Dublin. Explore the hexagonal stones of the Giant’s Causeway, see visit filming locations in Northern Ireland, and visit Larrybane Quarry & Dunluce Castle – all in one day.
#15. EXPLORE MORE OF IRELAND
Get into Christmas spirit by visiting the Irish countryside! There is a lot more to Ireland than Dublin alone and every year thousands of visitors explore places like Cork, Galway, Kilkenny and the Cliffs of Moher. If you have time for it you should definitely consider renting a car and go on an epic road trip adventure to the sights of your choice! If not, you can always do a tour right out of Dublin – easy & convenient. Here are some options:
SHOPPING IN DUBLIN AT CHRISTMAS
Of all the wonderful things to do in Dublin at Christmas, doing some last minute Christmas shopping must be one of the best. I get that everyone don’t love shopping as much as I do, but it must be impossible to dislike shopping in Dublin with all the Christmas lights, music and jolly people around. Here are some ideas on the best places to shop in Dublin at Christmas:
SHOPPING CENTERS & STREETS IN DUBLIN
Grafton Street is possibly the best shopping street in Dublin, especially at Christmas due to all the lovely Christmas decor and lights everywhere. There is a good mix of stores to check out here too. Check out Brown Thomas for live Christmas music while you shop.
STEPHEN’S GREEN SHOPPING CENTRE
Right next to Grafton Street you’ll find Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre. It has beautiful decor all year round but it looks even nicer around Christmas. Highly recommended for your Christmas shopping.
GEORGE’S STREET ARCADE
Shop for unique Christmas presents at George’s Street Arcade, an enclosed market with a ton of stalls and boutique shops. The gorgeous Victorian building is worth a visit!
THE ILAC SHOPPING CENTRE
On the north side of the river Liffey you’ll find The Ilac Shopping Centre. With it’s 80 different stores it’s a great place to shop for Christmas presents.
JERVIS SHOPPING CENTRE
Across the street from Ilac you’ll find Jervis Shopping Centre, a shopping centre with 70 stores.
INDEPENDENT STORES IN DUBLIN
BOOKS UPSTAIRS / 17 D’OLIER STREET
Lovely little blue book shop & café in the heart of Dublin. If you love book shops like me you should definitely go here on a treasure hunt and a good time.
APRIL AND THE BEAR / 2 WYNNEFIELD ROAD, RATHMINES
Oh my gosh you HAVE to visit this adorable shop if you’re even the slightest interested in interior design and decor. April and The Bear has the most amazing finds that you’ll fall in love with. Perfect for Christmas shopping (if you’re able to not keep it all for yourself, that is).
PLACES TO EAT & DRINK IN DUBLIN AT CHRISTMAS
As you might have noticed, I’m a little obsessed about things being cozy. I can’t help it, its a Scandinavian thing. And the obsession grows even more each year as Christmas approaches. If you’re anything like me you’ll love dining out in Dublin at Christmas – I swear, every darn restaurant and pub are so darn cozy. Here are some places you should eat & drink:
The Queen of Tarts: The place to get that sweet tooth taken care of!
The Stags Head: Traditional Irish pub, great place for some food, a pint and some live music.
Legit Coffee Co.: The place to be if you appreciate a quality cup of coffee.
Farrier & Draper: Instaworthy restaurant with incredible decor.
QUAYS IRISH RESTAURANT
10-12 TEMPLE BAR
Quays is a lovely Irish restaurant in the heart of Temple Bar. We got this place recommended by my friend’s colleague, so we went straight there after checking into our accommodation. Their interior was lovely, with an adorable Christmas tree in the corner next to where we got seated, and the staff were simply amazing. Traditional Irish music was played while we drank our first real Guinness in Ireland – perfection. The food was really good, too!
THE BRAZEN HEAD
20 LOWER BRIDGE ST
The Brazen Head claims to be Dublin’s oldest pub, selling beer from the year of 1198. We went here for a late lunch after our Pearse Lyons Distillery Tour and it was a great experience. Their Christmas decor was lovely and we got seated in an intimate part of the restaurant. And guess what? It was super cozy.
THE PALACE BAR
21 FLEET ST
The Palace Bar was probably one of the Dublin spots I’d seen the most pictures of prior to our trip there, so I expected this super touristy and crowded bar once we entered the doors late one evening. Luckily for us, this was not the case. The Palace Bar was nothing but amazing and we had a wonderful time there, enjoying Irish coffee to die for while listening to Christmas music. A perfect way to escape the winter cold. They carry over 100 Irish whiskeys, so get ready to do some tasting!
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I hope you got a few ideas on things to do in Dublin at Christmas, and I hope you’ll have a great time on your Irish adventure!