If you’re visiting the capital city of Ireland anytime soon, then no doubt you can expect some rain during your stay! And I don’t say this to put you off going (I would even go so far as to say that Dublin might actually be a little bit prettier under overcast skies), but rather to advise you so that you can plan your perfect itinerary accordingly! Here’s how to spend a rainy day in Dublin and still have fun!
Admire the Architecture and Book of Kells at Trinity College Dublin
Hands down, the number one must-see attraction in Dublin is that of Trinity College Library. Wooden shelves are stacked floor to ceiling in a place where many of the greatest writers, historians, and thinkers of times gone by once studied. And that’s not all a rainy day experience at Trinity College will unveil.
Instead, below ground, in a complex of well-designed low-light rooms, some of the greatest treasures of the Republic of Ireland are held. And perhaps none is quite so famous as the Book of Kells. This historic manuscript dates all the way back to the 9th-century and is one of the most beautiful historic monastic works in Europe. Purchase your Fast-Track Access Book of Kells and Dublin Castle Tour here in advance.
Drink beer at the Guinness Storehouse
Of course, after enjoying the beauty of Trinity College Library, it’s time to unwind from the intense crowds and learning experience with a glass of the local tipple. Guinness, of course, is the drink of choice and there’s perhaps no better place to experience the famous drink than in the stylish and chic Guinness Storehouse.
Part museum, part brewery, part learning experience, and altogether fun, you could easily while away a rainy afternoon in Dublin by learning all about the history of the brew, as well as sampling some for yourself. Set across seven levels, you begin your visit by learning exactly how to brew beer, as well as the secrets of what makes Guinness such a unique drink (by the way, it’s vegan!)
Next, you’ll ascend through the levels, which are shaped to resemble the ‘largest pint glass in the world’ and get the chance to explore the quirkiest of Guinness advertisements over the years, learn how to ‘properly taste’ Guinness, and even get the chance to pull a pint for yourself, all included in the price of your ticket. At the top, there’s even a ‘Gravity Bar’ which offers panoramic views across the city. Purchase your Guinness Storehouse tickets here in advance.
Discover Dublin’s Free Museums
Throughout the city, though largely located close to Trinity College Dublin, there are a number of free museums which are well worth exploring. These cultural hubs are the perfect places to while away a rainy afternoon. A popular visit among tourists to the city is that of the National Gallery of Ireland, which boasts many of the Emerald Isle’s greatest works, all on display for free to the general public (though donations are always appreciated).
One of my favourites is the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, which houses a large collection of peat bog bodies which date back millennia and offer an insight into how people lived (and died) in the past. Nearby, the Natural History of Ireland (which is also sometimes referred to as the Dead Zoo) is a Victorian-style museum showcasing its collections in traditional glass cabinets.
Discover Dublin’s coffee culture
Though not quite as advertised as the coffee culture of top European destinations such as Paris or London, Dublin has a surprising set of cafés, with each being as equally delightful as the last. From traditional breakfast joints to chicer dining options, there are plenty of Dublin coffee shops where you can hide from the rain.
For those with a sweet tooth, I recommend none other than the Queen of Tarts. Cake slices are generously served and there’s a wide array of other sweets also available. Otherwise, I particularly loved our cooked breakfast at The Stage Door Cafe, which claims to serve ‘the best breakfast in Dublin’. And, indeed, I’m pleased to say that it was a claim that certainly proved true!
Marvel at the best of Dublin Churches
From the imposing St Patrick’s Cathedral to the lesser-known church which houses the relics of Saint Valentine, there’s no shortage of wonderful, quirky, and ever so unusual churches to discover in Dublin. Thanks to their largely covered nature (the ruins of St Kevin’s being perhaps the sole exception), the ecclesiastical buildings of Dublin offer a glimpse into the architecture of the past, all the while being perfect places to hide from the rain.
However, the one thing you should know before you go is that many of the more famous churches in Dublin are paid for entrance only. This includes St Patrick’s Cathedral (though this building is actually not the main ‘cathedral’ of the Fair City) and Christ Church Cathedral, which was once known as The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.
Go vintage shopping in Temple District
For fans of thrifting and fashion, your two greatest loves can be found in abundance when it comes to Dublin. For throughout the Temple Bar district of the city, there’s a myriad of offbeat, unusual, and occasional budget finds to be had.
One of my all-time favourite quirky vintage shops in the city is Lucy’s Lounge. Set over several levels, this emporium of second-hand goodies offers all manner of pre-loved games, clothing, and even some eye-catching jewellery. Otherwise, head over to Siopaella for luxurious and designer finds.
Hide away from the rain in the cosiest bookshops in the Irish capital
Thanks to its status as a must-see European literary location (after all, Dublin has been the muse for many a famous writer; James Joyce and Oscar Wilde to name but a couple), it should come as no surprise that Dublin boasts a wide array of welcoming and cosy bookshops.
The perfect spaces to hide away when it comes to a rainy day, a particular favourite of mine is The Winding Stair. Park bookshop, part café, wander in at any given moment and you’ll be greeted by rows of books, stacked from floor to ceiling. In other parts of Dublin, Books Upstairs and Alan Hanna’s Bookshop & Bark Coffee are well worth discovering.
Uncover the hidden gems of Dublin
Though some of Dublin’s best-kept secrets are, indeed, predominantly outdoor activities, it’s fair to say that many of the best indoor activities to be discovered in the Irish capital are hidden gems. From the lesser-known Leprechaun Museum (yes, this really is a ‘thing’) to the beautifully appointed Marsh’s Library, a place where Bram Stoker once studied and James Joyce once frequented, travellers to Ireland will be equally enthralled and enticed by Dublin’s many hidden treasures.
Enjoy a pint in a traditional Irish pub!
Though this is perhaps the most obvious choice for hiding away from the bad weather when it comes to Ireland, enjoying a traditional Irish meal (along with a pint) is one of those authentic Dublin experiences that can’t be had anywhere else.
As its name would suggest, the most famous, oldest, and historic pubs in the city can predominantly be found in the Temple Bar district, though be sure to read reviews as you can’t always count on the food being the best! Elsewhere in the city, head towards Christ Church Cathedral and you’ll soon discover The Brazen Head, a historic drinking establishment which dates all the way back to 1198!