Dublin City has a myriad of Victorian parks, Georgian squares, small cobbled streets, a lengthy boardwalk, historical graveyards and the famous Phoenix Park, the largest urban park in Europe; all of which is rendered completely useless when it's raining here, and it rains pretty regularly. While any local will tell you Dublin is the best city in the world when the sun is shining, that may be of little comfort to you should you find yourself at the mercy of a rainy day in Dublin.
People in Dublin are resourceful and have already paved the way for you to enjoy yourself in our fair city, no matter what the weather. Use this guide as your bible for things to do in Dublin when the weather is bad and we'll see you through to a good time. Here's some insider tips on where to go for indoor activities in Dublin, and how to make the best of your trip to Dublin even when it's raining!
Let's get a couple of key questions you might be asking out of the way first though, shall we?
How cold does it get in Dublin?
Dublin has what is called a temperate maritime climate. This basically means it’s always mild. It rarely gets above 25 degrees Celsius in the summer or below 0 degrees in the winter. In February 2018, it snowed in Dublin for the first time in 9 years. In times of snowfall, Ireland goes into a kind of panic state that sees public transport cease and the frantic stockpiling of milk and bread, clearing the shelves of the local supermarket, much to the amusement of our Nordic neighbors who laugh at our inept ability to deal with a sprinkling of snow.
Does it rain much in Dublin?
Though Ireland has a reputation around the world as some sort of cyclonic apocalypse, Dublin on average has 11 rainy days, and 70mm of rain, per month. This is less rainy days than Amsterdam, Berlin, and Paris. That said, there is a general consensus that Ireland, and Dublin, gets a lot of rain, and a popular adage attributed to these parts is that you'll likely "see four seasons in one day". Even so, there are lots of inside activities to do in Dublin when the weather is bad.
Visit the four best free museums in Dublin
If you can batten down your hatches and brave the rain to Kildare Street and Merrion Street Upper, you can visit the holy quaternity, a less than frequently used word I felt fitting to collective refer to four of Dublin’s best museums and galleries, all within spitting distance of each other - the mecca of indoor things to do in Dublin. All four museums are completely free of charge too, and open every day except Monday, which is traditionally the curators day.
National Archaeology Museum, Dublin
On Kildare street, flanking the Irish Parliament, Dáil Eireann, to the right is the National Archaeology Museum. The National Archaeological Museum is a treasure chest of prehistoric gold, neolithic and bronze age tools, Viking & medieval weaponry and religious artefacts. Many of the Viking artefacts were recovered from an archaeological dig in the 1970s that created a lot of controversies as the Irish Government succeeded in building Dublin City Council’s civic offices on the site of the dig, against the will of the people.
The Archaeology Museum also features Egyptian Mummies and Ireland's very own Bog Bodies.
Bog Bodies are human remains that have been naturally mummified in Peat Bog. Peat Bog is a fossil fuel and also an endangered habitat. Ireland has 50 per cent of all surviving peat bog in Europe. The oldest bog body in the museum is called ‘Cashel Man’, who has been carbon-dated as being over 4000 years old and appears to have died as a result of human sacrifice.
National Library of Ireland, Dublin
To the left of Dáil Eireann is the National Library of Ireland. Originally owned by the Royal Dublin Society, it was first taken by the British Government in the 19th century and then the Irish Government with Independence in 1922. The Library holds collections of Archival Papers, and personal notes and workbooks of many famous Irish writers, including James Joyce and Nobel prize-winning Seamus Heaney & W.B Yeats.
The National Art Gallery, Dublin
The National Art Gallery hosts a mix of European Renaissance Art and famous Irish Artists such as Harry Clarke, and Jack B Yeats.
My personal favorite is a large painting called ‘The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife’, by Daniel Maclise. It features a difficult arranged marriage between a Norman Lord and a Gaelic Princess to the backdrop of a changing Ireland and a threat to ancient Irish culture.
The gallery also houses two paintings by Caravaggio, who was the most famous painter in Italy at the end of the Renaissance.
The Museum of Natural History, Dublin
To complete this state-subsidized rectangle of cultural joy, visit the Museum of Natural History, known to the locals as 'The Dead Zoo', which is right next door to the National Gallery. This museum owns over 2 million specimens in the field of zoology and geology and has 10,000 of those specimens on display at any one given time.
The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
In the Dubh Linn Gardens to the rear of Dublin Castle, you can find the Chester Beatty Library, another quality place to spend an hour or so on a rainy day in Dublin. Chester Beatty was an American man who made a large fortune off of copper mining at the turn of the Twentieth Century. He was said to have revolutionized the trade. He spent his whole life travelling the world, collecting rare artefacts, books and artworks from many different cultures, religions and civilizations. In 1950 he retired to Ireland. When he died in 1968 his private library and art collection were regarded as one of the biggest, most diverse and best private collections in the world - and you can see it, for free!
The Chester Beatty collection is on display, free of charge, seven days a week from March to October, and every day except Monday.
Other museums in Dublin
Should you find yourself in Dublin on a rainy Monday when all the state museums are closed, or indeed any day, raining or not, there are many museum options for you in Dublin such as the Little Dublin Museum, Epic, The Irish Emigration Museum and Dublin’s famous Kilmainham Gaol which are all open 7 days a week and are very reasonably priced.
Dublin's only Time House
For a unique way to "get in out of the rain" in Dublin is The Clockwork Door on Wellington Quay. The Clockwork Door is the first and only ‘Time House’ in Ireland. You pay 8 cents per minute to be there and while inside are free to use all of their facilities. They have free tea, coffee, biscuits and popcorn, a room full of board games and couches, a soft room full to the brim with teddy bears, and a gaming room full of different gaming consoles and games.
Other things to do in Dublin when it's raining
- Another option would be to grab yourself whatever shamrock-chic poncho your heart desires, add an umbrella and do a free walking tour with us. We do twice daily free walking tours in Dublin 7 days a week, in all weather. The sharing of umbrellas is encouraged and there is a pit-stop in a pub to warm your bones before the last leg of the tour.
- Saturday in Dublin is market day. Temple Bar hosts 3 markets every Saturday - a small book and music merchandise market, a designer craft market and a food market. The food market is in Meeting House Square and is shielded from the rain with 4 large mechanical umbrellas. The market is a mix of local produce and hot food vendors. Entertainment usually comes from a busker at each of the main entrances which gives the market a very nice atmosphere.
- Speaking of the pub, you're in Dublin after all....the local's favorite way of escaping an impromptu shower or whiling away a dreary, rain-soaked afternoon is to take up residence in one of our many fine pubs in Dublin. You’re on holidays. Nobody will judge you. There is simplicity in the pub. It’s a safe space, a place to have a chat. A place to complain about the rain and use that talking point to meet like-minded people, who also dislike the rain. There's no-where like a nice cosy Dublin pub, especially on a wet day in Dublin.
- And should that whet your appetite, defy the rain and make your way to meet us for an epic night out on our nightly Dublin pub crawl. Hear traditional music, get free Guinness and free shots in our favorite pubs, tick the temple bar district off your list, then scurry up to Camden Street to hear contemporary music in Whelan’s, one of Ireland's premier music venues which has seen some of the biggest acts in the world perform including Arctic Monkeys, Jeff Buckley and Nick Cave. The pub crawl finishes in Copper Face Jacks, Dublin’s best nightclub. When Coppers is closed you can buy yourself some food, hop in a rickshaw back to your bed defiant and tell the rain to try break your stride another day.
Of course, not everybody drinks, but of all the indoor activities in Dublin available to you, the pubs offer a wide range in terms of entertainment. Where else could you see stand-up comedy, storytelling nights, Irish dancing and an array of different styles of music from traditional to contemporary, and even silent discos?! Don’t let the fact that you’re not a drinker make you miss the opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of a real Irish pub. They all sell coffee and Cola too.
We do hope you find this list of things to do in Dublin when it's raining helpful, and remember, there's no rainbow without rain, and you didn't come here for the weather anyway! Tried any of the above suggestions, or have other recommendations for things to do in Dublin on rainy days? Tell us in the comments below.