Let’s face it. No-one comes to Dublin – or Ireland, for that matter – for the weather.
But the good news is that it’s rare that it would rain for a whole day, and even when it’s wet outside there’s plenty to keep you busy in Dublin.
Here’s our Top Ten of the best things to do in Dublin when it rains- or on what the Irish like to call a ‘soft day, thank God.’
1. Head to a Pub
Dublin pubs are not just for downing a pint (or a hot whiskey or Irish coffee……yum). They’re places where people meet, chat, eat, laugh, furiously debate politics, sport and the weather, watch a match and generally feel warm and fuzzy about the world. And while Dublin’s pubs are often packed at night, they are also fantastic – and more relaxed – during the day, with the best of them (like The Stag’s Head, Kehoe’s and The Long Hall) being blessedly free of piped music. Chill out with friends, get a toasted sandwich, read the paper or just watch the world go by outside (in the rain). Most also have wi-fi now, so even the kids are happy.
2. Indulge in Afternoon Tea in a Swish Hotel
What’s not to love about a posh afternoon tea? Comfy sofas; tick. Neat piles of dainty sandwiches, scones, petit fours and cakes; tick. And enough caffeine to energise you for a night out. Try The Westbury, The Shelbourne or the grande dame of high tea, The Merrion Hotel. Lounge, luxuriate and generally take it easy for a few hours.
The Westbury, 2 Balfe St, Dublin 2, Tel: 00 353 1 679 1122
The Shelbourne Hotel, 27 Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Tel: 00 353 1 663 4500
The Merrion Hotel, Upper Fitzwilliam St., Dublin 2. Tel: 00 353 1 6030600
3. Shop Under Cover
Dublin has some awesome shopping centres where you can wander around free from the vagaries of the weather. In the heart of the city there are the Ilac, Jervis and Stephen’s Green centres as well as the upmarket, atmospheric Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, just off Grafton St, and formerly the city home of the Earls of Leinster. Or you can take the Luas tram 18 minutes to the suburban Dundrum Town Centre, which is packed with great shops and restaurants and even has a cinema.
Ilac Centre, Henry St, North City, Dublin 1
Jervis Centre, 125 Abbey St Upper, Dublin 1
Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, Stephen’s Green West, Dublin 2
Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Clarendon St, Dublin 2
Dundrum Town Centre, Dundrum, Dublin 14
4. Grab a Film at an Art House Cinema
The Irish Film Institute has been around for over 25 years, and is still thriving thanks to a busy, eclectic schedule of films from all over the world, a small but fantastic shop and, of course, a busy bar/restaurant. Across the river Liffey, on Smithfield Square, is the far newer but equally wonderful Lighthouse, which is worth a visit for its interior architecture alone. The bar and café are a haven for hipsters, which makes the people watching all the more fun.
5. Visit Kilmainham Gaol
This now-defunct jail features large in some of the biggest events in Irish history, not least the Easter Rising of 1916, which marked the beginning of the end for Ireland being part of the British Empire. It’s also one of the best museums in Dublin, widely praised for the quality of its exhibits, storytelling and guides. Just the right side of spooky, it makes for a fascinating morning or afternoon out. It’s a busy place though, so pre-booking is essential.
Kilmainham Gaol, Inchicore Rd, Kilmainham, Kilmainham, Dublin 8. Tel: 00 353 1 1 453 5984
6. Attend a Concert at the National Concert Hall
If you love classical music, Dublin’s National Concert Hall is a great place for a smart evening out, or even a casual lunchtime performance, some of which are free. The epic grandeur of a Symphony Orchestra in full swing is quite a sight, but the programme also includes light opera, musicals and choral pieces. Booking is advisable.
National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, St. Kevin’s, Dublin 2. Tel: 00 353 1 417 0000
7. Tour a local brewery or distillery
The Guinness Storehouse is justly famous, but in recent years, a growing horde of indigenous makers has brought new energy to the Irish drinks scene and to the city streetscape itself. The Jameson Distillery re-opens in March 2017, and the newly built Teeling Distillery, already so at home on Newmarket square, is a fine showcase for the art of Irish whiskey making.
Guinness Storehouse, James’s Gate, Dublin 8. Tel: 00 353 1 408 4800.
Jameson Distillery, Bow St, Smithfield Village, Dublin 7. Tel: 00 353 1 807 2355
Teeling Distillery, 13-17 Newmarket, Dublin 8. Tel: 00 353 1 531 0888.
8. Dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant
Dublin now has a decent smattering of restaurants in possession of a star (or two) from the prestigious Michelin Guide. Plan well ahead, especially for dinner on a weekend, but most do an excellent lunch menu, so why not spend the afternoon dining at your leisure? Take your pick from Chapter One, L’Ecrivain, The Greenhouse or Heron & Grey (all have one Michelin star) or, if your pockets are a bit deeper, sink into the plush carpets and immersive two-star experience that is Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, at Dublin’s Merrion Hotel.
Chapter One, Basement 18-19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1. Tel: 00 353 1 873 2266.
L’Ecrivain, 109a Baggot St. Lower, Dublin 2. Tel: 00 353 1 661 1919.
The Greenhouse, Dawson St, Dublin 2. Tel: 00 353 1 676 7015.
Heron & Grey, 19A Main St, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Tel: 00 353 87 608 3140.
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Merrion Hotel, 21 Upper Fitzwilliam St., Dublin 2. Tel: 00 353 1 676 4192
9. Trace your ancestors at the Irish Family History Centre
Something like 20 million people outside of Ireland carry an Irish passport, so if your roots are in the ‘oul sod’, it can be fun to try and find out more about your forebears.. Experts are on hand to help you make a great start to what can be a fascinating journey.
Irish Family History Centre, North Dock, Dublin 1. Tel: 00 353 1 671 0338.
10. Binge on Netflix & Order Room Service
If all else fails and it’s simply too miserable to go beyond the cosy confines of your hotel, huddle up on your bed, order comfort food from room service and get stuck into your favourite box-set with your room-mates. Laugh, cry and then fall asleep right where you are. Plotlines and acting chops can be assessed over breakfast. And whatever you do, don’t forget to watch the weather forecast. Because tomorrow, it might just be sunny.