12 Magical Things to Do During Christmas in Dublin, Ireland

Christmas in Dublin, Ireland

Christmas in Dublin, Ireland, is a magical time of year to visit Ireland’s capital city. The streets of Dublin city are lit up with lights, the pubs are festively decorated, and the city is filled with the holiday spirit. If you’re planning your trip to Dublin during the Christmas season, you are in for a real treat. My most recent trip to Dublin was in the week leading up to the holiday, and being in the city really got me in the festive spirit for the first time in years. While there are many fun things to do in Dublin throughout the year, many Christmas events add to the city’s charm. In this post, I’ll share with you the best things to do in Dublin during Christmas!

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Ireland travel resources

How to Get to Dublin City Center from the Airport

Once you land in the Dublin airport, there are multiple ways to get into the city center. You can take public transport or a taxi. 

Getting to Dublin by Bus

The bus is the cheapest way to get to Dublin City Center from the Airport. Once you clear customs and gather your luggage, follow the signs for buses. The Dublin Express and Dublin Aircoach will take you to the city center. You can purchase your ticket online or from the person working at the kiosk.

Simply tell them your destination, and they’ll tell you the closest bus stop. They may not know your exact accommodation, so have a general idea of where you need to get in the city, and they’ll get you there.

A single ticket costs €9, and a return costs €11.

Check routes and timetables, and purchase your ticket online here

Getting to Dublin by Taxi

If you prefer to take a taxi to the city center, follow the signs for taxi ranks, which can be found outside of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. The taxi will cost between €25 and €60 and take approximately 35-45 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.

Find more information about airport taxis here.

I recently took a taxi into Dublin’s city center for the first time because my accommodation wasn’t near a bus stop, and I was exhausted after a day of travel. It cost me €55, and I got car sick on the way. I will be taking a bus from here on out!

O'Neill's Pub decorated for Christmas in Dublin, Ireland.

How to Get Around Dublin

Once you’re in Dublin’s city center, there are multiple options for getting around and doing all the fun Christmas activities!


Dublin is an incredibly walkable city. It’s very flat so you don’t have to worry about steep hills. There are many pedestrian-only streets throughout the city, and one neighborhood seamlessly blends into the next. I believe that walking around Dublin is the best way to see the city. However, if you’re short on time or tired from walking, other transit options exist.

Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour

A great way to see all of the exciting places in Dublin quickly is by purchasing a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket. This bus has stops within the city center that include the Guinness Storehouse, Temple Bar, and Trinity College, as well as attractions a bit further out, such as Kilmainham Gaol and Phoenix Park. 

You can combine this ticket with your airport bus transfer ticket

Luas Lightrail

I love the Luas! It gets you everywhere you need to go in Dublin when you’re tired of walking! There are two tram lines, the Red and Green Lines, that make stops at St. Stephen’s Green, Trinity College, and others. The Luas also connects to Heuston, Busaras, and Connolly transit stations for trains and buses to other cities in Ireland.


The third option for getting around Dublin County is the DART system. DART connects Dublin to smaller towns just outside the city center, like Howth and Bray. Both of which make excellent day trips from Dublin.

If you plan to rely on public transportation in and around Dublin, I suggest the Visitor Leap Card for unlimited rides for a specified time period.

Renting a Car in Dublin

If you’re planning an Ireland road trip, pick up your car after your time in Dublin. Driving in the city is challenging, and you only need a car once it’s time to leave. Return to the airport to pick up your rental car and continue your Ireland adventure.

Weather in Dublin at Christmas

In December, Dublin will be cold, wet, and windy, making it the perfect time of year to enjoy the coziness of the city’s pubs and coffee shops. Temperatures range from average lows of 3°C/37°F to average highs of 10°C/50°F, but always check the forecast before you go!

The days are also the shortest this time of the year, with the sun rising well past 8:00 am and setting around 4:00 pm.

What to Wear in Dublin in December

Your Ireland packing list should include waterproof clothing and warm layers, as it will be cold and rainy.

  • Warm Jacket: Pack a warm wool coat or other warm jacket. You will need it!
  • Waterproof Jacket: Also, bring a packable rain jacket. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, waterproof pants might be a good idea.
  • Sweaters: It is sweater weather during Christmas in Dublin. Pack one and wear one on the plane.
  • Jeans: I find jeans keep me quite warm when traveling. So pack two pairs in case one gets wet.
  • Thermal Layers: Thermal base layers are a great way to stay warm when outside exploring. I love these from SmartWool. They fit comfortably under jeans and sweaters.
  • Fleece Lined Leggings: I love these leggings from Amazon. I wore them all over Scotland and on my recent trip to Dublin in December. They kept me nice and cozy.
  • Beanie: When exploring, a warm hat will keep your ears and head toasty.
  • Gloves: Keep your hands warm too!
  • Scarves: A scarf will keep you warm and is a great way to accessorize your outfit or add a pop of color.
  • Umbrella: A small travel umbrella like this fits easily in your day bag. Just be careful using it on windy days.
  • Waterproof Boots: I love these waterproof Sorel booties for exploring Ireland. I’ve also worn Blundstones there and found them comfortable as well!

Shop all of my favorite Ireland travel gear here!

Me walking in front of Brazen Head pub in Dublin, Ireland.

Solo Travel Safety Tips for Dublin

You might be wondering: Is Ireland safe to travel alone? The short answer is yes! Irish people are some of the most friendly and welcoming people I’ve ever met! Many are happy to chat at the pub or help you get where you need to go.

That being said, I recommend exercising caution in tourist areas such as Temple Bar, as pickpocketing occurs. Leave your valuables in your room and keep aware of your surroundings. 

While I’ve been known to walk back to my accommodation at night in Dublin, taking a taxi or an Uber is a good idea. 

I also recommend avoiding O’Connell Street after dark, as it can get a bit rough.

However, if you use common sense, trust your intuition, don’t get too drunk, and avoid these common tourist mistakes, you should have a positive and enjoyable experience in Dublin!

Sitting on a bench in the Long Room of the Trinity College Library.
Standing on a bridge in St. Stephen's Park.

Magical Things to Do During Christmas in Dublin

While there are fun things to do in Dublin all year round, there are some magical seasonal activities at Christmastime to add to your itinerary.

Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo

Every Christmas, the Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park hosts its Wild Lights Festival. Each night from mid-November to early January, the Dublin Zoo’s pathways are illuminated with fairies, wizards, other mythical creatures, and multicolored animals. 

This family-friendly event is a unique opportunity to visit the zoo at night!

Adult tickets are €24.50.

Dublin Castle Christmas Market

There are several Christmas markets throughout Dublin County, but if you want to visit one without leaving the city center, then head to Dublin Castle for Christmas at the Castle

This free event runs for two weeks in December before Christmas. The Castle’s courtyard is filled with Alpine-style market stalls offering everything from hot chocolate to unique jewelry. In the center of the courtyard is a vintage carousel for children or adults if you’re so inclined.

There is also complimentary access to the festively decorated State Apartments from 11:30-20-:30 for the duration of the market. If you want to see these rooms, get in line early!

The Christmas at the Castle entrance at Dublin Castle.

National Botanic Gardens Christmas Market

Are you on the hunt for local crafts with an eye for sustainability? Head to Glasnevin for the National Botanic Garden Christmas Market.

For one weekend in December, the Gardens turn into a festive market focusing on local artisans. You’ll surely find a unique gift or souvenir for your loved ones (or yourself).

Farmleigh House Christmas Market

Farmleigh House is a gorgeous estate in Phoenix Park that hosts visiting dignitaries throughout the year. However, at Christmas, it transforms into a lively Christmas market, which includes horse and carriage rides, live music, carol singing, and a food market on the weekend.

This free Christmas market is a great way to spend a day getting into the holiday spirit with your family. 

Dún Laoghaire Christmas Festival

If you’re interested in a day trip out of the city, consider heading to Dún Laoghaire for their Christmas Festival. While not a Christmas Market, in Dún Laoghaire, you’ll find plenty of festive activities to keep you entertained.

You can go ice skating at Ireland’s largest ice rink in Dún Laoghaire Harbor well into the new year. 

Santa Claus also makes an appearance at the National Maritime Museum for a month leading up to Christmas. Times and dates vary, and you’ll need to book in advance for your photo op!

Malahide Castle Christmas Experience

Malahide is another excellent day trip from Dublin, where you can explore the charming town and Malahide Castle. During Christmas, Malahide hosts Mrs. Claus and the elves preparing for Christmas. Santa himself also makes an appearance.

This event makes for a great family outing.

Holding a hot chocolate up in front of the carousel at the Dublin Castle Christmas market.

Christmas Walking Tour 

There is a holiday tradition that I learned when I was in Dublin called the 12 Pubs of Christmas. The idea is “simple”. You visit 12 pubs, having a pint of Guinness (or whatever drink you prefer) at each pub. With each visit, a new rule is added, such as skipping between pubs. 

I tried valiantly to get someone to do a modified version of this with me but with no success. 

However, an alternative without the hangover is to join a walking tour that highlights the magic of Dublin during Christmas. This Dublin walking tour shares Dublin’s history and the beautiful decorations at the Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin Castle, and Henry Street Christmas Market.

Book your Christmas Walking Tour here!

Go Shopping on Grafton Street

I’m not usually one for crowds, but being on Grafton Street during the holidays and seeing the crowds of people with their shopping bags brought about a holiday cheer within me that I haven’t experienced in a long time.

There are many shops on Grafton Street, so you’ll easily be able to find something for everyone on your Christmas list.  

A few other streets to check out for unique shops are Drury Street for the Irish Design Shop and Industry & Co. and Essex Street for Scout. 

Christmas decorations on Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland.
Christmas decorations on a rainy night in Dublin, Ireland.

Explore the City Center’s Christmas Decorations

One of the best parts about Dublin at Christmas is seeing the Christmas lights on pubs, shops, and streets, creating a festive atmosphere. 

Multiple pubs go all out on their decorations, but the two most famous are the Temple Bar Pub and the Gingerman.

The Temple Bar Pub is the iconic red pub located in Temple Bar. In full transparency, I’ve never had a drink there, but I did stop by this Christmas to check out its decorations. It was definitely worth a look, but save your money for a pint at the Ginger Man.

The decorations at the Ginger Man Pub in Dublin, Ireland.

The Ginger Man will likely have a line of people waiting to get in, but it moves pretty quickly. Once inside, you’ll be overwhelmed by the floor-to-ceiling decorations. They leave no corner untouched by a bit of Christmas magic. This pub is three stories and has multiple rooms, each done up in over-the-top decorations. It’s a must-visit!

Experience Christmas at the Guinness Storehouse

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Guinness and how it’s made, the self-guided tour at the Guinness Storehouse is worth checking out, especially at Christmas. 

The Guinness Christmas tree has 1759 lights as a nod to the year Guinness began. There are also live musical performances throughout the Christmas season!

Book your tickets to Guinness in advance to skip the line and save money!

Dublin pub decorated for Christmas.
The Temple Bar Pub decorated for Christmas.

Listen to Live Christmas Carols 

Multiple venues throughout Dublin host Christmas Carol performances. 

St. Patrick’s Cathedral hosts a Christmas concert with classic Christmas hits performed by candlelight. 

The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral also performs Christmas carols in the beautiful setting of the Cathedral. 

Aside from these carol performances, many pubs have live music each night, where you’ll likely hear a carol or two during this time of year!

See a Live Show

I never realized pantomimes were such a, well, thing. But they are a very popular Christmas activity in Ireland, and Dublin theaters also host a few shows.

The Gaiety Theatre has been hosting operas, musicals, comedies, dance, and, of course, pantomime since 1871. Cinderella was on while I visited in December 2023, and it was so cute seeing little kids dressed up as princesses waiting to enter the theater.

Check here to see what shows are on for your visit.

Where to Stay in Dublin, Ireland

During your visit to Dublin, you’ll want to stay somewhere that is centrally located, so you are just a few minutes away from all of the season’s festivities. Here are a few of the best places to stay in Dublin:

Budget Friendly: Jacob’s Inn Hostel

I stayed here recently and loved the pod-style beds. It helped keep the noise out from snoring neighbors, and the bed didn’t move when someone else turned over! They host plenty of events throughout the week to meet people, and there is a bar onsite.

Check rates and availability here!

Mid Range: The Wren Urban Nest

While small, these rooms have everything you need for a cozy stay in Dublin. Plus, it is located just steps away from some of the best pubs in Dublin and great shopping!

Check rates and availability here!

Bougie: The Shelbourne, Autograph Collection

This stunning hotel is directly across the street from St. Stephen’s Green. The rooms are classy, a bar and restaurant are on site, and you’re situated just steps away from Grafton Street. 

Check rates and availability here!

I hope that you thoroughly enjoy your trip to Dublin during Christmas. It is a magical time to visit! The decorations, kind Irish welcome, and cozy pubs will undoubtedly bring about the Christmas spirit!

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