Eight activities in Dublin that are free in the winter
You may still have to top up your Leap Card and tap on and off, but there are tons of activities to do in Dublin without breaking the bank, which is ideal because January is a long and penniless month for most of us!
The National Gallery of Ireland
The National Gallery of Ireland, located on Merrion Square, is a free gallery for their permanent collection, which is extensive. You must book a free ticket in advance, so make sure you do so on their website. This same rule also applies to other galleries in Dublin, so check some of them out here.
Dublin has a large number of fantastic Christmas markets. From Ha’penny bridge at grand social, Dun Laoghaire Christmas Market in South County Dublin to Smithfield Christmas market. It’s an excellent afternoon and evening walking around, taking in Christmas sights, sounds and smells.
Grafton Street & Christmas Lights
There are few things endearing in a city than seeing them lit up by the Christmas lights. Dublin’s principal shopping streets spring to life with millions of colourful bulbs. They bring the warmth of the season on the coldest December days. The Christmas lights in Dublin illuminate the city from the end of November through to the new year.
Three hundred thousand bulbs light Grafton Street. At its top and bottom is the lit message that has long welcomed people to the street. The “Nollaig Shona Duit” Christmas light means Happy Christmas in the Irish language.
Parks & Gardens
Dublin has no shortage of parks, no matter which side of the city you’re on. On a beautiful Irish day, a walk in the park can be just what the doctor ordered. If you’re on the Southside, Phoenix Park is always worth a visit to see the deer, Marlay Park. Bushy Park and Herbert Park are great spots for a shorter walk.
Go To The Beach
Pack your towel, bikini, swim trunks, and phone to get an incredible time-lapse, and head to the Vico Baths in Killiney or Seapoint in Monkstown. It’s freezing, so make sure you have a hot water bottle or tons of layers to wrap up in case you’re braving the sea. If a swim isn’t your thing, a day walking the Dollymount Strand is satisfying. Get your fish and chips at Fishbone or Fish Shack after.
Self-Guided Street Art Tour
Dublin boasts some beautiful artwork, either in graffiti or sculptures, and they’re worth checking out. Whether it’s “The Children of Lir” sculpture by Oisin Kelly in the Garden of Remembrance or some wall art in Portobello or Love Lane, there’s a plethora of creativity that’s fantastic to see and doesn’t cost a thing. Dublin’s street art is ever-changing, so this is an activity you can do again and again. Try to find some hidden gems out there.
National Botanic Gardens
All you need is yourself and a phone to take some Instagram-worthy content. Free daily tours are available if you want to learn more about plant life. Check out their website for details on their tours and opening hours.
Dublin Free Walking Tour
If you’d instead a guided tour, there are plenty of free options. This company does specific walking tours throughout Dublin, with accessible routes exploring historical landmarks such as Trinity College, Temple Bar, Christ Church, the GPO, and The Customs House. They hold other tours also that you can check out here.
You have to book to gain admission into Kilmainham Gaol, but it is free to do so. Kilmainham Gaol is the spot for you if you want to spend a morning or afternoon absorbing knowledge. Perhaps most notably, Kilmainham housed many of the rebels from the 1916 Easter Rising and was the site where the British Government executed them. You can check out more information on booking here.
Chester Beatty Library
Located at Dublin Castle, entry into the Chester Beatty Library is free, and that’s just one of a few reasons you might want to check it out. There are always plenty of exhibitions to see; currently, they have a stunning one on Japanese Art called “Edo in Colour”. Lonely Planet also described this museum as one of the best in Ireland and Europe. If that’s not a good enough endorsement, I don’t know what is. You can check out all their exhibitions here.