Ireland’s capital is a great place to visit year-round. From the busy summer months to the less busy but beautiful spring and fall, and even the chilly winters. In fact, if you are looking for the best deals and smaller crowds, winter just may be the best time to visit Dublin.
Of course, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind including choosing the best day trips for the season. So, if you are headed to Ireland during the low season, here are five of the best winter day trips from Dublin.
This is a guest post by Hannah. She is a freelance travel writer and the owner of two travel blogs. You can follow her adventures around the world on Eat Sleep Breathe Travel, or learn more about Ireland (her favorite country) on Ireland Stole My Heart.
I paid for everything in full myself. I was not paid or sponsored. All my opinions and experiences are my own.
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Located on the west coast of the country, Galway is a must-visit when in Ireland and a great pick for a winter day trip from Dublin. Galway is known for having some of the best pubs in all of Ireland and being the perfect spot to experience Irish ‘craic’. Plus, it’s only about 2.5 hours by bus and the city itself is small enough to explore in one day.
Another perk to this day trip is that there are plenty of free things to do in Galway. And who doesn’t like free things?
- The Long Walk (which you may recognize from the original ‘Galway Girl’ song),
- Galway Cathedral
- Galway Museum
- Shop Street
- The Latin Quarter
- The pubs, of course!
Insider tip: For some great fish and chips head to McDonagh’s on Quay Street for lunch.
The Cliffs of Moher in Winter
The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most iconic landmarks in Ireland and, if you have a clear day, they are worth the day trip even in winter. You’re best to take a tour from Dublin rather than try to get there on your own (unless you plan on renting a car).
The information center is worth a visit; here you can learn about the history and watch a video of the cliffs from a bird’s eye view. Plus, it’s an easy way to escape the chill of the winter damp for a little bit. Make sure you dress warmly as well and bring extra layers; it can get pretty windy and cold!
Insider tip: The Cliffs of Moher are the most visited natural attraction in Ireland which, yes, means crowds. Even in the winter months. To escape the crowds, follow the trail either to the left or the right and walk away from the center area. You will still get the epic views, but they will be less impeded by fellow tourists.
Blarney Castle & Cork
If you dream of fairytale castles, then Blarney Castle is one of the best winter day trips from Dublin. You can take the bus or train from Dublin to Cork then hop a local bus to Blarney Castle which is about twenty-five minutes away. If you don’t have a fear of heights and dropping backward, then kissing the Blarney Stone is a must! If that doesn’t sound like something you would enjoy, then you can still enjoy the castle and wander through the grounds.
Take some time to explore Cork as well. Compared to other cities in Ireland it doesn’t necessarily have a ton to see and do, however, the English Market is a definite must!
Insider Tip: If you are doing the trip on your own, leave as early as possible to get there ahead of the majority of the day trips. Blarney Castle can get pretty busy and you don’t want to waste your sunlight hours standing in line. Or you can book a tour to Blarney Castle from Dublin.
If you love medieval cities, crafts, and castles then Kilkenny is a great choice for a day trip from Dublin. This beautiful city is full of historical sites including the impressive Kilkenny Castle, the Black Abbey, and the picturesque Medieval Mile. Kilkenny is also where you can find the Smithwick’s Brewery which offers great tours. If you like arts and crafts or are looking for some souvenirs, be sure to take a peek in the National Gallery and Kilkenny Design Centre. There are plenty of things to do in Kilkenny to keep you busy for the day.
Insider Tip: Kilkenny is easy to get to and explore on your own, but if you take a group tour from Dublin you will also get to add on Wicklow- one of the most beautiful areas of countryside in Ireland.
For those who are looking for a change of pace without having to go too far, or maybe are interested in half day trips rather than a full-day trip, then Howth is a great choice. Howth is a fishing village just outside of Dublin city. There’s a picturesque lighthouse, Howth Castle, and a local market as well. Since it’s a fishing village there are some great seafood options here as well so make sure to stay for a meal. The Oar House Fish Restaurant is a favourite that is known for its incredibly fresh seafood dishes.
Inside Tip: Howth is a great day trip destination, even in the winter, however since a lot of its charm lies in the outdoors it’s best to save this day trip for a clear day. You probably don’t want to be hiking here in the pouring rain!
Final Tips for Winter Day Trips from Dublin
Dublin is a great city to use as a base to explore Ireland, and there is no shortage of day trips that you can take from the capital. However, while Dublin is great in the winter, the same does not apply to every Irish city. Many of the smaller Irish towns, such as Dingle, are very seasonal with many of the tourist attractions and businesses closing for the winter.
Another consideration you need to keep in mind are the hours of daylight. Winter days are much shorter than summer, so a 14-hour tour up to Northern Ireland probably isn’t your best choice as you won’t really get to see or experience all of the stops. With that in mind, the above choices really are the best picks for winter day trips from Dublin.
Weather can be unpredictable in Ireland, especially in winter. Never leave your hotel or hostel without a good winter coat, an umbrella and some water proof winter boots. You don’t want to be cold and wet on your day trip!
Dublin is a great winter destination. Sure, it might be colder and rainier but you have the added benefits of lower costs and fewer crowds both in Dublin itself, but also on your day trips from the city.
Have you been to Dublin in December? Or gone on any of these fantastic day trips from Dublin? Please share join the conversation and share your experiences in the comment section below.