The City through the Seasons
When is the best time to visit Dublin, Ireland? While your answer may be ‘whenever I can get time off,‘ the reality is slightly more complicated than that. The Irish capital is a seasonal city that changes character throughout the year, and a visitor’s experience will change with it. Visiting Dublin in winter will see you enjoying open fireplaces in cozy pubs, while a trip to Dublin in summer is an outdoor adventurer’s dream.
There’s no wrong answer – Dublin has its own unique charm no matter when you visit – but to get the most out of the city it’s best to know what it offers up at each time of year. So to help you identify the best time of year to visit Dublin, let’s take a look at what the city offers its visitors through the seasons.
Dublin in the summer
With long, warm(ish) days and mild nights, Dublin summer offers tourists the most comfortable weather off all the seasons. While perhaps not providing the sunny escape of other European destination, summer undoubtedly sees Dublin at its most vibrant and exciting.
The best of Dublin in summer:
- Marker Hotel rooftop bar: The Marker Hotel is a 5-star establishment that looks over the River Liffey, and features the city’s most epic rooftop bar. Open to visitors, there’s no better place to enjoy that ever-elusive Dublin sun.
- Three Rock Mountain: Fancy a hike? You could do far worse than Three Rock, just south of Dublin. Not only does it offer magnificent views over the entire city, you can also check out an ancient Fairy Castle while you’re there!
- The Bray Seafront: The great Irish tradition of fish and chips is alive and well at Bray, a seaside town just south of Dublin. Head to the seafront and grab lunch from one of the seemingly infinite chippies (they’re all delicious) for the perfect holiday within a holiday.
- Longitude Festival: Music fans rejoice – Longitude sees some of the world’s biggest acts entertaining Dublin crowds every July at Marlay Park. You need to get your tickets early as this is a hugely popular festival, and be warned – it’s often quite a wet one!
Dublin in the fall
A vividly green city, the change from summer to fall is more marked in Dublin than almost anywhere else, as the color palette of the city goes from emerald to all manner of reds, yellows, oranges and browns. But the change in weather doesn’t mean the city goes into its shell!
The best of Dublin in the fall:
- Phoenix Park: The largest walled park in Europe, Phoenix Park is known as ‘Dublin’s Playground’. And so it proves in fall, as the wealth of mature trees undergo a spectacular transformation. If you time your trip right it’ll be a photographer’s paradise.
- Dublin Theater Festival: Europe’s oldest theater-specific festival, the Dublin Theater Festival has been entertaining audiences since 1957. Held between late September and early October, it has played host to almost every great theater artist of the last 60 years.
- Bram Stoker Festival: Interested in a very Irish take on Halloween? As the home of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, Dublin does the macabre holiday a little differently and a little awesomely. The Bram Stoker Festival sees the city overtaken by parades, fetes and all manner of ghoulish dress.
- The Guinness Storehouse: In 2009, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the brewery, Guinness announced ‘Arthur’s Day’ – a day in late September dedicated to its founder. While the day is no longer officially celebrated, fall is the perfect time to pay a visit to the Guinness Storehouse and enjoy a brew!
Dublin in the winter
A Dublin winter might not be the standard idea of a dream escape, but there are plenty of reasons why this is the best time of year to visit the Irish capital. It’s the cheapest time to visit Dublin, and also one of the most unique.
The best of Dublin in winter:
- Pubs with Fireplaces: While the weather outside is frightful, the fire is so delightful. Dublin pubs know how to attract patrons in winter – an open flame. Find a cozy nook in a pub like Library Bar, Toners or O’Neills.
- The Jameson Distillery: Who needs a fireplace when you can warm yourself from the inside out? The Jameson Distillery offers the most delicious way to do just that – with gorgeous whiskey poured straight from the barrel.
- TradFest: A celebration of Irish traditional music, TradFest is a staple of the Dublin calendar. Held over 5 days in late January and with a list of acts as long as your arm, you can’t wander into a Temple Bar pub without hearing some form of drum, fiddle or pipe!
- Dublin Flea Christmas Market: In 2014 a group of Dubliners had an idea. ‘Why don’t we mix a flea market with a Christmas market?’ The Dublin Flea Christmas Market has been an institution ever since, now hosting over 280 stalls selling the festive wares of the city’s best and brightest creatives.
Dublin in the spring
As it shakes off the long winter, Dublin slowly begins to spring to life. The indoors is gradually traded for the outdoors, with locals and tourists tempted from their hiding places with a wealth of sights and experiences.
The best of Dublin in spring:
- St. Patrick’s Day: There’s only one place you want to be on the 17th of March every year. Dublin is the epicenter of worldwide St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, which means the city devolves into gorgeous, green, Guinness-soaked bedlam. This is the very definition of a bucket list event.
- International Literary Festival Dublin: James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw – while relatively small, Dublin has continually produced the world’s finest wordsmiths. These and more modern names are celebrated during the ILFD, with book launches, panel discussions and live readings taking place over two weeks in May.
- National Botanic Gardens: In Spring the city comes to life, and nowhere is this change more apparent than in Ireland’s National Botanic Gardens, which burst into bloom through April and May. Be sure to charge your camera, as the colors are incredible.
- Dublin Dance Festival: Held in May every year, the Dublin Dance Festival attracts the world’s finest movers and shakers. The focus is on contemporary performances, although the full spectrum of dance is explored, with many of the acts demanding audience participation.