A Festive Guide to Christmas Break in Dublin, Ireland
Angela Huang Walsh
Arts & Culture
Christmas is full of festivities in Dublin Ireland. Though the weather can be a little rainy, the lovely Irish people will greet you with sunny smiles and holiday joy. If you’re into warm friendly cozy pubs and listening to surprise world-class musicians busking for great causes, great Irish cheese, whiskey, Guinness, the freshest food and welcoming people, then Dublin is the place for you!
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Where to stay Dublin, Ireland
Hyatt Centric The Liberties Dublin
Warm hotel with a modern restaurant and bar in the heart of Dublin.
Upgrade & extended check in/out, whenever possible.
Upscale hotel near Grafton Street with a sleek restaurant and a 1930s-inspired cocktail bar.
Complimentary lunch or dinner for up to two guests per bedroom.
Upgrade & extended check in/out, whenever possible.
The Merrion Hotel Dublin
Located in the heart of the Dublin city center, The Merrion is the capital’s most luxurious five-star hotel offering exquisite comfort and elegance.
Complimentary lunch or dinner for two people.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
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Things to do in Dublin on Christmas break Dublin, Ireland
Visit the many churches and cathedrals in Dublin. During this time there will be amazing choirs or midnight Mass to get you right in the festive mood. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is founded in 1191 and is only steps away from Hyatt Centric the Liberties Dublin.
Take a walk from Cow’s Ln and Essex Street into Temple Bar to see all the Christmas decorations and lights. There’s great shopping and eating to be had here. Check out Queen of Tarts for some Victorian sponge cake, then do some boutique shopping at April and the Bear, The Gutter Bookshops, Temp & Stitch and Stout. Explore the tiny art alley of Love Lane and take some IG-worthy selfies with the colorful street art.
Check out Temple Bar - even with kids in tow. There’s nothing to worry about here during the holiday season. You’ll be surprised at some great pub food as well. A favorite of mine is The Stag's Head which is a Victorian pub with original wrought-iron chandeliers, polished granite tables, stained glass windows and tiles.
Take an Irish Afternoon "Tea"
This afternoon's high tea at Merrion Hotel deserves its own category. From start to finish the service, environment, finger sandwiches, scones and presentation were superb! If you’re in Dublin, you need to carve out a few hours to treat yourself. Not a tea drinker? Instead, take your afternoon tea by having wine at Exchequer Street Wine Cellar in Fallon & Bryne Food Hall. Their candlelit wine cellar offers 300 of the best wines around the world. Great place to enjoy the company of your family and friends as you sip on wine and enjoy a lovely charcuterie board especially if it’s a little rainy outside.
Go shopping on Grafton, Williams and Drury Street. Who can resist Grafton Street (a pedestrian street lined with Dublin’s best luxury shops)? Don’t miss Brown Thomas. Once inside, you may not want to leave! If you’re staying at The Westbury hotel, you’re in luck! Because you’re so close, you won’t have to carry your bags far back to the hotel - as if you needed an excuse to shop.
Making your way to Powerscourt Townhouse Center, you’ll find art galleries, designer jewelry and home shops in this converted former townhouse of Viscount of Powerscourt located on Williams Street. Next, you’ll head to Drury Street known as the creative quarter of Dublin lined with local designer shops. Cut through George’s Street Arcade built in 1881 as the 1st European Shopping Center.
Listen to Music
On Christmas Eve or during the holiday season, you'll find musicians and performers out busking for charity in the Temple Bar and Grafton Street area.
Parks & Green Space
If you happen to be here on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, you’ll find that most attractions and stores are closed, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t amazing things to see. Dublin is filled with amazing parks and public green spaces. Go to St. Stephen’s Green, a historic Victorian garden right in the heart of the city for a walk. It’s open on Christmas day in the morning. Even better, head to Phoenix Park where you’ll find wild deer roaming free. This is a 1,752 acres park where you’ll find trails, monuments, historic sites, a fort and mostly those native deer. Take time to visit Merrion Park across from the National Gallery of Ireland to see the famous Oscar Wilde Memorial.
There are so many. The most famous of course is the Book of Kells in Trinity College. This is one of the most magnificent libraries in the world which houses over two hundred thousand oldest books in history. EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum is interactive and just downright fun! It is also in the Dublin Docklands area where you can walk along the boardwalk to see The Famine Memorial sculptures.
One of the highlights that I always take everyone to when they first arrive in Dublin is The Little Museum of Dublin. As it is described, it’s little but jammed packed with history and charm about Dublin and the Irish people. The impressive National Gallery of Ireland is also not to be missed. For something truly special, inside The Hugh Lane Gallery, you’ll find the Francis Bacon Studio where you’ll see the books and collections from his estate.
Guinness & Whiskey
These are must-drinks in Ireland and don’t miss going to the Guinness Storehouse. Dare I say that a museum about stout was great fun for kids? They do offer kids a non-alcoholic drink at the end of the tour. The roof of the museum is a wrap-around bar where you can see amazing views of the city from all sides. Teeling and Jameson offer distillery tours for those who are whisky connoisseurs.
Day trips just outside of Dublin are a must. One option is to take a day tour to Wicklow and Glendalough. Along this tour, you’ll see some of the greenest hillsides and most beautiful seaside views near Dublin. Powerscourt Garden is in Enniskerry, County Wicklow. This country estate has 47 acres of magnificent gardens for you to enjoy. There’s a Powerscourt Distillery on the property where you can do tastings and you’ll want to have some tea and scones at Avoca with some shopping for Irish wool designer accessories afterward. Next, you’ll be heading to the Wicklow Mountains and walking through the Gothic and beautiful Glendalough Monastic Settlement.
Another not to miss site and great Day Tour option is to go see the Brú na Bóinne (Boyne Valley Tombs) in County Meath. This Neolithic period archaeological site is on the bend of River Boyne. It is otherwise known as Newgrange. Dating back to at least 6000 years which predates the Egyptian pyramids. It is truly unforgettable.
A note on hotels
Hyatt Centric The Liberties Dublin – This warm, chic, modern hotel located in the Liberties area of Dublin has spacious rooms great for families. The Liberties is a centuries-old neighborhood that now holds some of the best hip restaurants in town. Not to mention it’s got the Guinness Storehouse in the heart of it. Our partner Hyatt Privé gives our guests a welcome amenity upon arrival, daily breakfast, property credit, and upgrade.
Westbury Hotel – If you’re in Dublin, you’ll want to be near Grafton Street. This 5-star swanky boutique hotel is only minutes away Little Museum of Dublin and Dublin Castle. Being in the lobby or their cocktail bar you’ll feel like you’re a 1930’s movie star. The entrance of the hotel is tucked in the corner of a quiet street surrounded by amazing boutiques you’ll want to linger in. In the hotel you’ll enjoy your marble bathroom with heated floors. Booking with me you’ll enjoy perks such as room upgrades, early check-in / late check-out, daily breakfast, complimentary Wi-Fi, and hotel credits.
Merrion Hotel – This luxury historic hotel is set in a restored Georgian building and is only steps away from the National Museums and St. Stephen’s Green. This is in the most prestigious area of Dublin. The hotel is nestled right in the city center on charming, cobbled stone streets. It’s the perfect location to be in. Part of the Virtuoso luxury hotels, booking with me, you’ll get complementary breakfast, hotel credits, room upgrade, and more.
Places to eat & drink Dublin, Ireland
Spitalfields Pub & Restaurant - The only Michelin star "Pub" in Dublin/
Hen’s Teeth – Is it an art gallery, store, café, wine shop or just one of the yummiest suppers around? You come and decide for yourself.
The Stags Head – Come in for Ohara’s Red (Irish Red Ale) or Guinness and fries! Oh, and wonder if the Victorians did the same.
Doolally – Yes, Indian food in Dublin in this polished eatery with inventive and delicious Indian food. Don’t forget to order some cocktails.
The Lucky Duck Pub & Cocktail Room – Set in an elegant neighborhood, this converted multi-floor intimate townhouse makes some of the best cocktails in town. Settle in and order a few bites in the swanky cozy parlors. Maybe drink them dry of their Middleton Very Rare Whiskey as we did. (Shuuu, let this be our secret.)
Pichet – This new Michelin star contemporary French Irish bistro is a great place for a 3-course lunch. The service is friendly and unpretentious, but you’ll feel ever so fashionable being here. Not to mention the amazing food!
Fade Street Social – Chef Dylan McGrath, an Irish celebrity chef celebrates Irish food and character at this lively crowed eatery full of character, offering forward-thinking seasonal cuisine and cool interiors. I cannot just leave it here without mentioning that the absolute best Tomahawk steak I’ve ever had. Cooked to absolute perfection.
The Winding Stairs – This charming restaurant overlooks the river Liffey upstairs from a bookstore. The food is exceptionally good. Irish seafood chowder here is to die for and if mussels are on the menu, make sure not to miss it.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out my 10-Day Glorious Autumn Itinerary in Portugal: Porto, Lisbon & Sintra.
Angela Huang Walsh
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Dublin, part of our larger series on travel to Ireland.