10 Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day: Budget-Friendly

Budget-Friendly Guide – 10 Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day

Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day - Budget-Friendly - The life of StuffIreland’s charm extends beyond its sunny days, offering a unique experience even when the rain graces the Emerald Isle. Here’s a list of 20 budget-friendly activities to enjoy on rainy days.

Photo by Jaleel Akbash

But First! How Much Rain Does Ireland Actually Get?

Ireland is renowned for its lush green landscapes, partly due to the country’s considerable rainfall. On average, Ireland experiences about 150 to 225 rainy days annually, with precipitation distributed fairly evenly throughout the year. The western (Galway, Mayo) and northwestern regions (Sligo, Donegal) tend to receive more rainfall than the eastern (Dublin, Wicklow) and southeastern parts (Wexford, Waterford).

Annual precipitation varies across the country, ranging from approximately 750 millimeters (30 inches) to over 2,000 millimeters (80 inches). This consistent and ample rainfall contributes to Ireland’s vibrant flora, picturesque countryside, and the iconic mist that often blankets its rolling hills, creating the atmospheric charm for which the Emerald Isle is known.

Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day - Budget-Friendly - rainy dayRainy day photo by John Noonan

10 Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day

Despite the rain, Ireland’s indoor activities promise a memorable experience, blending culture, history, and warmth. Embrace the Irish spirit, and let the rainy days become a part of your travel adventure.

1. Visit Museums:

Ireland boasts an array of captivating free museums, inviting visitors to delve into the nation’s rich history and culture without breaking the bank. Among the top picks is the National Museum of Ireland, featuring artifacts spanning archaeology, decorative arts, and natural history. Dublin’s Chester Beatty Library, described as one of the best museums in Europe by Lonely Planet, impresses with its free exhibits of rare manuscripts and prints. The Ulster Museum in Belfast is another gem, offering free entry to explore diverse collections, from art to ancient relics.

Did you know? The National Museum of Ireland is made up of four sites! All free to enter.

  • Decorative Arts & History – Collins Barracks, Dublin 7
  • Country Life – Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
  • Natural History – Merrion Street, Dublin 2
  • Archaeology – Kildare Street, Dublin 2

Immerse yourself in Ireland’s heritage at local museums, where the wealth of knowledge comes at no cost or a minimum entrance fee, ensuring an enriching and budget-friendly cultural experience.

And if you’d like to trace your roots then a visit to the multi-award winning EPIC Museum is a must, you can read more about it here: Ireland Travel Guide – 10 Best Things to do in Dublin 1

Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day - Budget-Friendly - The Rock of CashelThe Rock of Cashel photo by K. Mitch Hodge

2. Tour a Castle:

Ireland boasts a treasure trove of castles, each steeped in history and architectural splendor. The Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, is an iconic site with medieval structures set against a stunning landscape. The Gothic Revival structure of Dublin Castle, Kilkenny Castle and Trim Castle in County Meath, known for its imposing Norman architecture, offer complimentary access to their grounds. Dunluce Castle in County Antrim, perched dramatically on the cliffs, allows visitors to explore its exterior without an entrance fee.

Blarney Castle and Bunratty Castle are examples of popular destinations that also offer interactive experiences.

Irish castles not only transport visitors to Ireland’s storied past but also provide an opportunity to marvel at the country’s picturesque landscapes and enduring heritage.

Please note: there are entrance fees for guided/self-guided tours of the castles listed above. For example an adult ticket to Dublin Castle, Kilkenny Castle and the Rock of Cashel is €8, Trim Castle Keep is €5, Dunluce Castle is £6, Bunratty Castle is €15 and Blarney Castle is €20 per adult.

And if you’ve had your fill of Irish castles also consider tours of Abbeys and Manor Houses. For example the beautiful Kylemore Abbey at the foot of the Twelve Bens Mountains in Galway or Emo Court House in Laois.

Further Reading: UnEarth Connemara’s Hidden Gem: Glengowla Mines Galway

Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day - Budget-Friendly - The Long Room DublinThe Long Room photo by Hannes Schütz

3. Library Exploration:

Ireland is home to some exceptional libraries, each a haven for literary enthusiasts. For example:

The Chester Beatty Library, adjacent to Dublin Castle, offers free access to its impressive array of manuscripts, prints, and artifacts from diverse cultures.

Marsh’s Library, nestled in the heart of Dublin, welcomes visitors to explore its historic reading room and rare book collection without an entrance fee.

Trinity College Library in Dublin (entrance fee eg €21.50 per adult, is for access to both the Long Room and the Book of Kells) is renowned for its breathtaking Long Room, showcasing an extensive collection of ancient manuscripts and books.

These library examples not only celebrate Ireland’s literary heritage but also provide a serene atmosphere for those seeking to immerse themselves in the world of words, making them must-visit destinations for bibliophiles on a budget.

However our recommendation is to seek out local libraries in towns and villages. From libraries homed in repurposed churches, to purpose built state of the art facilities. The local libraries of Ireland aren’t just for rainy days in Ireland, they’re a hub of cultural get togethers, events and community.

Did you Know? Public library membership is completely free of charge for everyone in Ireland. You can join at any age but those under 18 years old must get permission from a parent or guardian.

Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day - Budget-Friendly - Traditional Irish Music SessionTraditional Irish Trad Session photo by Morgan Lane

4. Traditional Irish Pubs:

Enjoy live music, storytelling, and the warmth of a traditional Irish pub atmosphere. Most pubs are free to enter, and you can savour a hot meal without breaking the bank.

Among the standout establishments for culture, and known for their lively atmosphere and live traditional music is: O’Donoghue’s on Merrion Row, Doheny & Nesbitt on Baggot Street Lower and The Cobblestone in Smithfield, Dublin – iconic pubs nestled in the heart of the city both north and south of the River Liffey.

In Galway, Tigh Neachtain is celebrated for its snug and intimate setting, offering an extensive selection of Irish whiskeys. Dick Mack’s in Dingle, County Kerry, is a characterful pub with a rich history and a penchant for traditional Irish music sessions. Durty Nelly’s in Bunratty, County Clare, not only boasts a historic setting but also provides a warm, welcoming ambiance.

These traditional Irish pubs are only a handful of the pubs across the Island of Ireland that not only serve a perfect pint of stout but also serve as cultural hubs, embodying the spirit of Ireland’s conviviality and musical heritage. Every town and village is guaranteed to have one, so keep your eyes out and your options open!

Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day - Budget-Friendly - The National Gallery of irelandNational Gallery of Ireland photo by Juliet Furst

5. Art Galleries:

Ireland hosts a plethora of remarkable free art galleries, inviting enthusiasts to immerse themselves in a world of creativity without spending a penny.

The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin stands out for its vast collection, spanning European masters to contemporary Irish artists, all accessible at no cost. Crawford Art Gallery in Cork offers a diverse range of exhibitions, showcasing both local and international talents in a welcoming environment with complimentary admission. The Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, renowned for its modern and contemporary art, provides free entry to its captivating displays.

The Ulster Museum in Belfast stands out as a premier art gallery, housing a diverse and extensive collection that spans centuries, showcasing both local and international artworks in a captivating and educational setting. The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) in Belfast is a dynamic cultural hub, renowned for its contemporary arts programming, innovative exhibitions, and vibrant theater performances in a sleek and modern architectural space.

These galleries not only celebrate artistic expression but also make the vibrant world of Irish art accessible to all, ensuring a culturally enriching experience for visitors on a budget.

6. Indoor Markets:

One of Dublin’s prominent indoor markets is the George’s Street Arcade, located in the heart of the city. Established in 1881, this historic market exudes a charming atmosphere with its ornate Victorian architecture. Visitors can explore a variety of stalls offering everything from fresh produce and gourmet foods to unique crafts and vintage finds.

Fresh Food Farmers Market; The Green Door Market is a well-known indoor market in Dublin 12, celebrated for its commitment to supporting local producers and providing a welcoming space for those seeking high-quality, environmentally conscious products. Glasnevin Indoor Market is known for its array of stalls offering fresh produce, artisanal foods, handmade crafts, and more. It provides a community-oriented space for both locals and visitors to enjoy a diverse shopping experience.

Cork City’s iconic English Market, housed in a historic building, is a culinary haven where visitors can explore a diverse array of fresh produce, gourmet delights, and handmade crafts. The Milk Market in Limerick is a bustling indoor marketplace with a rich array of food stalls, showcasing the region’s finest local produce. The Galway Market, situated in Church lane by St Nicholas’ Church, provides a charming and atmospheric setting, although not completely shaded from the rain, it’s worth popping by for a variety of handmade crafts, fresh produce, and international fare.

St. George’s Market in Belfast stands out as a vibrant indoor market, housed in a stunning Victorian building. Open throughout the week, this market is a bustling hub where locals and visitors alike can explore a diverse array of stalls offering fresh produce, artisanal crafts, gourmet foods, and unique gifts. The lively atmosphere, coupled with live music performances on weekends, adds to the market’s charm, making it a must-visit destination for those looking to experience the rich cultural tapestry of Belfast through its indoor market scene.

Irish indoor markets not only offer a delightful shopping experience but also provide a cultural snapshot of Ireland’s culinary and craft traditions, making them must-visit destinations for those seeking a sensory journey through the country’s diverse offerings.

Further Reading: Five Fabulous Reasons to Visit Belfast City

Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day - Budget-Friendly - Palas Cinema GalwayThe Pálás Cinema photo by Andrea Ferrario

7. Cinema Experience:

Ireland boasts a selection of distinctive and noteworthy cinemas, each offering a unique cinematic experience. The Stella Theatre in Dublin stands out for its opulent 1920s Art Deco design, creating an atmosphere of vintage glamour. The Pálás Cinema in Galway is known for its modern architecture, combining cinema with cultural spaces, art exhibitions, and a stylish café. The Triskel Arts Centre in Cork presents an unusual cinema experience within a historic church building, offering an eclectic selection of films in a distinctive setting.. The Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin appeals to cinephiles with its contemporary architecture and a commitment to showcasing a diverse selection of films, from avant-garde works to mainstream releases.

The Irish Film Institute (IFI) in Dublin is a cultural hub for cinephiles, celebrated for its commitment to showcasing a diverse range of films, from classic masterpieces to contemporary independent productions, in a welcoming and historic setting.

These cinemas not only provide a platform for film appreciation but also add an extra layer of charm with their architectural and cultural significance, making them destinations that transcend the typical movie-watching experience in Ireland.

Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day - Budget-Friendly - Irish TheatreTheatre photo by Shivendu Shukla

8. Local Performances:

The island of Ireland is home to a plethora of exceptional theaters, each contributing to the rich tapestry of the performing arts and the cultural vibrancy of the island.

Top Tip: Along with the well-known (some are featured below) be sure to check out local theaters for budget-friendly performances, including plays, musicals, and comedy shows.

The Abbey Theatre in Dublin, renowned as the national theatre of Ireland, has been a cornerstone of dramatic excellence since its founding in 1904, showcasing a mix of traditional and contemporary works. Belfast’s Grand Opera House is a historic gem, hosting a variety of productions, from musicals to ballet and drama, within its stunning Victorian architecture. Cork’s Everyman Theatre, with its intimate setting, stands out for its commitment to delivering diverse and high-quality performances.

Additionally, the Lyric Theatre in Belfast is recognized for its modern approach to theater, promoting innovative and thought-provoking productions. Smock Alley Theatre and The New Theatre in Dublin are both dynamic cultural spaces dedicated to promoting contemporary Irish and international plays, fostering emerging talent, and providing audiences with thought-provoking and innovative theatrical experiences.

Also in Dublin: Check out The Complex Gallery and Studios in Smithfield, Lost Lane on Adam Court, just off Grafton Street and The Bewleys Café Theatre on Grafton Street for live performance’s, and cultural events.


Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day - Budget-Friendly - National Botanical Gardens DublinNational Botanical Gardens Dublin photo by Soff Garavano Puw

9. Botanical Gardens:

Wander through indoor botanical gardens like the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin, or the National Botanic Gardens Belfast where you can appreciate nature without getting wet.

The National Botanic Gardens in Dublin and Belfast stand as verdant sanctuaries, each a showcase of botanical diversity and natural beauty. In Dublin, the gardens, located in Glasnevin, span 19.5 hectares and boast an extensive collection of plants from around the world. Visitors can explore themed gardens, Victorian glasshouses, and the enchanting pond, all set against the backdrop of historic wrought-iron glasshouses.

In Belfast, the Botanic Gardens, situated near Queen’s University, captivate with its Palm House, a stunning Victorian glasshouse filled with tropical plants. The gardens also feature the Tropical Ravine, an architectural gem housing exotic species. Both locations offer a tranquil escape, educational opportunities, and a chance to appreciate the wonders of the plant kingdom in carefully curated landscapes.

Further Reading: The Blooming Best – Five Gorgeous Gardens in Walk in Dublin

Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day - Budget-Friendly - Climbing WallClimbing wall Photo by Rachel-noguidebook

10. Indoor Adventure Activities:

Indoor adventure activities on the island of Ireland provide thrill-seekers and enthusiasts with exciting alternatives for exploration. Ranging from budget friendly fun days to expensive excursions – you’re sure to find an activity to suit your taste and pocket. But if you do need a little twist of your rubber arm, remember family and friend activities like these could provide lasting fond memories, and those are priceless!

Experience the rush of indoor rock climbing at dedicated facilities like Awesome Walls in Dublin or Boulder World in Belfast, offering challenges for climbers of all skill levels.

For a unique and immersive experience, try indoor skydiving at iFly in Belfast, where vertical wind tunnels recreate the sensation of free-falling. Escape rooms, such as Escape Dublin, Incognito Dublin and Black 11 in Galway offer mentally stimulating challenges, providing an exhilarating group activity. Additionally, trampoline parks like Jump Zone in Dublin offer a bouncy adventure suitable for all ages.

These indoor adventure options allow visitors to stay active and entertained, making Ireland an unexpected but thrilling destination for those seeking excitement within four walls.

PIN: 10 Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day – Budget-Friendly

Things to Do in Ireland on a Rainy Day - Budget-Friendly - The life of Stuff

Rainy days in Ireland won’t stop you exploring, you just need to find activities that are either indoors or shaded – and this list ’10 things to do in Ireland on a rainy day’ will help you plan them whilst keeping to your travel budget.

However with saying that, depending on how long your stay is and how heavy the rain is there’s always the option to recharge your batteries and enjoy a lazy rainy duvet day. And for days like this you can busy yourself catching up on your new favourite series, here’s some inspiration: ‘The Ultimate Guide to Binge-Worthy TV Shows Ireland‘ or with some online fun: BonusFinder Ireland where you can play to your heart’s content or until it clears up enough for you to go exploring.

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