When you’re planning a trip to Ireland there are a few important things you need to factor in including weather, crowds, daylight hours, holidays or festivals, and whether tourist attractions are open.
Ireland is not just for the summer months and is a year-round destination, all because of its welcoming people, its relatively mild temperate climate, and of course, all of its beautiful sights and scenery.
It’s an incredibly popular destination, so crowds can be a problem. The weather is sketchy at the best of times, and during the winter Ireland experiences only 7 or 8 hours of daylight every day.
All of these things should be factored in when you’re considering when to go to Ireland. As a native of Ireland, I’ve put together this guide to help you pick the best time to visit Ireland.
Ireland’s Notorious Weather
In Ireland, there is never any guarantee that you won’t get rain. Even in the middle of summer there’s the chance it could rain. It might be sunny one minute and the next you’re in a downpour. This is just what weather in Ireland is like.
In Ireland you can experience all four seasons in just one day. Irish weather is pretty changeable. You may find you’re soaked with rain, toasted with sunshine and blown to kingdom come by the wind, all in less than 12 hours.
Always pack clothing layers for traveling in Ireland - you will especially need windproof and rainproof layers, which can be peeled off and redonned as needed. Remember the west coast tends to be very windy because of the wild winds that blow in off the Atlantic Ocean. The south-east corner of Ireland gets the best weather, and we lovingly call County Wexford, the Sunny South-east.
There are a few months that you are more likely than others to have sun all over Ireland. May and June are the best months to visit Ireland if you want to reduce your chances of being caught in the rain. But even in the heart of summer you can be faced with a soft day.
Summer in Ireland
June, July and August are Ireland’s warmest months, so these months are your safest bet as the best time to visit Ireland for good weather. Temperatures rarely rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 27 degrees Celsius during the summer months.
As a result many businesses, homes, and restaurants do not have powerful air conditioning units. So if by chance, the sun splits the stones during your trip to Ireland, then be prepared to be a little warm during your trip.
If you do visit in Summer though, there is one thing you should be aware of. Ireland has a bad case of the midges on warm summer evenings. These little bugs fly in massive swarms just at the right height to end up in your mouth. They also like to bite.
So if you aren’t a big fan of bugs, you might want to reconsider a summer trip to Ireland. In fact, I could have called this piece, the best time to visit Ireland and Scotland, since midges are even worse in Scotland than in Ireland.
Long Summer Days in Ireland
Did you know that in a typical year, Ireland welcomes more tourists than the number of residents throughout the island? There are roughly 6 million people living between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and over 9 million visitors come to the island each year.
Of course, July and August are the most popular months for tourists to arrive. In addition, these are the traditional holiday months for Irish people. This means that beaches, seaside towns, and coastal attractions are particularly crowded during these months. As a result, accommodation, especially along the Wild Atlantic Way, is in high demand.
Popular attractions and towns like the Cliffs of Moher and Killarney, can be packed with tourists during the summer months. However, do remember that many of Ireland’s greatest attractions are outdoors, with plenty room for handling throngs of people. However, I find that vast numbers of people, can distract from the natural beauty of your surroundings.
In the summer months the average temperatures in Ireland range between 55°F-64°F (13°C and 18°C). However, the inland counties can get considerably warmer. Farming activities are at their height, and you'll experience the many aromas of the Irish countryside.
In the west of Ireland, during the last weeks of June, it can stay bright until close to 11 pm. These longer summer daylight hours help tourists take advantage of many summer activities, music festivals, and attractions until late in the evening.
Remember, if you want to visit any offshore islands such as the Aran Islands off the coast of County Galway, Skellig Michael, or even Sherkin Island, the summer months are best. Boating trips on the Atlantic can be dependent on sea conditions, and during the winter months the rough and rude Atlantic is just that, rough and tumultuous. Some ferries to offshore islands only operate from April through October.
Fewer Crowds May Be Your Best Time To Visit Ireland
If you want to avoid the crowds, and you don’t mind getting rained on, then try visiting Ireland between October and January.
Just keep in mind that if you do visit Ireland during these months it will be cold, raining, and some of the outdoor things you want to do won't be possible, and the attractions you would like to visit might be closed.
Many places, especially in the West of the country will close for the winter. So be sure to do some extra research to make sure you will be able to see everything you want to see.
However, not having to deal with crowds helps you appreciate the peace and quiet of Ireland's countryside. Having the place practically to yourself can be perfect for exploring both cities and rural areas.
And also remember, that when traveling outside the main tourist season, there are significant savings to be found in hotels.
My recommendation is to visit Ireland during spring or autumn. This is known as shoulder season. The months that shoulder the summer, April and May or September and October, are the very best time to visit the Emerald Isle, in my opinion. If you’re lucky you will enjoy some nice weather, plus a lower visitor footfall at all of the attractions.
When you think of holidays in Ireland St. Patrick’s Day is without a doubt the first that comes to mind. Paddy’s Day as it is known in Ireland, is the country’s national holiday, but I would argue that there are better holidays to visit Ireland. Saint Patrick’s Day is a bank holiday, so most businesses outside the hospitality sector close for the day.
If Easter falls close to Saint Patrick’s Day, you can always stay for Easter too. However, Easter in Ireland is very much a family and religious holiday. Many stores close on Good Friday, and until recently the pubs were all closed on this holy day. Easter Monday is also a public holiday in Ireland.
Halloween might be the second holiday you think of when you think of Ireland, after all, it was invented in Ireland. But while Ireland may have created the holiday I would say that America has perfected it. No, if you’re going to visit Ireland for a holiday, it should be Christmas.
Ireland has until very recently been a predominantly Catholic country and that means Christmas is one of the most important holidays all year. Every town is decorated for Christmas, there are Christmas markets scattered all across the country, and then there’s the Panto.
One thing you aren’t likely to find in Ireland for Christmas Day is snow. It does happen every few years. In fact, it’s estimated to happen every 6 years or so. But it isn’t reliable so if you’re wishing for a white Christmas Ireland isn’t your destination.
Best time of year for an Irish honeymoon.
Many people of Irish descent feel a strong connection to Ireland, and dream of a honeymoon in Ireland. Is there a best time to come to Ireland for a honeymoon?
The answer totally depends on what you wish to experience during your time in Ireland. A romantic getaway in ancient castle hotels is perfect any time of year.
If you’re interested in the great outdoors, driving the iconic Ring of Kerry, or experiencing the Wild Atlantic Way, then spring, summer or fall are the best seasons. Romantic walks in Ireland’s country estates and lavish outdoor gardens, are best enjoyed when the weather is most likely to cooperate.
Or perhaps, the happy couple is searching for peace, and hoping to see Ireland’s best highlights without crowds. Then winter is best. You can curl up in front of a warm turf fire, or enjoy a pint in a pub, and listen to live music to enrich your spirit. Spending time together, enjoying a slower pace, and experiencing Ireland at your leisure may be best for you.
What is the best time to visit Ireland for festivals and events?
The Irish people are renowned for the love of festivals and great gatherings to celebrate life and our heritage.
In Ireland, there are many festivals throughout the year, but especially in the summer months. You’ll find writer’s gatherings, music and matchmaking festivals, storytelling events, food festivals, and concerts to beat the band.
James Joyce is celebrated at Bloom in Dublin in June. The Rose of Tralee is Kerry’s famous event. Galway has an Oyster Festival, and Cork is home to a wonderful jazz festival in fall. These are only a few of the many events held throughout the year.
Many towns and villages host their own special events at different times throughout the year. Here’s a great website created by Irish Tourism to help you explore the many festivals in Ireland.
Best Time Overall
And so, what is the best time of year to visit Ireland?
If you’re looking for a bit of both worlds, not too many crowds and acceptable weather, then you might want to look at visiting Ireland in April or late August into September. The days will be longer than during winter, plus you’ll have some good weather, and the crowds won’t be at their peak.
But always remember, whatever time of year you choose to visit Ireland, there is something wild and wonderful just waiting for you to discover. From our long and eventful history, our lively music and festivals, our breathtaking natural scenery, farm-fresh food, and cozy pubs, I’m certain you’ll fall in love with Ireland, any time of year.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
- County Monaghan - A Land of Lakes and Drumlins
- County Meath - Ancient Seat Of The High Kings Of Ireland
- County Mayo - The Heather County
- County Louth - The Land Of Legends
- County Longford - The Heart of Ireland
- County Limerick - The Treaty County
- Lovely Leitrim
- County Laois - The Land Of The Cow
- County Kilkenny - Home To Ireland's Medieval City
- County Kildare
- County Kerry - The Kingdom
- County Galway - Home Of The Tribesmen