Are you looking for a vacation that will make everyone happy? When the kids want to explore the great outdoors, Dad wants to discover a piece of history, and Mom wants a music-filled weekend, Ireland is the place to go!
Between its stunning scenery, iconic castles, and numerous festivals, you may want to take an extended stay on the Emerald Isle! Gather your partner and family, make a list of desired activities, and then look to us to determine the best time to plan your trip.
Why You Should Visit Ireland
Suppose you’re looking for an escape into nature. In that case, Ireland’s natural environment of cliffs, parks, and beaches can lure the adventurer. The southwest holds Ireland’s Sliabh Liag Cliffs, the highest sea cliffs in Europe.
At the same time, the southeast is home to the beautiful golden beaches of Wexford. Ireland’s greenways and trails are built specifically for cyclists and pedestrians. They will take you along the most scenic routes.
There are different levels of trails, so you can find one that best suits everyone’s abilities. The history buff will be excited to experience ancient castles, monasteries, and Georgian mansions.
The six hundred-year-old Blarney Castle is a must-see for those wanting to kiss the famous Blarney Stone and be blessed with the gift of gab! There are thousands of castles to explore within Ireland’s beautiful hills and beaches.
Head to County Cork and visit Kilbrittain Castle, the oldest built-in 1035. Or start in County Meath, where Trim Castle, the largest castle measuring a whopping 322,917 square feet, is located.
Choose your county and let your adventure back in time begin! If it’s festivities and drinks you’re looking for – why not go to the source! Ireland entertains all year round, from the preeminent St. Patrick’s Festival to the famous Cork Jazz Festival!
Ireland has at least one monthly festival, rally, or celebration year-round. The main festival season runs from May through October.
So for example, the Irish Derby happens in June, the Galway International Arts Festival in July, Ireland’s oldest Puck Fair in August, and the Dublin Fringe Festival in September.
Finally, October closes the season with the Cork Jazz Festival and the Belfast International Arts Festival. In addition, there are many festivals, events, and happenings throughout the year so check out the official tourism website for the most current schedules.
Whether you’re exploring the east, west, north, or south, one can hardly leave the island without visiting some of the oldest whiskey distilleries in the world.
The Bow Street distillery, the birthplace of Jameson Irish whiskey, was built in 1780, and Bushmill’s distillery opened in 1784. The oldest distillery, Kilbeggan, is located in County Westmeath and was built in 1757.
Overall Best Time to Visit Ireland
Spring, summer, or fall are your best times to visit Ireland. Suppose you’re looking for smaller crowds, lower prices on accommodations, and moderate weather.
In that case, spring and fall are your best times to head over to the Emerald Isle. These months, also known as the “shoulder seasons,” include the Easter holiday through May and mid-September through October.
If crowds aren’t your worry, and you want to partake in rich Irish culture, then the summer festival season will be your best overall time to visit. Here is just a sampling of festivals:
- Dublin International Chamber Music Festival – with international musicians.
- Cork Midsummer Festival – live theater performance.
- Body & Soul – live performances and experiences.
- Hinterland – a literature and arts festival.
- Longitude – three-day music festival in Dublin.
- Irish Youth Dance Festival – performances featuring emerging dancers.
- Galway Film Fleadh – an international film festival.
- Galway International Arts Festival – multidisciplinary arts festival.
- Kilkenny Arts Festival – live music, outdoor theater, and multimedia installations.
- Waterford Walls – street art festival.
- Chamber Music on Valencia – classical, contemporary, and Irish traditional chamber music from international artists.
Lastly, suppose you are a full Irishman or woman or just feel akin to the Irish. In that case, you may find the best time to visit is in March as the springtime ushers in St. Patrick’s Day and the world’s most famous parade!
Cheapest Time to Visit Ireland
If you don’t mind cooler weather, November and January to just before Easter are the cheapest months to visit Ireland.
Although you may have less time outdoors due to fewer daylight hours, this gives you more time to enjoy the perfect pub to cozy up in after your afternoon adventure.
e aware that some countryside attractions close for the winter. But on the flip side, the accommodations are going to be less expensive during this time.
To save the most money, be sure to book your flights in advance. Using an online search engine like Travelocity or Skyscanner will gather almost all possibilities and help you find the one that best fits your budget.
Least Busy Time to Visit Ireland
The winter months are the least busy time to visit Ireland. This is, of course, due to the cooler temperatures resulting in less outdoor activity.
Many people prefer the warmer weather to spend as much time outdoors on the greenways and parks. Suppose you’re looking to visit during the least busy time, and you’re okay with visiting some places like the magical Hill of Tara without a stop at the tourist center.
And finishing your day inside the St. James Brewery for a pint of Guinness sounds fantastic! In that case, the winter months will call you. January is the quietest month, with February coming in at a close second.
The Dublin Film Festival and Six Nations Rugby events will add some energy to February but not enough to feel crowded.
November can also be a quieter month with summer holidays over, festivals completed, and people staying home to save their energy for the upcoming holiday season.
Worst Time to Visit Ireland
The worst time to visit Ireland will depend on what you consider “worst.” If it’s crowds and high tariffs that you consider the worst, then June through August is the time to stay away.
As with many countries in the northern hemisphere, the summer months are the busiest for tourism. Accommodations can be hard to find if not booked in advance, and favorite cities like Dublin and Kerry can be crowded.
You can still have an enjoyable summer visit if you plan ahead of time. Book your perfect hotel and arrange a day or two to drive through the countryside away from the crowds.
Suppose crowds don’t bother you, but cold weather does. In that case, the worst time to travel to Ireland is between November and February.
Although it’s not likely to snow, the short daytime hours and abundant rain can make these months the least comfortable time to be out exploring. Still, a nice warm train ride through the south will supply beautiful scenery.
Likewise, a city tour through Belfast in the north, ending at the historic McHughs Bar built in the 1700s, can make wonderful Irish winter memories.
Best Time for Exploring the Outdoors
The spring, summer, and fall months are the best time for exploring the outdoors. Because of the unpredictable weather that Ireland is known for, it’s always best to be prepared for all four seasons no matter when you visit!
Easter is an excellent marker to consider as that is when many attractions open up for the tourist season. The weather gets warmer, and the flowers on the hillsides begin to bloom.
The first weekend of May includes the May Bank Holiday (first Monday) and the beginning of the festival season. May can have sunny days and warm weather, making for a nice entrance into summer.
Another bank holiday at the beginning of June will also bring the locals out to the countryside, attending the festivals and soaking in the sun.
As busy as they are with local and foreign tourists, July and August are filled with festivals, open tourist attractions, and as much sunshine as you see in Ireland. Spend a few days exploring castles in the countryside followed by a weekend festival.
If it’s too much you can always run off to your – booked in advance – hotel room for a bit of calm and privacy. September and October start to close the festivals, and the weather begins to cool.
This can also be some of the best weather to explore and discover your heritage throughout the castle lands and Georgian mansions.
Things to Consider
- Weather: You can see all four seasons in one day in Ireland, so be prepared for anything! Don’t forget to check the nation’s weather site for the most up-to-date information.
- January-February. Temperatures are at their lowest, hovering around 41F with 10-13 days of rain throughout the month on average.
- March. Temperature begins to creep up to the upper 40s and 50F, with an average of 11 days of rain.
- April and May. Temperatures are in the 50s and rain days remain around 11 throughout the month.
- June–September. High 50s to 60F will keep the festivals warm, with June and July holding the least amount of rain all year. August and September can vary, with 10-12 days of rain and temps in the mid-high 50s.
- October. Temperatures begin to drop into the lower 50s, and rains increase to about 12 days throughout the month.
- November-December. Temperatures dip into the 40s, and the rains reach their peak between 12-13 days throughout the month.
- It’s to your benefit to check for “bank holidays” on the calendar in Ireland. These, and other public holidays, are the most popular times for locals to travel in Ireland. This will influence the crowd numbers, accommodation availability, and some pricing.
- If you don’t mind the Irish winter climate, the Christmas markets of December throughout Ireland are magical to experience!
- It’s important to remember that the 1920 partition separated Ireland into two countries. Although the relations between North and South are generally better than ever currently, the separation is taken seriously and should be known when you visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Ireland part of the United Kingdom?
Ireland was separated into two countries after the partition in 1920. The Republic of Ireland is a sovereign country. It is the larger southern part of the island, while Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.
How much rainfall does Ireland get?
Ireland is known for its rainfall. However, the amount varies depending on where you are on the island. The east and southeast coasts get an average of 151 “wet days,” and the west can get up to 225 days a year of rainfall of more than 1mm (0.039 in).
Who gets more rain, Ireland or England?
Ireland is generally cloudier and wetter than most of England. Both countries have relatively mild weather, but England can have more extremes than Ireland.
Why is Ireland called the Emerald Isle?
Ireland’s grassy landscapes cover the island with such beauty that it is known for its Forty Shades of Green. This is the common belief behind the nickname Emerald Isle.
The emerald stone is not native to Ireland, so some people look to the spiritual meaning behind the emerald stone for its relation to Ireland. Many cultures worldwide, including the ancient Irish, believe emeralds symbolize vitality, prosperity, and rebirth throughout history.
Others believe one becomes wittier and more intelligent when wearing an emerald, somewhat similar to the Blarney Stone. Emerald Isle was first used in print in Willam Drennan’s 1778 poem, “When Erin First Rose.”
Drennan was a poet, physician, and activist who spoke out about the uprising and political unrest. He wrote of violence and hatred turning green meadows to blood-red.
What is the legend of the Blarney Stone?
A block of carboniferous limestone, also known as the Stone of Eloquence, has been sitting at the top of Blarney Castle in Cork since 1446. Legend says that kissing the stone will endow you with great eloquence and skill at flattery!
What is the oldest distillery in Ireland?
A local landowner was given a royal license to distill whiskey from King James in 1608, but the company that built the actual distillery was formed in 1784.
How do they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland?
For most Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by going to church and having a family dinner. Some people wear small bunches of shamrocks that priests have blessed on their clothing.
This is in honor of St. Patrick’s teaching about the Holy Trinity using the shamrock. The five-day St. Patrick’s Festival happens in Dublin. It features a parade, plays, concerts, carnival rides, and all kinds of activities.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Ireland?
There’s a lot to take in if you’re exploring Emerald Isle. From nature to history to contemporary jazz, Ireland is full of activities and destinations to satisfy anyone’s wanderlust.
Even though the weather is a principal focus when people travel to Ireland, don’t let it dissuade you from visiting this magical island. It is rich in history, culture, and beautiful people!