In my mind there is no bad time to visit Ireland! We've been in the rainy spring and the chill of November, the ‘high season' months of June and July, the ‘shoulder season' months of May, September, and October. And one of my most memorable trips to Dublin took place in January!
Quite honestly, any time you can go to Ireland is a good time to go!
Planning the best time for your Ireland vacation is really dependent on two things: your own schedule and the experiences you want to have.
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What is the Best Month to go to Ireland?
My favorite month to visit Ireland is September. Why? It's not as busy as summer, the weather is still quite good, and prices are beginning to drop a bit for flights and accommodation.
I realize September may not work for everyone, especially if you are traveling with kids, so here's a breakdown of what you can expect in Ireland, month by month.
January in Ireland is the perfect time for a city break! Prices for everything from airfare to accommodations is less, and crowds are minimal.
Most attractions and tours are open year round in Ireland's cities, though they may have shorter hours.
Shorter days mean longer nights, so you can expect lively pubs in the afternoon and evenings.
Ireland has a very temperate climate so even the coldest days don't often dip below freezing.
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February is the cheapest month to fly to Ireland. In my experience February has the harshest weather of any month in Ireland as the country transitions from winter to spring.
Much like January, February is a great time to focus on Irish cities.
Irish tourism gets a great boost in March due to St. Patrick's Day. You'll find many rural areas begin their tourism season around this time, though some may operate on shorter hours or limited days until the busier summer season.
Weather in March can be varied, so you want to be sure to pack for any and all types of weather.
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You'll find a little lull in tourists in April as the St. Patrick's Day revelers have departed and the busier travel season has not yet begun. Most tourism sites and attractions are open and ready for visitors, though hours may still be limited to specific days of the week.
April weather is quite similar to March, though temperatures are on the rise.
May is shoulder-season in Ireland and tourism begins its summer rise this month. Temperatures remain more consistent, in the mid-to-high 60s (Fahrenheit), and the longer days offer more time for exploration.
The busy summer season begins in June as school ends in America and families begin to travel in Ireland. You'll find the streets in Dublin and Galway filling with crowds and prices on everything from airfare and accommodations to car rental begin to rise.
June weather can be quite pleasant, though there is always the possibility of cold rain and whipping winds, so don't forget a rain jacket and layers when packing!
July and August
Welcome to the ‘high season' of Irish tourism. School is out in Ireland and across Europe so this is when most families tend to visit Ireland.
The most popular destinations across Ireland will be busy and lines at the most popular attractions can be long. Book as much in advance as possible to avoid disappointment.
The good news about visiting Ireland in the summer months is that the daylight hours are incredibly long! The sun will rise before 5am and set after 10pm, with hours of twilight on either end. If you want to see as much as possible while in Ireland this is your best opportunity.
It is best to remember that, while these are Ireland's warmest months, the temperature doesn't usually rise over 70 degrees Fahrenheit on average.
As I said above, this is my favorite month to visit Ireland. Crowds have diminished, the days are still long, and I've always experienced very good weather.
All attractions are still open and you'll still be able to enjoy beautiful gardens and bright flowers around the country.
As fall shoulder season comes to an end the cooler days are a terrific time to visit Ireland! Temperatures will hover in the mid-50s, on average, and the days begin to shorten.
Harvest is in full swing in most of the country so you'll find plenty of festivals leading up to Samhain, the Celtic festival that is at the root of Halloween.
While the days are shorter and the air a bit more crisp, my experiences with an Ireland vacation in November have been positive, with sunny days for exploring and cozy evenings listening to live music in a pub by a fire.
Some attractions, mainly smaller, rural sites, will close by November as they don't receive enough visitors to keep them open in the slowest travel time of the year, but busier locations remain open year round.
In late November Christmas markets will begin to pop up across Ireland, so this is a fun time to visit if you love to shop. City breaks are terrific now as shops and streets are decked in twinkling lights.
Weather in December begins its chilly, wet slide into winter, so layers and warm, waterproof boots are a must.
Remember that many attractions, small guesthouses, and even restaurants will close during Christmas week, so do your research and plan accordingly.
Flight prices may also climb during December as expats head home to celebrate the holidays.
The Best Time to Visit Ireland: Area Specific
The best time to travel to specific destinations in the Emerald Isle.
If you are planning a Dublin city vacation, visit during a low season (October-December; January-April). You'll find fewer crowds along Grafton street, in Temple Bar, or filling the museums and historic buildings. The majority of Dublin sites are open year round, though the hours may be shorter. Flights and lodging costs will be lower, leaving you more money for fun and souvenirs. You'll still find great craic and live trad music in the pubs, and Dublin has a terrific public transit system when you don't want to walk.
If you're traveling with children don't miss the Dublin Zoo. Crowds are light in the cold months and the animals can be surprisingly active. If your entire vacation will be in Dublin be sure to consider the Dublin Pass, which includes entry to popular sites, discounted transportation, and special savings.
If you're a fan of James Joyce be sure to plan your time in Dublin to coincide with June 16 for Bloomsday, when devotees of his novel Ulysses take to the streets to recreate character Leopold Bloom's day. Be sure to bring a period costume!
Visiting the “Sunny South” of Ireland
The warm waters of the gulf stream help keep the southern parts of Ireland a bit more tropical than you might imagine. While not warm, the southern counties of Ireland have a fall-like feel well into November.
As the southern counties are very tourist-ed, you'll find the majority of sites open year-round, though some amenities may be closed. Some of the most popular destinations in Ireland lie in this region: the Cliffs of Moher, Rock of Cashel, Bunratty Castle, and the Ring of Kerry, to name only a few.
I recommend this region in the shoulder seasons (September thru mid-November; April-May). You'll likely find lovely weather, perfect for layering that new Aran sweater, and great vacation packages.
Visiting the West and Central Ireland
If the west of Ireland, including the Aran Islands or a boat ride at the base of the Cliffs of Moher, is on your agenda, you need to time your visit carefully as boats are only open part of the year and don't carry tourists during rough weather.
Late shoulder season or high season (late May thru late September) is an optimal time to visit. Outside of Galway, visitors to this region tend toward outdoor activities like hiking and cycling, visiting magnificent Abbeys, and enjoying the abundant beauty.
Visiting Northern Ireland and Donegal
Northern Ireland has become more popular and busier in the past few years due to Titanic Belfast and Game of Thrones, so you can expect heavy crowds during the high season.
My personal recommendation for this area is to visit during the shoulder season months of May, June, September, and October. While you may have cooler days you will also have lighter crowds.
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