Deciding on the best time to visit Ireland isn’t quite as simple as figuring out when to travel to some other destinations.
Year-round, the Emerald Isle’s temperature is a bit chilly, with summer averaging in the mid-60s and winter hovering in the mid-40s. Either way, you’ll probably need a jacket. Even more notable is the rainfall. Don’t assume that you can avoid it by visiting during the summer months. Those ash trees and clovers need a good amount of moisture to stay green.
There are cost advantages to visiting in the low season (winter) and plenty of events to attend in the high season (summer). Many tourists consider the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) the most desirable, but even those can be packed with visiting school groups.
To help you plan your visit, we broke things down even further into what you can expect during each season in Ireland.
Unlike many countries near the top of the Northern Hemisphere, Ireland’s winter temperatures are relatively mild. The warm ocean current from the North Atlantic Drift helps keep the temperatures around 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Frost is fairly common, but snowfall is less likely to occur than rain. Perhaps the biggest seasonal negative is a short day. The sun shines for about eight hours during the winter months. On the flip side, summer has twice the amount of sunshine. Of course, if you’re a hard-partying night owl, a short day might be fine.
As with most major cities, Christmas is a multi-day celebration in Dublin, including craft markets and tree lightings. Several horse racing festivals occur before and after December 25. After Christmas, break out your clogs for the Scoil Gheimhridh Ghaoth Dobhair, which celebrates Celtic culture with a program that includes plenty of Irish music and art, plus language classes and kids’ events. In late February, the Dublin International Film Festival debuts new films and fetes stars such as Daniel Day Lewis, Martin Sheen, and Vanessa Redgrave.
Some of the historic attractions may be closed or have limited visiting hours during the winter, because tourism is light. That said, airfare and accommodations usually cost the least during these months. However, several bed-and-breakfasts shut down completely.
Although spring in Ireland is only a bit warmer than winter — with high temperatures that range from 46 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit — many travelers prefer it for the greenery as well as for St. Patrick’s Day in March. April…