The Best Time to Visit Ireland (in 2023)
👉 Jump to: Best Time to Visit Ireland | Travel Seasons | Weather & Climate | Tips | FAQ
May is the best time to visit Ireland. Visiting Ireland in May offers a balance of good weather, low prices, and available activities.
Every corner of Ireland, also known as the Emerald Isle, boasts natural beauty, ancient castles, and charming, hospitable locals. I lived in Ireland and it’s one of my favorite destinations of all time.
Most travelers visit Ireland in the summer for good weather, festivals, and taking an Ireland road trip. However, summer also brings large crowds and long lines. Winter is the cheapest time for hotels and airplane tickets, but some seasonal attractions close during these cold, wet months. Spring and fall offer a unique balance of climate, prices, and attractions.
In this article, I’ll help you decide the best time to visit Ireland for you, depending on your preferences. Let’s break it down:
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When is the Best Time to Visit Ireland?
May is the best overall time to visit Ireland for discerning travelers. You’ll beat the crowds, save some money, and get to see plenty of great sites!
Ultimately, the best time to visit Ireland will depend on what you’re looking for. There is a lot to do and see in Ireland year-round, and everyone’s tastes are a little different. We’ll take a look at some of the most decisive factors in determining when the ideal time to visit the Emerald Isle will be for you.
When to Visit Ireland for Good Weather
Ireland’s weather can be cool and rainy at any time of the year, even in the middle of summer. However, June through August sees the warmest days and the most sun. The daylight hours during this time of year are longer, too, which gives you more time to explore.
The coasts of Ireland see more rain and wind. The western coast, in particular, gets more rain and wind than other regions. Nonetheless, this region sees many clear, sunny days in summer.
When to Visit Ireland for Fewer Crowds
January and February have fewer crowds at major attractions than other months. This is because the weather is cold and wet, and the large crowds from Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone. Locals also tend to hunker down and go about their business, waiting for spring and summer to come.
I lived in Dublin myself during this time of the year and still found plenty to do regardless of the drearier weather. The lack of tourists makes it easier to enjoy a night at the pub and mingle with locals (which should definitely be on any Dublin itinerary). Major attractions aren’t jammed with long lines of summer tourists either.
When to Visit Ireland for Music and Festivals
Most of Ireland’s major festivals occur in the summer. This is when concerts and art festivals abound, taking advantage of the warm weather and longer days. You’ll also find food festivals offering delicious takes on traditional favorites. Notable exceptions include St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in March and Christmas festivities in December.
The Galway International Arts Festival takes place from mid-June to the end of July and is one of the highlights of the summer. This festival sees the cozy, sleepy town of Galway explode with music, visual arts performances, and much more! (Although, Galway is great to visit any time of the year).
You’re never at a loss for live music in Ireland, though. Traditional music sessions run year-round in local pubs and street musicians come out in all but the worst weather.
When to Visit Ireland for Families with Children
The shoulder season in May is a great time for visiting Ireland if you have a family. Peak season hasn’t begun yet, so there are fewer crowds in the streets and at major attractions.
The warmer weather also makes outdoor activities much more doable. For example, walks or picnics in parks like Phoenix Park or St. Stephen’s Green. If your children are school-aged and their school gets out in May, consider taking advantage of this “headstart” for a great visit!
When to Visit Ireland for Cheap Prices
Winter is the best time to visit Ireland on a budget. The months of January and February see the fewest visitors, so it’s a great time to get cheap flights to Ireland.
Hotels also offer their lowest prices in winter. A few years ago, I stayed at Boffin Lodge Guest House, which cost only $88 for two nights in January!
One potential downside to visiting in winter is that some tour options may not be available. However, that does give you extra money for a pint or two at a cozy local pub with live, authentic Irish tunes! April and May are also shoulder season months. Prices are a little higher than in winter, but more tours and attractions are available.
Ireland Travel Seasons
Spring (March – May)
Spring sees Ireland wake up little by little from the often gloomy winters. The weather is decent, even if it’s rainier and cooler than the summer months. Late spring is an especially great time to visit Ireland if you want to take in the beautiful scenery. This is when spring flowers start to blossom in the mild weather, adding colorful splashes to the evergreen landscapes.
Spring is also a shoulder season when tickets, hotels, and tours tend to be cheaper. Prices go up a little bit around St. Patrick’s Day in March, but also in April because of Easter break for schools. Both months remain less expensive than summer, though.
Summer (June – August)
Summer is the best time to visit Ireland if you don’t mind crowds at major attractions, as well as in smaller cities. This is the peak season for tourists, and students are out and about enjoying their summer holidays. Festivals like the above-mentioned Galway Arts Festival draw huge crowds.
Ireland also has several smaller islands off its coasts. The sunny days in summer make visiting them easier than in the winter months. The remote Skellig Michael in County Kerry (southwest Ireland) is accessible only from May-September. Other places, such as the Aran Islands stay open, but the seas can get choppy!
Fall (September – November)
By early October, the weather has cooled down a lot. Peak tourist season has passed, and Ireland’s second shoulder season begins. The upside of this is that fewer crowds mean shorter wait times at major attractions in Dublin and other popular areas.
Along with the temperatures and leaves, prices also start to drop. However, you may find higher hotel prices lingering in some places where major attractions are still going on. For example, the Fringe Festival of Dublin takes place in September. Ireland also gets fall colors around this time of year, and the contrast of gold and green is especially beautiful.
Winter (December – February)
Winter is the cheapest time to travel to Ireland. Most tourists don’t visit in the winter, but there’s still plenty to do and see! In December, Christmas markets spring up in many cities. Most businesses are closed on Christmas Day, but there are still festivities and celebrations. Other winter holidays include New Year’s and St. Brigid’s Day (February 1st).
You may see a few days of sun here and there but overall, count on cloudy weather if you visit winter. Thankfully, Ireland’s winters, while wet, rarely drop below freezing. So, you don’t need to pack a parka.
Ireland Weather and Climate
Ireland enjoys a relatively mild climate year-round. Average Temperatures hover in the 40s from November through March. The shoulder season months of April, May, and October average in the 50s. The average temperature in summer (as well as September) tends to be in the 60s.
The Emerald Isle wouldn’t be so green if it weren’t for the frequent rain that falls throughout the year. Rain can happen at any time, but it tends to be more frequent outside of summer. Windy weather occurs more frequently on the west coast since it’s open to the Atlantic.
Tips for Visiting Ireland
Tip #1 – Bring waterproof clothes and layers
The weather in Ireland can change quickly, especially near the coast. Even in summer, it’s always a good idea to have a raincoat and/or umbrella packed, just in case. Waterproof shoes are also a good idea, especially if you plan on hiking anywhere.
Another practical Ireland travel tip is to pack layers. Ireland has a cooler climate than what many people are used to. Even summer nights tend to dip into the 50s.
Tip #2 – Plan Ahead
Having an itinerary is always smart. If you’re planning to dodge the crowds by visiting during the shoulder seasons, double-check that the attractions you want to visit are open.
Visitors from outside of Ireland may not be familiar with unique bank holidays, and find things closed on them unexpectedly! For instance, June 5th is a bank holiday in Ireland, as are August 7th and October 30th.
Tip #3 – Get Travel Insurance
Ireland is a safe country overall. But it never hurts to have travel insurance, just in case. You can find out all you need to know with Nate’s handy guide on Ireland Travel Insurance.
📚 Related Reading: Interested in visiting Dublin? Check out my article Is Dublin Safe for Travel?
Tip #4 – Buy a Leap Visitor Card (Dublin)
A Leap Visitor Card will be your best friend If you don’t plan on renting a car in Ireland (but if you do, we recommend Discover Cars). The card connects you with public transportation in multiple cities across Ireland. They can be purchased online at the link above or at multiple locations throughout the city.
Tip #5 – Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom, despite sharing an open border with the Republic of Ireland. You won’t pass through customs or checks if you go, but know that Northern Island is a different country. It has different laws, currencies, and other minor differences.
👉 Pro Tip: The continued separation and related political matters can be touchy subjects for some people. It’s better to avoid it in casual conversations.
FAQs About When to Visit Ireland
What time of year has the best weather in Ireland?
The best weather in Ireland is typically during the summer months of June, July, and August. Ireland’s weather can be cool and rainy even during this time of the year, however, and this is also peak tourist season. For more, see our section on when to visit Ireland for good weather.
What is the cheapest month to visit Ireland?
January is the single cheapest month to visit Ireland. By January, the holidays have passed and the weather is cold and rainy, so few tourists visit Ireland and prices are lower. See my full section on when to visit Ireland for cheap prices.
What is the rainiest month in Ireland?
December and January are the rainiest months in Ireland. Note that Ireland can be rainy any time of year and that the western coastal areas tend to receive more precipitation than other parts of Ireland. See my guide to when to visit Ireland for good weather for more.
I hope you’ve gotten a clearer picture of when the best time to visit Ireland will be for you. For further reading, a great follow-up to this article is my article on the best time to visit Dublin!
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