Ireland is well known for its cold and rainy weather, but don’t let that put you off visiting the Emerald Isle, because this is truly a beautiful country to explore.
Ireland though is one of the wettest places in Europe and it’s rare to go too long without at least a light shower.
It goes without saying to always pack a raincoat, even in the midst of summer, because you never know when the clouds will burst.
Summer is when you have the best weather though of course, and June to August is always peak season in Ireland. This is when the hiking is best and the cities are at their liveliest.
Winter is long, cold and dreary, and you can expect unpleasant weather from September through to May, but there’s still plenty to do across the country.
The cities, such as Dublin or Cork are year-round destinations, while during the autumn the countryside is wonderfully resplendent in a myriad of shades and colors.
There’s a lot to do across the country, so to help you decide when the best time to visit Ireland is, here’s our month by month guide.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Ireland (Travel Guide)
Best Time to Visit Ireland: Month by Month Breakdown
January in Ireland
January isn’t traditionally seen as the best time to visit Ireland, but actually, it’s the perfect time to escape the tourists.
Aside from the New Year celebrations, Ireland is usually quiet in January. Flights are cheap and accommodation can be a bargain, but best of all, you won’t be queuing for hours at a time to see the most popular tourist attractions.
The weather is decidedly bad in January though, which is why things are so quiet. There’s rain and snow and the days are incredibly short.
It’s not a good time for outdoor activities but take the chance to explore cities without the crowds or to visit famous sites such as Blarney Castle or the Guinness Brewery, and to have the attractions to yourself.
February in Ireland
In February, things are still incredibly quiet across Ireland, and you can still enjoy the most popular tourist attractions without the crowds.
Just like in January, the weather is still notoriously bad in February, and this is usually one of the rainiest months of the year, with snow falling too, and usually turning the streets to slush.
The weather is undeniably miserable, so this is not the best time to visit Ireland if you’re looking to enjoy the Irish countryside or the coastline.
Instead, stick to the cities. Visit Dublin and explore the museums and historic attractions or spend your vacation eating and drinking your way around the pubs and taverns in Cork or Galway, where you’ll find a lively cultural scene at any time of the year.
March in Ireland
March is when the really bad weather begins to dissipate, and when the temperatures slowly start to rise as the days start to get longer.
There’s still a lot of rain of course – this is Ireland, remember – but you can start to head out into the countryside or along the coast to enjoy the scenery.
March is generally quiet, although this changes on St Patrick’s Day. This is Ireland’s famed national day, a celebration of all things Irish that brings in millions of visitors from across the world.
The best place to be for the 17th March is Dublin, where you can watch the St Patrick’s Day parade before enjoying a Guinness or two in the bars.
April in Ireland
In April the weather begins to get better still, but it can still be wet and cold. This is springtime and the countryside looks marvelously splendid when the sun shines and the flowers bloom.
April is still quiet as the high season hasn’t yet really begun, but it can get busy if Easter falls this month.
This is the best time to visit Ireland to start hiking, as the weather is nice and cool and popular trails in places such as Killarney National Park aren’t yet so busy.
Take the opportunity to visit the Cliffs of Moher or to road trip the Ring of Kerry before the summer crowds arrive in the following months.
May in Ireland
May is the best time to visit Ireland to beat the summer crowds. This is the start of the high season, but compared to June and July, May is comparatively quieter.
The weather is great in May, although of course, you always need to be prepared for a rain shower.
Head to popular spots along the Wild Atlantic Way, hike to waterfalls or explore the beaches and seaside towns, and make the most of the sun while it lasts.
The countryside is beautiful in May and the weather is perfect for multi-day walks such as the Kerry Way, which will take you to some of Ireland’s best scenery and most charming rural villages.
June in Ireland
It’s peak season in June and this is not the best time to visit Ireland if you’re looking for peace and quiet.
Things are busy because the weather is usually quite glorious – or at least, it only rains once or twice in the month!
Enjoy the Irish countryside and the great outdoors, and head to the beaches along the Wild Atlantic Way where the water might even be warm enough for a quick swim in the ocean.
July in Ireland
July is even busier than June because many families will be visiting or exploring Ireland during the school holidays which tend to fall this time of the year across Europe.
Again, this is not the best time to visit Ireland if you appreciate a quiet holiday, because Ireland’s most famous attractions will all be chaotic and busy.
This is the time to head further afield. Rent a car and drive to lesser-known spots along the Atlantic Ocean, or tackle the longer multi-day hikes where you’ll find some solitude.
You’ll also want to enjoy the beaches and take a boat over to the Skellig Islands, which are only open for a short period each year during the summer season when the water is calm.
August in Ireland
August can be just as busy as July because it’s always school holidays too throughout the month.
The weather is still good but not quite as good as June and July, as things are getting slightly colder and there will be more rainy days, especially towards the end of August.
The cooling weather makes this a great time for hiking, and you’ll definitely want to get out of the cities and away from the busy tourist attractions to explore the lesser-known and quieter parts of Ireland.
September in Ireland
Things quieten down in September, although the start of the month can still be busy.
Peak season is drawing to a close but the weather is still great – at least on Irish terms anyway.
It can rain a lot of course but there’s still lots of sunny days too. It’s a good time for hiking as the temperatures are cooling down, while you might even be able to squeeze in the odd beach day if you’re lucky.
Walk the Cliffs of Moher and take the last boat trips over to the Skellig Islands before the ocean becomes too turbulent.
October in Ireland
October is autumn and it’s the best time to visit Ireland to enjoy the wonderful autumnal landscapes that are found across the country.
A road trip into the countryside, and take a camera along to get the best shots of the golden, red and brown colors that you’ll find.
Take autumnal walks into the national parks or walk to crashing waterfalls and immerse yourself in the beauty of Ireland in October.
The best part is, there are few other tourists around in October because peak season is well and truly over.
November in Ireland
In November the weather is well and truly miserable once again, and the autumnal bliss is beginning to fade and be replaced with the cold and rain of winter.
November is a quiet time to be in Ireland so take the chance to visit the country’s usually busy attractions.
You can still enjoy the natural sights such as the Cliffs of Moher but plan carefully when traveling in the countryside.
Many smaller businesses begin to close down after the tourist season has ended. Stick to the cities though and everything stays open.
Flight prices and accommodation costs will be much lower in November in comparison to other months, as this is well and truly a shoulder month in Ireland.
December in Ireland
December is a cold and dreary time of the year in Ireland, but it’s also a unique time to be in the country because the run-up to Christmas and New Year is always an exciting few weeks.
You can visit Christmas markets across the country, but head to Dublin or Cork for the biggest or to Galway for the quirkiest.
You’ll be lucky to have a White Christmas in Ireland though because December is definitely a month of rain.
It’s a good chance to make the most of the warm, local taverns and to enjoy live music as you sit around a fireplace.
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