When to Travel to Ireland

The Six Best Months in Which to Visit Ireland

This is January in Ireland - okay, sundown at 4 pm, and I was wrapped up very warm, but still ... beautiful.
••• This is January in Ireland - okay, sundown at 4 pm, and I was wrapped up very warm, but still ... beautiful. © Bernd Biege 2015

"When should I go to Ireland?", also known as "What is the best time to visit Ireland?" - this might well be the question most asked, and mot googled, when it comes to planning an Irish vacation. Most experts always like to chicken out on this, instead proclaiming that "it entirely depends on what you want to do". Once you have experienced all seasons in Ireland (which quite often can happen in one day, but normally on a more regular basis throughout the year), you will however be able to recommend certain things, attractions, sights, and activities in certain months.

Though this might often be counter-productive to that "complete Irish experience" many a tourist wants in a week, or two.

So, let us have a close look the conundrum ... travelling to and in Ireland, when does it make the most sense? It really all depends on your interests. And that is not a platitude to deflect the question. Guaranteed.

Is There a Worst Time to Travel in Ireland?

Again, it depends, but Ireland can be a bit inhospitable in winter. Outdoor fun is really only for the hardiest of us all from November to February, those four months are definitely cold, wet, and generally miserable. With a tendency to low light levels, and those for a short time too. If you are prone to SAD, don't venture out. And the winters in Ireland are no longer necessarily only mild and muddy - they now can become quite harsh. The good news is less mud. So pack not only wet weather gear during this time, but also some really warm stuff.

And maybe read up on winter driving in Ireland, if you are not quite used to it. On the other hand, in November you might also be lucky enough to experience a Saint Martin's Summer.

There is another, more logistical snag - the tourist season in Ireland generally runs from Easter to the October Bank Holiday, outside these times attractions, as well as accommodation providers, might simply be closed.

So check carefully when planning your trip outside the tourist season, the highlights you may want to see might not welcome you at all.

But there are good news too: substantial savings can be made outside the tourist season regarding accommodation. And the (at least comparative) peace and quiet even at the most popular attractions can be quite rewarding in itself. And, in addition, always bear in mind that while the "Visitor Centre" or "Interpretive Centre" at some outdoor attractions like Tara might be closed in winter, the attraction itself simply cannot close, you are free to explore it without expert advice at any time.

Second Worst ... the High Season in July and August

July and August are the traditional holiday months in Ireland, when especially seaside resorts (such as there might be, most a not much to write home about) are crowded and noisy. This is, unfortunately, also the only actually sensible time to enjoy a swim in the ocean (with some dangerous jellyfish hitting the Irish beaches at the same time, to add a caveat).

A time best avoided if at all possible. And not only on the beaches, but also in the fields, in the streets, in the hills. Every attraction will attract locals and visitors alike, and in good weather it can become complete mayhem, even on bad days the crowds will still be milling about.

Trust the experiences of others, you don't want to face traffic jams and tailbacks in the Wicklow Mountains, while searching for tranquility.

Where Does That Leave Us, in What Months Should We Travel to Ireland?

Well, the months of March, April, May, June, September, and October - which is actually half the year. And that half of the year when attractions are both open, and accessible without the worst crowds. With a caveat around St. Patrick’s Day, when many transatlantic travels happen, and Dublin is chock-a-block with revelers during the festival week. May and June both have Bank Holidays, so family outings are encountered on some weekends. But, overall, these months are a safe bet too.

Weatherwise, it is always a bit of pot luck in Ireland, as statistics will show you ... but March and even April might still require a very warm outer shell, while September and October can be surprisingly mild.

As to prices ... May and June tend to be slightly more expensive than the other months regarding accommodation, so check before you commit to a budget. Prices in Dublin are actually generally going mad around St. Patrick’s Day, so unless you really have to be there during that time, you might choose a more budget-friendly stretch.

And What About Travelling to Ireland?

Getting to Ireland might be easier outside the season, all depending on when you book, and which route you take. While the ferries to Ireland from France and Great Britain tend to fill up faster than a microwave with marshmallows stuffed into it (at least if you do not want to pay premium prices), the over-abundance of flights usually guarantees a free seat, but maybe not the cheapest fare.

What price, that is the question at all times, anyway. Generally speaking, there are specials to be had at any time, but an early booking, for a trip outside the season, usually guarantees more change to spend in-country.

The travel dates to absolutely avoid, if you can, are around Christmas and around Saint Patrick's Day. Half the world seems to be heading to and from Ireland around those dates, so seats are booked to the max, and prices tend to head towards the same extreme. Also note that connections might be sketchy at times – Ireland literally closes down on December 25th, which might leave you stranded.