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Posted by on Mar 4, 2012 in 1reland, Featured, Irish Travel Resources, Outdoor, Planning, Q&A, Scenery | 7 comments

When is the Best Time to Visit Ireland?

Knockahopple Rainbow
 

Any day is a good day to visit Ireland, but depending on your interests, you may determine there are “better” times. Here’s my take on when to plan your trip.

Weather

Irish weather likes to keep meteorologists on their toes. As a guest, you could enjoy sunny, warm conditions in February or wet, cold days in August. Heck, you could have rain lashing at your ankles in the morning and find yourself taking in the sun on the beach in the afternoon.

Despite its reputation for being cold and damp, Ireland’s climate is actually quite mild (especially if you come from a place with snowy winters). In fact, palm trees grow on many parts of the island thanks to the the wind patterns that keep temperatures between 40° and 45° F (5° and 8°C) in the winter and between 60° and 70° F (15° and 20° C) in the summer.

Extreme conditions can occur. On occasion temperatures may drop below freezing and above 80 degrees. Ireland is also subject to hurricane force winds. Fortunately, these severe conditions are usually short-lived.

Seasons

Springtime in Ireland delivers landscapes bursting with color and fields filled with baby animals tottering alongside their mothers. You are arriving ahead of the main tourist crush, which can mean lower prices.

Summer in Ireland offers the bonus of extra hours of daylight due to island’s high latitude. This prime tourist season offers the most options for things to do, but it can also mean higher prices and crowds.

Autumn in Ireland treats us to comfortable temperatures and the chance to watch as 20 of Ireland’s 50 shades of green turn to rich golds, oranges, purples, and reds. Some attractions may close, but you will have no trouble filling your itinerary.

Winter in Ireland can be chilly with temperatures around the 30s F (1-3° C). With very few hours of daylight, touring can be limited. This can mean only one thing… spending your evenings enjoying the country’s famous pub culture.

Tips

  1. Travel in the “shoulder season.” High season runs from late June through the end of August. The two months before and the two months after high season often offer great rates.
  2. Disregard the weather statistics. Most guidebooks publish rainfall and sunshine charts. Those are great for some destinations, but Ireland gets statistically “punished” for fluctuating weather patterns that don’t look good on paper. Those charts don’t take into account that misty conditions might only stick around for a few hours or cloudy skies don’t always mean rain.
  3. Plan your weekend around a festival or event. A quick peek at the calendar could influence when you travel. There’s something for every interest… gardens, food, music, history, agriculture, art, theater, and plenty more.

What other tips do you have for when to visit Ireland? Leave them in the comments below.

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7 Comments

  1. I usually take a trip back home in March/April. The weather’s not too hot, not too cold, but be prepared to get all the seasons – but that’s Ireland any time of year really :) I usually find this time to be the most affordable too, coming from the US anyway. Pushing the trip in to May/June can almost double the costs of flights.

  2. As you mention, accommodation is definitely more expensive over the summer months and some attractions can be pretty crowded too. I would say Easter is a good time to visit as tourist attractions are not too packed, but there is still a chance of decent weather (that said I used to go to Donegal every Easter as a young fella and seem to remember quite a lot of rain).

  3. I’ve been twice, once in May and once in April. I packed a great lightweight rain jacket in May. It barely rained on us. After our trip to Newgrange, however, my husband purchased a stocking cap. Oh the wind. So when we returned in April of the following year I took my winter coat and barely needed it.

    I come from Missouri in the midwest states and the saying about our weather is “If you don’t like the weather in Missouri, just wait five minutes.” I think Ireland is much the same. Hey, it keeps things interesting.

  4. This coming May/June will be the 3rd trip for my mom & me, and we’ve found the weather to be pretty agreeable so far, around that time of year. We’ve flown into Dublin & into Belfast, both were different rainy days, but cleared up to a sunny day only a couple hours later. Although, I will say, coats are definitely recommended to have, just in case, as it can get chilly, especially along the coastal areas.

    As far as the tourist crowds, we’ve been lucky and have only encountered only slightly larger groups of people at the big attractions. When we visit a local scene, we just kind of blend in with the locals. Well, as much as 2 Americans can blend…lol.
    Price-wise, we have noticed that even early May/June, the prices do go up, but we just can’t make it any earlier. But, it’s still cheaper than the High Season.

  5. God willing, we will make our 8th trip beginning may 10th and i love may most of all…the flowers are blooming, high season isn’t in full swing, tourist sites are all open, rooms are still at the low end of the chart, rental car fees aren’t as high as june, july, and august….

  6. I like to avoid the tourist season, so I usually go in the fall. May is always nice too because everything is in bloom, the weather is usually pleasant, and prices aren’t as high as they are in peak tourist season.

    • I love going in early September. The weather is nice–still summer like and the flowers are still out. It is my favorite time of year and I have yet to be disappointed.

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