#124 When is the Best Time to Visit Ireland?
There are plenty of things to consider to help you choose WHEN you should plan your trip!
In this video episode Corey considers a several factors that may influence when you will plan your trip.
When people ask: “When is the best time to visit Ireland?”
Most of them really just want to know: “When am I least likely to get wet?”
So to answer that question, rainfall is a pretty good place to start.
Let’s look at rainfall data from Met Eirreann, Ireland’s national weather service.
Based solely on the numbers, spring and summer come out on top. Right?
Well, unlike places with notable wet and dry seasons, Ireland spreads its rainfall pretty evenly throughout the year. And only 1.1 inches separate the average monthly rainfall in wettest and the driest seasons.
And when you look specifically at monthly averages, there’s a lot of variation even within each season. Notice the wintery month of February sees some of the least rainfall, meanwhile the summer month of August averages some of the most.
So with that consistent chance of rain in the forecast, Ireland is not recommended for those with a sensitivity to water.
Now if we were to score each season based on rainfall, summer and spring share the top spot followed by a split for winter and fall.
But those rainfall numbers don’t really tell us when we’re most likely to get wet. Remember, Ireland is famous for misty mornings, sunny evenings, and a few other weather conditions thrown in between.
That’s why Met Eirreann has another metric for rainfall. They call it Wet Days. These are days marked by more than one millimeter of rain… that’s less than a 1/16 of an inch. On average, Ireland gets almost 13 wet days per month. That means on your trip, you’ve got a 41% chance of getting a wet day… or for you optimists, there’s a whopping 59% chance of a non-wet day.
And if you look really close at the numbers, Met Eirreann tells us that on average there is no measurable rainfall for two out of every three hours of the day in Ireland.
Those are better odds than what you’d get flipping a coin.
Lets take a closer look at those Wet Days.
Spring and summer will edge out fall and winter… but looking at the monthly numbers again reveals a lot of variation from month to month.
July comes in with the fewest wet days, followed by April then June, but the next four slots, those are filled by one month from each season.
Fact is, there’s always a chance for rain, but based on wet days, summer and spring again take the top scores.
Now, we’ll shift our attention to temperature. Ireland has a relatively moderate climate that doesn’t see a lot of extreme highs or lows. This temperate climate combined with steady rainfall is part of the reason everything stays so doggone green.
You can expect temperatures in 40s in the winter, 50s in the spring and fall, and 60s in the summer. It rarely gets below freezing and or above 70 degrees.
And when we look at the monthly numbers, this time we see a steady transition from month to month with temperatures peaking in July and August and bottoming out in January and February.
Our scorecard gives summer the top spot and fall edges out spring.
Next, we’ll rely on a bit of geography to reveal an often-overlooked detail.
Ireland is much farther north than many people realize. It’s latitude is more in line with parts of Canada than the United States… and it’s Southern Hemisphere equivalent would put it well south of Australia and New Zealand.
That means in the winter when the sun’s path veers toward the Southern Hemisphere, Ireland gets just over 8 hours of sunshine per day.
In the summer, when the sun moves across the Northern Hemisphere, Ireland’s daylight hours nearly double.
The numbers are pretty clear on this one with an even arc from month to month. On our scorecard the spoils go to summer, and sadly, winter’s extremely short days give it a zero.
For visitors, there are several tourism factors that can play into their decision.
In winter, you may find some destinations and accommodations closed for the season or operating on a limited schedule. And there are fewer flights and fewer destinations available. However, winter is also the time when you won’t be fighting crowds, and January and February can be great months to conduct family research.
The tourism calendar starts opening back up in spring, and that comes with the potential for heavy school group traffic at some sites. But spring is also marked with a crop of festivals, better yet gardens begin bursting with color, and nothing can compete with the extremely cute baby animals tottering around the Irish countryside.
Summer is peak season for tourism, so sites can be bustling and some weekends can be downright overwhelming… especially because that’s when the Irish take their own holidays. All these people traveling can limit availability at popular B&Bs, restaurants, and hotels. On the plus side, traveling in summer also means you’ll have the most options for flights, tours, festivals, and all destinations are fully staffed and ready for your arrival.
Tourism starts winding down in fall, with some destinations limiting their schedules. That said, autumn visitors can take advantage of a more relaxed atmosphere, a nice assortment of festivals and often favorable conditions for hikes and walks.
On our scorecard, this one ends up being a wash for spring, summer, and fall, with only winter falling short of the mark.
If money is an issue, the time of year you travel can make a huge impact on the overall cost of your trip.
With the exception of the Christmas season, traveling in winter can be a real steal. While accommodation prices might only drop slightly, flight and car rental rates can plummet and you might even see a dip in admission prices. Winter also offers your best chance of scoring a package deal or a last minute bargain.
Decent prices continue into spring with a with a good supply of tour packages and last minute perks. The week of St Patrick’s Day, that can be a bit of a wildcard; airfare and car rental prices might spike, as will the cost of hotels in Dublin, but it’s also a time when tour operators might need to fill empty spots.
In summertime, prices are sky high. Most visitors pay a premium for airfare and car rental. Unfortunately, bargains are hard to come by unless your travel dates are extremely flexible, you book well in advance, or you manage to land an affordable package deal.
Relief from summer’s high prices begin to appear in autumn when prices improve and package deals and last minute sales start coming back.
On our scorecard, the bargains of winter take the lead, while summer’s high prices prevent the peak season from gaining any points.
Looking at our tally, traveling in winter looks a little bleak, but I must confess, some of my fondest travel memories took place in the heart of the Irish winter. So I’m adding a bonus category… just because I can. And because winter is the perfect season to enjoy some of Ireland’s famous pub culture. Brilliant music sessions, friendly fireside chats, and a hearty supply of delicious food and beverages earn winter two extra points.
So there you have it, our officially tally awards summer the top spot, followed by spring, fall, and then winter. But the truth is, the best time to visit Ireland is whenever you can get there, so don’t let the time of year discourage you.
I’m Corey from the Irish Fireside podcast and blog, and I want to wish you a safe trip to Ireland. Be sure to stop by IrishFireside.com and sign up for our e-newsletter, and if you’re looking for unique and offbeat destinations on the Emerald Isle spend some time over at IrelandTravelKit.com.
- Corn Rigs Are Bonnie/Star Of The County Down – Album: Haste to the Wedding
- The Gold Ring – Album: A Light in the Forest
- Mairi’s Wedding – Album: Haste to the Wedding
WEATHER DATA: Met Éireann – http://met.ie/
MAPS: Google Maps
HOST: Corey Taratuta – www.IrishFireside.com
- Jack Acecroft www.flickr.com/photos/jackace/3586815754/
- albedo20 www.flickr.com/photos/albedo20/4997622196/
- B&B Ireland www.bandbireland.com
- Barnacles Hostels www.flickr.com/photos/baranclesdublingalway/5660388993/
- Robert Brauneis www.flickr.com/photos/robertbrauneis/2671040921/
- Elizabeth Bruton www.flickr.com/photos/e_bruton/5383789979/
- Andreas Georghiou www.flickr.com/photos/ohgeorgie/482559831/
- Philipp Hullmann www.flickr.com/photos/phullmann/4200811243/
- Janek Kloss www.flickr.com/photos/moli516/3277694753/
- lusciousblopster www.flickr.com/photos/lusciousblopster/5535203379/
- Mayhem Chaos www.flickr.com/photos/mayhem/2049369109/
- Kevin McGarry www.flickr.com/photos/mcgarry/197517729/
- MerrionSquare.ie www.flickr.com/photos/merrionstreet-ie/5467976590/
- Jeff Nyveen www.flickr.com/photos/spinfly/3565186510/
- John O’Sullivan www.flickr.com/photos/97373666@N00/3020060821/
- Chiara Mente www.flickr.com/photos/thegrabbersclub/3160827346/
- Irish Typepad www.flickr.com/photos/irisheyes/5850882902/
- Skywaaker www.flickr.com/photos/skywaaker/3501916380/
- soilse www.flickr.com/photos/an_solas/7541272170/
- Stian Olsen www.flickr.com/photos/stian_olsen/2575437781/
- Corey Taratuta www.IrishFireside.com
- Tourism Ireland www.discoverireland.com
- wsssst www.flickr.com/photos/28451957@N06/3893749914/