Somehow even greener than the pictures promise, Ireland is a land of fairy tales and political revolutions, poetry and pubs, rainbows and, well, quite a bit of rain. More than 7 million tourists visited the Republic of Ireland in 2014 alone — almost twice the country’s population — and the number continues to grow.
While there is no one “perfect” time to visit the Emerald Isle, different seasons offer different experiences. There are quiet and intimate (albeit drizzly) winters; springs spent in raucous St. Patrick’s Day celebrations; sunny but busy summers; and shoulder season autumns that balance better weather with lower crowds.
Your best time to visit Ireland is, ultimately, up to you — and the items on your Ireland to-do list.
The Best Months to Visit Ireland
The Best Time to Visit Ireland for Good Weather
Ireland’s weather is changeable, but it’s not extreme. The temperature rarely falls below freezing in winter or rises above 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. It’s not uncommon to see bright sun and cloudy skies in quick succession, regardless of the time of year.
And let’s get this out of the way: it will rain, so be ready for it. Trip timing will affect just how much rain (or sun) you are likely to see. Summer is sunniest, with daylight stretching until 11:00 p.m. around the solstice. July and August are the brightest months (though they're also the country’s busiest). Between November and February, Ireland is dark, cold, and wet — but it can also feel quieter and cozier.
The Best Times to Visit Ireland for Festivals and Events
Ireland celebrates a lot more than just St. Patrick’s Day (a holiday that, before its more raucous iteration, was a historically religious holiday).
In western Ireland, the County Kerry town of Killorglin organizes a Puck Fair every August, where a young local girl symbolically marries a wild goat who is crowned “King Puck” for the duration of the festival.
September draws legions of oyster lovers to Galway, while summer is busy with music festivals all across the countryside.
The Worst Times to Visit Ireland
Summer is Ireland’s high season, with a corresponding rise in airfare and accommodation rates. Although this makes it the most crowded time to be in Ireland, summer is also when even the smallest B&Bs or rural attractions (closed the rest of the year) are bound to be open. And with summer’s long daylight hours, it’s easier to get more done in a single day.
St. Patrick’s Day follows closely behind the high summer with regard to both crowds and costs. Unless you are determined to spend the holiday in Dublin’s Temple Bar District for the boozy festivities, it's best to avoid traveling to or from the country around March 16.
While winter is the least busy time to visit Ireland, it's also when the weather will be at its worst. For a nice compromise between weather and crowds, visit in the shoulder seasons of either spring or fall.
The Cheapest Times to Visit Ireland
Outside of Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s drizzly and dark winter is also the cheapest time of year to visit. Some accommodations may offer off-season rates in winter, but still others might be closed until spring.
The summer months, especially July and August, correspond with noticeably higher air fares than the flights available in the shoulder seasons and in winter. Hotels can also charge peak rates.