The Best Time to Visit Ireland In 2020: A Locals NO-BS Guide

Helping you pick the perfect time to visit

glenveagh airbnb

We regularly get emails asking when is the best time to visit Ireland. I tend to start each email off with the same response time and time again.

When deciding on the best time to visit Ireland, you need to consider 3 things:

  • Your budget
  • What you’re visiting for
  • Whether you’re phased by the weather

This may seem pretty straightforward (have a nosey at our guide to planning the perfect Ireland vacation if you’re struggling with planning – it’s detailed AF).

And to be fair, it is, but people still struggle to decide on when to visit Ireland. In the guide below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to make your decision.

When is the Best Time to Visit Ireland in 2020?

 

The best time to visit Ireland in 2020 is at the end of the spring and autumn shoulder season. To be more specific, May and October.

There are fewer crowds and accommodation is easier to come by. There are several more reasons which we’ll discuss below.

Why are May and October the best time of year to visit Ireland?

When is the Best Time to Visit Ireland
Photo by Hillwalk Tours

A quick note before I explain why: the best time of year to visit Ireland is going to be completely subjective.

And it’ll change from person to person, depending on what they like and don’t like (e.g. if you hate big crowds, summer is a no-no).

Here’s why, in my opinion, May and October are the best months to visit Ireland:

May

  • The days are longer
  • The weather tends to be better (note: I said tends. Rain can fall during any month)
  • The accommodation and flights have yet to reach peak prices
  • The peak-season hasn’t kicked-in, so you won’t have the crazy crowds like you will in the months that follow

October

  • The weather’s crisp (but not freeze-the-arse-off-you-baltic)
  • The leaves are orange
  • There are WAY fewer crowds
  • The accommodation is cheaper and more freely available
  • Flights to Ireland should also be more pocket-friendly for October

There’s also something immensely special about settling yourself in a corner of a warm, cosy pub with a pint after a long day of exploring, as the wind clatters against the windows.

Best time to visit Ireland weather wise

Best time to visit Ireland
Photo by Chris Hill

If the weather is the deciding factor, opt to visit Ireland during the summer months:

  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August

Summer in Ireland brings the best temperatures (note, what we consider warm could be pretty cold, depending on what you hail from) and the lowest amount of rainfall.

The summer months are perfect for those of you looking to explore the outdoors and get stuck into as much of Ireland as possible during your time here.

Those visiting Ireland in summer can also expect to stumble across a wide variety of festivals, from music and poetry to food and drink.

Summer is the best time to travel to Ireland if:

  • You want to avoid the cold and rain
    • Note, it’ll probably still rain, but the odds are lower in the summer
  • You want to get as much out of the day as possible
    • During the summer months, we have between 14 – 15 hours of daylight
  • You’re not too phased by high costs
    • Summer is peak season in Ireland – expect high flight and accommodation costs

Best month to visit Ireland for sightseeing (if you want to dodge the crowds)

best time to go to ireland
Photo by Luke Myers

If you want to dodge the crowds, avoid the peak summer months mentioned above.

You may also want to avoid visiting Ireland during the middle of March, as St. Patrick’s Day silly season will have kicked in.

When to visit Ireland: A month-by-month breakdown

October in Ireland
Photo by Art Ward

Deciding when to visit Ireland can be stressful. Below, I’ve added in links to guides for many of the different months of the year.

We’re adding new guides each and every day, so if there’s one missing that you need info on, ask me in the comments section at the bottom of this guide.

Ireland in January

Gleniff Horseshoe Drive in Sligo
The Gleniff Horseshoe Drive in Sligo

January is a strange one.

if you’re not phased by bad weather and you’re looking to keep costs low, this could be a good shout.

If you are, then avoid it like the plague.

Ireland Weather in January

January is one of the coldest and wettest months of the year for Ireland. The temperature rarely rises above 7°C, the days are short, and the temperature can drop below freezing at night. While it’s rare that we get snow in Ireland, there tends to be some on the mountains in January.

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 08:40
  • Sunset: 16:16
Check out our full guide to Ireland in January.

Ireland in February

castlewellan forest park
Photo by Brian Morrison via Tourism Ireland

Visting Ireland in February can be another tricky one, especially if the weather is your deciding factor.

Spring is still far from the horizon and then days are short and chilly.

Ireland Weather in February:

The weather in February tends to be pretty similar to January. Although, in years past, we’ve had a number of different storms in February, which have brought snow, flooding, and strong winds. The temperature in February is similar to January. The one saving grace is that the days get a little bit longer.

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 08:10
  • Sunset: 17:07
Check out our full guide to Ireland in February.

Ireland in March

silver strand beach
Photo by Failte Ireland

If you’re visiting Ireland in March, the chances are you’ve been bitten by the St. Patrick’s Day buzz.

Yes, there’s a great buzz around the country for the 17th, but there are plenty more reasons for visiting during March.

Ireland Weather in March

March tends to be wet, but the chilly bite in the air that you’ll find in January and February will start to ease, with temperature highs of up to 10°C and lows of 4°C (note: we’ve had temperatures below freezing during March in years past). The days are longer again in March, which means you’ll have plenty more hours to explore.

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 07:13
  • Sunset: 18:02
Check out our full guide to Ireland in March.

Ireland in April

Castlebellingham louth
Photo via Castlebellingham

I’ve now gone on two trips in Ireland in April, and I won’t be going on a third.

The weather during both trips was TERRRRRIBLE, so I’m going to give this month a wide birth in the future.

Ireland Weather in April

We start to really notice a difference in the length of the day in April. At the beginning of the month, the sunrises before 7 for the first time of the year and doesn’t drop until just before 8 in the evening. Temperatures also tend to be a good bit better, with average highs reaching around 11°C.

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 06:59
  • Sunset: 19:59
Check out our full guide to Ireland in April.

Ireland in May

clough oughter castle cavan
Photo via Killeshandra Tourism

I love Ireland in May.

The days are nice and long, there’s a sniff of summer in the air and we’re still a nice few weeks away from peak season, so the crowds are yet to be at their largest.

Ireland Weather in May

The days in May are long and lovely (well, they’re long, anyway!). The average high tends to sit in and around the 15°C mark, with lows hitting 7°C (expect lower at night). While the chances of rain are much lower in may than in previous months, the chances are you’ll still see a bit of wet weather. 

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 05:51
  • Sunset: 20:53
Related Read: Check out our full guide to visiting Ireland in May.

Ireland in June

one week in ireland
Photo via Tourism Ireland

Ah, peak season.

The weather is at it’s best, the crowds are their highest, and the accommodation and flights at their priciest. 

Ireland Weather in June

I love Ireland in June. The days are wonderfully long (sunrise at the beginning of the month is just after 5 while sunset isn’t until 20 to 10 in the evening) and the average high sits between 16 and 17°C. Now, just because it’s the summer doesn’t mean you won’t need rain gear. Be prepared – bring a light waterproof jacket. 

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 05:04
  • Sunset: 21:42
Related Read: Check out our full guide to visiting Ireland in June 2020.

Ireland in July

Doonagore castle doolin
Photo via Tourism Ireland

Peak season continues to go strong in July.

The weather is at it’s best, the crowds are their highest, and the accommodation and flights at their priciest. 

Ireland Weather in July

July is one of the warmest months of the year in Ireland (it’s tied with August). Temperatures hit an average of 19°C, but we’ve seen much higher over the years. There’s been a couple of what we’d call heatwaves, which have seen temperatures rise to 27°C. As you’ve probably guessed at this stage, rain is a way of life – so pack suncream and a waterproof jacket!

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 05:01
  • Sunset: 21:56

Ireland in August

Rosses Point sligo
Photo by Alison Crummy via Failte Ireland

Peak season rolls into its final month in August.

As was the case with July, the weather is at it’s best, the crowds are their highest, and the accommodation and flights at their priciest. 

The days are also getting ever so slightly shorter.

Ireland Weather in August

The chances of rain tends to increase a bit in August, but the average temperatures are still up at a mighty (for us) 19°C. This summer gone (2019) was particularly warm and sunny. Pack for sun and rain again in August. 

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 05:40
  • Sunset: 21:20

Ireland in September

kilkenny castle
Photo by macmillan media

September, for me, is always a tough month.

I’m an early riser, and I love being out and about with the early sun pre-7 a.m.

When September rolls around, the days are noticeably shorter. That being said, the weather is still pretty OK.

Ireland Weather in September

The average temperature in Ireland in September hovers between 13°C and 16°C. We also tend to get more sun than rain in September. Combine this with the fact that the crowds are less than the three months previous, and it’s as good a time to visit as any.

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 06:33
  • Sunset: 20:15
Check out our full guide to Ireland in September.

Ireland in October

ireland in october
Photo by Emma McArdle via Tourism Ireland

As you’ll probably know from reading the guide above, this is my favourite month to explore Ireland.

The weathers crisp but not too chilly, there’s orange leaves as far as the eye can see, and there are loads to see and do.

Ireland Weather in October

The temperature in Ireland in October averages a high of around 13°C, but in years gone we’ve seen much higher and lower. Rainfall increases in Ireland in October, but we tend to get a lot of sunny days, too. I really do love Ireland in autumn. There’s something incredibly special about it.

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 07:25
  • Sunset: 19:02
Check out our full guide to Ireland in October to find:

Ireland in November

when to go to ireland
Creamy pints from the 2018 markets

November is another one of my favourite time to travel to Ireland.

Christmas is just around the corner, the days are shorter, Christmas markets start to open, and pubs get cosier.

Ireland Weather in November

Winter is now in full swing. Although it’s rare to see snow in Ireland in November, expect frost and lows of 5°C. I know that I’ve said this many times in this guide, but the weather in Ireland really is very unpredictable – we’ve had storms in Ireland in November in years past, and we’ve have mild weather, also.

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 07:23
  • Sunset: 16:53
Check out our full guide to Ireland in November.

Ireland in December

Belfast Christmas markets 2019 dates
Photo via Belfast Christmas markets on Facebook

For me, visiting Ireland in December is all about Christmas markets.

There’s a load of different markets scattered across the country that you can visit on your trip.

There’s also a lovely Christmassy buzz in the air.

Ireland Weather in December

The days are painfully short in December. However, with Christmas lights twinkling away as far as the eye can see and a festive buzz rocking about the place, it’s a small price to pay. The average temperatures for December tends to be similar to November, at around 5°C. Temperatures can drop to freezing during the day, and do so on many nights throughout the month.  

The sunrise and sunset for the 1st of the month:

  • Sunrise: 08:16
  • Sunset: 16:10
Check out our full guide to Ireland in December.

When to visit Ireland: A guide to Ireland’s tourist seasons

best time to visit ireland weather wise
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Here’s a breakdown of the different tourist seasons in Ireland:

June to September: The busiest time to visit Ireland

June to September is peak tourist season in Ireland.

Visitors to Ireland during these months can expect:

  • Crowds in the main cities and towns and at attractions
  • High accommodation rates (some places will be worse than others)
  • High flight costs
  • Warmer (but not necessarily drier) weather
  • Long days

April–May and Oct: The, eh, ‘Shoulder Season’

The ‘Shoulder season‘ is the period in between Ireland’s low and high seasons.

In a nutshell, this is the best time to travel to Ireland if you’re looking to keep things to a budget.

Visitors to Ireland during these months can expect:

  • Lower accommodation rates
  • Decent weather (although this is never guaranteed)
  • Less crowds and tour buses

November to February: The Low Season

I’ve done a lot of trips around Ireland during the low season.

The days are shorter and the weather colder (fog can be a pain in the arse), but the Christmassy buzz in many places between November and January makes it a great time to visit.

Visitors to Ireland during these months can expect:

  • Reduced opening hours for some attractions (always check in advance)
  • Cold and wet weather (again, weather in Ireland changes constantly!)
  • Far less crowds and tourists, especially outside of the main cities and towns
Gleniff Horseshoe Drive in Sligo
The Gleniff Horseshoe Drive in Sligo

The best time to go to Ireland: Wrapping it up

As I said at the start of this guide, I believe the best time to travel to Ireland is in October.

That being said, I’d love to hear from you.

What’s your favourite time to visit? Have you had any positive or negative experiences?

Pop a comment into the comments section below and let me know what you think!

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

6 COMMENTS

  1. Well… Just booked a week for the end of November. Realized that may have been stupid on my part. Luckily, I’ve been before as I studied abroad there, but the husband’s never been so it’ll be his first time for everything. Will we still be able to salvage the trip, even with not great weather?

    • Hi Claire,

      Sorry – I’ve been away on holidays for the past week and I’m only catching messages here now.

      Of course you will.

      Just go into it with a sure-look-if-it-rains-we’ll-still-make-the-most-of-it-attitude.

      The weather can be shite regardless of the time of year. One of the things you’ll be up against is the shorter days.

      But you’ll gain cosy pubs, a Christmassy atmosphere and plenty more.

      Don’t be stressing about it. It’ll be great!

      Keith

  2. Hi Keith
    Thankyou for the great read.
    My daughter and I are wanting to travel to Ireland for Xmas from Australia. As it will be cold n rainy which doesn’t really bother us, but worried we mighten get to see a lot of attractions would many be closed?
    Cheers Toni 😀

    • Hi Toni,

      If you pop in the name of the attraction into Google and visit the official site you should get an idea of whether or not they’ll be open or close when you’re visiting.

      Everywhere will be closed on Christmas Day with many places also staying closed on December 26th, but that can change from attraction to attraction.

      Cheers,

      Keith

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