Visiting Ireland In December: Is There Any Point? (A Locals Guide)

A locals HONEST guide

map of ireland

“Is there any point in visiting Ireland in December? I’m worried it’ll be too wet and cold!”

I received the email above last week.

The person read our guide to the best time of the year to visit Ireland and got in touch, slightly worried.

Is there any point in visiting Ireland in December?

Will the weather not be MISERABLE?

Will it be a complete waste of money?

In the guide below, we’ll be telling you everything you need to know if you’re debating whether or not to come to Ireland in December.

What you’ll get from reading this guide

  • Honest no-BS advice on what it’s like in Ireland in December 
  • A guide to the weather in December
  • What to wear in Ireland in December
  • What to pack

Planning a trip to Ireland? Make sure to dive into our detailed guide to planning the perfect Ireland trip itinerary.

Would I visit Ireland in December: An honest answer

visit Ireland in December
Photo via GalwayTourism.ie

Yes, without the tiniest shadow of a doubt.

Y.E.S.

Personally, I love Ireland in December. Here’s why:

  • There’s a Christmassy buzz in the air
  • The air is crisp
  • The pubs are cosier (you can’t bate sitting in front of a huge roaring fire with pints and friends)

Now, before we get stuck into the guide, there’s a couple of pros and cons to visiting Ireland in December.

The pros 

  • You’ll encounter fewer crowds at the usually busy attractions (the Ring of Kerry, for example, will be WAY quieter)
  • Accommodation in the more off-the-beaten-track towns and villages will be cheaper
  • Flights at the start of the month should be a bit cheaper

The cons

  • During winter in Ireland, the days get shorter, which means you have less daylight to explore in
  • Hotels, in particular, are more expensive in towns and cities that host Christmas markets
    • We ended up renting a house on Airbnb during a visit to Galway in December as the cost of a night in a hotel was insane
the weather in Ireland in December
Photo via Tourism Ireland

What’s the weather in Ireland in December like?

The weather in Ireland in December can be very hit and miss. 

And, as I mentioned earlier, it can be very unpredictable.

2018 wasn’t too bad

  • The first week of last December was pretty mild, although many counties experienced rain 
  • Towards the middle of the month, Storm Deirdre arrived, bringing with it widespread heavy rain and very strong winds
  • The days leading to Christmas and towards the end of the year were fine and dry

2017 was OK, too

  • 2017 was pretty OK weather wise
  • According to Met Eireann, it was ‘Unsettled, mild at times, but colder interludes with wintry showers and some snow’

In fact, the last really bad December was in 2015

December of 2015 saw the arrival of Storm Desmond.

Hit play on the video above to see what I mean…

According to Wikipedia, ‘Storm Desmond was an extratropical cyclone and fourth named storm of the 2015–16 UK and Ireland windstorm season, notable for directing a plume of moist air, known as an atmospheric river, which brought record amounts of orographic rainfall to upland areas of northern Atlantic Europe and subsequent major floods’.

Translation: the weather was absolutely mental.

Palace Demesne Public Park Armagh
Photo via Tourism Ireland

Average Temperature in Ireland in December

The average temperature in Ireland in December tends to hover at 8°C. There are average temperature highs of 10°C and average lows of 3°C.

Keep in mind that we tend to get strong winds in December. Wind chill tends to make it feel a whole lot colder than it actually is!

If you’re visiting a Christmas market in Ireland or planning on doing a lot of outdoor exploring, make sure to dive into our ‘what to wear in Ireland in December’ guide below.

What to Wear in Ireland in December

What to Wear in Ireland in December
@ Tourism Ireland photographed by Tom Archer

I’ve had a few questions from people asking what to wear in Ireland in December over the last 4 or 5 weeks.

It’s clear that the winter-trip-planning season has started to kick-in!

OK, so when it comes to deciding on what to pack for Ireland in December, you need to be prepped for a bit of everything:

  • Sun
  • Rain
  • Hail
  • Crazy winds
  • Snow

While I can’t emphasis the importance of checking 10-day weather forecasts enough, I’m also a big believer in packing for all types of weather.

That way you don’t end up forking out mad prices for clothes that you already have stuffed away in your wardrobe at home.

What to pack for Ireland in December

best things to do west cork sheeps head
Photo via Tourism Ireland

OK, so there’s going to be a few things to consider before you decide on what to wear in Ireland in December during your trip.

  1. The type of activities that you’ll be doing
  2. Where you’ll be staying

Those visiting for an active holiday

If you’re visiting Ireland for an active holiday in December, you’ll need:

  • Hiking boots/shoes
  • A warm, waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Warm socks, gloves, and hat
  • Appropriate layers

Those visiting for a city break

If you’re visiting for one of the Christmas markets or if you’re just nipping over to Ireland for a bit of a break, bring:

  • A warm jacket (ideally something waterproof – if not, you can always buy an umbrella here)
  • Warm socks, gloves, and hat
  • Layers, e.g. a hoody, long-sleeved t-shirt, etc.

Personally, if I’m spinning about Ireland in December and visiting friends in Belfast or heading to Galway for a weekend, I’ll throw on a big jacket, pack a few hoodies, and bring an umbrella.

Things to do in Ireland in December

Things to do in Ireland in December 2020

  1. Visit the Galway Christmas Market
  2. And then spend a day exploring Connemara
  3. Spend a day at the Belfast Christmas Market
  4. And another exploring the Causeway Coast
  5. Spend a Saturday in Waterford at the Winterval market
  6. And a Sunday cycling along the Greenway
  7. Visit Cork city for the Glow Christmas festival
  8. And carve out some time to visit the magnificent West Cork

Many people who travel to Ireland in December do so for one of two reasons:

  • To avail of cheaper accommodation and/or flights
    • Note: flights will increase drastically the closer it gets to Christmas day and New Years as people start to return home
  • To visit a Christmas market

Christmas markets

There’s a handful of great Christmas markets in Ireland that take place from late November until late December.

Personally, I love the one in Galway, but there are several more to choose from.

Hop into our guide to Christmas markets in Ireland to see them all.

Scenery by the boatload

Driving near the Derrigimlagh Bog
Photo by Tourism Ireland

Many of Ireland’s natural attractions are brilliantly quiet in December.

This means that, in many cases, you’ll have the whole place to yourself.

I visited Connemara last year with friends at the start of December. It felt like time was standing still.

We met a handful of cars, there was only a small number of people out and about, and the place was as beautiful as ever.

The off-season really is an incredible time to experience Ireland without the crowds.

History and architecture

gpo dublin
Photo by David Soanes (Shutterstock)

If history and medieval architecture tickle your fancy, you can escape the cold and explore many of Ireland’s man-made attractions.

Places like Trinity College in Dublin, the GPO, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and many more can be explored comfortably during the colder months.

Christmas Shopping

Dublin Christmas market
Photo by Tony Pleavin

Another option is to hit the shops and do a bit of Christmas shopping.

Although many of the larger towns and cities will be your best bet for picking up a festive gift, the smaller towns and villages are also a solid option. You’ll get cheaper accommodation there, also.

Loads of other things to explore

If you’re visiting Ireland in December and are searching for things to do, visit our counties of Ireland section.

Here, you’ll be able to browse through thousands of incredible things to do and places to visit.

Wrapping it up: Is there any point in visiting Ireland in December?

kylemore abbey connemara

In my opinion, December is one of the best months to visit Ireland.

Weather aside, there’s plenty to see, loads to do, and there’s an infectious festive buzz in many towns and villages.

It could also bring snow, wind, and rain.

You really need to be happy enough to take the chance and embrace the weather, regardless of what it brings.

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!

1 COMMENT

  1. Very helpful. Obviously an added reason to visit in December is that flights booked for the more usual time of June/July (as mine currently are) will almost certainly be cancelled due to the coronavirus. Added to the fact that if you live in Australia (as I do) and want to visit elderly parents more frequently than every 2 years (as I do) and have kids (as, again, i do) the longer school holidays are in December. I have often been in Ireland in winter in the past but not for 20 years. It is a complete jump into the unknown for my wife so this is all really useful information.
    cheers
    Alan

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