If you told your friends that you’re planning on visiting Ireland in January and they fell over laughing, don’t mind them.
It’s not as mad of an idea as it may seem.
Ireland’s an amazing place to visit any time of the year and if anyone tells you differently, it’s probably because they’ve never been.
I.e. they’re “talking out of their hole” (Irish slang for they’re full of sh*t).
There’s no best time to visit Ireland – it’s going to vary based on:
- The person / the type of traveller you are
- Your budget
- Your travel plans
- How phased you are by bad weather
That being said, there are quite a few drawbacks to visiting Ireland in January.
But there are also LOTS of pros.
Visiting Ireland In January 2020 – Is there any point?
OK, I’m going to give you an honest answer. Yes and no…
There’s a lot of drawbacks to visiting at the start of the year (there are some positives, also!):
- If you’re on a tight budget, it’s likely that January will suit your pocket best
- Flights and accommodation should be at their lowest
- Ireland’s usually busy attractions will be less crowded.
- At the start of the year, many will be deserted (although the Storehouse, the Giants Causeway, Moher, etc. will still get plenty of visitors, just nowhere near what they would in other months)
- Accommodation will be as low as you’ll get it
- Expect to still pay top prices in Dublin, Galway and the other big cities
- The days are shorter
- At the start of January in Ireland, the sun won’t rise until 08:40 and it sets at 16:20
- The weather will be wintery
- While we may not get snow and ice, expect rain and wind
- Bad weather can make certain places almost pointless to visit
- E.g. heavy fog or mist can make some attractions almost invisible
- Look at the photo of the Gleniff Horseshoe at the top of this guide to see what I mean
The Weather in Ireland in January: What to Expect
The weather in Ireland in January can be absolutely crap. Yes, it’s going to be chilly – winter in Ireland has a tendency to be cold, wet, and windy, and January is one of the coldest months of the year.
It’ll probably rain too. In fact, it rains an average of fourteen days out of the month’s thirty-one, but don’t let that worry you.
The inclement – and no, we’re not averse to using fancy words to describe the Irish climate – weather in Ireland gives you a good excuse to slip into a cosy pub after a day of adventure.
The freezing temperatures in Ireland in January means there’ll be a welcoming fire blazing in the hearth and you can defrost your toes while sipping on a glass of whiskey.
The weather in Ireland in January 2020
Predicting what the weather will be like in 2020 is near impossible. It’d be easy for me to give you average temperatures and rainfall levels, but I think it’d be more useful for you if I told you what the weather here has been like over the past 2 years:
2019 was actually pretty good
- The first two weeks of the month (like the final weeks of December) were pretty good
- The weather was mostly dry, although there was some patchy rain and drizzle in places
- It was also fairly mild and we saw little-to-no frost
- There were a few chilly and frosty nights towards the end of the month
2018 was a different story…
- The weather in Ireland in January 2018 was a little bit mad, thanks to Storm Eleanor
- An orange weather warning was issued in the first few days of the year
- We experienced strong winds and many coastal towns and villages were flooded in places
- Galway, in particular, was hit hard
Average Temperature in Ireland in January
The average temperature in January hovers around 7° C. Average high temperatures can rise to a chilly 8°C, while the average lows tend to fall to around 3°C (again, this can change drastically).
Those from colder temperate climates will find the weather in Ireland in January fairly OK to handle.
Those who come from more tropical regions may find Ireland’s January climate quite cold.
What To Pack / What to Wear in Ireland in January
There’s one simple answer to the question of what to wear in Ireland in January – as many clothes as you can squeeze into your suitcase all at once.
OK, we’re exaggerating a tad.
You need to pack smartly, though, and layers are your friend, i.e. if you get too hot, happy days – you can strip off a layer. Too cold – bang it back on.
Here’s a rough guide of what to pack for Ireland in January*:
- A good jacket that’ll keep you warm
- Jeans, fleece-lined leggings and hoodies, plus a good coat (waterproof if possible).
- Lots of socks
- Gloves, woolly hats, and some comfortable walking boots/runners.
Things to do in Ireland in January 2020
- Plan your itinerary based on the weather
- Spend dry chilly days walking and hiking
- And wet and windy ones exploring indoor attractions
- Kick back in cosy pubs on cold evenings
- Or spend the night eating away in a top-notch restaurant
- Admire views from the warmth of your car on rainy days
- Or join an organised tour and let someone do the driving for you
Although it’s off-season, there are still LOADS of things to do in Ireland in January.
While certain attractions in the more off-the-beaten-track towns and villages will be closed, many remain open.
If you’re looking for things to do in Ireland in January, nip into our counties in Ireland hub – it contains the best things to do in every county!
Here are a handful of suggestions to keep you going:
Hikes and walks
You can still do hikes like the Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail in County Fermanagh.
This five-mile-long trail up Cuilcagh Mountain is finely decked out with a mile-long wooden boardwalk to stop you sinking into the bog when you cross.
You could also give one of the many walks in Dublin that take you up the hills and mountains a bash.
Personally, I love Ticknock! You can’t bate it!
Waterfalls… no sh*t, I know!
It’s a well-known fact that waterfalls gush when it rains.
In fact, the Devil’s Chimney on the Sligo-Leitrim border only runs after rainfall.
January in Ireland is a good month for having a gander at some of the islands magnificent falls.
- The Devil’s Chimney is well worth checking out
- As is Powerscourt Waterfall in County Wicklow
- Torc Waterfall in Killarney is also excellent
- As is Assaranca Waterfall in Donegal
Dodging the wind and rain with indoor activities
If you find the temperature in Ireland in January a touch too chilly for outdoor activities, or if you arrive and it’s lashing rain, don’t worry.
You can still visit a tonne of different indoor attractions. You can also explore the island by car.
Windows closed and heater turned up full blast, obviously. If you’re the type of traveller that likes to let their belly lead the way, then you’re in luck.
There are some fantastic food festivals in Ireland in January where you can gorge to your heart’s content. Events like:
- The Cork Burger Festival
- The Vegan Foodie Festival in Dublin
Here are some more Dublin based activities if you’re planning a trip to the capital (here’s a full guide of 90+ places to go in Dublin).
Things to do in Dublin in January 2020
- Visit Kilmainham Gaol
- Spend an afternoon at the EPIC Museum
- Head for a wander around the Guinness Storehouse
- Spend a dry day doing the Howth Cliff Walk
- Visit Malahide Castle
- Rent a bike and cycle around the Phoenix Park
- Go for a hike at Ticknock
- Wander around Dublin’s Museums
Wrapping it up: Should you visit Ireland in January?
I’m the type of traveller that isn’t really bothered by the weather.
Obviously, the rain is a pain in the arse, but I’m happy enough to switch out an outdoor activity for an indoor one if needs be.
If you’re phased by the weather, then you should possibly rethink visiting in January. If you’re visiting Ireland for the first time, I wouldn’t recommend visiting in January, either.
Or in February, for that matter.
While it’s fine if it’s the most suitable time to visit with the budget you have, you’re far more likely to get good weather for exploring in the autumn or spring.