With its famously unpredictable weather, it can be tough to decide the best time to visit Ireland. The good news is that whatever month you decide to go, you'll have lots of things to do.
With stunning scenery, cozy pubs and a great food culture, there are plenty of highlights to suit every traveler. Here’s our guide to help you decide the perfect time to visit Ireland.
Editor's note: During COVID-19, please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government health advice. Events may be subject to change.
High Season: June to September
Best time for exploring the outdoors
Sunny weather in Ireland is never guaranteed but you’ll have the most luck in the long days of summer. At the height of the solstice in June, there are 17 hours of daylight, giving you lots of time for a jam-packed itinerary and to spend exploring the scenic countryside by road or by going on long hikes.
Along with the surge of tourists comes a surge in prices and in August in particular accommodation rates will be at their highest. Hotspots like Dublin, Kerry and along the southern and western crowds can feel crowded.
Shoulder Season: Easter to May, mid-September to October
Best time for photographers
For the best of both worlds, the shoulder season is often the smart traveler's choice. Ireland can enjoy surprisingly good weather in May and warm ‘Indian summers’ often happen in September (to the dismay of generations of Irish schoolchildren).
It’s easier and cheaper to source accommodation and everywhere from pubs and restaurants to hiking trails will be a bit more relaxed. Photographers can easily snap the perfect idyllic landscape shot during this time.
Low Season: November to Easter
Best time for budget travelers
Accommodation is (relatively) cheap and the best parts of Irish social life – gigs, pubs and clubs – are still in full swing making it the perfect time to get cozy indoors. In cities, all the big attractions operate as normal and you won’t need to worry about battling tourist crowds. The winter weather can be cold and wet but Ireland does not normally get extreme temperatures so you should still be able to travel around the country.
In the countryside, some tourist attractions and restaurants close for the winter season. Daylight hours are short and the chance of fog means your outdoor exploration will be a bit more limited; in December the sun rises at 8.30am and sets at 4pm.
The quietest month of the year, a lull from the holiday festivities as the country gets back to work.
Key events: Temple Bar Tradfest.
The perfect month for indoor activities. Some museums launch new exhibits, and it's a good time to visit the major towns and cities.
Key events: Dublin International Film Festival, Six Nations Rugby.
Spring is in the air, and the whole country is getting ready for what is arguably the world's most famous parade. Dublin is the biggest, but every town in Ireland holds one.
Key events: St Patrick’s Day.
The weather is getting better, the flowers are beginning to bloom and the festival season begins anew. Seasonal attractions start to open up around the middle of the month or at Easter.
Key events: Circuit of Ireland International Rally, Irish Grand National, World Irish Dancing Championships.
The May Bank Holiday (on the first Monday) sees the first of the busy summer weekends as the Irish take to the roads to enjoy the budding good weather.
Key events: Cork International Choral Festival, Fleadh Nua, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Listowel Writers' Week.
The bank holiday at the beginning of the month sees the country spoilt for choice for things to do. Weekend traffic gets busier as the weather gets better.
Key events: Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, Dublin LGBTQ Pride, Irish Derby, Bloomsday, Cork Midsummer Festival, Mourne International Walking Festival.
There isn't a weekend in the month that a major festival doesn't take place, while visitors to Galway will find that the city is in full swing for the entire month.
Key events: Willie Clancy Summer School, Galway International Arts Festival, Longitude, Folkfest, All-Ireland Finals.
Ireland is in holiday mode. Seaside towns and tourist centers are at their busiest as the country looks to make the most of its time off.
Key events: Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Galway Race Week, Puck Fair, Rose of Tralee, Kilkenny Arts Festival.
Summer may be over, but September weather can be surprisingly good, so it's often the ideal time to enjoy the last vestiges of the sun as the crowds dwindle.
Key events: Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival.
The weather starts to turn cold, so it's time to move the fun indoors again. The calendar is still packed with activities and distractions, especially over the last weekend of the month.
Key events: Dublin Theatre Festival, Cork Jazz Festival, Belfast International Arts Festival.
A quiet month, the calm before the storm of socializing in December.
Key events: Kilkenomics Festival, Rugby Internationals.
Christmas dominates the calendar as the country prepares for the feast with frenzied shopping and after-work drinks with friends and family home from abroad. On Christmas Day nothing is open.
Key events: Christmas markets will be open in most cities, towns and villages.