Deciding what to wear in Ireland can be a minefield. With a changeable climate and a consistently unreliable weather forecast, keeping within your baggage weight limit can be a real challenge.
Ireland doesn’t suffer from most extreme weather events but with its unpredictability comes a dilemma when wondering how to pack light.
You can rely on a spot of rain during your visit, possibly even in bucketfuls. May, June and September usually have more sunshine while February is the coldest month, but tracking the weather forecast doesn’t always help as it can change so quickly on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Choosing smart, versatile layers will make your visit that much easier. Whether you’re bringing carry-on luggage or checking a bag, this Ireland packing list will help you out.
Essential items for your carry-on luggage on your trip to Ireland
- Start by checking Lonely Planet's Health Hub for the latest Ireland COVID-19 guidelines.
- Windproof rain jacket – light for summer, warmer for winter. Dark colors will blend in more with the local style than bright ones
- Smart-looking jeans or similarly versatile pants
- Two light layers like t-shirts or camisoles
- One warmer top like a cardigan or long-sleeved top
- One warm but fashionable sweater
- Comfy shoes – decent trainers for spring and summer, waterproof flat boots for autumn and winter
- Scarf or shawl
- Hats and gloves for winter, loose longer shorts, cropped pants or a casual skirt for high summer
- Small backpack to carry around all those layers if you need to. A more fashionable one in leather will be more versatile to use at night.
Checking in a bigger bag? What to bring on a longer trip to Ireland
- Dress – wear with leggings and cardigan for a day look or pair with low heels or pumps at night
- Another jacket – leather or denim will work well for any occasion and look much better on a night out than a rain jacket
- A dressier pair of pants for at night
- Smart shoes – low heels or pumps for women, leather shoes for men
- Leggings or quick dry pants for outdoor activities
- Bathing suit – with plenty of coastline and most hotels boasting pools, you won’t want to miss out
- Extra layers for some outfit changes
What not to pack for Ireland
An umbrella. It may be raining but a lot of the time but it’s windy too, meaning it can break or you get the notorious ‘sideways rain’ which no umbrella can save you from. Save your space for something more useful like your rain jacket or poncho.
Fashion in Ireland
Day-to-day, most people dress in smart-casual, think something fairly comfortable with a bit of European polish. You’ll be fine wearing a fitted pair of trusty jeans most of the time, pairing with a comfortable top during the day and swapping out for a blouse or shirt at night. For men, wearing baseball caps will definitely mark you as a tourist.
On a night out, you’ll see most women wearing full make-up. In Dublin, there is a huge range of style when but it leans more towards the casual yet edgy (think Berlin or London) while in more rural areas, it’s not uncommon for women to be extremely glamorous in heels and cocktail dresses on a ‘big night out’, no matter the weather. Similarly, men are more inclined to wear button-down shirts on a night out in rural areas, while in cities you’ll see more funky fitted t-shirts and blazers thrown into the mix. However, it does depend on where you go; an upmarket restaurant or cocktail bar will naturally be more dressed up but if you're just having a few pints listening to traditional music, a cozy jumper and jeans are perfect.
Ultimately, fashion in Ireland is very relaxed so if in doubt, just wear whatever you feel most comfortable in.
Safety recommendations and restrictions during a pandemic can change rapidly. Lonely Planet recommends that travelers always check with local authorities for up-to-date guidance before traveling during Covid-19.