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.

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On the left is a picture of a black long sleeved top, black backpack, denim midi-skirt, pink trainer, t-shirt and jacket, sunglasses and key chain. On the right is an olive parka, striped t-shirt, brown boots, blue jeans, yellow wooly hat and black sunglasses – good options for Ireland
Some packing inspiration to get you started © left - ivastasya, right - bonninstudio / Shutterstock

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.

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On the left, a spread of clothes with a black puffy jacket, two black t-shirts, gloves, blue jeans, black boots, socks, headphones, hoodie, aftershave and headphones. On the right a blue sweater, plaid scarf, olive shoes, blue jeans, brown wallet, watch and phone
All the essentials for your carry-on bag for a trip to Ireland © left: Artur Debat / Getty, right: New Africa / Shutterstock

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

Ireland’s top 10 natural wonders

On the left, a grey polo neck, blue sweater, grey jacket, blue jeans, white shirt and grey t-shirt. On the right, brown shoes, a plaid shirt inside a blazer, grey pants with brown jacket, socks, sunglasses and a watch.
A longer vacation means more layers and outfit changes © Left: Dybrovskiy, right: StepPro / Shutterstock

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.

6 top day trips from Dublin to take you to the heart of Ireland  

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.

How to have a perfect day in Dublin without spending a euro

A sleeveless green desk, denim jacket, blue jeans, brown leather bag, flat sandals, sunglasses, wedges, leather pants, grey jumper, grey long jacket, black leather bag and wallet, grey wooly hat.
Clothing options for warmer and colder weather that will fit right in with local style © ivastasya / Shutterstock

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.

You might also like:
10 best beaches in Ireland
Haunted Dublin: spooky tours, ghost stories and macabre history
12 spectacular walks in Ireland for every ability

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.

This article was first published June 2019 and updated March 2022

Buy the Ireland travel guide

Lonely Planet’s Ireland is our most comprehensive guide that covers all the country has to offer. Ideal for travelers that are visiting for an extended time and want to tailor their own trip. Sample Guinness in Dublin, wander wild Connemara and take in traditional music – all with your trusted travel companion.

Buy the Ireland travel guide

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