A visit to Ireland in the summer is very different from a trip in the winter. Generally speaking, in summer, airfares, car-rental rates, and hotel prices are highest and crowds at their most intense. But the days are long (6am sunrises and 10pm sunsets), the weather is warm, and every sightseeing attraction and B&B is open. In winter, you may get rock-bottom prices on airfare and hotels. But it will rain and the wind will blow, and many rural sights and a fair proportion of rural B&Bs and restaurants will be closed.
All things considered, we think the best time to visit is in spring and autumn, when weather falls in between bad and good, but prices are lower than in high season and the crowds have yet to descend.
Rain is the one constant in Irish weather, although a bit of sunshine is usually just around the corner. The best of times and the worst of times are often only hours, or even minutes, apart. It can be chilly in Ireland at any time of year, so think layers when you pack.
Winters can be brutal, as the wind blows in off the Atlantic with numbing constancy, and strong gales are common. But deep snow is rare and temperatures rarely drop much below freezing. In fact, Ireland is a fairly temperate place: January and February bring frosts but seldom snow, and July and August are very warm but rarely hot. The Irish consider any temperature over 68°F (20°C) to be “roasting” and below 34°F (1°C) as bone-chilling.
The Republic observes the following national holidays, also known as Bank Holidays: New Year’s Day (Jan 1); St. Patrick’s Day (Mar 17); Easter Monday (variable); May Day (May 1); first Mondays in June and August (summer Bank Holidays); last Monday in October (autumn Bank Holiday); Christmas (Dec 25); and St. Stephen’s Day (Dec 26). Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) is mostly observed—all pubs must close on Good Friday, although this archaic law is the subject of hot debate. In the North, the schedule of holidays is the same as in the Republic, with some exceptions: the North’s summer Bank Holidays fall on the last Monday of May and August; the Battle of the Boyne is celebrated on Orangeman’s Day (July 12); and Boxing Day (Dec 26) follows Christmas.
In both Ireland and Northern Ireland, holidays that fall on weekends are celebrated the following Monday.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.