Skip to content

Best time to go to Ireland

Best time to go to Ireland

One of the most popular questions when working out the best time to go to Ireland is, ‘when does it rain the least?’. In short, there is no answer to that question. Except that you will have the luck of the Irish if you go for a few days without rain. The island’s nickname of the emerald isle comes from the rain, the soft mist over Kerry or Cork is created by rain, and the wild influence of the Atlantic that shapes the island’s craggy west coast brings rain with it. 

All of our Irish holidays run between March and October, the majority starting in April, and highest temperatures are in July and August, topping at around 19C. But like everywhere, Ireland has its ups and downs with the climate crisis, and summer temperatures hit the highest on record at over 40C in 2022. The thing about rain in Ireland is, you just have to go with it – and bring a good rain jacket. And then, importantly, join in with Irish people’s favourite pastime in the pub at the end of an amazing hiking trail, by chatting about the weather. Here are some of the best times to go to Ireland, month by month, with a focus on food, drink and arts festivals, all of which inform Irish contemporary culture greatly. 

Best time to go to Ireland Uncategorized The Natural Adventure 5
Yes it rains in Ireland, but so many of those clouds have silver linings.

Ireland in March

There’s a touch of March madness about Ireland, as this is the month of the country’s national holiday, and now world famous St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrated in just about every village, town and city in Ireland, there is a national holiday, fireworks, family get-togethers and packed pubs on 17 March every year. It’s an important community event too and, although we only have one holiday open for travel in March, you will have plenty of opportunities to raise a glass to the famous saint while cycling the Ring of Kerry

Ireland in April

Depending on when Easter falls, April starts to get much busier in Ireland, especially as people do love to holiday at home in Ireland, so the roads may be busier. You will see a significant drop in traffic when the schools go back, with dates available here, particularly on some of the most popular areas with local people, such as the glorious coves and islands of West Cork or along the Dingle Peninsula.. If you celebrate Easter as a religious festival, there are no shortages of places of worship, such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, at the start of our walking holiday on St. Patrick’s Way

Ireland in May

Lisdoonvarna, in the heart of the Burren and County Clare, hosts a historical matchmaking festival every year, and people still flock here in search of a life partner. Thankfully, the small town has got a more contemporary festival that’s a marriage made in heaven for those who like to combine hiking and great food, and it takes place in mid-May. The Burren Slow Food Festival is an official member of the Slow Food movement, Terra Madre, which started in Turin, Italy, and it is a great celebration of the county’s fine mix of seafood, cheese, locally-sourced meat and so much more. Make sure you add this into your hiking itinerary along on our Burren Way and Cliffs of Moher tour. This also times well with the flowers that start to appear through the karst limestone of the Burren, such as vibrant blue spring gentian, white mountain avens and pink bloody crane’s-bill. 

If you are travelling through Dublin, then the Bloom Festival is not to be missed at the end of May, and sometimes the beginning of June, in Dublin’s famous Phoenix Park, one of the largest city parks in Europe. Bloom is a four day festival that celebrates horticulture and food, with a strong emphasis on sustainability. It’s worth timing a walking holiday in Wicklow, which is only an hour away from the capital, and tuck into some fine Irish fare at this glorious urban event. 

Flowers peek through the karst limestone slabs of the Burren in spring.

Ireland in June

If you are opting for one of our gorgeous Kerry holidays, whether it’s walking or cycling the Kerry Way, you may want to time it to coincide with Listowel Writers’ Week, in a small town in North Kerry. One of the most celebrated in the country and in Europe, it’s ​​Ireland’s oldest literary and arts festival. If you think Ireland does walking trails well, its writers’ tales are on another scale. The festival falls over the Irish June bank holiday weekend, so sometimes starts at the end of May. Check out their website for dates. 

Another reason to head to the capital city in June, before or after your hiking or cycling holiday in Ireland, is to experience Taste of Dublin, a food festival in the heart of the city. This has been going on since 2006, around the time when the value of Celtic cuisine really started to get noticed. Following years of bacon and cabbage, full Irish breakfasts and a soggy toasted sandwich in a pub if you were lucky. Today, it’s a whole other world of gastronomic delights countrywide, and this festival in the capital is a great place to start. As well as demonstrations and tastings, panel discussions and locally-sourced products, the music and drink is always flowing.

It’s also worth noting that Irish summer school holidays start at the end of June, which is much earlier than many other countries, and so places can book up earlier by people who are holidaying at home, and the roads will be busy on the last weekend of June as a result. 

Ireland in July 

For a hit of Irish culture, you want to head west to the Galway International Arts Festival in July, which is two weeks of high quality theatre, music, dance, opera and the visual arts. Dating back over 40 years, the city’s cobbled streets are crammed with creativity spread between 30 venues, including a massive marquee for pop events, but many other venues for more classical Irish arts. Galway is bang in the middle of the west coast, and easily accessible by train or bus from any of our Irish holidays. 

It’s also worth noting that, if travelling in Northern Ireland in July, the 12th July fortnight is known as ‘marching season’ in Northern Ireland and is a controversial period when Unionists or ‘Orangemen’ mark the Battle of the Boyne. Historically it has been a time of conflict, but now it is more of a nuisance really as streets are closed, bonfires are lit and the atmosphere can be tense. Although if you are walking somewhere like the remote Glens of Antrim, or along St. Patrick’s Way, you will probably be oblivious to any flag-waving or politics. These events don’t feature in the Republic of Ireland at all, so it’s never an issue for most of our holidays. 

Cycling the Ring of Kerry is quieter outside the months of July and August, and our tours open as early as March.

Ireland in August

Like so many places in Europe, Ireland is busy in August, and some of the most popular destinations, such as the Cliffs of Moher or the Giant’s Causeway are at their most crowded. If August is your only window for some wanderlust on this western isle, some of the lesser-known walking trails are best, such as walking the Beara Way or the Donegal Way. Even in peak season, many parts of these trails will be empty and you will feel as if you have stepped back in time. 

Ireland in September

Similar to after Easter, you see a big dip in the number of tourists in Ireland when schools go back in September, and also, this can often be a very sunny month, and the sea is still relatively warm. One of the biggest foodie events in Ireland has to be the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival and it draws in big crowds at the end of September. This is Galway, the city known for its great craic (Irish language for a great time), and food is often accompanied by drink and music, so if you really want to explore Ireland in September, the world is your oyster in Galway. 

You know the song ‘When Irish eyes are smiling’? Well it’s infectious when you go walking not only on the Dingle Peninsula but island-wide.

Ireland in October 

You will hear plenty of music on your travels in Ireland, and the Cork Jazz Festival in October takes over eight venues for five days at the end of the month. Cork is the second largest city in Ireland, and easily accessible by train or bus from all our tours, but the closest ones are cycling in West Cork, walking the Sheep’s Head Way, and cycling the Beara Peninsula

Heading further north up the Wild Atlantic Way, the Dingle Food Festival takes place at the beginning of October every year, with food stalls, cookery demonstrations and celebrity chefs (Ireland has many), as well as a Taste Trail, where you get to walk around Dingle town, sampling local specialities such as Glenbeigh mussels, local seafood chowder or even Dingle Gin along the way. Time this with our walking holidays along the Dingle Way or a cycling holiday around the Dingle Peninsula and fill your boots. 

Another great reason to travel to Ireland in October is the Dublin Theatre Festival, an international arts event featuring a fine collection of national and international productions, hosted in 20 venues across the capital. It often starts at the end of September but takes over half of October and more than half of the city. 

We hope we have given you plenty of food for thought about visiting Ireland. We can’t emphasise how much the Irish food scene has transformed over the last few decades, with slow and sustainable food featuring on many menus, from fine dining to pubs. One of the best books to pack before you travel to the west coast of Ireland, is Where To Eat and Stay on the Wild Atlantic Way by Ireland’s leading foodies, John and Sally McKenna. It’s a passport to the finest picnics and pubs, delis and deliciousness all around the coast, from Cork to Donegal. For any other questions about travelling on the island of Ireland, don’t hesitate to contact one of our adventure specialists.