When Is the Best Time to Go to Ireland?
Without a doubt, Ireland truly comes to life in spring which comes around by the end of March and blends into summer by the end of June. Cold winter days make way for bluer skies as the country ignites in colour from the bloom of wildflowers that scatter across the land.
While Autumn is an equally inviting time to visit Ireland. Autumn arrives by September before subsiding into winter by November. With the flocks of summer tourists on their way home, the country is definitely better explored during this quieter period. Intense post-summer sunsets paint the sky above the orange canvas of trees below, making this beautiful country even more breath taking.
Come autumn, the hordes of tourists whizzing around Ireland and crossing items off their holiday checklist, have packed up their souvenir-stuffed cases and jetted back home. In their wake, they leave a peaceful lull in the city streets and on the quaint country roads making it the perfect time to explore Ireland’s picturesque driving routes, such as the Ring of Kerry or the Causeway Coast. So be sure to hit the roads after September to chase intense autumn sunsets on emptier roads, especially now the Irish summer holidays have come to an end and the children are back at school.
Contrary to mass-tourist belief, the sun hasn’t set on Ireland by autumn and the clear blue skies and prolonged sun beams hang around long into October, with the welcome onset of crisper air. At this time of year the country ignites with bright autumnal leaves, rivaling even the famous trees of New England.
So, at the turn of the summer season you’ll be sure to witness the best of this beautiful country.
Yet it is not just the visual aesthetic that becomes heightened at this time. One of the most famous culinary delights of Ireland also reaches its peak after the summer period, as autumn is the start of oyster season. Galway and Cork are the top spots for feasting on these, alongside a pint of Guinness by the water front.
As the temperature begins to lower, the cotton white coats of fluffy grey seal pups dot the sandbanks around West Cork, as whale fins can be spotted emerging off the west coast putting whale-watching season in full swing. For those further inland, red deer sightings also increase, particularly at Killarney National Park. Additionally, in autumn you will often spot an influx of migratory birds such as geese and swans arrive here from the bitter cold of the Arctic, in search of a more temperate climate. All of this would have been missed just a few weeks prior in the peak summer season.
As expected from spring, March into June is perfect for spotting the bloom of wildflowers decorating Ireland’s parks, woodlands, hedgerows and gardens. March displays bright yellow daffodils and the regal purple of dog violets, while in April you will notice brilliant bluebells pop up across the landscape.
St Patrick's Day
Although the official celebratory day lands on the 17th March, Ireland starts celebrating St. Patrick’s Day a couple of days early and continues the festivities two days after, on the 19th. For these four days, the cities and towns will be extremely spirited places where you can paint the town green. Dublin celebrates with live music, fun fairs, a street race, and Dublin’s most famous buildings are lit up in bright green lights. Cork, the Republic of Ireland’s the second biggest city also enjoys the festivities with live music, as well as food vendors, and street performers. On the other side of the island, in the North, Belfast and Londonderry/Derry also mark the occasion in style with brightly colored, lively parades.
Hiking in the Great Outdoors
When the cold air and the endless grey skies of winter begin to dissipate, there’s no better way to celebrate nature waking from its slumber than with a hike in the great outdoors. Ireland is a hiker’s dream and regardless of where you find yourself, there’s always a hill to climb and a breath-taking landscape calling your name. Enjoy the seascapes as you hike up Slieve League in Donegal or soak up the crisp salt air on a walk over at the Causeway Coast. Alternatively, walk back in time on the Glendalough Lake Walk which offers historical points of interest along the way. Whatever path you choose, you’ll know it was the right one.