I’m sure it’s the Canadian in me, but I consider winter to be from about November until mid-March. Despite March being spring for some people, as far as I’m concerned, if there’s a chance of snow, it’s winter.
I’ve been in Ireland on and off from December through March. Here’s some of my highlights from the visit to Ireland in the winter, and some stuff you may want to know.
The Emerald Isle
This name is no coincidence. This country is very green. Fields upon fields of green. The Emerald Isle is, of course, an island.
Even when visiting in the winter there wasn’t nearly as much snow as I anticipated. When it did snow, it didn’t stick around for long.
The Emerald Isle that is Ireland, of course, an island, and easily reached by plane, ferry, or land (if you’re coming from Northern Ireland – which is technically another country – part of the U.K.).
While Ireland is part of the E.U. it is not part of the Schengen zone; which means you can extend your Euro-trip if you make Ireland part of your journey (and why wouldn’t you?).
While there isn’t much snow in Ireland in the winter (maybe to some, but again, Canadian here, so anything short of a few feet isn’t much) – it certainly wasn’t short on precipitation. It rained – a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if it rained more days than it didn’t. To my surprise, however, very few people used umbrellas!
Winter is cold, dark, and dreary; yet there is still a warmth and festive feeling. Regular grey skies and temperatures around 0-5 degrees (in December/January) don’t allow for much snow to accumulate and look nice, making everything look grey. Yet the lights and cozy pubs and restaurants have a warm and inviting draw.
What to pack for a visit:
Layers. Layers. Layers. No matter which month of winter you decide to visit, you’ll need to keep warm. The colder bits of January, or windy March; layers are necessary. I spent many days wearing my leggings under jeans to save myself from those brisk winds.
Rainboots. Or “Wellys” as they call them here. If you find them to be a pain to pack, you can always pick up a cheap pair while you’re here. Otherwise, make sure your shoes/boots are at least water resistant! They’ll need to be with all the rain!
Winter Coat/Rain Jacket combo – these coats are waterproof with a warm and detachable inner lining that if you happen to catch a warm day you can remove the inner part and still have a nice light rain coat. They also small enough to pack without taking up too much of that precious space.
Be sure to also take a look at the general packing essentials list on our Travel Resources page!
I spent both Christmas and St. Patrick’s day (which I learned can be shortened to St. Paddy’s not St. Patty’s) in Ireland. Grafton street in Dublin was the most festive over the Christmas season – lights overhead and wrapped around each building and there were often carolers in the streets! On either end of the pedestrian shopping street, there were large lit up Christmas trees.
During St. Paddy’s crowds gathered over what was a four-day festive period. The actual St. Patrick’s day was on a Friday and was a bank holiday.
The crowds were huge waiting to see the parade. As it was (of course) raining, we decided to skip standing in the rain for the parade, and head to The Guinness Storehouse. They had their own St. Patrick’s day festivities going on. Complete with traditional Irish dancing, music, and a new beer tasting menu.
Things to Do in Dublin:
There are a few parks around that I’m certain are lovely in the warmer season, but in December, it’s simply too cold, and in March, too rainy to fully enjoy or bike around. Due to the weather, I opted for more inside activities.
- The Leprechaun Museum
- A cute little place that discusses various folklore of Ireland and takes you through the “Land of Giants” where you get to be the ‘wee people’ and take funny pictures on large furniture
- Guinness Storehouse
- A self- guided tour, much better than expected, multiple floors, tasting areas, advertising area, beautiful ‘gravity bar’ that overlooks the city.
- Pubs in Temple Bar – an area, not a bar!
- Cozy; rustic deep wood tones inside with fireplaces and live music. Comfort food and beer in abundance. What’s not to like?
- Trinity College
- Partially indoor and outdoor. There are beautiful buildings to look at and a massive library. The grounds are breathtaking.
I’ve mostly been around Dublin, Athlone, and Galway. As the weather warms up I intend to visit more places; including the famous Cliffs of Moher & Giant’s Causeway. Keep an eye out for these posts 🙂
Pubs are a great choice in any town or city you end up in – and be sure to try some traditional Irish food – breakfast fry-ups and shepherds pies are amazing!
There are many castles all around Ireland too – keep an eye out for my soon to come “castle hopping” adventure. Follow me on Facebook to stay the most up-to-date.
When it comes to trying to get work done while travelling around, it was a little more difficult than expected. Surprisingly, there aren’t too many coffee shops beyond Starbucks and Insomnia – and they’re not as common as you may hope. The other coffee shops that are available aren’t exactly work friendly (loud, without outlets or wifi, more like a restaurant, etc.)
Also, many close around 6. The one 24hr Starbucks nearby where I was staying in Dublin gets packed quickly making it nearly impossible to find a seat/outlet unless you plan on camping out there all day.
Watch you’re spending when you’re in Ireland. It’s the 3rd most expensive city in the EU according to Buzzfeed. Make sure you’re finding the best accommodations for your budget by checking out this post.
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