When it comes to Newfoundland, everyone asks, "Why?" or "Where?" but when I'm asked about Ireland, it's usually, "When is the best time to go?"
Ireland is among the top destinations on travel bucket lists, thanks to its breathtaking scenery, magnificent castles, rich history and charming people. Making the decision to go isn't difficult, but knowing WHEN to go can be.
While I talk about that aspect in my book, Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland, I don't mind sharing a bit of that here as well. Helping people plan their own trips to Ireland is one of my favorite things to do, which is why I encourage anyone who wants to go to contact me for advice.
Really, anytime is a good time to go to Ireland, but I do have my own preferences, having visited in every season of the year. If you're looking for the best odds for great weather, unfortunately, that's just something you can't count on. You might think it would be summer, but I've personally experienced more rain in the summer than any other time of the year - that season also brings the biggest crowds, highest airfares and greater difficulty in finding accommodation.
There are no guarantees when it comes to the weather, so your best bet is to bring clothes that can be layered, along with appropriate rain gear, and be prepared to take things as they come. Often times the rain isn't so brutal that it prevents you from going on a hike or other outdoor activities, and when it is, just pop into one of the many cozy pubs, enjoy the warmth of a fire and conversation with the locals.
If you have your heart set on a dolphin watching excursion or a fishing trip, early May through late September may be your only option. If you can, plan to go closer to the outer ends of that period for the best experience. In fact, I find May and mid- to late-September to be the ideal times of the year to visit Ireland. This is when you’ll often get the best of both worlds with decent weather, a more relaxed atmosphere and many popular attractions will still be open.
But don't rule out winter. Ireland tends to have fairly mild weather, similar to the Seattle area, so you're unlikely to have to deal with snow. Traveling between mid-January and late February will typically earn you the best deals on airfare, the cheapest rates on accommodations, and you’ll have few crowds to contend with. This is also an ideal time to get to know the locals with your B&B host usually not as rushed.
In a future post, I'll reveal some of my favorite Ireland destinations, places you might want to consider for your own itinerary.
Have any questions about Ireland or other destinations you'd like to see answered here? Comment below, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.