Winter is an ideal time to visit the Emerald Isle. Ignore the weather and rainfall; bask in what Ireland has to offer over the Christmas festivities with our ten reasons to visit Ireland in winter.
When travelling somewhere new, people often wait until the summer months for better weather. It is understandable why you would do the same with Ireland, in spite of the country’s unpredictable weather forecast.
However, there is little that tops an Irish winter. The natural beauty, fire-lit homes, joke-filled nights out, the Christmas spirit, decorated cities and reputation as one of the friendliest countries in Europe are enough to melt away any fear or worry from the extreme cold that will greet you.
If you are planning your next winter trip, Ireland is the place to be. Here are the top ten reasons to visit Ireland in winter, ranked.
10. Northern lights − a rare sight
One of the best reasons to visit Ireland in winter is that you may be able to catch a glimpse of the rare and famous Northern lights, which are most prominent in Iceland.
It is difficult to predict when they will appear, but we have a guide here. Malin Head in County Donegal is a good spot to see the Northern Lights in Ireland, while the Causeway Coast also provides sightings.
9. County Donegal – the most beautiful county in Ireland?
County Donegal looks so good at this time of year that we decided to include it on its own merit. Donegal itself is one of the top reasons to visit Ireland in the winter.
Mount Errigal and Glenveagh are sights to behold in the winter months. Furthermore, there are few more refreshing things than a walk along a Donegal beach, such as Carrickfinn or Murder Hole, as the crisp wind hits you under the piercing winter sun.
8. Surfing – one of the best reasons to visit Ireland in the winter
Surfing is one of the best reasons to visit Ireland in winter. While it will be freezing (brace yourselves for the cold), the waves are big and call for action.
Despite the wind and heavy rain, if you have a wetsuit and are a lover of the sea, it is certainly worth a go.
7. The nights out – cold out, head in
As the cold weather sets in, the deeper the call for a night out. Visit any Irish town or city, and the bars will be filled with people during the winter.
It is a popular time to dress up warm, head to the bar, join your friends and have a couple of pints listening to traditional Irish music.
6. Irish stew – traditional Irish staple
Another one of the reasons to visit Ireland in winter is the chance to have a plate or bowl of stew on the Emerald Isle.
Stew is a traditional Irish staple meal and is intertwined with Irish culture. It is a heart-warming meal perfect for winter.
5. The Christmas feel – enjoying this special time in Ireland
One of the best reasons to visit Ireland in winter is that the Christmas feel is truly apparent across the country. It is a special time in Ireland, and it certainly feels it for the visitor, too.
Ireland’s premier cities, such as Belfast, Galway, and Dublin have fantastic Christmas markets throughout December. Cities and towns also decorate themselves in festive décor. Perhaps Dublin’s Grafton Street is the best example.
4. Smaller crowds – more time and enjoyment for you
Perhaps like anywhere during the colder months, one of the best reasons to visit Ireland in the winter is the smaller crowds.
Unlike the summer months, you will have much more freedom in roaming the country, especially the cities, giving you more time and enjoyment.
3. Winter solstice – ancient Ireland in the modern day
One of the most fascinating events in the Irish calendar is the winter solstice. Found in Newgrange, County Meath, the sun penetrates the entrance of the structure on winter mornings. This phenomenon is worth the price of the trip alone.
2. The cities – the places to be in winter
Claiming the penultimate spot on our list of the best reasons to visit Ireland in the winter is the Irish cities.
The Christmas feeling truly takes hold in Ireland during winter. The cities illuminate with Christmas decorations, and shop stores are open late as the main city streets become town squares.
1. The beauty of the country – Ireland in its true glory
Topping our list of reasons to visit Ireland in the winter is the sheer natural beauty that defines the county.
From Giant’s Causeway to Achill Island, from Glendalough, a hidden gem in County Wicklow, to Connemara, the Emerald Isle is a truly beautiful sight.
The Irish countryside peaks when the snow settles, with mountain tips from the Mournes to Croagh Patrick standing strong and white from miles away.
Winter deals: One of the best reasons to visit Ireland in winter is the Christmas discounts. Shopping can be a joy.
Museums: We will all want to be indoors. Thankfully, Ireland has a litany of museums for you to discover.
Café scene: Especially in the cities, the Irish café scene is top-notch. Sit and watch the day grow dark from the comfort of a café.
Titanic Belfast: Attractions like this in Northern Ireland are very busy in the summer months. So, beat the queues by visiting in winter.
The wildlife: You can spot some of the most magnificent bird species and other animals in Ireland if you visit in the winter. These range from the Snowy Owl to Grey Seal Pups.
FAQs about the best reasons to visit Ireland in the winter
Is Ireland worth visiting in the winter?
Yes, winter is one of the best times to visit Ireland. Despite the weather, you can drink in a pub with festive decorations, tour the Christmas cities and marvel at a country in a blanket of snow. You won’t regret a winter visit to Ireland.
What is Ireland like in the winter?
There is no sugar-coating it – Ireland is freezing in the winter. December to February are the coldest months that see big temperature drops, rainfall and sometimes snow, too. However, the country is beautiful and extremely welcoming.
What is the best month to go to Ireland?
Like anywhere in Europe, the summer months are best. However, the sun is not always guaranteed.
If you can bare the cold, Ireland is great to go to in the winter and is also stunning when it is covered in autumn leaves against the Irish landscape.