When you’re looking for one of the cheaper times to visit Ireland, January is a great time. Ireland in January is free of all the holiday crowds, so you’ll love being able to explore without waiting in any lines. Airfare and hotels are also more affordable this time of the year, so as long as you don’t mind bundling up, it’s an ideal time to visit.
Whether you’re getting cozy in a warm pub listening to local music or taking a scenic drive around Ireland, you may be surprised at how many things to do in Ireland during January there are. From Belfast to Galway to Dublin, you’ll love exploring some new activities.
The fun of Christmas things to do in Dublin are over, but that doesn’t mean you should stay away.
As always, I got you covered – this article will go over the weather in Ireland during January, what to pack for Ireland in January, and the best activities going on during January in Ireland.
Weather in January in Ireland
January weather in Ireland may be unpredictable. Ireland typically experiences some of the coldest, wettest, and windiest weather in January.
Ireland’s January average temperature hovers around 44°F (7°C). Average lows can reach a chilly 37°F (3°C), while average highs often hover around 46°F (8°C).
Snow is typically more prevalent on higher ground, such as County Monaghan. However, on occasion, it can even sprinkle on the lower regions. Don’t let the few inches of snow stop you from exploring, though. You might end up with some beautiful wintery photos.
Cold snaps, which occur when temperatures are close to freezing, rarely endure more than a few days. When the temperature fluctuates near freezing, Irish roads can become icy; therefore, use additional caution when driving. You’ll want to thoroughly prepare for driving in Ireland before your first time.
Although shorter days tend to restrict outdoor activities a little, if you prepare ahead of time with an appropriate Ireland packing list, your holiday plans shouldn’t be impacted. Ireland is a magical place to visit in the winter.
What to Pack for Ireland in January
Similar to visiting Ireland in December, regarding packing, I have two essential pieces of advice for those traveling to Ireland in January: be smart about it and use layers. I have a full winter packing list for Ireland as well as a general packing list for Ireland, but here are a few tips.
Try to bring a monochromatic wardrobe for easy mixing and matching. For color, add a few accessories or simple-to-wear pieces like t-shirts. Include a simple, wrinkle-resistant dress or dress pants and tops for ladies when planning a lovely evening out, slacks, a button-down shirt, and a jacket for men.
Here is a general packing list for Ireland in January:
- A good jacket for warmth and a waterproof coat
- Jeans, fleece-lined leggings, and warm travel pants
- Plenty of warm socks
- Water-resistant hiking shoes or boots for exploring the countryside
- Cozy hat, which you can also buy in Ireland as a souvenir. Here’s a list of some of my top souvenirs from Ireland.
- Short and long-sleeved shirts for layering
- Comfortable shoes for walking in the cities
Tip: For a more comprehensive list of what to pack for Ireland, check out this guide.
Events to Attend in Ireland in January
Even in the dead of winter, one of Ireland’s most recognizable districts of Dublin continues to party. For those who are unfamiliar with traditional Irish music, Temple Bar Tradfest is a must-see event. Tradfest began as a little specialized event and has expanded to become one of the most significant Celtic Music events.
The best traditional Irish and foreign music is honored at this important conventional music festival held throughout the city. Each January, over five days, the festival draws Irish and foreign folk and traditional musicians.
Festival of Bovril and Banjo
The Harbour Bar in Bray hosts the yearly Trad and Folk Music Festival known as Banjo & Bovril. It celebrates the conclusion of chilly winter days in the bar with some banjo playing, steaming mugs of hot Bovril, and a platter of cheese and crackers.
The Banjo & Bovril Festival is a return to a long-standing custom that Paul O’Toole Senior started decades ago. Mick Flannery, The Eskies, Paddy Casey, Mundy, Old Hannah, Bunoscionn, David Keenan, Ye Vegabonds, Caoimhn Raghallaigh, and Crooked Jack, to name a few, have all performed at the festival over the years.
Galway hosts Astrofest, the greatest astronomy festival in the world, in January. Events during the festival include discussions, film screenings, and exhibits.
The Galway Astronomy Festival, now in its 19th year, has grown to become one of the most well-known events on the Irish astronomical calendar. It brings together amateurs and experts who are vital for knowledge sharing, successful stargazing, and mutual advancement.
Dublin in January
Dublin is a fantastic destination in Ireland to visit in January. Even though this is a quieter period than other times of the year, hotels, most restaurants, and attractions are still open, and the cost of lodging is also more affordable.
Pre-booking your tickets may not be necessary for popular tourist attractions because there will be fewer people. Still, you should check for the Book of Kells in advance if you need to because it’s one of Dublin’s top attractions and can get busy throughout the year (and know what not to do as an Irish tourist).
You can also take a fun day trip from Dublin to see more exciting sights.
Although the weather in Dublin is far from being the wettest month of the year and, with Ireland’s unstable and topsy-turvy climate, it frequently has rainfall amounts comparable to Ireland in June. In January, the eastern half of Ireland is marked by cold weather made to feel colder by high winds and heavy rain.
Luckily, Dublin offers a wide variety of indoor activities, so no matter what the January weather is like, you can always find something to add to your itinerary.
Even in January, there is no downtime in Ireland’s capital. Here are a few fun things to do in Dublin in January.
Go on the Irish Food Trail, Dublin’s top food tour
On the Irish Food Trail, savor a genuine taste of traditional Irish cuisine. As you look for lesser-known neighborhood hangouts, follow your guide on a walking tour of Dublin’s most well-liked pubs and eateries to learn the inside scoop on the city’s culinary scene.
1 January – 31 January
Dublin New Year’s Festival
To hear the bells ringing in the new year, Dubliners customarily assemble around the cathedral in the city. The concert is spectacular because up to 19 bells have occasionally been employed.
This custom has developed into a genuine New Year’s festival that lasts four days, features an outdoor concert to celebrate the upcoming new year with friends, and culminates in the New Year’s Big Breakfast in Meeting House Square.
1 January – 4 January
Bowie’s Dublin Festival
This festival takes place in Dublin during January, and all of the events are themed around David Bowie and his music, including seminars, merchandise, art, films, the greatest in drag culture, and, of course, a lot of live music.
The festival commemorates the anniversary of the Ziggy Stardust album’s release and presents an extraordinary chance to recapture the thrill of Bowie’s music and character. And to have a memorable experience that you may take home.
10 January – 15 January
Classics Now Festival
The Classics Now festival in Dublin gives you a schedule of events to experience the ancient culture and learn how it is still relevant in today’s society under the theme “The future of the Past.”
There are seminars, discussions, concerts, and readings to commemorate and educate people about the foundational elements of classical Greek and Roman culture from the viewpoint of contemporary artists.
27 January – 29 January
Belfast in January
Belfast is yet another fantastic location in Ireland to visit in January. As Northern Ireland’s capital, it is a thriving metropolis with a lot to offer tourists.
This is the perfect time of year to explore Belfast’s historical and cultural landmarks, with museums like the Ulster Museum offering exciting looks into the past.
Whether you take a day trip from Belfast or drive throughout the remainder of Northern Ireland while lodging somewhere else, Belfast may also serve as a starting point for your exploration of the region.
At this time of year, there will likely be more rainy days than at any other in Belfast and other tourist spots in Northern Ireland, such as the Giant’s Causeway. In Belfast, the average low is 36°F (2°C), and the average high is 43°F (6°C).
Go to Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic
Take a self-guided tour of the beautiful museum to learn more about the Titanic’s fascinating history at Titanic Belfast, the largest Titanic display in the world. Enjoy engaging exhibits, take in video lectures, and experience an exhilarating Shipyard Ride as your heart rate increases.
Titanic Belfast – 1 January
SS Nomadic – 1 January – 31 January
Tour the Game of Thrones filming locations
Game of Thrones was one of the most popular television shows of all time, With millions hooked and eagerly awaiting each new episode. A trip to Belfast is the perfect time to visit the Game of Thrones filming locations. Even if you only have a few days, it’s worth adding to your list.
1 January – 31 January
Take a hop-on/hop-off tour of Belfast
This hop-on hop-off trip of Belfast lets you ride an open-top double-decker bus to visit the historical sites of Belfast. Create your own experience by visiting the murals at the Falls and Crumlin Roads, Titanic Dock, St. George’s Market and Albert Clock.
1 January – 31 January
Galway in January
Galway’s cozy streets have a beautiful charm, especially in the winter, and there are some fantastic eateries and bars to discover.
The city has a list of unique attractions and fun things to do if the weather cooperates. However, don’t fear if the weather is bad, as there are many indoor activities.
Galway experiences a Marine – Mild Winter climate in January. When visiting Galway in January, you may anticipate the possibility of rain, fog, hail, and thunderstorms.
With an average low temperature of 38.3°F (3.5°C) and an average high temperature of 47.7°F (8.7°C), January is the coldest month in Galway. Most people would characterize it as chilly and windy.
However, with some fun indoor activities, you won’t even notice the weather outside when you’re here.
Go to Connemara National Park
Get on a coach and travel across the Irish countryside for a scenic trip that includes well-known sites like Killary Harbor and the quaint village of Spiddal. Independently and at your leisure, explore Connemara National Park‘s hiking paths.
1 January – 31 January
Music For Galway Midwinter Festival
Music for Galway, “home to excellence in classical and contemporary music programming, promotion, and presentation in the west of Ireland,” is now in its 41st year. This will undoubtedly be one of the month’s best events, with several concerts, workshops, and performances.
20 January – 22 January
Activities in Ireland in January
Ireland has many delights in January if you’re willing to brave the weather. The island’s natural beauty outshines any bad weather, and its cities remain charming despite it all, with festivals and a vibrant nightlife to liven up early evenings.
At this time of year, I recommend indoor activities and city breaks when planning a trip to Ireland. However, this is a great month to avoid crowds if you want to explore the expansive beaches, breathtaking headlands, and most well-known sights in nearly complete seclusion.
Engage in Some Indoor Activities
It’s a good idea to have a list of indoor attractions on hand so you have somewhere fun to go if it starts to rain, which it often does during Ireland’s winter.
Kilmainham Gaol is primarily an inside attraction (the yards are outside), and following a guided tour, you can explore the sizable museum.
The Waterford Crystal factory and store in Waterford City is another fantastic indoor destination in Ireland to check out in January. The tours take tourists through the crystal-making process and provide background information on the illustrious crystal manufacturer.
Spend Rainy Nights Snuggled Away in a Warm Pub
You can always find a cozy bar and take advantage of the warm and welcoming ambiance when the weather becomes gloomy and terrible and you can’t bring yourself to walk outside. Try to choose the more classic ones whenever possible because many resemble going back in time.
You don’t have to consume alcohol, and you never know when you’ll strike up a conversation with a local who will surprise you or share some local insight that will point you toward a wonderful location the following day.
Here are my lists of the top pubs in Galway and the best pubs in Dublin.
Enjoy Some Irish Cuisine
Enjoy a bowl of robust seafood chowder or an enormous bowl of Irish stew to warm up. Don’t forget to get some of their spiced beef specialties to round out your dinner and pair it with a nice pint of Guinness.
Another option is to travel to southwest Ireland, as foodies looking for travel inspiration can add Cork to their list of destinations they must see in January. The bustling indoor English Market in the city’s core is home to delectable dishes worldwide. Take a whole culinary tour of Cork while you’re at it.
Take a Wild Atlantic Way Drive
If visiting Ireland, you must take this breathtaking seaside path. It was even listed among the most beautiful spots on the planet by National Geographic.
A winter drive along the Wild Atlantic Way offers unrivaled vistas of gorgeous coves and inlets, spectacular cliff faces, and scenic beaches, making it a must-do even in January. Make sure to leave early so you can take in the scenery.
Observe the Stars at Ring of Kerry
The breathtaking Ring of Kerry is a must-see if you’re looking for something fresh to do because it contains Ireland’s many distinct natural treasures. The 111-mile-long Ring of Kerry is a nearby road that passes by nearby lakes, rivers, and waterfalls in addition to castles and houses.
Stargazing in the Ring of Kerry is an absolute must, especially with such ancient geological beauties as the background. The scenery is stunning and the tiny lights dotting the night sky make it appear much more so.
Experience the Northern Lights
January is among the greatest times for stargazing, astronomy festivals, and even searching for the notoriously elusive Northern Lights. There are many places in Ireland where you may see the incredible light phenomenon created by nature.
Go to Ireland’s northern or northwest coasts, such as Donegal, Leitrim, and Mayo, where there is hardly any light pollution. You’ll most likely see the lights in these locations.
Download an Aurora app to your phone and watch for activity during your trip if you expect to view the Northern Lights. One of the fortunate few who sees the Aurora Borealis above Ireland may be you.
Explore the Castles
Touring an Irish castle is a fantastic way to spend a day in January if you have a sunny, bright day ahead of you.
There are plenty of parklands and gardens to explore while the weather is dry at the well-liked and sizable Kilkenny Castle. Ireland’s Blarney Castle is another well-liked tourist destination. On a dry day, though, Blarney Castle’s grounds make for a beautiful site to spend some time.
Another fantastic castle to see in Ireland is Johnstown Castle. Taking a guided tour of the castle is possible, but reservations are required.