You may not think of winter as the ideal time to visit Ireland, but there are actually plenty of benefits. You’ll have fewer people to deal with anywhere you go, from tourist attractions to restaurants. That means no waits, and you may be able to see more in a day than you would in summer. However, you’ll want to know what to pack for Ireland in winter so you stay warm and dry.
You’ll love being around fewer people during this time of year and won’t even mind the weather as long as you’re nice and warm. I went there in December and actually enjoyed it much more than I thought I would because I packed well. That’s why I have this Ireland packing list for winter for you to follow so you can pack everything you need before your trip.
This article talks about what to expect regarding the winter weather in Ireland as well as everything you need for your winter Ireland packing list.
Weather During Winter in Ireland
Like, with many countries in the northern hemisphere, Ireland’s winter time is between December and February. This is a great time to visit for fewer crowds, winter sports, and full-on Christmas cheer (Dublin at Christmas is especially fun!). Be sure to bundle up as it gets quite chilly.
The country’s weather is cool, damp, and cloudy all throughout the year. But, come winter time, the temperatures drop a bit more, and the rainfall increases. Typically, winter temperatures range between 37°F (3°C) to 46.5°F (8°C), with January and February being the coldest months.
Northern Ireland is colder than the south, but it’s actually the inland that gets the most freezing temperatures. Castlederg holds the record for the lowest temperatures recorded at -1.66°F (-18.7°C).
While temperatures can dip below freezing at times, Ireland doesn’t see much snow. The country only sees about one to two centimeters (less than 1 inch) of snow a year. It usually only lasts about a day or two when it does snow.
Rain is more frequent than snow. Ireland in December and January get the most rain, with an average of 12 to 14 days of rain each month. January and February also get a lot of wind, so what you add to your Ireland packing list during this time is crucial.
Packing List for Ireland in Winter
Are you not sure what to wear in Ireland from December to February in Ireland? Take a look at these essentials you cannot miss in your luggage.
1. Thermal Underwear
When temperatures drop, homeowners often use their insulation to keep their pipes from freezing, windows from allowing cold drafts, and houses warm. So, to protect your body from the cold, you’ll have to do the same. Your insolation? Thermal underwear.
As mentioned above, Irish winters are wet, cloudy, and windy, so a high-quality thermal base is a good protection to prevent the cold from chilling your bones. These fleece-lined thermal layers are great to wear as is or under your clothes without adding any bulk.
Synthetic layers are often cheaper, fast-drying, and lightweight, but if you’re looking for the best warm layer, merino wool is your best bet. This wool keeps you warm and dry when it’s cold, so it is an excellent investment. This merino thermal set is sure to keep you warm whether you’re high in the mountains or bar hopping in town.
2. Wool Socks
In combination with a good base layer on your body, a warm layer on your feet can go a long way. Remember, you’ll probably walk around on wet pavements and roads while sightseeing. Whether you’re in the towns or countryside, you’ll probably walk along many wet trails and grasslands, so your feet need to stay warm and dry.
The best way to do that is to wear thick woolen socks. Wool has the special quality of being a bad conductor of warmth, which means heat has difficulty passing through it. This is great for us as it means you can lock in your body heat for longer. Not only that, but wool has great ventilation, is odorless, and is partially hydrophobic.
While your socks don’t need to be made of merino wool, it still remains the best material for keeping warm. Try these merino wool socks for warm feet while minimizing odor.
3. Comfortable Shoes
Many of the towns in Ireland, like Dublin, are very walkable with flat terrain, and everything is within a few minutes’ walk. This is because the city is so old and had to be easily accessible when the main mode of transport was on foot or by horse. So, comfy shoes are essential.
With a lot of rain also comes a lot of mud. If you’re planning on staying in the city or rural areas, you’ll benefit from having calf-high rainboots with you.
Hard rubber is the best water repellent, while the high top prevents any water from dripping in if you happen to walk in a puddle. You can liven any dull outfits up by wearing some Wellies with patterns or colors like these fun rubber rain boots.
Besides the city square, there are also many hikes near Dublin. Get a sturdy pair of waterproof boots that you can use for hikes but are also good for wearing in the city. Boots with a fleece lining add an extra layer of warmth and may come in handy when you’re visiting the chillier parts of the country.
Tip: If you’re staying and showering in a hostel, don’t forget your flip-flops. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
4. Warm Pants
Even if you visit Ireland in November, you’ll start to feel the winter chill. For the most part, you can get by with a comfortable pair of jeans with a warm base underneath to keep you warm. However, jeans are not a good choice if it starts to rain heavily.
Denim is notorious for taking a long time to dry in cold, wet weather, and unless you want to freeze-dry your legs, you should opt for another option. What you wear depends on your cold tolerance, but the best clothes in Ireland for people who don’t like the cold are fleece-lined pants. This is especially true if you go on a Northern Ireland road trip, where it can be windy at your stops.
Thick waterproof trousers are a more reasonable option should you get stuck in the worst weather. They can be dressed up or down, depending on your itinerary. This pair of fleece-lined trousers look nice enough to wear to a formal dinner if you’d like.
Tip: For women, leggings are a great way to stay comfortable and warm.
5. Thick Long Sleeve Shirt
Technically, this could still be part of your base layer because you’re more likely to wear a long-sleeve shirt under your sweaters and jackets. However, this still goes over your thermal underwear, so it counts as another layer, so add it to your Ireland winter packing list.
Leave cotton shirts in summer as they lock in moisture, which will only leave you more cold and wet in the damp weather. Instead, it would be best if you opted for warmer materials like wool, polyester, and fleece to keep you snug.
Fleece and sherpa offer another layer of warmth but might be too warm for some. However, it can be your best friend if you’re up in the mountains or planning on going out at night. You can get a fleece and sherpa-lined shirt but opt for a fleece sweater instead for extra warmth. You can also find pullover shirts that are ideal for dressing for winter in Ireland.
Flannel shirts are also an excellent layer to wear. You can wear it layered over a shirt allowing it to hang open for when you’re hot or wear it as a button-up. Flannel is made of wool or cotton and is a thick material that’s stylish and warm. A heavyweight shirt should add a good extra layer, so you stay warm.
6. Sweater or Cardigan
There’s nothing better in Ireland in winter than snuggling up to a warm fire with an even warmer drink in hand. While the weather may be cold, inside any pub, hotel, or restaurant is usually quite warm.
One minute you are freezing outside, and the next, you’re sweating from how warm it is inside. So, what do people wear in Ireland if the temperatures keep fluctuating wherever they go? They layer up on lightweight but warm sweaters and cardigans.
Wearing layers that you can quickly put on and take off means you will have excellent temperature control. While a thick knitted sweater may be your go-to, it often takes up a lot of packing space that you could’ve used for warmer clothes— like a cashmere sweater.
Cashmere is lightweight and about eight times warmer than merino wool, so a cashmere sweater like this one should do the trick. You can layer this over your thermal layer or a long-sleeved shirt. Because it is so lightweight and warm, you can easily take it off and store it in a bag without taking up much space.
7. Warm Accessories
Your winter Ireland fashion will not be complete without some warm accessories. These small things are essential to keep yourself warm during the cold days and nights in the Emerald Isle.
Your must-have items include hats, gloves, ear muffs, and scarves. Your hands, head, and neck are often forgotten about while the rest of your body is snug and warm. While any hats and gloves are better than none, opt for fleece or wool-lined ones for optimal warmth instead.
This hat, gloves, and scarf combo is a great all-in-one purchase, as it’s also lined with fleece. The gloves also have a conductive material that is touchscreen sensitive, so it doesn’t interrupt your phone use.
Your packing list for Ireland in May and winter will differ quite a lot. One thing that remains is a pair of sunglasses. While dark grey clouds mainly cover the sky, eye protection is still essential. Not only do stylish glasses up the cool factor of your outfit, but they also prevent any UV damage, debris from the wind, and block out any harsh glares.
8. Waterproof Items
Now that you’ve got all of your bases covered, the last item you’ll need for outdoor activities in freezing temperatures is a high-quality waterproof raincoat. In winter, Ireland is windy but gets lots of rain.
It is important to know the difference between waterproof and water-repellent. A waterproof top coat is the best way to keep the wind and water away from your skin.
Get a hooded raincoat that folds up to keep your whole body dry without taking up too much space in your luggage or daypack. However, a raincoat may not be enough if you plan on walking around a lot while it’s pouring. A wind-resistant umbrella is always a good reserve item to have at hand as well.
While most items on this list contribute to your Ireland outfits in winter, there are a few extra items you can add for a better travel experience. This includes a dry bag, which is a pack or satchel that keeps items like clothes and electronics dry while you’re out and about near water.
This is an excellent item to have if you’re planning on hiking or camping in the damp Irish weather. This dry bag is a great option that doesn’t break the bank.
9. Winter Coat
While a waterproof rain jacket is essential, it may not always be the warmest or most appealing look. A winter coat is more fashionable and, depending on where you’re going, part of the dress code.
If you’re in Dublin in the winter, you may want to dress up more than in towns or on a camping trip. So, I suggest adding a pea coat to your luggage. The double-breasted coat offers a stylish silhouette and keeps you warm.
If you’re more casual or are going to be hiking, a down jacket under your raincoat is a great way to insulate yourself from the cold. A good quality down jacket should compress easily, making it a great space saver.
10. Formal Clothes
Fashion in Ireland is mainly casual wear with jeans and sneakers. This item is optional and depends solely on your itinerary while in the country. If you’re planning on dining in a high-end hotel or having a castle dining experience, sneakers and a t-shirt just won’t cut it.
The dress code depends on the location and can range from smart casual to super formal. You can usually find the dress code information on the venue’s websites. However, semi-formal wear usually means heels, a button-up shirt, or a knee-length dress for women.
Now that you know what to pack for Ireland in the winter, it’s time to get packing!