While summer in Ireland gets all the glory, planning a trip during spring in Ireland is actually a great idea. Not only are there fewer tourists around, but you’ll also save money on accommodations during this time of year. True, you may still encounter some rainy days, but with a mix of both indoor and outdoor activities, you’ll be able to have a blast on your trip regardless.
While one of the most famous things to do in spring in Ireland is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, you can also hike to find wildflowers, visit a working farm, and even learn to surf. I personally think this is an underrated time to visit, so I encourage you to check out all the spring activities in Ireland during this time.
Here are some tips for visiting Ireland during spring and fun Irish spring activities you can do.
Tips for Visiting Ireland in the Spring
Weather in Ireland in Spring
Officially, spring starts in Ireland this year on March 20, 2023, with the pleasant warming of temperatures into April and May. This is a beautiful time of year for a road trip around Ireland to do outdoor activities as the temperatures remain cool, the days are longer, and the wildlife begins to stir.
While spring can be a bit wet, I like to focus on the positives, like the infamous rainbows that appear after those rain showers. Read on for the best things to do during your trip to the Emerald Isle and what to see in Ireland in 7 days or longer.
You might want to begin preparing for your trip with things like weather and wardrobe to consider. Here are a few tips to help you plan your trip to Ireland in the spring.
Average Temperatures During Spring in Ireland
The temperatures are cold in Ireland from March to May. While spring is a sunny period with a low amount of rainfall, you can expect the pleasant temperatures to drop at the night. We explore the weather you can expect in major cities below.
Spring in Dublin
Dublin in the spring is a perfect time to visit for outdoor activities. You can expect average temperatures of 50°F (10°C) and high temperatures reaching 58°F (14°C). While the weather in Dublin from March through May is relatively cold, it rarely drops below 34°F (1°C).
Spring in Belfast
Located in Northern Ireland, Belfast experiences average high temperatures of 47°F to 67°F (8°C to 19°C). The temperature in spring can drop to 37°F (3°C) but rarely goes below 44°F (6°C). Thanks to high temperatures of 77°F (25°C) during the day, you can experience fun in the sunshine and outdoor activities in the city and on Belfast day trips.
Spring in Cork
Situated in the sunny southeast, Cork experiences great weather during spring. You can expect average temperatures of 61°F (16°C), and the lowest temperature you can expect is 33°F (0.5°C). As you progress into spring, the temperatures and hours of sunlight increase, making it a perfect time to travel.
Spring in Galway
The average high temperature during springtime in Galway is 51°F (11°C). You can expect temperatures to drop as low as 40°F (5°C). While the temperature in Ireland in March is warmer, you can expect the ocean temperatures to feel frigid at 49°F (9°C) (which is a great time to visit a cozy Galway pub!)
What to Pack for Spring in Ireland
Here are a few items I would recommend packing when planning your trip to Ireland during Spring.
- Rain jacket – Yes, you will likely need a rain jacket sometime in your trip, and it is best to bring one along on any hikes or outdoor activities you do.
- Rain boots – While we always recommend packing light, a pair of watertight rain boots will let you explore in the city or on trails without getting your shoes wet.
- Bring an athletic pair of shoes to feel comfortable during long walks in the city or countryside.
Something I don’t recommend bringing is an umbrella – I learned this the hard way one of the times I visited. It can be very windy during these months, and I’ve had my umbrella flip inside out and just be a giant mess of wetness, so instead, get a high-quality rain jacket with a hood.
12 Fun Things to Do in Ireland in Spring
Whether traveling to Dublin in the east or Galway in the west, you’ll be enthralled by the glorious history, breathtaking landscapes, and naturally beautiful things to do. Spring is a lovely time to travel anywhere in Ireland.
However, the sunny southeast coastline in Wexford is likely to be the warmest. I cover the best things to do in spring below.
1. Visit the Cliffs of Moher
Visiting the famous UNESCO-listed Cliffs of Moher on a day trip from Galway during spring is lovely. With summer being the most popular time to visit, the shoulder season of spring means you’ll have fewer tourists to contend with (but make sure to read what not to do as a tourist in Ireland first!).
While visiting during light rain is okay, I caution you to avoid visiting during storms or strong winds. When looking for things to do in Ireland in March, you might want to do this early in the day to avoid stronger afternoon wind.
You can walk to the beautiful viewpoint at O’Brien’s Tower from the visitor center. Located close to the highest part of the cliffs, the tower provides expansive views of the coast and cliffs. However, the coastal path leading further follows the cliff’s edge and is quite unnerving.
If you like birding, consider bringing your binoculars to look at the nesting colonies of seabirds. Make sure to read my tips on visiting the Cliffs of Moher before you go.
2. Attend a St. Patrick’s Day Festival
The St. Patrick’s Day Festival commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and is a celebration of heritage and culture. Whether you are in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Belfast, or any of the large cities in Ireland, you will find a host of events to celebrate the holiday in style when looking for what to do in Ireland in March.
A highlight is a parade and festival that takes place through the streets of Dublin from the 16th to the 20th of March, so it also celebrates the end of winter in Ireland and the start of spring in Ireland. While it’s technically at the end of winter, most people consider this time of year spring since it’s only a few days away.
The parade includes floats, performers, and incredible outfits, while the festival is a day-to-night celebration with food stalls, a comedy tent, and an Irish Food and Craft Village (you’ll love trying traditional food from Ireland). This is just another reason why visiting during spring in Dublin is ideal, even if you only have one day in Dublin.
As you can imagine, this time of year gets very crowded, so you’ll want to book your place to stay in Dublin months in advance. Alternatively, you could stay outside of the city to savey money and take public transportation in. Whatever you do, you’ll want to get around Dublin without a car, as the streets will be packed.
You’ll also want to head to the pubs to try out some of the best drinks in Ireland.
3. Horse Ride in Galway
The Slieve Aughty Center includes 17 acres of Galway land, perfect for horse riding, cycling, and walking. This rejuvenating retreat hosts an annual Ireland spring festival suited to families with children, and the equestrian center offers lessons with horses and ponies suited to all riding levels.
From Saturday, April 1st to Sunday, April 16th, 2023, they have an Easter celebration that includes crafts, face painting, pancakes, donkey rides, and a walk through an enchanted forest where you’ll find ‘Who Am I?’ cards that describe animals who live nearby. It costs €7.50 per child and takes place from 12-6 pm daily.
4. Walk Through Wildflowers in Ireland
As the temperatures warm, the Irish countryside slowly comes to life. Spring is the perfect time to search for impressive blooms of wildflowers. The Burren National Park on the west coast covers an area of 15,000 hectares and has a jaw-dropping diversity of wildflower species. You’ll find Arctic-alpine and Mediterranean Basin plants in this unique area.
If you are in Glengarriff in County Cork, the wildflowers on Garnish Island are worth mentioning. The 37-acre garden has a beautiful display of wildflowers accessed by ferry. Bantry Bay’s mild and moist climate allows the sub-tropical plants to thrive. The gardens have vivid colors throughout the year and are ideal for a spring time in Ireland excursion.
Alternatively, you can see an array of wildflowers while hiking along the Lacken Hill trail in Wexford County. The 1.1-mile, 2.95-mile, 4.4-mile, and 7-mile looped routes will take you through beech woodland rich in wildflowers during Ireland in spring.
5. Cycle One of the Greenways
Ireland is an incredible destination for a cycling excursion in spring despite the chance of rain. The various trails are dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians and connect minor and major cities without a motorized vehicle. You can ride along the Waterford Greenway for 29 miles of cycling from Waterford to Dungarvan along an old railway line route.
The Great Western Greenway is a 26-mile off-road trail beginning in Westport, running along the coast of Clew Bay, and ending in Achill. The track between Newport and Mulranny is stunning, with breathtaking views and a peaceful environment. Even if you are a beginner, these cycling routes are safe and can quickly be completed in a day during spring in Ireland.
6. Visit a Working Farm
Visiting a working farm is a fantastic thing to do in Ireland in April. The early morning activities of milking the cows, feeding the animals, and preparing the gardens will transport you into a simpler life. The early starting times mean you may need to wake up before sunrise or spend the evening on the farm’s accommodation. This is one of the more unique spring activities in Ireland that not many people get a chance to do.
At the organic Castlefarm Shop near Athy, Kildare, you can join an Easter egg trail following clues on the 23rd of April. Alternatively, visit the working farm to purchase rhubarb, vegetables, cheese, and jams.
The farm hosts free activities on the last Saturday of each month, including feeding the pigs at 11:00, collecting eggs at 14:30, and a talk on planting seeds at 15:00.
7. Go on a Kayak Safari at Dalkey
Book a kayaking tour on a pleasant spring day to see the sea life of Dublin Bay. You’ll explore the waters of the UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve from Bullock Harbor and can expect to see seals, dolphins, and rare birds. The tour includes a short walk on Dalkey Island before paddling back to the harbor towards picturesque views of the dunes and beaches.
While the activity is conducted in kayaks, the tour does include a wetsuit and buoyancy aid to help you feel comfortable in the event you capsize.
8. Admire the National Botanic Gardens
Located in Glasnevin, and Kilmacurragh, the National Botanic Gardens are an ideal spring in Ireland excursion. The gardens in Glasnevin were founded in 1795 and contain important collections of plants, including more than 15,000 species. Admire the architecture and the plants while walking through the Turner Curvilinear Rand and the Great Palm House.
The 52-acre garden in Kilmacurragh is outside of Wicklow Town and is smaller in size. Founded in the 18th century, the acidic soil and milder climate in Wicklow have allowed some species that struggled to survive in Glasnevin to thrive. If you visit Ireland in April, you’ll find the walkways in the garden are covered in the crimson flowers of the Rhododendron Altaclerensis.
9. Learn to Surf
Learn to surf in Strandhill in Sligo County. While you can learn to surf at any time of the year in many locations on Ireland’s West Coast, the surf at Strandhill in Springtime is suitable for beginners. The town has a relaxed ‘surfer’ atmosphere, with professional athletes often staying in town while searching for big waves nearby.
After fending off the cold water with a thick wetsuit, you can always head for a steam and hot seaweed bath treatment on Shore road.
Surfing is also popular up in Donegal, so make sure to check this out as well as other things to do in Donegal.
10. Join a Walking Festival
The Slieve Bloom Walking Festival takes place in May (dates have not been announced yet for 2023) and follows a route through the hills of blooming bluebell flowers. The festival lets you join like-minded people on woodland walks and gentle hikes while receiving information on the geology and fauna of the area. The evenings offer entertainment at the local pub where you can rest your feet with your fellow walkers.
In May, the walks at the Cavan Walking Festival (dates have not been announced yet for 2023) follow themes such as nighttime, archaeology, and a history ramble. If you love walking and words, you can bring your pen and paper on a Haiku poetry walk to celebrate World Poetry Day in March.
If you stay in Galway, you can tackle the Connemara Mountain Walking Festival from April 28th-May 1st. The walks cover a fair amount of elevation as you explore a challenging 9-mile route on Mweelrea or a moderate 5 miles on Barrclashcame.
11. Hike the Slieve League Cliffs
In County Sligo reside the tall cliffs of Slieve League along the wild Atlantic Ocean. As the second-highest sea cliffs in Ireland, the area offers dramatic views and is a thrilling walk.
The first time I visited, I instantly fell in love and didn’t want to leave. You’ll want to bring your camera when you come, as you’ll get some stunning photos. Be aware that like many places on the coast in Ireland, it tends to get really windy here, so bring a windbreaker and/or rain jacket to help protect you.
You’ll feel like you are walking amongst the clouds when you reach the top viewing point. The Slieve League Cliffs Centre offers a history of the area and is the route’s starting point.
You can go on one of the best drives in Ireland from the Cliffs Center to the viewing point or walk and soak in the dramatic landscape. To learn more about Donegal’s area, head to Glencolmcille Folk Village Museum to see historic cottages and discover how people lived in the past.
12. Set off on a Hike in the Mountains
As well as keeping you fit, hiking in the mountains is the best way to explore the hidden parts of Ireland on foot. With a pair of trusty boots, a rain jacket, and some essential gear, you can tackle some incredibly scenic hiking routes near the major cities.
The Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail is 4.6 miles long and is affectionately known as the ‘stairway to heaven’ due to a one-mile boardwalk through a bog before a steep climb to the 2,185ft summit. The area is breathtaking in spring, with exciting things to see, like the Marble Arch Caves, so be sure to plan time to explore.
For a panoramic view over the Connemara mountains, lakes, and islands, head up the Diamond Hill hike. Leaving the Connemara National Park Visitors Center, you’ll continue to gain elevation until you reach some of the higher sections, which require some scrambling. While challenging, the epic views from the 1,460 ft summit are worth the effort.
Which one of these things to do in Ireland in spring are you most excited about?