From advice on the weather to what to pack and what to see, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about visiting Ireland in January.
January can be a grim month at the best of times. Christmas is over, the bank balance is at an all-time low, and payday is too many grey weeks away to think about.
But a trip to Ireland in January doesn’t have to be a total washout. The weather may not be the most uplifting, but there is still plenty to do.
The usual tourist hotspots are relatively empty until St. Patrick’s Day, so there are no queues at Ireland’s main attractions and plenty of space to browse souvenir shops. However, not everywhere will be open, so always check the website.
Magical castles, historical museums, and traditional pubs are all a great way to break the anti-climax often felt after the excitement of New Year’s Eve.
Not to mention the fact that Irish locals will be even more welcoming without the hoards of visitors cramming through the door behind you.
So why not plan a New Year getaway for 2021 and check out Ireland in January. Here are our top tips to help you on your way.
Weather – come prepared for the cold
Nobody visits Ireland for the weather at any time of year, so it will be no shock to find out January can bring cold, rain, and wind.
But despite an average of 24 days out of the month being wet, the temperature tends to stay considerably mild for January, usually between five and seven degrees Celsius.
Daytime hours can feel short with the sun not rising until almost 8.30 am most mornings before beginning to fade as early as three pm, and that’s if you see the sun at all!
Snow tends to fall around the inland counties with mountainous areas best for enjoying any winter sports.
Sea temperatures are generally warmer than land across Ireland in January, so any coastal areas rarely get heavy snow but rather plenty of rain, which often freezes overnight leaving lethal black ice on the roads.
Climate – expect rain
Ireland in January brings lots of rain leaving a damp, wet climate. Strong winds are also likely with storms often hitting the Atlantic coast, causing damage to counties in the west of the country.
When the temperature drops below freezing, Irish mornings can be frosty and very cold.
Fog and mist can linger, sometimes all day, so be sure to wrap up warm and wear a hat. Snow can fall in the midlands and higher areas throughout January, leaving a fresh, crisp atmosphere.
Top tips – what to see, do, and pack
Visiting Ireland at any time of the year is a good idea, and if you visit in January, you will see the Emerald Isle in her winter coat. The landscape can vary from an eerie mist to a blanket of snow, but will still manage to inspire and awe visitors.
When packing, make sure to bring lots of warm jumpers, waterproof boots for walking, and wet gear including trousers and a jacket.
As the saying goes, ‘any eejit can be cold’, so make sure to keep warm at all times because the Irish weather can go from harmless to harsh within seconds.
Winter walks along the coast can be stunning with the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare looking spellbinding any time of the year.
Just be careful in January as winds can get very strong, and the cliffs are dangerous. Our top tip would be to stay away from the cliff edge during winter months and avoid bringing young children and pets.
With sea temperatures warmer than land, a quick dip in the Atlantic Ocean is a great way to start the year.
It is actually a tradition at Lahinch beach on Christmas morning with flocks of locals running into the water before their turkey dinner (wet suits are optional but not mandatory).
Our only tip for swimming in January is not to go alone and stay within the safe zones clearly marked on the beach.
If you’re visiting County Donegal in January, take a trip to the Inishowen Peninsula to see the Northern Lights. They can often be seen from this stunning part of the country with plenty more natural beauty to take in along the way.
For a post-Christmas city break in Ireland, head for the capital to enjoy the January sales and one of the many ice-skating rinks that pop up from November until February.
Sample a bowl of Irish stew in the Hairy Lemon, Stephen Street Lower followed by a romantic stroll around St. Stephen’s Green. Catch a show at one of Dublin’s many theatres before enjoying a delicious meal in one of the many restaurants.
When choosing where to stay, we wouldn’t recommend camping in January, but would definitely advise staying in any small hotel that has a traditional bar with live music and an open fire.
There is nothing nicer than warming up by the fireside of an Irish pub with a creamy Guinness and a steaming hot bowl of chowder. Ireland in January can be the perfect place to start a new year!