9 great reasons to visit Ireland this winter

Need an excuse for your next winter trip? You’ve come to the right place. Take a look at all the reasons why Ireland should be on your travel hit list.

From dramatic nature to creature comforts, Ireland in winter is a delight for all the senses. Go when others don’t and see a whole new side to the country.

1.  Avoid the crowds

Winter is the off-peak tourist season in Ireland. That means the major attractions have shorter wait times and fewer crowds. Sounds like a win, win! So if you want to see the Guinness Storehouse, the Book of Kells or any other memorable destinations, a winter trip is just the ticket.

Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

2.  Save, save, save

One of the main reasons why we love low season travel is that it’s great value for money. If you book off-peak for your next trip, you can enjoy even better value flights, accommodation and car rental. Or why not check out our Vacation Store for great value flight and hotel packages and so much more. Then you have even more reason to treat yourself to a few extra luxuries during your trip.

3.  Curl up in a castle

Do you love the sound of wind and rain while you’re tucked up indoors? Same here. Luckily, Ireland has lots of cozy retreats.

One of the best places to find unique accommodation is the Irish Landmark Trust. Carefully restoring Ireland’s built heritage, they equip historic buildings with everything you need for your cosy getaway. Choose from a miniature medieval castle, a Georgian mews or even a lighthouse.

4.  Indulge in comfort food

During your winter trip, treat yourself to some true Irish soul food. Thick slices of homemade brown bread with lashings of butter. Toasted sambos full-to-bursting with sharp cheddar cheese and a dab of Ballymaloe Relish. Many mouthwatering meals lie ahead…

For seafood lovers in the northern part of the country, the chowder in Nancy’s Barn Ballyliffin is a must. This restaurant is even the proud winner of the 2019 All-Ireland Chowder Cook Off.

Chowder at Nancy's Barn, Ballyliffin
Chowder at Nancy’s Barn, Ballyliffin (Photo cred: facebook.com/nancybarn)

Another delicacy to put on that list is Irish stew. In fact, the Lonely Planet included the dish in its top 50 food experiences in the world.

5.  Seasonal shopping

Need to pick up a few Christmas gifts? There are lots of opportunities to find thoughtful pieces on your winter trip.

Get into the festive spirit in the Viking city of Waterford and its Winterval festival. As well as winter activities, there are Christmas markets full of stalls selling handmade crafts.

Winterval Festival Waterford
Winterval Festival Waterford

Just outside Dublin city centre, the Gifted Fair in the RDS is a Mecca for Christmas shoppers. Sculpture, skincare, socks. They’ve got it all.

6.  It’s showtime

Culture vultures have plenty to do in Ireland in the colder months. Head to the National Opera House in Wexford for the Irish Baroque Orchestra performing Handel’s Messiah.

Meanwhile in Dublin, a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is taking up residence in The Gate.

Travelling with kids? Then pantomime season is essential. If you’re in Cork, take a chance on those magic beans with Jack And The Beanstalk.

7.  Winter solstice Newgrange

Did you know that Ireland has a structure older than the Egyptian pyramids? Newgrange passage tomb was built 5,200 years ago by Stone Age farmers.

On the shortest day of the year, it reveals itself as a marvel of ancient engineering. The inner passageway is illuminated as the sun rises on the winter solstice each year.

Newgrange Stone Age Passage Tomb
Newgrange Stone Age Passage Tomb

If you’re very lucky, you can even experience this from within Newgrange itself. There’s a lottery for tickets to enter on the winter solstice.

8.  Wrap up and explore

When the weather gets colder, a certain mid-winter magic descends on Ireland’s most scenic spots. Wrap up, venture outside and see it for yourself.

The dramatic coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way is always worth a visit. In winter, the choppier water and starker landscapes make the scenery even more captivating. This is also the perfect time to take in the Cliffs of Moher, as you’ll avoid the peak season crowds.

Panoramic sunset at the Cliffs of Moher with Branaunmore sea stack, Ireland
Panoramic sunset at the Cliffs of Moher with Branaunmore sea stack, Ireland

On the other side of the country, Glendalough is wonderful for winter hikes. With each step, you get closer to stunning views of the valley and its two lakes.

9. Sip on something special

Ireland does cosy winter pubs very well. Settle in to a centuries-old room, find a comfortable chair and warm yourself in front of a roaring fire. It’s just about as idyllic as it gets.

Wondering what to drink? Of course Guinness is ubiquitous and there are lots of nice craft beer options. But there are some distinctly wintery drinks to sample too. Hot ports and hot whiskeys are perfect when you’ve just come in from the cold. And for a sweet ending to the night, try a Brandy Baileys. Trust us, it’s more delicious than it sounds.


Ready to plan your winter trip to Ireland? Find great value flight deals.