Ireland might be called “The Emerald Isle” because of its lush greenery but that doesn’t mean it looks any less beautiful in winter. In fact, Ireland and its vistas look stunning when trees go bare and the streets get covered in white.
Winter in Ireland takes place between December and February. The days are shorter, the nights are longer. While this is a disadvantage to some, the darkest season in Ireland allows you to see the picturesque Irish landscape in a whole new light. Winter gives way to dramatic sunsets and sunrises, Northern lights, and the chance to soak in the sounds of traditional Irish music, and more.
Pack your layers and head to Ireland this winter. If you’re looking for the best winter activities, this list got you covered!
1. Discover Ireland’s best spots in a less touristy state
Want to visit a famous Irish attraction but don’t want to mingle with a huge crowd? The chilly season is one of the smartest times to visit since it’s quieter and less touristy. The flock of tourists from summer has left, allowing you to fully appreciate the beautiful Irish scenery and scene.
Go see the Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry, Wicklow Mountains, Killarney National Park, Dingle Peninsula, and the Wild Atlantic Way. Visit the castles and gardens frequented by tourists, including The Rock of Cashel and Blarney Castle. If you’re staying in a hotel in Carlow, you may also visit the 6000-year old Brownshill Dolmen, the heaviest megalithic portal tomb in Europe.
Don’t let the frigid temperatures stop you from discovering Ireland’s magnificent natural and man-made wonders. If you have a dream tourist attraction in mind, expect to see them in a whole new light when winter does come.
2. Go for a hike or scenic walk
Winter adds extra charm to the breathtaking wild landscape should you go for a scenic hiking trip. Ireland has a wide array of hiking spots that cater to your skill level, from rugged land formations to smooth coastal walks. If you’re a seasoned hiker, you can explore the Carrauntoohil in Co. Kerry or a Glendalough and the Spinc cliffs in Co. Wicklow. If you’re looking for an easy to moderate hike, consider Ballycotton Cliff Walk in Cork or The Causeway Coast in Antrim.
3. Head north for the spectacular Aurora Borealis
You don’t have to go to Norway, Finland, or Iceland to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Just head north of Ireland and you can bask in the full glory of Aurora Borealis, which is usually visible from 9 pm to 1 am.
The best spots to catch Northern lights include the following:
- Rossan Beach in Co. Donegal
- Lagg Church, Malin Head on the Wild Atlantic Way
- Fanad Head Lighthouse
- Inishowen Peninsula
- Dooey Beach
- Mullaghmore peninsula
- Mullet Peninsula.
4. Go stargazing
Love stargazing? Head to the west coast and take advantage of the lack of light pollution. This will give you a perfect view of the dark sky, making the glittering stars and planets visible.
5. Watch surfers conquer Europe’s highest waves
Who says surfing is only intended for balmy summers? The dramatic winter storms make for some impressive waves. If you’re in the northwest of Ireland, you can watch some of the world’s most prominent surfers, attempting to surf some of Europe’s highest waves. If you’re on the southside, you may head along the Wild Atlantic Way and watch the roaring waves crash the Cliffs of Moher and other rugged coastlines.
6. Catch the stunning winter sunset and sunrise
Winter solstice is a spectacular period you can experience in Ireland during December 21st. If you’re in places like Slieve Gullion and County Armagh, the winter solstice is arranged during the sunset. Places like Beaghmore and County Tyrone, on the other hand, align the winter solstice with the sunrise.
And wherever you are in Ireland, winter sunsets and sunrises are always breathtaking so don’t miss these golden hours!
7. Explore the city on a bike
Though it gets snowy in some regions, the majority of Ireland doesn’t get huge snowfall. Thanks to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. That means it’s possible to hop on your bicycle and pedal your way around your city or town. The low to zero snowfall will work in your favour as you’ll get to enjoy the beauty of Emerald Isle without any disruptions or safety concerns.
8. Experience Ireland’s snowfall
If your idea of a great winter trip includes building a snowman and skiing, then you should plan a trip to regions with the highest snowfall. Some regions tend to get more snow than others. These usually include Wicklow, Cork, Monaghan, Donegal, Belfast, and inland in the Midlands.
9. Spend your Christmas and New Year the Irish way
Ireland is alive during the sleepy months of winter, which marks the much-anticipated Christmas and New Year. There’ll be Christmas markets and fairs, Santa meet-and-greets, castles, parks, and farms turned into winter wonderlands, and more. The streets, from major cities to humble towns, are illuminated with light installations and festive Christmas decorations too.
If you’re in the Irish capital, you can catch the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas lights at Grafton Street during the 14th or 15th of November. You’ll witness the iconic “Nollaig Shona Duit” (translation: Merry Christmas) light installation, signalling the start of the holiday season.
You can also take part in the Irish Christmas tradition. This includes attending the midnight mass, placing a candle on the window sill on Christmas eve, leaving Guinness and mince pies for Santa, and feasting on turkey, spiced beef, and Christmas pudding. End the holiday season with a bang by watching the impressive fireworks display.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a passionate travel blogger who loves street photography, food trips, and writing articles about travel, food, and lifestyle. To know more about hotels and travel blogs, you may visit Woodford Dolmen Hotel Carlow.