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Best Ireland Travel Tips – When to Go, What to Pack, What to See

Ahh, Ireland. I fell in love with this Emerald Isle on my recent visit, but know that planning an trip can feel overwhelming. Today Jody from Ireland Family Vacations is going to get us started with some of her best Ireland vacation tips.

Ireland family travel is growing in popularity. No longer seen as a country exclusively for the tour bus crowd and pub hoppers, Ireland’s magic, culture, and minimal language barrier (that lyrical brogue may give you pause at first, but soon it will be easy to understand) is drawing families eager for their first taste of Europe. 

Planning your first European vacation, or just your first trip to Ireland, can be a little overwhelming. Who knew there was so very much to see and do?

Three key Ireland travel questions pop up time and again; let’s get these answers out of the way so you can begin scheduling your family’s Ireland vacation!

Kilruddery house in Ireland
Kilruddery House & Gardens in Wicklow, Ireland. ©Kim Tate

When is the Best Time to Visit Ireland?

The best time to visit Ireland is when you can arrange it! There really is no bad time for an Ireland vacation.

That said, there are times that are less busy or the weather may be a bit less wet. Ireland has a few ‘travel seasons’ it helps to be aware of.

Spring Shoulder Season

After Easter to early June and September to mid-October  sees fewer visitors so prices on everything from airfare to car rental to lodging are less.


When most people take their ‘big’ vacation and kids are out of school, is the busiest. Thus, higher prices due to higher demand. If you must travel in summer opt for June, before schools in Europe dismiss for break.

Fall Shoulder Season

Late August thru mid-October is nearly ideal. Crowds thin at this time but the long days and mild weather are perfect if you can travel at this time.


Don’t count out the darker days of winter! The month of November can be crisp and sunny as the country counts down to Christmas. Holiday markets begin in late November and continue through December, lending a festive air to everything. January and February are perfect for city breaks and warm pub fires.

Check for hotel rates for Ireland during different dates to find the best time to travel based on hotel pricing.

What Should I Pack for an Ireland Vacation?

This is entirely dependent on the type of vacation you plan, but this basic list works for 95% of visitors.

Read my Ireland Packing List post and get a free printable list of the essentials you need to pack.

Plan to dress in layers – Jeans or travel pants, a light shirt, a heavier shirt, and a jacket are a good daily outfit. Plan to re-wear pieces; mix & match.

Water resistant boots – Most Ireland vacations involve a fair amount of walking. Bring sturdy shoes or boots to repel the inevitable wetness. My (Kim’s) favorite boots she wore in Ireland are Forsake Patch boots.

Pack extra pairs of warm socks – Alternately, wool socks make wonderful souvenirs.

A good water resistant jacket – It doesn’t have to be a trench coat, just able to repel water for a reasonable amount of time.

A roomy, comfortable bag to carry all day – It needs to carry your necessities (camera, wallet, umbrella, layers you remove).

A nice outfit – If you have a castle stay planned be sure to check the dress code for the on-site restaurants.

For city breaks – Add a pair of comfy and attractive walking shoes that go with anything.

What Should We See In Ireland?

Ah, now that’s the big question, isn’t it? For such a small country Ireland is bursting with activities and attractions!

Read my post about the best things to see during 2 days in Dublin.

Decide what to see based on your interests. Foodie? History geek? Love castles? Sporty & adventurous? Ireland has all this – and more!- covered.

Place your ‘must see’ attractions on a map – and build your trip around those using the interactive map at Ireland family vacations to find family friendly lodging and other local attractions to fill your itinerary.

When visiting very popular sites opt for before 10am or after 4pm. The majority of tour buses visit these attractions in the morning before moving on across the country. While you won’t miss all the buses, you will be happy to avoid most of them. 

TIP: If you want to check peak times for visitors send a tweet or Facebook message to the attraction – they are happy to answer that question for you!

Remember that though Ireland be small, she is not a quick country to explore. Less is more. Take your time. 

The answers to these 3 Ireland travel questions should help you get your Ireland vacation plans in motion. For more help with your Ireland Vacation Planning, grab Jody’s book, Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams, and make those Ireland dreams a reality!

Ireland vacation tips
Tips for planning your Ireland vacation! photos courtesy of Ireland Family Vacations.

Jody Halsted is the author of the award-winning book Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams.  Her website Ireland Family Vacations provides exceptional advice for a magical Ireland vacation. For families looking for more guidance Jody offers Ireland itineraries, a luxury small-group tour, and Ireland vacation coaching.

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Susan P.

Monday 27th of January 2020

Be aware that many popular Irish tourist sites are closed in the winter. Be sure to check before you go. If you are seeing many of the government supported sites (Office of Public Works - OPW), purchasing an OPW card can lead to great savings. They are available for sale at all of the OPW sites.


Tuesday 28th of January 2020

Thank you, Susan! I recall hearing about those Public Works cards.

Tonya S.

Wednesday 28th of February 2018

Thanks so much for all the tips! My sister and I are planning an Ireland vacation. I have been doing alot of research. Thanks again!


Saturday 11th of November 2017

Thank you so much for sharing, this is great advice! Ireland is definitely on top of my travel list


Thursday 31st of March 2016

Thanks for your tips! We are visiting Ireland for a few days this May. Staying at Ashford Castle, taking it easy! Can't wait to see the beauty of Ireland.


Sunday 10th of April 2016

Have a fabulous trip Lauren! I'm glad the tips helped, can't wait to be able to use them myself! :)

Jody Halsted

Tuesday 22nd of March 2016

I'm glad this was helpful to you & hope you and your husband make it to Ireland soon Tabitha!