Ireland in December: Weather and Travel Tips


December is a month of contrast in Ireland. While the countryside sleeps, the cities are abuzz with revelry. Enjoy winter concerts in castles and churches or stroll down streets lined with lights and baubles. Yes, the weather in Ireland in December may be cold and erratic. Still, it has loads of exciting perks up its sleeves. Think of swapping stories with locals in pubs in Dublin, exploring Christmas markets in Galway, and visiting art galleries and museums across the country while the footfall is low. A trip to Ireland in December offers numerous opportunities. Plus, there is stunning yet uncrowded outdoors for the bold traveler.

Ireland Weather in December

View of snow capped Errigal mountain during Donegal in winter
If you love adventure, hiking the landscapes of Ireland during December could give you the chills you've been seeking for

December signals the beginning of winter in Ireland. Temperatures during this time of year hover between 5°C and 10°C. Days are short and overcast, with less than eight hours of daylight. In addition to this, it is windy and rainy across the country in December. Ireland sees around 23 days of rain this month along with two to three days of snow. The average rainfall is 80mm, while the wind speed is between 25 and 28 kmph.

Strong winds and chilly temperatures can be dangerous for outdoor activities and visiting islands is not advisable during this time as ferry schedules change without prior notice. You might also want to avoid long road trips since highways sometimes get covered with ice and frost.

For a seasonal overview, read our article on the best time to visit Ireland.

Weather in Ireland in December - Rainfall and Temperatures

Avg Daily (°C)771011151719191713108
Avg Nightly (°C)3345710121210855
Avg Daily (°F)44.644.65051.85962.666.266.262.655.45046.4
Avg Nightly (°F)37.437.439.24144.65053.653.65046.44141
Avg Rainfall (mm)706070505070508060806080

Why Visit Ireland in December

Ireland's biggest university in Dublin called trinity college, Ireland
Visit the biggest university in Dublin and get a scenic tour during your tour of Ireland in December
Runner in the misty Phoenix park
If you're planning to travel to Ireland in December, it can get pretty chilly so do prepare accordingly 

Despite a handful of drawbacks, Ireland in December is a feast for the senses as the entire country prepares for the holiday season. Relish the sights, sounds, and smells that abound the festive atmosphere. The weather may not be the best for outdoor adventures, but you are sure to find fun in tons of inexpensive indoor activities. Below are a few reasons why you might want to head for Ireland in December.

  • Affordable accommodation: Since footfall is low, most hotels try to draw tourists with budget-friendly rates in December, except during the Christmas to new year period. You are likely to get a discount upfront even in cities, while accommodation in off-the-beaten-track destinations is even cheaper. If you fancy a quiet getaway, consider renting a cottage in the countryside.
  • Fewer tourists: The bleak Irish weather in December keeps visitors at bay. Therefore, attractions that are jam-packed during other times of year are less crowded, letting you explore famous spots in peace. Even domestic tourism is at its nadir during December with people preferring to spend their days with family.
  • Christmas markets: Christmas markets are a must-see if you visit Ireland in December. The one in Galway is the most popular and is regarded as the best. But you can also drop by the markets in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, and Wicklow.
  • Celebrations: As soon as the countdown to Christmas begins, concerts, family reunions, and caroling take place all over the country. Take a plunge in cold waters during the Christmas Day Swim, which has now become a tradition in the country, or attend a horse racing event on Saint Stephen’s Day.
  • Winter wonderland: Although the weather in Ireland in December is far from enticing, it does allow you to take in the captivating landscapes of frost-covered trees and snow-clad mountains in the Irish uplands. Nothing beats the wintry chill like cuddling by a roaring fire while sipping a mug of hot chocolate in a cottage set amid rolling hills.

Where to Go and What to Do

View of the Peace Bridge covered in snow, Derry, Ireland in December
It is called the Peace Bridge because it was thought to help improve relationships of a once very divided community

Most tourists visit Ireland in December to experience its Christmas markets, but that is not all that the Emerald Isle has in store for this month. If you love to party, explore Dublin as the place throws the biggest one of all. Go pub crawling in Temple Bar, sample brews at the Guinness Storehouse, and visit the National Museum of Ireland, Kilmainham Gaol, and the Book of Kells.

For souvenir-hunting and magical Christmas shows, head to Apres Village. Better yet, explore the festive streets and shops in Cork and Galway. While in Galway, make a beeline for the majestic Kylemore Abbey and Gardens.

About 40 km from Dublin is the Unesco-listed Brú na Bóinne, home to a massive collection of megalithic art. Witness a fascinating winter solstice phenomenon around sunrise in Newgrange. If the conditions are right, you can catch a glimpse of the elusive Aurora Borealis in the northern headlands of County Donegal. For more information, read our article on how many days to spend in Ireland.

While it is true that the summer and fall seasons are considered to be the best times to visit the country, Ireland in December has a unique allure – cozy, uncrowded pubs, secluded tourist spots, hearty winter meals, and lots of mulled wine. Travel to the country in early December if you wish to enjoy discounted hotel rates and ditch hordes of visitors. If you want to experience the peak of the Christmas celebration, you might want to head to the country during the last two weeks of December.

With careful planning, you can even venture to the Irish countryside and hike along remote beaches. Reach out to our local travel experts in the country if you are interested in a customized tour to Ireland. Alternatively, you can check out our Ireland tours in December!

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  • Ludovica Natalini
    Ludovica Natalini
    Travel Expert in Ireland & Italy
  • Sean Power
    Sean Power
    Travel Expert in Ireland
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