Ireland in February: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go (2024) 

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Thinking about visiting Ireland in February? Here’s everything you need to know before you go (from a former local)!

February is a drizzly and cold month in Ireland, perfect for cozying up inside by a fire in a warm pub. When I picture February in Dublin, my mind instantly drifts towards the literary giants who nursed pints while working on some of Ireland’s most famous novels. 

I moved to Ireland in 2020 and spent three years living in the country, both in rural Wicklow and Cork City. I was, admittedly, unprepared for my first winter in Ireland. It took me a full year to stock up on all of the warm clothes and other gear that I needed to feel comfortable in the chilly temperatures. I still prefer Ireland in the summer, but I’ve warmed up to its winter charms. 

One distinct advantage of visiting Ireland in February is that it’s the off season, which makes it the perfect time to find a great deal. While the summer sees incredible surges in the prices of hotels, rental cars, and some other tourist offerings, they dip down significantly between October and March. You also won’t have to deal with crowds of visitors, so it’s perfect for those looking for a more local feeling experience. 

A tree branch dips into the water on a foggy day at lake Gouganne Barra. Some large hills are visible in the background and they're partially covered with fog.
Gougane Barra in County Cork on a foggy February day

Table of Contents
Ireland in February: Is It a Good Time to Visit?
February Weather 
Things To Do in February
What to Pack
Tips for Visiting
Where to Stay
FAQs
Conclusion

Ireland in February: Is It a Good Time to Visit?

I had the chance to spend several Februaries in the country. I don’t want to sugarcoat it: the winters in Ireland can be tough. The days are short, the weather is chilly, and it frequently rains. February, though a little warmer than December and January, is no exception. 

Truthfully, if given the opportunity to travel to Ireland anytime of the year, I wouldn’t choose a trip in February. As a budget traveler and avid opportunist, however, I know that sometimes it just makes sense to visit at less-than-ideal times. And that’s OK, you can still have a great time in Ireland in February!

If you don’t mind off season travel and are willing to brave the cold temperatures, you can still have a great time in Ireland in February. Although the weather is chilly, you can still hike and explore the outdoors, enjoy the pub scene and live music, and see the famous rolling green hills as you drive through the countryside. 

One thing that surprised me – and I think is good to know before you go – is that Irish homes and businesses are not kept as warm as we’re used to in North America. It’s common for locals to keep windows and doors open to let in fresh air even in the dead of winter on a very cold day. 

The view from a green walkway in Cork City. You can see houses in the north side of the city, and a small bit of the River Lee is also visible. Sunny days are rare in Ireland in February, but they do happen!
A rare sunny day in Cork City in February

February Weather 

The weather in Ireland in February tends to be damp and cold, with short days and little direct sunlight. February sees a staggering 22 days of rainfall on average, so most days will have at least some precipitation. For this reason, waterproof or water resistant shoes are an absolute must in Ireland.  

The average February temperatures are 37°F (3°C) for the lows and average highs are around 45°F (7°C). You can expect about 10 hours of sunlight each day, with sunrise around 7:30 am and sunset around 5:45 pm. 

On the rare event that you have a mild and sunny day in February, I strongly recommend that you pause what you’re doing and go outside to enjoy it! 

A few people can be seen walking along the beach in the distance. The weather is overcast and it looks like it could rain anytime.
A cloudy February day at an Irish beach

Does it rain or snow in Ireland in February?

Ireland does not have a predictable dry season, so there are rainy days throughout the year. The temperature rarely stays low enough for snow to accumulate, so chilly rain is the most common winter precipitation. 

It does occasionally snow in Ireland, so it’s possible you could see a small accumulation in February. In most places like Galway or Limerick, you’ll only see a few centimeters at a time, if it snows at all. 

The snowiest area in Ireland is the Wicklow Mountains, so you have the best chance of seeing some snowy days if you visit that region. The most snow I’ve ever seen in Ireland was in the Glenmalure Valley in Wicklow, where a few inches of snow had accumulated in parts of the valley. 

The sun is shining and a few inches of snow have accumulated on the rocks and heather. A frost covered tree is visible in the background. Snow in Ireland is most common in the Wicklow Mountains
Glenmalure Valley in County Wicklow. This is the most snow I’ve ever seen in Ireland.

Things To Do in February

Despite the suboptimal weather in February, there are still plenty of great things to do in Ireland in the winter. You can enjoy the great outdoors, experience Irish culture, sip a pint in a pub, or even try sauna bathing by the sea. Here’s my list of the top things to do in Ireland in February. 

Go for a Hike

Even though the weather is less than ideal, you can definitely still get outside in Ireland. I find that a hike or even a long walk can help me wake up and enjoy my day a little more, even if it’s very cold outside. The key is to dress in warm, loose layers with a waterproof shell for extra protection from the wind and rain. 

My favorite hike in Ireland is the loop trail around Glendalough, which is passable even in the winter thanks to the wire-coated wooden planks along the trail. 

Lake Coumshingaun surrounded by cliffs in County Waterford. A dense layer of fog covers the very top of the cliffs. The sky above is clear.
Coumshingaun Lough in County Waterford

See a Trad Session in a Pub

You’ll find live music around Ireland throughout the year, rain or shine. Cozying up in a welcoming pub with a hot whiskey or a pint of Guinness can be surprisingly fun and comforting on a cold day. 

You can find trad sessions in pubs throughout the country. Sin é in Cork, Taaffes Bar in Galway, and The Cobblestone (Smithfield) in Dublin are all great spots to listen to live music. Check the pub’s Instagram or Facebook account for the most up to date event details before you go, or just try your luck when you get there. 

Stroll Through a Museum

Sometimes you just want a warm, indoor activity on a cold February day. A visit to an Irish museum could be the perfect activity because you can learn about local culture while staying warm and dry. As a bonus, there are several free museums throughout Ireland.

The National Gallery is a fabulous free museum, perfect for a cold, rainy day in Dublin. In Cork, you can spend a few hours exploring the Crawford Art Gallery, which is also free to visit.  

Tour a Brewery or Distillery

Visiting the Guinness Storehouse or the Jameson Distillery in February is just as fun as it would be in the summer. You’ll get to see how these iconic Irish beverages are made and have a chance to sample them for yourself. Plus, you won’t have to deal with the long lines and big crowds you’d experience in June.

If Guinness and Jameson are a little too mainstream for your taste, you can also tour some of the smaller breweries and distilleries in Ireland. The Clonakilty Distillery in West Cork offers tours of their small working distillery, which makes whiskey, gin, and vodka. 

Try an Irish Coffee

An Irish Coffee is the perfect drink to warm up on a chilly February evening in Ireland. Traditionally, this warm cocktail is made with coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and slightly whipped heavy cream. 

My favorite Irish Coffee in Ireland is Bar 1661 in Dublin, which is made with poitín, a traditional Irish spirit, instead of whiskey. I also love the traditional Irish Coffee from the Shelbourne Bar in Cork. 

A cocktail made with coffee and poitín then topped with whipped cream and nutmeg. In the background, you can see the chic interior of Bar 1661 in Dublin.
An Belfast Coffee from Bar 1661 (an Irish Coffee made with cold brew)

Try an Irish Sauna

There are no hot springs in Ireland, so a few years ago I decided to get creative and look for other ways to warm up during the Irish winters. That’s when I stumbled upon the Irish trend of setting up mobile saunas next to the ocean. Sauna goers alternate between sweating in the sauna and swimming in the sea for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. 

It might sound unorthodox, but the experience of running into the frigid Atlantic Ocean on a winter day is exhilarating. Plus, I always sleep exceptionally well after a day visiting the sauna! 

See a Live Performance

Whether you enjoy theater, opera, ballet, or stand up comedy, you’ll probably find a live performance in Ireland that will pique your interest. To find an event, check the local event calendars for venues in the cities you’ll be visiting.

In Cork, those include the Cork Opera House, the Firkin Crane, and the Everyman Theater

Taylor Swift fans can check Eventbrite to see if there’s a Swiftogeddon event happening nearby. These are club nights where the DJ plays exclusively Taylor Swift, from her greatest hits to her lesser known tracks. 

A somewhat gray day in Cork, though some blue sky is visible in the background. The photo is taken from inside the Good Day Deli, and the table is set with fresh flowers.
The Good Day Deli in Cork City on a chilly February morning

What to Pack

February is a cold month to visit Ireland, and the temperatures can often feel much chillier than you might expect for a place that has palm trees. The best way to enjoy your visit to Ireland in February is to bring enough warm clothing that you can comfortably spend hours outside. 

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of items that I would recommend packing for your wintery visit to Ireland:

✅ Warm and waterproof jacket
✅ Rain pants (if hiking/spending significant time outside)
✅ Waterproof shoes
✅ Long pants
✅ Warm sweater (preferably wool)
✅ T-shirts/under layers
✅ Wool socks
✅ Warm hat
✅ Gloves
✅ Scarf
✅ Long underwear
✅ Warm pajamas 
Outlet adapter
Toiletries

If you need to pick something up once you get to Ireland, Decathlon is my go-to store for affordable outdoor gear.

I smile towards the camera wearing a thick sweater and a waterproof jacket. I'm sitting on rocks with a view of Coumeenoole Beach in the background.
Coumeenoole Beach in County Kerry is my favorite beach in Ireland

Tips for Visiting in February

If you decide to visit Ireland in February, there are some things that you can do to ensure a better experience. From packing the right clothes to staying safe on the roads, here are my top tips for travelers. 

Dress Warmly

As I mentioned in the packing section, the best thing you can do to ensure that you’ll have a pleasant visit to Ireland in February is to pack plenty of warm clothes. If you have warm layers, plenty of wool, and can stay dry, you’ll be more likely to enjoy your time outside. 

Avoid Steep Mountain Roads When Icy

It won’t come up often because there aren’t a ton of mountains in Ireland, but avoid steep mountain roads when they might be icy. 

Because Ireland has a mostly mild climate, the roads aren’t really designed for snow and ice. And, unlike places like Denver that get a lot of snow, Ireland doesn’t have great infrastructure for salting or plowing the roads. Thus, I would avoid driving on steep mountain roads when the conditions could be icy – it’s better to just take an alternate route and go around. 

Take Advantage of the Lower Prices

As mentioned above, February is the off season in Ireland. You can find especially great deals on accommodations and rental cars during the winter in Ireland. So, if you go, be sure to take advantage of the lower prices! Ireland is an expensive place to visit, so budget travelers are advised to look for deals wherever they can.

Check Booking.com for hotels and B&Bs, and Discover Cars, Sixt, and Alamo for rental cars.

Read Hotel Reviews Carefully

Sometimes hotels and guesthouses in Ireland are kept quite a bit cooler than we’re used to in North America. As you’re reading reviews for your hotels, I would do a quick search for “cold” and/or “heating” to see what previous travelers have said about the heating. 

I also like to bring thick wool socks and/or slippers as well as a comfy warm sweater when I travel in the winter in Ireland. They help me stay warm, even when the indoors are a little cool for my taste. 

Check for Seasonal Closings

Some activities, restaurants, and attractions close for the winter season. So, if there’s something you know you want to do while you’re in Ireland, double check that it’s open and operating in February. It’s also a good idea to be flexible in your itinerary, since there are sometimes closures that aren’t posted online. 

While you can definitely still visit Glendalough and stay in a mountain B&B in the winter, boat trips are probably not running. That means you can’t visit the Saltee Islands or experience the Dingle Sea Safari until the spring. 

A thick frost covers the wooden boardwalk, heather, and ground at Glendalough. The sky is only partly cloudy but the sun is out.
The frosted boardwalk of the hike around Lake Glendalough on a February morning

Where to Stay in Ireland in February

There’s no single best place to stay in February in Ireland, but I wanted to give you a quick round up of some great choices throughout the country. Whether you have one night in Ireland on a weekend trip to Dublin or you’re exploring the island for several weeks, these hotels and guesthouses will offer a warm welcome. 

📍 Top Cork Accommodation: The Gabriel House Guesthouse is my favorite of the B&Bs I’ve stayed in throughout Ireland. Although its most magical feature, an expansive back patio, is not as appealing in February, it’s still a comfortable and well-run B&B in Cork. It’s also in a more residential part of the city, tucked up a few blocks from the Victorian Quarter. The breakfast impressed everyone in my group!

📍 Top Dublin Accommodation: The Mespil Hotel is about a 30 minute walk or bus ride from the action in Temple Bar and only about 15 minutes from St Stephens Green. The hotel is modern, clean, and nicely decorated, especially for a central Dublin accommodation.

📍 Top Doolin Accommodation: West Haven House is a fabulous choice for seeing the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. I stayed here with family and friends on a recent trip to see the cliffs and was impressed by the new rooms, clean remodel, and great location.

An attractive and modern room in a recently renovated B&B in Ireland. The bed faces out towards a grassy field.
A room at West Haven House in Doolin

📍 Top Galway Accommodation: The Stop is an artfully decorated B&B in a great location in central Galway. It has all of the whimsy and magic of a youth hostel, but with a more grown up feel. The breakfast is also said to be exceptional, so this would be a great choice for your stay in Galway

The Stop is one of the best B&Bs in Galway

FAQs: Ireland in February

Considering a winter trip to Ireland and curious about what to expect in February? Here are the answers to some of the most common queries from other travelers. 

Is February a good time for Ireland?

No, February is not a particularly good time to visit Ireland. The weather is still quite chilly, the days are short, and there are some areas that might have icy roads during the winter. However, because the weather is so unpleasant, it’s one of the cheapest times to visit Ireland and can definitely be a way to visit without the sky-high prices that are common from June to August. 

Is February a cold month in Ireland?

Yes, February in Ireland is generally quite cold. The chilliest months in Ireland are December through February, when the temperature often dips below freezing. Ireland sees heavy rainfall throughout the year, so you may have rainy or dry weather when you visit in February. It’s best to be prepared for cold, damp weather. 

Where is the best place to go in Ireland in February?

The best place to visit in Ireland in February is the southern coast. Although it’s not a huge difference, you will experience slightly warmer temperatures in Cork than in Dublin. That’s because Cork is about 3 hours south of Dublin by car. Cork is also slightly further from the coast than Dublin, which offers a little extra protection from the chilly Atlantic winds. 

Plus, the slightly warmer temperatures are a great excuse to get out of Dublin

Is Dublin fun in February?

Dublin is fun throughout the year, especially if you enjoy pub-hopping. The pubs will be a little bit less crowded, as there are fewer tourists to fill them, but you’ll still be able to find some good craic. The winter is a better time to meet and chat with locals – and nearly everyone likes to discuss the weather, so you’ll have plenty to talk about. 

A bridge stretches across the River Lee in Cork City. Houses and businesses are visible on either side of the river, and some leafless vegetation reaches towards the water.
A sunny day in Cork in February. They do happen!

Conclusion: Ireland in February

If I could choose any month to visit Ireland, I probably wouldn’t book a trip in February. That said, there are still plenty of things to do throughout the country and you might just get lucky and have some nice weather. No matter the weather, you’ll almost certainly enjoy cheaper hotels and rental cars, which can make it far more affordable than in the peak summer season. 

To ensure that you’re comfortable during your February visit, pack plenty of warm clothes and prepare for wet weather. With warm layers and a waterproof shell, you’ll be able to stay dry on even the harshest February days. 

Plus, you can always plan for several indoor activities each day, like enjoying pubs, museums, and restaurants if it’s too cold outside!