The coldest, windiest and wettest weather of the year makes January in Ireland a month best spent in its bigger towns and cities, where cultural attractions from Dublin's beautiful Trinity College to Killarney's mystery-swathed ruins await. Great dining in Dublin, Belfast, Galway, and Cork further help pass time in the wild weather, while dramatic sea vistas greet those who brave the elements to visit coastal stretches like the Wild Atlantic Way.

Weather

Ireland is not a large enough country to have distinct regional weather patterns. Generally, January provides Ireland with some of the coldest, wettest and windiest weather of the year. Temperatures have highs of 44.6°F/7°C but even in this coldest weather of the year, snow is rare.

Killarney & Southwest Ireland

Even by January's wet standards, rainfall in this region is particularly pronounced at this time of year, with average rainfall in Killarney 4.9 inches/ 125 mm. That, together with the highest wind speeds of the year can make the coastline here, including the entirety of the breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way, a very wild albeit thrillingly dramatic place with high waves, strong tides, gales, and driving rain.

Dublin & Eastern Ireland

On the eastern side of Ireland in January, weather is slightly less wild than in the southwest, but still distinguished by cold weather made to feel colder by high winds and heavy rain, although in Dublin January is far from being the wettest month of the year and, in Ireland's erratic and topsy-turvy climate, often has rainfall levels comparable to June.

Belfast & Northern Ireland

In Belfast, and in other Northern Ireland destinations like the Giant's Causeway, you can expect more wet days at this time of year than at any other. There are average highs of 42.8°F/6°C and lows of just 35.6°F/2°C in Belfast. Rainfall is less than in Southwest Ireland at 3.1 inches/ 80mm.

Crowds & Costs

January is a very quiet month in Ireland, with much of the country (especially the countryside) in a long hibernation until the better weather comes around in spring. The majority of attractions and many of the places to sleep and eat will be closed outside of the bigger cities, while wild weather keeps the crowds (and almost everyone) away from the coast, mountains and hiking trails. At the places that do remain open, you might easily be able to negotiate a discounted rate and you might well be offered one upfront. Travel to Ireland at this time of year will see you spending less money on things to do (because many are closed) but perhaps more on eating and drinking in restaurants and pubs.

Where to Go

Killarney & Southwest Ireland

The best places to spend time at this time of the year are bigger towns such as Galway, Killarney and Cork and Tralee. Galway is a vibrant city full of colorful independent shops, pubs, and restaurants. Killarney too is another lively town: get cosy in front of a traditional pub fire, wander the coast-hugging grounds around the ruin of Ross Castle or make the trip out to Killarney National Park, Ireland's oldest national park. This can still be enjoyed at this time of year courtesy of splendid stately home Muckross House & Gardens in the middle of the park.

Also, do not miss a visit to one of Ireland's most important ancient sites, the Rock of Cashel: a fortress and one-time seat of power of Irish royalty. Meanwhile, Cork's bars and restaurants are fantastic. 

Dublin & Eastern Ireland

Dublin is the big city in this region and is probably the best place in Ireland to be in January. The country's best festival this month, Tradfest, brings an especially lively feel to the city with several days of traditional live Irish and international music. Try a tour of the Jameson Whiskey Distillery, find out about the poignant history of Irish Emigration at the Irish Emigration Museum or explore historic sights like the grand Trinity College, numbering Isaac Newton and Lord Byron amongst its graduates and featuring epic 9th-century work of literature The Book of Kells in its library. 

Belfast & Northern Ireland

Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland, and a fascinating city full of raw, recent history, sophisticated museums and great restaurants, should be your first port of call in this region. There are blockbuster historic sights like Belfast Castle to check out and museums that remember everything from an overview of Irish history (all 9,000 years of it) at the Ulster Museum to the fated ship Titanic.

The city also has three Michelin starred restaurants to dine at, plus an absorbing Victorian covered market, St George's Market, full of food and regional handicrafts. If you want to venture out, the Causeway Coast has a wild feel at this time of year, with huge waves that could make the experience memorably dramatic. See this article for more on what to do in Northern Ireland.

What to Do

Killarney & Southwest Ireland

Hit Galway or Cork's lively pub and restaurant scene, where traditional live music still plays in pubs on weekend evenings even at this chilly, wet time of year. Spend time finding out about Killarney's mystery-steeped historic buildings such as St Mary's Cathedral, Ross Castle or Muckross House and Gardens.

Or take a trip out of a part of Southwestern Ireland's dramatic coast, fittingly called the Wild Atlantic Way. Full of craggy cliffs and empty bays, it might not be a place to linger in January but the majesty of the tempestuous wind-whipped coastline will certainly make a journey here worthwhile. Huge swells make surfing in the Donegal and Sligo area great around now.

Dublin & Eastern Ireland

Dublin has history oozing out of its pores, so taking time to explore historic attractions like Trinity College, Dalkey Castle or St Patrick's Cathedral. Eat at award-winning restaurants or explore the famous Jameson's Whiskey Distillery on a guided tour. Or experience Ireland's history in a more hands-on way at Irish National Heritage Park near Wexford, where you can stay the night in a 1500-year-old ring fort.

Belfast & Northern Ireland

This is a month to check out historic and cultural attractions in Belfast, with museums like the Titanic Museum or the Ulster Museum to peruse for fascinating insights into the past. Or cozy up in an impeccably preserved old pub like the Victorian-era Crown Liquor Saloon.

Northern Ireland was the setting for much of the hugely-popular Game of Thrones: January might be time for a visit to some of the backdrops from the TV series such as the Dark Hedges near Glenarm Castle - particularly poignant at this time of year. 

January Events

Tradfest In Dublin, this seminal traditional music festival takes place at venues across the city, celebrating the best traditional Irish and international music. It is held in late January.

More Helpful Information

Ireland in December
Ireland in February
Best Time to Visit Ireland
Getting Around Ireland