Ireland's great winter hibernation begins this month, as attractions and many hotels and restaurants close down from now until next Easter, temperatures drop back into the single digits and average daily hours of sunshine dwindle. The positives? The Irish combat the winter blues with some great arts festivals, and you will have many parts of the country almost to yourself as you explore.

Weather

Ireland is not a large enough country to have distinct regional weather patterns. Generally, November sees the transition from autumn to winter in Ireland and lacks the finest traits of either season. Instead, temperatures are decreasing and after October's invariably glorious autumn colors, landscapes seem bare and colorless and rainfall is back up there as some of the most intense of the year.

Killarney & Southwestern Ireland

Rainfall in this region is particularly pronounced at this time of year, with average rainfall in Killarney 4.76 inches/ 121mm. That, together with the joint-lowest amounts of sunshine in the year and increasing wind speeds 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. Overall this is an overcast month here, wetter albeit less bitter than in other regions of Ireland. 

Dublin & Eastern Ireland

On the eastern side of Ireland, November is distinguished by a general return to single-digit temperatures, with 41-50°F/5-10°C the average low-high range. Cold weather is accompanied by a drab two average hours of sunshine daily, although surprisingly the rain holds off on the whole: in Dublin November is actually one of the drier months of the year, with just 1.96 inches/50mm of rainfall expected, and it is certainly the driest place to be in Ireland right now.

Belfast & Northern Ireland

In Belfast, and in other Northern Ireland destinations like the Giant's Causeway, this is the joint second-wettest time of the year, although after October, the wettest month of all, it may seem like November is slightly drier. It is colder, however: there are average highs of 48.2°F/9°C and lows of just 39.2°F/4°C in Belfast.

Crowds & Costs

November is a very quiet month in Ireland, and the drop-off in tourism from last month to this is noticeable. Indeed, much of the country (especially the countryside) appears 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 dreary and often downright bleak 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 up front. 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, known for its year-round program of festivals which continue even into November (see below). Or pay a visit to Ennis in Co. Clare, home to a famous traditional music festival this month.

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, and open all year! 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 November, making an effort to brighten the month up with several quality festivals. Otherwise, warm up with 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 university of 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. 

See here for more on exploring hereabouts with this 10-day Dublin and Northern Ireland tour.

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 in November. 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 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 enormous waves that could make the experience memorably dramatic.

What to Do

Killarney & Southwestern 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 chillier, wetter, darker 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 to 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 too long in November, but with the crowds gone and the coastline looking tempestuous, the experience is sure to be memorable. Huge swells make surfing in the Donegal and Sligo area great in November, and approaching its best.

See here for more on the Wild Atlantic Way, with parts of this itinerary still possible even in November.

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 time travel through nine millennia of the country's storied history and cap it off by staying the night in a 1500 year-old ring fort. See here for more on unusual places to stay in Ireland.

Belfast & Northern Ireland

This is a month best suited to indoor activities. 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. Come evening, cosy up in an impeccably preserved old pub like the Victorian-era Crown Liquor Saloon.

Meanwhile, festivals like the Belfast International Arts Festival bring a fabulous array of performance arts events to the city. Further afield you might try spotting locations from blockbuster TV series Game of Thrones, which did wonders for Northern Ireland's tourist industry.

Sights suitable for checking out in winter include The Dark Hedges near Armoy, particularly poignant at this time of year, and the fishing harbor of Ballintoy not far from the Giant's Causeway. See this article for more on what to do in Northern Ireland.

November Events

Belfast International Arts Festival In early November as well as late October, a fabulous extravaganza of performing and visual arts events over two weeks in Belfast.

TULCA Galway wraps up a year of great festivals with its visual arts festival, running throughout the first half of this month.

Ennis Trad Festival Ennis, county town of Co. Clare, is a bastion of traditional Irish music year-round, but particularly lively during its four-day traditional music festival.

Comedy Festival Around the middle of the month, this is one of Ireland's premier comedy festivals, held in Clonmel in Co. Tipperary.

Jonathan Swift Festival In Swift's native Dublin, this festival celebrates the writer of Gulliver's Travels with talks, films and readings.

Dublin Book Festival More bookish events in Dublin in mid-November. 

Taste of Dublin Late November showcasing of the best of city, regional and national cuisine, in Dublin.

More Helpful Information

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