The heavens open this month, as the highest rainfall of the year hits Ireland—but glorious fall colors brighten the moors, hills, and forests and the sun still shines some of the time. When it does, the weather can be the most beautiful of any time of year, particularly with hardly any other travelers around. Beware of long hikes in the increasing mud, and be sure to have a 'plan B' available for the likely damp days: great music and arts festivals in Cork and Dublin this month are helpful options.

Weather

Autumn is properly here this month, so while there are still some bright sunny days and glorious fall colors, there is also a chill to the air, especially at night, and the highest rainfall of the year.

Killarney & Southwestern Ireland

October sees the highest rainfall of the year in this region, with averages of 5.23 inches/ 133mm falling through the month. Temperature-wise, it's cool but not cold, with an average low-high range of 50-57.2°F/10-14°C, and sun does still regularly show itself, with the average number of daily sunshine hours (four) actually on a par with any month of the high season. 

Dublin & Eastern Ireland

This month sees rainfall surge to its joint highest of any month (3.14 inches/ 80mm), and average monthly temperatures drop to a range of 46.4-55.4°F/8-13°C. Some sun does emerge to bathe the region in some glorious, but brief periods of weather, but you are also going to need to find a few indoor activities as well as outdoor ones.

Belfast & Northern Ireland

By far the year's heaviest rainfall in the Belfast area (3.54 inches/ 90mm), reduced hours of sunshine (just three) and plummeting temperatures (average lows of 41°F/5°C and average highs of 55.4°F/13°C) mean that it's more appealing to spend time inside in Northern Ireland this month than it is outside. Some sunny weather may remain, but work out where your nearest shelter is on long hikes even in sunny spells as weather changes rapidly at this time. The positive for outdoors lovers is beautiful fall colors in the woods and forests. 

Where to Go

Killarney & Southwestern Ireland

The trick in October may just be to base yourself close to where you can enjoy city activities but still make a break for the countryside or coast if weather permits.

In this region, Cork is particularly appealing this month with some great festivals and of course an inviting coastline heading west from the city. Equally, Killarney has the advantage of being near a stunning national park, Killarney National Park, for when the good weather comes. Try the Muckross Park Lake Loop hike which heads through beautiful forest where colors are at their most spectacular, or roam the ruined Ross Castle, which closes after winter after this month.

You could also make 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, with medieval ruins and beautiful riverside and woodland walks to suit any weather the month might throw at you! In the slightly sunnier and less wet weather, experience one of many coastal walks such as along the Cliffs of Moher and walking trails in Galway, or the Dingle Way in Kerry.

Dublin & Eastern Ireland

Dublin becomes particularly appealing at this colder, wetter time of year. Check out Dublin sights such as the Jameson Whiskey Distillery or Guinness Storehouse. Find out about the poignant history of Irish Emigration at the Irish Emigration Museum or exploring historic sights like the grand university of Trinity College.

Bear in mind that the city has plenty of fair weather attractions, such as the River Liffey and several beautiful parks. Elsewhere in the region, if the weather clears try hiking a stage of the Wicklow Way which meanders through the verdant Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin. 

See here for a 6-day itinerary that takes in the best of Dublin before heading south for hiking the Wicklow Way

Belfast & Northern Ireland

Keep city destinations in mind this month, because the rains will come. In Belfast, a fascinating city full of raw, recent history, sophisticated museums and great restaurants, the scene is enlivened by a brilliant arts festival this month. There are also 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. 

If weather permits you to venture out, there are some great hikes to try such as the Causeway Coast Path which passes the Unesco-listed Giant's Causeway, a phenomenal arrangement of hexagonal basalt columns lining the wild shores here. There is also the Ulster Way, a 625-mile loop passing through almost all of Northern Ireland and one of the UK's longest hiking routes: try the Lough Bradan-Gortin stage for some of the best views of the entire route.

See this article for more on where to go in Northern Ireland.

What to Do

Killarney & Southwestern Ireland

For much of this month you may want to stick close to the bigger towns and cities because of increasingly inclement weather. Cosy up in a snug traditional pub in Killarney, Cork or Galway, or attend a festival in Cork. Or explore a national park like Killarney National Park which has options for when the bad weather comes, such as Muckross House & Gardens or Ross Castle, alongside some great hikes through woodlands, around lakes and across islands.

Surfing, especially up in the Donegal and Sligo area, is great this month. And if weather allows, still try at least a section of the sublime longer hikes hereabouts. There are countless trails to choose from. The Dingle Way and Kerry Way combine the very best of the astonishing rugged coastline and green, mist-coated mountains.

Dublin & Eastern Ireland

This month the historic and cultural attractions in Dublin will be tempting, as worsening weather limits outdoor activities. Dublin also has a brilliant theater festival this month. Should better weather come, within the city itself, you could kayak down a section of the River Liffey.

If you want to hike but without leaving the nearest pub too far behind, you could also set out on the Dublin Literary Pub Walk. Just outside the city, hiking a stage of the Wicklow Way is a great means of escaping the city on fairer days. This path, among Ireland's most popular, meanders through the verdant Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin. Pretty sections include Marlay Park-Enniskerry, the latter widely considered Ireland's most charming village, or Enniskerry-Roundwood, passing the spectacular Powerscourt Waterfall, stunning particularly now that it is in spate.

Belfast & Northern Ireland

Belfast is increasingly going to feature in your travel plans in this region this month, as the weather gets less and less suited to outdoor activities. And Belfast is a fascinating city. Exploring Northern Ireland's long and action-packed history at the Ulster Museum, is an absorbing way to start explorations.

Checking out the food and drink scene is also worthwhile in Belfast. 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. Also, a "Black Cab Tour" of Greater Belfast's historical sites is a must. This tour includes the political murals and the peace line, a series of historically important sites in Ireland's history.

Hiking, on long-distance paths such as the Causeway Coast Way, could be a possibility on sunnier days. 

October Events

Cork Folk Festival Huge folk festival with a very varied lineup, held in Cork at the beginning of the month. 

Dublin Theatre Festival Staging some wonderful theater in the first half of October (and the last few days of September) at theatrical venues across the capital.

Belfast International Arts Festival Held for over a fortnight in Belfast towards the end of the month with a striking program of visual arts, performance arts, music, and dance. 

Guinness Jazz Festival Also held in Cork, and one of the country's best jazz festivals. Held at the end of the month.

Wicklow Walking Festival This celebration of the great outdoors at the end of October in the Wicklow Mountains introduces you to many of the best area walks, based at the Brockagh Resource Centre near Glendalough.

Traveling in Ireland in October? Check out these great itineraries. 

South Ireland Scenic Road Trip (8 Days). This itinerary will take you on a leisurely road trip through some of Ireland's most scenic cities and natural sites. Experience the allure of Ireland as you drive along the coast and over verdant hills between stop at the medieval Rock of Cashel, Killarney National Park, and the Cliffs of Moher.

Exploring Dublin & the Northern Coastline (10 Days). On this unique exploration of the northern coastline, you will learn the history of the troubles in Northern Ireland, visit castles and historical sites, spend the night on an island that boasts a bird sanctuary, and walk some of the most pristine, wild, coastlines and beaches found anywhere in the world. 

More Helpful Information

Ireland in September
Ireland in November
Best Time to Visit Ireland
Getting Around Ireland