Ireland, situated in Northern Europe just West of the United Kingdom, is a sought out tourist destination for many reasons – the curving coastline sculpted by the full force of the Atlantic Ocean often leave a lasting impression, the landscapes of barren limestone and sacred sights are steeped in myths and legends, and traditional fishing villages are quaint and full of charm.
Travelling to Ireland means something different for each traveller, and that’s why what to pack varies based on the reason, planned activities, travel style and season. Some people visit Ireland for a short city break while others; to drive the whole length of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Either way, don’t let those pretty postcard panoramas fool you, even during the summer months, they can turn into a messy scene within a moment. Being warm and comfortable while travelling and exploring is of paramount importance.
That’s why, before you jump on a plane and let yourself loose in the Irish countryside, whether it is to explore secluded islands, observe wildlife in National Parks or venture on a hiking adventure, you need to be prepared.
Over the last 15 years, we’ve spent a great deal of time travelling through different parts of Ireland and based on our experiences, we wanted to put together a useful packing guide.
Don’t forget that two of the most important things to bring along is your love for adventure and a sense of humour because stepping out of your comfort zone and trying experiences that you can’t fit around your regular life will help you to see Ireland from a different perspective.
General packing tips for Ireland
Whether you are packing for a long weekend or a two week holiday around Ireland, there are a few basic tips you can use for stress-free packing:
- Use packing cubes to stay more organized
- Make an actual packing list of what you’ll need
- Fill dead space with small items like socks around the edges
- Pack your gadgets into ziplock bags
- Weigh your luggage to avoid dreaded extra fees
- Label your suitcase, so it stands out on a baggage carousel
- Start packing early
- LESS IS MORE
The best way to start packing, be it to Ireland or somewhere else in the world, is with basic essentials. This means-get all your travel documents in order and dust off your suitcase or a backpack if you are planning on backpacking through Ireland.
Before packing, make sure your passport in date and your suitcase is in great condition, check for dirt or spills from your previous trip and remove old baggage labels and stickers attached to it.
• Travel documents | Valid passport and drivers licence if you plan on renting a car as well as travel insurance. Depending on where you are coming from, you might need a visa too. Also, always bring copies of all the necessary travel documents, both electronic and physical.
• Basic clothing | Start with essentials, such as underwear and socks, then follow by add-ons and basic layerings such as tank tops and cotton shirts. Make sure everything you pack can be easily dressed up and down, wash well and make you feel good.
• Pain Medication | In Ireland, over-the-counter pain reliefs such as Panadol and Disprin are available at pharmacies, gas stations and from most grocery stores, but if you suffer from travel sickness, it’s always a good idea to sort out your medication before your trip.
• Prescription drugs | Bring sufficient quantities and make sure they are in original packaging with the original prescription or even doctors letter. Always carry them in hand luggage, in case your main luggage goes missing.
• Necessary tech | Converters and chargers. In Ireland, the most common type of outlet is Type G (three-pronged plug), the same as in the UK. If you are a frequent traveller, it’s a good idea to invest in a good quality adaptor.
• Money | The official currency in The Republic of Ireland is the euro and 1euro is 100 cents. Major credit cards are accepted pretty much everywhere but make sure you have cash on hand too. The most common banknotes are €5, €10, €20 and €50.
• Toiletries | Minimize the number of toiletries you bring because liquid quickly adds up and you can get pretty much anything you need in Ireland unless of course there is that one specific brand item you cannot live without. For travel in the summer month, bring sunscreen and for winter- a good quality chapstick.
Essential clothing to pack for Ireland
Packing for Ireland’s different climates can be tricky, and when it comes to clothing, layers are your best friends, and seasonally appropriate clothing is the key. When travelling to Ireland, be prepared for sunny weather, heavy rains, damp weather, strong winds and light sprinkles throughout all seasons.
To give you a better idea of what to pack, look at Irelands top day trip from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher. It takes you from windy coastlines and cosy pubs to Galway city and exposed landscapes within hours, so you have to be prepared to easily transition from one outfit to another one.
Depending on how well you can handle cooler temperatures, you might want to pack comfortable long sleeve tops and sweaters you can use to pair up.
Don’t pack too many shoes and clothes and leave anything for those what-if scenarios behind. Make sure, everything you pack can be paired together with other clothing.
• Waterproof boots| Even if you don’t plan on hiking in the soggy ground, sturdy walking shoes are a must as you’ll be doing a fair bit of walking. Ireland is pretty casual, and you’ll see people wearing everything from hiking boots to wellies even during the summer months.
• Waterproof jacket | Without a doubt, the most essential clothing item you should bring to Ireland. Unless you fancy running around with a bright yellow Pancho purchased at a pound shop that is going to, invest in a good quality rain jacket that is windproof, waterproof and breathable.
• Hiking boots | If you plan on exploring Irelands West coast and venture off the grid, then hiking boots with a good grip is a MUST! Not only they will keep your feet dry and warm much better than flats or sneakers: you’ll also be more comfortable and safe when walking along the coast or hiking through the bog.
• Fleece or Sweater | There is nothing better than a perfect travel sweater, that is ideal for keeping you warm during the flights and cosy on chilly evenings.
• Warm socks | Keeping your feet warm and dry with breathable socks during those wet days in Ireland is very important because shoes and boots alone won’t keep you warm. You can find plenty of excellent quality, lightweight and fashionable socks in outdoor stores.
The scenery is one of the main reasons why people long to see Ireland. From remote islands and mysterious caves to rugged peninsulas and towering cliffs, you’ll find Emerald island incredibly photogenic country.
The prospect of going on a photography adventure, no matter how big or small is always exciting. But to make any trip more memorable and enjoyable, you have to pack first.
Most likely you’ll be standing outside in one spot for a few hours taking pictures and marvelling at the stunning scenery. What you are going to wear will depend on the time of the year.
• Camera | If you are into photography than packing DSLR camera is pretty obvious, but any camera will work for your trip. Canon cameras are still the best and take fantastic images.
• Camera bag | With a DSLR camera also comes its own dedicated bag to keep all your photography safe and clean.
• Light tripod | Essential for photographing beautiful Irish cities at night and for capturing long exposure shots. There’s a chance you can encounter Aurora Borealis, especially in Northern parts of the country, that’s why a stable tripod is a must.
• Accessories | We always take more photos than we think, that’s why extra memory cards, spare batteries and external hard drive are essential. There’s nothing worse than having your camera battery to die on you or running out of storage space while travelling through beautiful Irish landscape.
Other gear to bring to Ireland
• Water bottle | Commercial airlines have very low humidity, staying hydrated is very important while travelling. An excellent stainless steel bottle is our favourite.
• Notebook | Can come handy for technology malfunctioned and are great if you have to write down a phone number or an address and after years on the road will end up as a cute little souvenir. A notebook is also great for email addresses and phone number of your next of kin, a health care provider at home, your embassy etc.
• Travel umbrella | It rains a lot in Ireland, be ready for a sudden downpour, even in summer with compact travel umbrella that doesn’t take up to much space.
• External power pack | It’s a good idea to invest in a good quality external power pack that you can use to recharge your smartphone on the go.
What not to bring to Ireland
Travelling as light as you can is so much more enjoyable. Just think about everything you are going to encounter- crowded streets, numerous stairs, narrow bridges, tiny train isles and more.
• Fancy clothes | Leave your dresses and high maintenance clothing at home, especially if your primary focus is to explore the countryside (unless of course, you travel for a wedding or other special occasion).
• Expensive stuff | Don’t risk losing valuable jewellery, items of sentimental value or costly technology. With super powerful mobile phones that can accomplish most tasks, do you really need to bring your laptop, Kindle and tablet?
• Heavy items | Don’t waste valuable space by bringing heavy stuff like books.
Weather in Ireland
No matter the season, the weather in Ireland is very changeable yet rarely extreme, it’s pretty mild year-round. And if you stay long enough, you’ll get to experience four seasons in one day. Always keep an eye on Met Eireann weather warnings for latest updates.
Spring – March, April, May
Spring is such a beautiful season in Ireland; it’s a perfect time to avoid summer crowds, and you’ll be greeted with blankets of colourful spring flowers and freshly sprouted leaves.
Spring is the lambing season, and it’s when the world-famous ST. Patricks Day Festival takes place.
During the spring you can encounter blinding sunshine, rain and wind all matter of days.
- What to bring: waterproof clothing and footwear, breathable layers as well as warm socks, umbrella and a warm jacket.
- Average spring temperature: 7’C-13’C (45’F-55’F)
Summer – June, July, August
Summertime in Ireland is the warmest time of the year, but given its location on the globe, it can still feel chilly if you arrive from a place where the weather is hot and dry. Summer is the high season and running into a rain shower, or two is very common.
Travelling to Ireland during the summer month means packing less bulky clothing and more lightweight and fashionable items such as summer dresses, floral tops, light cardigans and denim jackets.
- What to bring: a light jacket, easily layered clothing, umbrella, bathing suit, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Average summer temperatures: 15’C-21’C (60’F-70’C)
Autumn – September, October, November
Generally, in autumn, rain comes back to Ireland with full force, and it brings lots of dark and grey days, except for those few sunny ones when we get to gaze into the infinite blueness of the sky and admire autumn colours.
Autumn also comes with off-season rates, epic waves, roads free of traffic and it’s the peak time of whale watching.
September is our favourite month to explore Ireland, days are slightly cooler, kids are back to school, most of the visitor has left yet it is still sunny and slightly warmish.
- What to bring: light hats and gloves, long pants, warm socks, rain jacket and warm pullover.
- Average autumn temperature: 13’C-18’C (55’F-65’F)
Winter – December, January, February
Only the brave attempt to visit Ireland in the dead of winter because the weather can be brutal. In general, winter is cold and wet with strong winds and frequent rain showers. Snow is unusual, yet we have seen blankets of it in the past few years.
- What to bring: warm hats, scarfs and glows, a heavy coat and warm boots and lots of warm socks and a chapstick. Wear two or three thin layers instead of one bulky winter jumper.
- Average winter temperatures: 0’C – 10’C ( 32’F – 50’F)
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Now, over to you!
Have you ever been to Ireland? What did you pack in your suitcase?
Share in the comments below!