Ireland in May – All the Local Advice You Need

As a guide in Ireland, I think that May is one of the best times to visit the country. You will be able to see the Irish spring in full bloom with longer and warmer days and there is plenty to see and do throughout the country. But its still Ireland, I think you’ll need to be aware of a couple of things before you visit.

Ireland in May
Ireland in May

If you want to see the Irish countryside or even if you just want to see the locals in a better mood than winter, May is the time to visit. Things will really start to get exciting in Ireland in May. But, you still need to be aware of the ever-present Irish weather.

Pros and Cons of Visiting Ireland in May

I personally think that May is one of the best months to visit Ireland. This is the time of year when spring will be in full swing and you will be able to see the Emerald Isle in all its glory. If you want to explore the Irish countryside, or see the main attractions before the crowds arrive, this is the time to go.

Having said that, there are still some things to be aware of when visiting Ireland in May. While better than the previous two months, the weather will still be unpredictable. Also, this is regarded as the real beginning of tourist season in Ireland, so this is the time of year when prices will also start to rise.

ProsCons
Milder WeatherUnpredictable Weather
Longer DaysHigher Prices
Flora in Bloom
What to expect when visiting Ireland in May…

The Pros of Visiting Ireland in May

  1. Milder Weather: May is the month when you can really start to see the weather improve in Ireland. While it won’t be dry for the whole month, locals definitely notice the improvement in the temperature in May.
  2. Longer Days: This is the time of year when Irish people will mention the “grand aul stretch in the evenings”. As Ireland is much further north than people think, summer days will get long and May is one of the first months of the year when people will be able to go out and enjoy them.
  3. The Flora in Bloom: Though May was historically the beginning of summer in Ireland, this is the month when you will really notice plants and flowers coming back. If you want to see any of the botanical gardens or national parks, May is the perfect month to visit.

The Cons of Visiting Ireland in May

  1. Unpredictable Weather: While you will start to get more and more sunny days in May, the rain is never far away in Ireland. This month might lull you into a false sense of security with the weather. Make sure to keep that light rain jacket with you, even if its sunny leaving your hotel!
  2. Higher Prices: The start of tourist season means that prices are going to start going up. This month will not be as bad as later on in the season. But you will still find a weekend in Ireland in May more expensive than April or even March!

May Weather in Ireland

How to Dress for the Rain in Ireland
You might need to dress like this for the weather any time of year in Ireland!

May is when the weather will start to reliably improve in Ireland. While the rain will, usually, never be far away, this is the beginning of the most pleasant time of year. Average temperatures range between 7-15°C (45-59°F), and there is a monthly precipitation of about 60-80mm (2.4-3.1 inches) over 21 days.

While that might sound like a lot of days of rain, it really isn’t. This rain will mostly be light and rarely ever lasts for too long. The only thing to worry about with it is getting caught out in it by accident.

This is exactly the sort of rain that is perfect for plants. In my opinion at least, the stunning nature and scenery more than makes up for the slight change of getting caught out.

As with every other time of the year, one of the main considerations when it comes to the Irish weather is location. Generally speaking, the west of Ireland is wetter and windier and the east is a little warmer and calmer. The midlands of Ireland also usually have cooler temperatures, especially at night.

I have a full guide to the weather in Ireland, linked here. Opens in a new tab.

What to Pack for Ireland in May

Most visitors to Ireland that I meet comment on how badly the Irish dress for the weather. You will rarely find people here dress properly for the rain. Also, sometimes even in winter, people will be wearing shorts and t-shirts when the visitors are in winter clothes!

May is one of the months where this is most pronounced. When you come to Ireland around this time of year, you might be quite shocked to see how the Irish are reacting to the comparatively small increase in temperature and sun that what you are used to back home.

Here are some of the things that I think you should focus on when packing for a trip to Ireland in May:

  1. Waterproof outer layer: Make sure to at least pack a light waterproof jacket when visiting Ireland in May. While umbrellas often aren’t good enough to last in the Irish wind, you might get away with a good one this time of year.
  2. Layers: This is the piece of advice you will hear most often about packing for your trip to Ireland and I think it is one of the most important things to consider. The weather is changeable throughout the year, make sure to prepare for any likely eventuality.
  3. Comfortable shoes: A good pair of walking shoes, that you have already broken in, is a must when traveling anywhere. When it comes to Ireland, you might need two of them. Make sure to take care of your feet when you are out and about exploring the Irish countryside, and the public houses…
  4. Accessories: Don’t forget sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun on bright days. You don’t want to leave Ireland with sunburn. Windburn is much worse however, so also make sure to pack any sort of scarf or pashmina, in case you are out somewhere rugged in the west.
  5. Travel adapter: Ireland uses a Type G plug, like the UK. This is what you will need to bring when you visit here anyway, so try to get a universal one before you leave. They will be way more expensive in Dublin Airport.
  6. Daypack: I have had very mixed experiences with my daypacks when guiding around Ireland over the years. If its possible, I really recommend investing in a good waterproof backpack to keep all of those extra layers in when out and about.

I have a full packing guide for Ireland, linked here.Opens in a new tab.

Events and Things to Do in Ireland in May

Puffins in Ireland
Puffins start to return to Ireland this time of year. There are places where you can visit them around the coast!

As May marks the start of the “good” weather for Ireland, there will be no shortage of things to do when you get here. From cultural festivals to walking tours, you’ll never be able to see everything that’s on in Ireland this time of year.

Here, I want to talk to you about some of my favorite things to do in Ireland in May.

Cycle the Greenway

In County Waterford, there is a 42kilometer stretch of paved cycle lanes that is totally car-free. This is a dream for any cyclist and if you are lucky enough to be able to spend a while in Ireland, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Even if you don’t get through the full route, you will still be able to see stunning views and will get the chance to meet plenty of locals out and about. This is the perfect thing to do if you find yourself on the under-appreciated southern coast of Ireland.

You can learn more about it on its official website, here.Opens in a new tab.

Hiking

This should be a no-brainer for anyone visiting Ireland that likes to get out in nature. There are so many great places to see the Irish countryside and you will definitely want to get out yourself. Coming to Ireland in May will give you the chance to really get hands-on with Ireland.

While there are too many places to experience this to count, for my money, I always recommend Howth.Opens in a new tab.

This is a peninsula just north of Dublin and has a variety of different hiking routes that go over both Howth Hill and its cliffs. These routes can accommodate different mobilities. If you are staying in Dublin and still want to see the Irish greenery, this is the place for you.

There are also countless other places for you to hike around Ireland, but I think this area should have something for most visitors.

Walking Tours

I have recommended these tours before and I will do it again! Walking tours are my bread and butter. I have given countless tours all over Ireland on busses and through craggy hills, but walking tours are my favorite ones to give as a guide.

If you are visiting Ireland for any length of time, I think you should consider doing a walking tour. In cities like Dublin, you will be able to learn far more than you thought possible in just a couple of hours. These are entertaining experiences that will give you a much better sense of where you are.

There are plenty of companies that offer Free Walking Tours in different parts of Ireland. These are the main experiences that I would advise you check out. I have already talked about some of these companies in my 1-day guide to DublinOpens in a new tab..

Where to Visit in Ireland in May

All of Ireland is great to visit in May, but there are a few places that you should definitely consider visiting this time of year.

Dublin

Dublin House
One of Dublin’s beautiful Georgian Houses

Dublin has something to offer travelers any time of year. If you get the chance to spend a week in Ireland, you might not want to spend all of that time here, but spending at least a couple of days can be a great experience.

There are far too many things to see and do in Dublin. I go into detail on my recommendations for the city hereOpens in a new tab..

If you are in Dublin in May, make sure to check out any of the many great city parks. There are also plenty of hiking trails nearby that are well worth a visit.

Galway

Galway is one of the most unique and beautiful parts of Ireland. It is the capital of the west coast and you will be able to find artists, musicians and all sorts here. If you want to experience an authentic rural Ireland experience but with comforts of a town, then go to Galway.

There are so many great reasons why this city is worth visiting. I go into some of them in this article here.Opens in a new tab.

The Ring of Kerry

waterfalls in the forest
Photo by Steven Hylands on Pexels.com – typical of the Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry has been one of the most popular parts of Ireland for generations and its easy to see why. On this route around the county, you will find some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe.

There are countless towns and villages along the way too. So if you want to stop off and get some Irish souvenirs and meet the locals, there should be plenty of opportunities to do that along the ring.

FAQs About Ireland in May

Here are some questions that I often get asked about Ireland in May:

Is May a good time to visit Ireland?

Yes, I think May is a great time to visit Ireland. The weather is generally mild, with longer daylight hours, ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing. Also, May is not in the main part of high season, so tourist attractions tend to be less crowded compared to peak months.

Are accommodation and attraction prices higher in May?

As May is considered part of the shoulder season, accommodation and activity prices may be slightly higher than in the winter months. They are still generally lower than during the peak summer months however. It’s a good idea to book in advance to secure the best rates and availability.

Will I need a car to explore Ireland in May?

While public transportation is available in Ireland, renting a car can provide greater flexibility. It can allow you to explore more remote areas at your own pace. However, if you prefer not to drive, there are often guided tours and public transportation options available.

Jack

Jack Redmond has been a tour guide in Ireland for the past decade. Having received a national guiding qualification, he has brought thousands of travelers all over the island of Ireland.

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