Many locals will tell you that the best time to visit Northern Ireland is during the summer (June-August) — "Sure, why would you want to go on holiday when the sun's shining here?" Northern Ireland is extra gorgeous when the sun's shining with plenty of beaches and hiking trails to explore. However, there are plenty of adventures to be had all year.
The weather in Northern Ireland is similar to the rest of the UK with short, mild summers and chilly winters. It also rains a lot (so don't forget to pack a raincoat), and the gusty Atlantic wind often makes it feel cooler.
Best for: wildlife, St. Patrick’s Day
Spring, particularly the end of the season, is a pretty time of year with calves and lambs scampering around the hills and, budding trees and flower beds. The days are also longer, giving you more time to do coastal walks and ramble the countryside. A highlight of spring is St Patrick's Day (17 March) with huge street parades and lively celebrations flooding the streets of Belfast and beyond.
Best for: Bushmills Salmon & Whiskey Festival, hiking
Northern Ireland shines in the summer - especially on a clear, sunny day; Belfast's streets bustle with alfresco diners and there are plenty of outdoor activities on offer. Hit the trails in the Rostrevor and Kilbroney Forest, inhale fresh Irish air from the Mourne Mountains or admire the views from the Antrim Coast.
Tourist hotspots like the Causeway Coast and Portstewart Strand get busy, particularly during the school summer holidays in July, so make sure you book accommodation in advance.
Best for: The Glens Storytelling Festival, autumn foliage
September offers the best of both worlds: mild weather and fewer tourists. The temperature drops in October and the days get shorter, but it’s a wonderful time to experience the autumn colours in the parks and woodlands. If you’re around in October, check out the Glens Storytelling Festival – a five-day celebration of storytelling and music in the stunning Glens of Antrim.
Best for: festive markets, cosy winter pubs
Winter weather can be cold and grim, but it rarely snows. When it does snow, it’s usually only a light sprinkling unless you're up in the mountains. One of the best things to do in winter is to experience the country's unique pub scene, where traditional live music, roaring log fires and hearty food and Guinness await. There's also the Belfast Christmas Market which is a highlight for locals and tourists alike.
Average temperatures in Northern Ireland
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Our Northern Ireland tours