As the Irish say, if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes. In fact, you might just experience four seasons in a single day.
I consider myself a packing connoisseur. Whether I’m headed to a tropical paradise or a winter wonderland, I’m usually a rock star at minimizing the amount of stuff I bring. But Ireland had me stumped. I was headed to the emerald isle for two weeks in early July and I found myself contemplating bringing sweaters, boots, and jackets on my so-called summer vacation. My trusty phone app had me very concerned. The forecast? Cloudy, rainy, and barely hitting 60 degrees Fahrenheit every day.
I turned to the Internet for advice (as I do with most of my life decisions), and found some contradicting information. Most agreed that sweaters and waterproof clothes were a must while others argued that the rain really wasn’t much of a factor and it really didn’t get that cold in the summer anyway. Was I going to need an umbrella? Wellies? Scarf? Wool sweaters? Could I get away with shorts in July? By the time I finished my packing list, I was close to bringing my entire closet (you know, just in case).
In the end, I settled for a few solid pieces of clothes and other essentials. Below is a list of things I brought and actually used.
First, let’s discuss the weather: July
During my two-week holiday, I visited cities and sites in the Western, Eastern, and Northern parts of the island and I got a taste of both inland and coastal weather. Here is what I learned:
- It will rain almost every single day (but not really)
- The constant mix of clouds and fog will add a hint of drama to your photos
- You’ll see sunshine and bright blue skies more often than you think
- The coastline will be much colder and windier (so, so much wind)
- You might experience all of these factors in a single day!
In general, the weather reached as high as 70 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as 50 degrees. The daily bursts of rain were light and brief and never impacted my plans. Most importantly, any weather app I used was mostly inaccurate and changed constantly.
The packing list for summer weather
- Waterproof sneakers: If you’re planning on spending any time in the countryside, you will need a good pair of walking shoes. Even if it’s not raining while you’re out and about, the rain from a previous day will lead to muddy and slippery spots.
- A second pair of walking shoes for the city and other dry spots: If you’re a minimalist, you might be fine with a single pair of walking shoes but I was definitely glad to have a second pair of dressier athletic shoes to change into after a muddy trek in the countryside. I used these for dinners, museums, and city tours.
- Dressy but comfortable flats: Not necessary unless you plan on bringing dressier clothes for dinners, shows, and other events. To save space, consider bringing these in place of a second pair of walking shoes.
Leave the wellies at home as you won’t need them and frankly they’ll look out of place. Also, keep in mind that many cities and towns in Ireland have cobblestone streets that are hard to maneuver in high heels.
- Layers, layers, and more layers: My wardrobe consisted mostly of cotton short-sleeve shirts, light-fabric cardigans, and a packable waterproof shell. In most situations, these three layers were enough to keep me warm and dry. At times, I needed all three layers but sometimes I managed with just one or two.
- Light sweaters (only if you have a higher sensitivity to wind and chilly temperatures): I brought a couple of these but never used them as the weather never got cold enough for me. However, whether you’ll need these or not is entirely up to you. Remember, it does get chilly and windy by the coastline. I found myself shivering a bit while at the Cliffs of Moher and Giant’s Causeway but the moment was fleeting as the weather changed soon after.
- Long trousers: Whether it’s jeans or khakis (or whatever other fabric you feel comfortable in), long or capri style trousers are a must. I did bring a pair of shorts and a jean skirt but these were never appropriate to wear.
- Sunscreen: Believe it or not you actually do get exposed to sun and if you’re light-skinned you may even get sun burned.
- Wind-resistant umbrella (only if you have zero tolerance for getting a little wet). I brought an umbrella but never used it as it never rained long enough or hard enough to justify carrying it all day. Instead, I used a waterproof shell that kept me dry every time. However, my traveling companion whipped out her umbrella (like a ninja) every time she felt a little humidity in the air. If you have no tolerance for rain, consider bringing an umbrella but keep in mind that you’re not likely to use it for very long. I did notice that most of the people carrying an umbrella were tourists and not locals as most were happy to slip into a pub for a pint while waiting for the rain to pass.
- A purse-size brush or comb: Yes this one is obvious but definitely bring something small that will fit into your purse and that you can carry with you at all times. On several occasions, the heavy wind turned my hair into a rat’s nest that needed immediate attention.
Most importantly, you’ll need to bring a positive attitude. Remember that the seldom sunny, often overcast, mildly rainy, and sometimes chilly weather is what makes Ireland so lush and beautiful. A positive attitude and an affinity for the unpredictable will make your visit that much more enjoyable.