Only the brave attempt Ireland in the winter, but those who do are met with a winter wonderland, with the famous castles dusted in snow. But your packing list must reflect the harsh winds you can experience on the Emerald Isle. Leave your high heels and dresses behind, because instead of hip nightclubs, you are more likely to be sipping Guinness in a rustic country pub. Here is my essential packing list for Ireland in winter.
2 long sleeved shirts: Layering is key for keeping warm in the Irish winter.
1 pair of jeans: Consult Should I… Pack My Jeans for further discussion on this one, but I found them to be vital in protecting against the Ireland cold!
1 pair of pants: A pair of black pants will look nicer than jeans, in case you have one special occasion.
2 bras: I usually pack one nude bra and one black bra and it seems to fit my wardrobe well.
5 pairs of underwear: Maybe less if you have access to laundry facilities or are packing ExOfficio underwear.
1 hoodie or fleece: A base layer will keep you warmer than if you were only wearing a coat.
1 windbreaker/rain jacket: Just in case.
1 winter coat: I brought a black pea coat and it suited my trip well, although I wish it had been longer. It dresses up any outfit and keeps out the chill.
Socks: These are a must have! I prefer Smartwool.
Leggings or Cuddleduds: I increase my layers with flannels, leggings or tights underneath my jeans.
Towel: A travel towel should do.
>>Read about must-pack items for colder countries here.
Closed toed walking shoes: I use my Merrells because they have a thick rubber sole that keeps out the puddles and snow.
Boots: A nice pair of boots are good for cold weather and they can also look nice if you’re going out.
Flip flops for hostels: Better safe than sorry!
>> Read about what shoes to pack and about spare soles for additional shoe help.
Shampoo/Conditioner: Travel sized and TSA friendly.
Soap or Body Wash: I brought body wash instead, but soap is usually easier to pack if you’re flying carry-on only.
Toothbrush/Paste: Also get a snap-on case so you don’t get anything on your toothbrush.
Deodorant: Keep yourself smelling nice!
Razor: You only need one.
Brush: Travel sized worked for me.
Hair ties: Keep your hair out of your face when it’s blowing in the wind.
Birth Control: You can never be too safe.
Diva Cup: The last thing you want on your trip is to be tied down by lady products. The Diva Cup is ideal for this trip since you will be active and won’t always have time to change.
Prescriptions: You never know if you will be able to find it in Ireland.
Lotion: Keep your skin from getting dried out!
Chapstick: Don’t forget to protect your lips from the harsh wind!
Hair dryer: I wouldn’t usually advocate for bringing a hair dryer, but there’s nothing worse than cold hair in the winter. If you have room, I say go for it.
Protection from the Elements:
Sunscreen: It’s probably better to buy when you get there because of TSA liquid regulations.
Hat: You lose most heat through your head.
Gloves and Scarf: More protection from the elements.
Sunglasses: It’s still sunny in winter!
1 Flashlight/headlamp: For navigating your way through hostel hallways.
Laptop: This is optional, but if you’re interested, there are plenty of coffee shops and internet cafes.
Camera: It’s important to show your friends back home that it really is that green!
Chargers and converters: The outlets here are the same as in England. You might need a plug adapter.
Lock: If you’re staying in a hostel, it’s always a good idea to have a lock for your backpack.
iPod: Perfect for long travel days and for loading up travel apps.
Water bottle: I recommend using a refillable plastic one so you don’t spend $5 for bottled water at airports.
Books: Keeps you entertained on long train rides.
Hand warmers: I love the packets you can get for your hands and your feet.
Day pack: I took a day trip from Galway and used a backpack so I didn’t have to lug all my stuff around.
Eye mask and earplugs: I stayed in one particularly noisy hostel in Dublin and these items were very useful.
Something to keep in mind in traveling in Ireland is that many of the hostels are in older buildings not equipped with elevators, so you would have to lug your bag up flights of stairs. Backpacks work better for this type of trip, especially if you are traveling by train or bus. Eurail passes are available for Ireland and I recommend it as a great way to see the country.
Photo 1: hilletulp. Photo 2: MFinderup.
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Crystal Davis says
Love the site! How could this list be modified for packing for Ireland in May? 8 days, 10 year anniversary trip.
So I love the packing list it really is great. But how long is this trip planned for specifically? I will be going to school in Ireland for four months…and I have no idea how much to take.
Hi Catie — this is probably more a backpacking trip of a couple weeks, but still, you can bring the same amount of stuff for 4 months and get by — that’s what most backpackers do. And, you have to consider if you plan to do shopping while there — bring less and buy while in Ireland 🙂
Thanks Brooke and sounds good!
Although I will add that going to school might mean you want to put a stronger emphasis on clothing. Your packing list, if you think you’ll want to be more fashionable, will be bigger. (Unless you want to shop, shop, shop)
I would recommend getting a small umbrella as soon as you arrive. It rains a lot here in winter, sorry i should be more specific, it rains a lot here all year round. Other then that you seem to have a nice comprehensive list.
Cheers, Mary! Great tip that will be very useful!
What about pajamas/sleepwear?
That’s a great question, Annie. As a light packer, I usually bring something versatile – like a pair of pants that can double as yoga/exercise pants and lounge pants/flight pants. If it’s really cold, some merino wool layers that can also be used to wear under clothing during the day (if needing to brave the elements) is a good option. If I’m traveling to a warmer place, then a pair of pj shorts and a tank top will work and take up minimal space.
Thank you! This was a big help.
Awesome! Thanks for letting us know 🙂
Seriously it’s not that cold in Ireland and it snows very rarely, I think you over did the snow a bit much. Warm coat with a hood is what you need for the winter, ireland is actually one of the milder parts of northern europe in winter. Of course jeans are fine as most irish people wear them all year round and some good waterproof shoes are very important.
I spent almost a year in Ireland (settled in one place for part of the year, and backpacking the rest), and I agree it does get VERY cold there in wintertime! I’m from the British Columbia, Canada, and I was still shocked by how cold it could be…true there is not much snow, but it is damp and you will be happy with lots of warm layers.
Waterproof coat and shoes are a must!!
Also, I wanted to mention that in my opinion the Eurail pass would have been a waste of money in Ireland. It is expensive and has very, very limited destinations. You are better off with the Bus Eireann. Even though it can be frustrating, it will allow you greater access at a much cheaper price, especially if you are a student.
I was just wondering, I am looking into going over to the UK/Ireland this coming October. As a fellow Canadian, was it hard for you to get organized? Did you go as a student or just on a working holiday visa?
I like wearing Jeans, but for warmth they are not ideal. Love the rest of the list though
This helped a lot! planning to spend New Years in Ireland and totally forgot it got cold over there! thanks so much for writing this !!
Kathleen Shevlin says
traveling to Ireland in November. Want to carry on my back so I don’t have to lug a suitcase down the street. Need it to fit in an overhead airline bin. liked the idea of a waist compartment and also something mentioned about the top part coming off to use as a “purse” type??