As the heady days of summer change into the golden days of autumn, there is perhaps no better place to experience the turning of the season than on our fair isle. The fiery colours of fall are only one of the many beautiful things that happen at this time of year. Read on to discover the best places to visit in Ireland this autumn.
Best autumn feature: Halloween and ancient history
First things first, we cannot talk about autumn without mentioning Halloween. And we can’t talk about Halloween without mentioning Ireland’s ancient capital of Meath.
Halloween originated here and comes from the pagan festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-inn, meaning “summers end”). Pre-Christian folk would come together and celebrate at a site known as the Hill of Ward in Athboy. These days, the Púca festival takes place in the ancient capital and is the perfect opportunity to soak up some Halloween atmosphere. Learn more about Samhain here.
Meath is located north of Dublin and is therefore a fantastic day trip for those staying in our modern-day capital. Other notable sites for lovers of ancient Irish history are Newgrange, the Hill of Tara and Loughcrew.
Best autumn feature: Stunning flora and fauna
Killarney National Park is home to an abundance of native flora and fauna. One of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in Kerry’s autumnal majesty is by boat. Read more about the National Park here.
A traditional boat trip across Lough Leane will afford you spectacular views of rich Oakwood and Yew trees ablaze in fiery reds, oranges and golds. Bronzing broadleaf and evergreen foliage set against the surrounding peaks of the Magillacuddy Reeks Mountain Range creates knockout colourful scenery that has to be seen firsthand.
An impressive 50% of the world’s population of Greenland White-Fronted Geese make their way to Killarney and Kerry in October, with most settling around Lough Leane. And you might even catch a glimpse of the native Irish red deer crossing the lough on their way to Innisfallen Island. Learn more about bird-watching in Ireland here.
Such is the splendour of Kerry during autumn, our deluxe Hiking the Kerry Mountains trip dedicates plenty of time in Killarney National Park.
Best autumn feature: Fewer tourists and great photo opportunities
A stone’s throw north of Belfast is the lesser-travelled ‘lucky’ Glens of Antrim – a series of nine impressive glens in northeast Ireland. These majestic glens are peaceful even in the height of summer. So, as autumn rolls around and there are fewer visitors, there’s even more serenity to be found.
If you’re a fan of snapping that Instagram-worthy photo, then it’s worth visiting the Glens in autumn. The iconic Giant’s Causeway is also much quieter this time of year, with plenty of castles and coastal walks to enjoy along the windswept Causeway Coast.
Although you may be tempted to head straight for the Dark Hedges (of Game of Thrones fame), a quieter option is to stop in Waterfoot for the gorgeous walking trails and Glenariff for its majestic waterfall.
Why not experience the magic of Northern Ireland on our Hiking the Causeway Coast and Donegal trip?
Best autumn feature: Peace, spirituality and wellness
Snuggled amid the glory of Wicklow National Park is Glendalough monastic site, an early monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin. A spiritual sanctuary in times gone by, Glendalough Monastery maintains a special charm at this time of year.
For most, the autumn season is about slowing down. A time for reflection and consideration. Where better to enjoy this contemplative time than standing among one of Ireland’s most important spiritual sites?
Glendalough in autumn won’t disappoint. For an added bonus, marvel at the vivid autumn colours decorating the trees shrouding the monastery and the heathery hills of the Wicklow Mountains framing the region.
Situated at the midpoint on the long-distance Wicklow Way walking trail, it makes for a perfect rest stop. Nearby, you will find Poulanass Waterfall and Lough Ouler – Ireland’s famous heart-shaped lough. For the ultimate wellness experience, check out the glorious spa at Brook Lodge and Macreddin Village just down the road.
Visit Glendalough and Wicklow, along with sites in Connemara and Kerry, on our deluxe Coast to Coast hiking trip. Or, walk the Wicklow Way on a self-guided tour during the quieter season, with guided options available during certain times of the year.
Best autumn feature: Amazing food and drink
Ireland has seen a foodie revolution in recent years, with an increase in farm to fork menus, organic dishes and a focus on local cuisine.
There are a myriad of foodie experiences along the three peninsulas of West Cork – Beara, Sheepshead and Mizen. So, if you’re looking for an adventure for your taste buds, the 10-day Taste of West Cork Festival in September is one not to be missed.
Relish the autumnal harvest by sampling Ireland’s freshest produce. Durrus Cheese from Sheepshead, Union Hall Smoked Fish from Beara and single malt whiskey from Mizen Head. Of course, the coastal scenery of West Cork is beautiful and perfect for coastal walks and island hopping adventures.
Visit the coasts and islands of West Cork on our classic Cork & Kerry island-hopping adventure.
Best autumn feature: Stargazing
In September, the autumn equinox marks a time when the day and the night are of equal length. Some may feel put off travelling on darker evenings. But don’t forget – the darker skies are ideal for stargazing. Mayo Dark Sky Park is one of three dark sky reserves in Ireland and is in the remote wilderness of the Nephin Mountain Range.
We recommend setting up camp and wrapping up warm at Claggan Mountain Coastal Trail for an evening of stargazing. If you’re lucky and the conditions are right, it’s also possible to see the Northern Lights.
As a bonus, Westport town is just 40 minutes away. A town that completes any itinerary with its plentiful snug pubs and opportunities for live music.
Read more about Ireland’s dark skies and stargazing here.
Explore the mountains of Connemara and Mayo on our fantastic hiking trip where hikers have plenty of chances to experience the west of Ireland’s epic dark skies and stargazing.
Best autumn feature: Better availability
Dingle town has streets lined with colourful buildings, old school pubs, live music and craft shops. For these charming reasons, availability can be hard to come by when seeking accommodation.
However, this is less of an issue in the latter half of the year. During the shoulder season, you can more or less have your pick of the litter when it comes to finding somewhere to lay your head. Whether it’s a coastal hotel with breathtaking views or a traditional guesthouse at the foot of a mountain, you’re sure to find somewhere magical.
And why not take to the sea while you’re here? There are copious whale-watching tours available in Dingle and you’re almost guaranteed a glimpse of a harbour porpoise all year round. Autumn brings with it better chances of seeing fin, minke and humpback whales. Read more about Ireland’s marine wildlife here.
See below to explore Ireland’s seasons and climate in-depth to decide which time of year is the right time for your next adventure.
Spring weather is mild, but the days are lengthening and consistently drier. The landscape is buzzing with life and colour, with flowers blooming and bustling wildlife.Find out more
Summer promises long days, pleasant temperatures, and festivals galore. The countryside transitions from vibrant green to breath-taking purple as the heather blooms.Find out more
Autumn is a time of colourful landscapes and glowing skies. Witness some of Ireland’s most beautiful autumn sunsets and taste flavours unique to our autumn months.Find out more
If the conditions are right, marvel at the snow-dusted landscapes during Ireland’s winters. Crunchy snow underfoot, roaring fires in the cosy pubs, and beautiful starry skies.Find out more