What to Pack for Ireland in May – Is a Raincoat Really Necessary?

Planning a trip to Ireland in May? Then you are probably wondering what to pack for Ireland in May. Well, I’ve got you covered.With my local’s knowledge of Ireland in May, you will learn exactly what you need on your packing list for Ireland in May.

If you are going to be visiting Ireland in May, then you’ve chosen one of the best times to visit Ireland. May is part of the shoulder season when it comes to tourism and it is still Spring in Ireland. The days are getting longer and warmer, with average daytime temperatures being around 13˚C/55F and plenty more sunshine than in previous months. During this month it can be quite pleasant and sometimes you’ll get a very warm day!

Now, rain can (and most likely will) happen at some stage during this month but unlike winter downpours, the rain in May is mostly passing showers, rarely hours and days of consistent rain. That said, May is one of the driest months of the year.

When getting ready for your May visit to the Emerald Isle, knowing exactly what to pack is essential. This is a month when you can experience all four seasons in one day and knowing what to pack for a trip to Ireland in May can be tricky. So, let me help you with that with my guide to how to pack for Ireland in May which includes clothes, essential things to bring to Ireland, toiletries, and more!

Ready to take the stress out of packing?

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What to pack for Ireland in May

What you need to remember for your packing list for Ireland in May is a mixture of light clothing, some weatherproof, and a few layers.

Daytime temperatures average around 13˚C/55F but it has been known to hit over 20˚/68F on some days in May, you just can’t know for sure if that will happen while you are there. Rain does occur but they are more like April showers than winter deluges.

So, being prepared for everything is advisable.

A picture low down of rare white bluebells

What clothes to pack for Ireland in May

Weatherproof Clothing and Equipment

While the weather in Ireland in May is a vast improvement and days are beginning to warm up, it can still feel a little cool, especially in the evenings and at night. So, packing a mixture of warm clothing and having a weatherproof option with you is advisable.

A warm coat is not necessary during this month. A windproof rain jacket and layers are the better option for your list of clothes for Ireland in May to stay warm and dry.

Make sure the jacket or coat you pack is both waterproof and windproof. A mid-season jacket would be ideal. You don’t need a heavy winter coat if you are layering, but it should at least keep you dry during those rainy spells. If you don’t have this option, then add a packable rain jacket to your list, something you can slip into your day bag for Ireland.

Another good thing to bring with you is some waterproof over-trousers that you can slip on when you get caught in a May shower if you are cycling or hiking. These usually pack down small and can be the difference between dry pants while sightseeing and exploring, or wet legs and bums!

Another thing to consider when packing for Ireland in May is waterproof boots or hiking shoes if you are going to be doing lots of outdoor exploring and activities. Wet feet are always a possibility while exploring outdoors in Ireland such as the natural landmarks of Ireland. My choice of footwear for Ireland is the Merrell Women’s Alverstone Hiking Shoe.

A picture of the bottom half ot two hikers wearing technical pants and hiking shoes or boots

And finally, a good addition to your day bag would be a windproof umbrella. An umbrella that won’t blow away during a shower could come in handy.

Clothing essentials

If you are struggling to know what to bring to Ireland in May where clothes are concerned, then this section might give you some direction. Having a good mix of light clothing but options for staying warm and dry is the name of the game this month.

When it comes to what to wear in Ireland in May, the best option for preparing for your trip is to remember the layering system. Layers that are easy to put on and take off will serve you well, especially when you transition from outdoors to indoors and vice versa. And layers that are lightweight.

Fleece tops – These are ideal elements for a layering system. They are lightweight, versatile, and warm. Pack two to three and wash them when needed during your trip.

Flannel shirt – These can be useful daytime tops for both men and women and can easily be teamed with fleece tops or a sweater.

T-shirts – Make sure to pack a few t-shirts, either short or long-sleeved, whichever is your preference.

Jeans – Jeans are a staple to any Irish wardrobe and can be worn anywhere and any time of the day or night. Pair them with a flannel shirt and sweater for daytime and with a less casual top for evening wear.

Leggings – For ladies, a lightweight alternative to jeans is leggings. This month you are unlikely to need lined leggings, so opt for some that are comfortable and versatile. You could also pair them with a dress on cooler days if you opt not to pack a pair of tights.

Dresses – This is the month to start breaking out the dresses when visiting Ireland. Maxi dresses are a good compromise, but you could take a chance and pack a summer dress. You just aren’t guaranteed to have a day warm enough to wear it, but you never know!

Technical pants – If you are likely to be hiking or doing a lot of outdoor activities, then a set of technical pants may be better than that additional pair of jeans. When shopping for these types of pants for packing for Ireland, opt for water-resistant versions that dry quickly.

Long sleeve cardigan – A long sleeve cardigan for ladies would be great for evenings in restaurants or your hotel bar for keeping chills off you.

Evening shirt – For men, an evening shirt or dress shirt might be advisable for restaurants, particularly if you are staying in one of the top luxury hotels in Ireland where the restaurants may have a dress code. An evening shirt or top for ladies is also advisable.

Chinos – For men, chinos are a better alternative to jeans, especially for evening wear.

Loafers – For evening wear for men, a pair of loafers that can be worn with your choice of chinos are the ideal footwear for after a day of sightseeing. You won’t want to be wearing your waterproof boots if you are going from your hotel room to the restaurant.

Black flat shoes – For the ladies, a pair of black flats is ideal with either jeans or a dress. They pack small and usually don’t weigh too much either.

Flip flops – These can be useful in your accommodation for wearing in your room, down to breakfast, and even at the hotel pool or spa.

Swim gear – If you are staying at a hotel that has a spa or pool, remember your swim gear.

Shorts – While it is not quite summertime in Ireland in May, it is not unheard of for there to be warm days during this month. So, you could take a chance and pack a pair of shorts.

Now, if you are planning to go hiking or spend a significant amount of time outdoors during your trip to Ireland, you might want to consider these items. You are highly unlikely to need winter woollies such as a hat and scarf, but these other items might come in handy. Just keep them to a minimum.

Wool sweater – Whether you opt to bring one with you or buy your wool sweater in Ireland as an Irish souvenir, a wool sweater is a good addition to your May clothing for Ireland. If you are going to buy your sweater in Ireland, make sure to buy it early in your trip so you can weather it for the rest of your trip.

Wool socks – A few pairs of wool socks are advisable for your packing list. These will keep your feet warm while wicking away moisture, a must when exploring the great outdoors.

Packing cubes – I’m pretty sure you know this by now, but if not, one of my biggest packing tips for Ireland is to use packing cubes. Roll your items up tight, pop them into colour-coordinated packing cubes per person, and use them to store your clothing in drawers straight from the bag.

Packing for Ireland in May– Essentials

Now that your clothing packing list for Ireland in May is complete, let’s move on to other essentials you’ll need. These include the travel basics, as well as any electronic items and gadgets that will come in handy during your trip.

Travel essentials

Passports – You need to ensure your passport is in date and for certain countries, that it is valid for 6 months from the time of your visit. Find more information here.

A picture of two passports and boarding cards on top of a map

Visas – Visitors from certain countries require a visa to enter Ireland. Click this link to find out if you need a visa to enter Ireland.

Travel Insurance – Do not travel to Ireland without travel insurance. Even if you think you don’t need it, you never know when an accident or flight cancellation might occur, and it is much better to have peace of mind than a headache of worry.

Travel document holder – A travel document holder or wallet is great for keeping passports, visas, and all your hotel and tour bookings in one place.

Credit/Debit cards – Make sure you have a valid credit card with sufficient credit available to cover your excess on your car insurance if you are hiring a car and deciding not to take out Super Collision Damage Waiver with the car hire company. Some will not accept third-party SCDW policies and will still look to cover the access on a credit card. Your credit card will also be handy for those souvenir purchases. And remember your debit card for taking money out of an ATM.

Driving license and IDP – Don’t forget your driving license and International Driving Permit (if required by the car hire company). Each car hire company has different requirements regarding IDP’s. Those from the EU and the UK generally do not need an IDP but check before you go to Ireland whether you need one or not.

Guide book – If you plan to be spontaneous, or have decided not to plan your entire itinerary, then an Ireland travel guide book will be a useful addition. I recommend the Lonely Planet Guide Book for Ireland. I have used Lonely Planet for years and have their 13th edition for Ireland and still refer to it for our trips.

Day Pack – A waterproof day pack is another good thing to remember for your Ireland packing list for May. A waterproof one will ensure the personal items you carry with you remain dry, even if you get caught in apassing shower. The Outlander Lightweight Travel Daypack is an ideal day pack for Ireland.

Travel Towel – While not essential, it is a good idea to take a travel towel with you. Sometimes you just need a little bit more help than the towels provided by your hotel or accommodation guest. Or, it can be left in the trunk of your hire car for days when you might get caught out in the rain.

Travel Pillow – For flights, bus trips, train journeys and long car rides, a travel pillow will make it more comfortable for travellers.

Reusable tote – Ireland has long given up giving out plastic bags for purchases. Nowadays, retailers provide paper bags. However, if you are shopping on a rainy day in Ireland, paper bags may disintegrate. So, to avoid this happening, take a reusable tote bag with you to pop your purchases into.

Electrical items and gadgets

Other things to pack for Ireland are your gadgets and electrical items. The following are suggestions.

Universal travel adapter – You cannot travel to Ireland without a universal travel adapter. Ensure you choose one that will accommodate your plugs and one that has some USB ports.

Portable phone charger – If you plan on using your phone to take all your photos, ensure you have a portable phone charger with you, just in case your battery starts to run low. The best portable power bank on the market comes from Anker. These are our power banks of choice and they have never let us down.

Kindle Paperwhite – Instead of carrying around heavy physical books, opt for a Kindle Paperwhite instead. We never travel anywhere without ours and you can even get digital versions of some guidebooks for Kindle.

Camera batteries/memory cards – If you are bringing a separate camera with you to capture your pictures of Ireland, then ensure you pack enough batteries, chargers and memory cards for your camera. You don’t want to run out of power or memory just as you find the perfect spot to capture a sunset over the Slieve League cliffs or a beautiful scene from the Rock of Cashel!

Reusable water bottle – Pack a collapsible water bottle to refill when you can. These are far more eco-friendly than buying water bottles everywhere you go. And yes, tap water is safe to drink in Ireland.

What to pack for Ireland in May– Toiletries

When it comes to what to bring to Ireland in May, after clothing, travel essentials, and electronics comes your toiletries.

There are two things to consider here.

Firstly, if you are travelling with only hand luggage, ensure your liquids and creams do not exceed the size and weight limits. Try and use travel-sized bottles of toiletries where possible, so that you can save more space in your bag.

Secondly, you can buy toiletries in any pharmacy, beauty store, and supermarket throughout Ireland, so if you run out or need something specific, you can always buy it once you are there. Just pack what you need for your first few days and top up when necessary.

Remember to pack the following essentials to get you started:

  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/mouthwash
  • Deodorant
  • Razor (check whether you can carry a razor in your hand luggage before your departure)
  • Shaving gel
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair ties
  • Lip balm
  • Hand warmers (if you think you will need them)
  • Women’s sanitary products

Also, remember to pack any specific pain medication you might need and any regular prescription medication you take. And take more than you need in case of unforeseen circumstances or delays.

Most prescription medication can only be purchased in a pharmacy in Ireland with a doctor’s prescription note. It is also a good idea to bring a copy of your latest prescription note from your doctor, just in case you need medical attention or to see a doctor. They can then see what your doctor has prescribed for you.

There is also a limit on the quantity of pain medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen that you can buy over-the-counter in one transaction. And no, they won’t split them between you and your husband if they know you are together, as myself and my husband discovered last year. The same goes for medication such as antihistamines for allergies!

Bathrooms in guesthouses and traditional B’n’B’s can be small with little space for lots of toiletries or a big bag. So, store all your toiletries and medication in a hanging toiletry bag that will save space in your bathroom.

A picture of a hanging toiltry bag

Things not to forget when packing for visiting Ireland in May

Earplugs – Some hotels can be noisy, especially if they are located in the centre of a town or city such as the Temple Bar area of Dublin. If you are a light sleeper, pack some earplugs. The best ones I have found are Mighty Earplugs. They mold to the shape of your ear and are super comfortable.

Sleep Eye Mask – A sleep mask is a good idea for your plane journeys. And bring a sleep eye mask as not all hotels and accommodation choices have blackout blinds or curtains. The sun starts to rise at 5 am during May, so you’ve been warned!

Sunglasses – With sunnier days and more hours of sunlight, you would be wise to pack a set of sunglasses to protect your eyes, especially if driving eastwards at sunrise, or westwards at sunset. So, pop your favourite pair in your bag.

Packing for a trip to Ireland in May doesn’t have to be stressful or complicated. Whether you are planning on visiting the city, exploring the outdoors, or simply wanting to relax and take it easy, taking some basic items with you can help make your trip more comfortable and enjoyable.

Now that you know how to pack for May you will be well prepared to face whatever the weather throws at you and all eventualities.

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by Cath Jordan
Cath is an Irish expat and the founder of Travel Around Ireland. She and her husband both come from Dublin, where the rest of their family remains. They regularly return to the Emerald Isle to explore the country with their son as well as to visit family. Through Travel Around Ireland, Cath shares her local expertise and knowledge with travellers and visitors to Ireland. Find out more about Cath here.

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