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My husband and I are just starting to make the time to travel. We have a trip planned for 2010. We will be in Scotland for two weeks and then on to Ireland for one week. I'm having second thoughts because I booked the trip in January and am now realizing it may have been a mistake because it seems the weather is not very warm in January. Could someone who has traveled there in January give me a confirmation? If the weather is not good that time of year, would you still recommend going? Thanks for any information.

Posted by
10344 posts

I have not been to Scotland or Ireland in January so I'll let others describe the typical weather. One thing that you'll probably want to take into account in trip planning--and this is not an obvious thing to a lot of travelers and can blind-side them--is that in Scotland in January you only have 7 hours of daylight for sight-seeing and 17 hours of darkness, a surprisingly small amount of daylight for those of us living in the US which is so much farther south in latitude than Scotland (and Ireland).Here's the details: On January 1 in Glasgow the sun rises at 8:47AM and sets at 3:54PM, just over 7 hours of daylight. In comparison, on July 1 in Glasgow you would have 17-1/2 hours of daylight for sight-seeing, over twice the amount of daylight sight-seeing time.

Posted by
495 posts

Well, it is winter... but that being said it will be a lot warmer in Scotland/Ireland than back in Michigan. Temps will be a degree or two either side of freezing with Scotland (on the whole) being a bit colder than Ireland as it is further north.

It won't be the weather for outdoor pursuits, so no hiking or picnics on the beach, but January is a fine time for a city based holiday. Museums and the like are quite weather independent.

P.S. gives average temperatures (and rainfall figures) if you search for the towns you plan to go to.

Posted by
286 posts

The other posters are exactly right. The shorter daylight hours is startling at first but if you are doing city breaks then it is just fine.

Weather wise... well, I'd rather be in Ireland or Scotland in January than Michigan!

It can be quite mild here. The difference is the cold that just hits straight to your bones. Layer up and you will be fine.

Posted by
864 posts

Living in San Diego I'd no more go to Scotland and Ireland in January than I'd volunteer for unnecessary brain surgury. Seriously to really see the countryside (which for us is a huge part of the draw in going there to begin with) those short daylight hours are going to be brutal. January/February I'd head south. We were in Scotland and Ireland in May 07 and it was quite nippy, especially at night (and I took my going to see the relatives in Iowa over Christmas heavy lined rainjacket, thick sweater, and wool hat/gloves).

Posted by
5678 posts

I've been trying to get to Scotland in January for several years since I heard about the great music festival in Glasgow that takes place every January. If you stick with your plans then I would recommend that you try and attend some of the concerts. They sound wonderful! You can see the type of music by searching on Celtic Connections Glasgow in YouTube. Also, do check what is open. Big sites, such as those in Edinburgh and Glasgow will be open, but many sites in the countryside won't be open in winter. On the other hand you won't have to fight the crowds! As for the weather, I really think it will be better than Michigan (or Wisconsin). I have relatives in Orkney, which is off the far northern tip of Scotland. They had a "huge" snowstorm. It was six inches and was gone in a day! That said, I think that the small roads in the highlands can be quite treacherous in winter. They are wee and there are no such things as shoulders. I did see one web site talking about seeing the northern lights in Scotland.

Posted by
9363 posts

I haven't been to Ireland in January, but I have been twice in February. On both trips it was a mix of bitter cold (1 day out of 6 on one trip), drizzle, and sunny, relatively warm days. Because of the Gulf stream, Ireland never gets as cold as parts of the US, so they can have a different attitude about the weather. In Dublin one day the very occasional snowflake fell. When I mentioned the snow to someone in a shop, she said, "Yessss, we NEVER see this much snow!" I have also seen it be so warm in February that things are blooming and everything is green.

You might also run into problems with some of the tourist attractions and historical sights being closed for the winter season, or having reduced hours. On the plus side, you won't encounter crowds anywhere.

Posted by
1358 posts

All of this advice is true and proves that one cannot predict weather. It may be fine this week and miserable next week.

You can expect it to be cold and humid, meaning a penetrating cold; so take some jackets and be prepared for the worst even though you may not see it.

Posted by
1446 posts

We were in Scotland in March several years ago. It was very cold! However, we had prepared and had rain gear plus clothes to layer (and long underwear). No problem.