Can you really experience Dublin without breaking the bank?
Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is a city with a buzzing atmosphere, lots to explore and plenty of friendly locals. It's also a city that can be expensive to visit, but there are plenty of ways to save money. You don't have to miss out on the full experience just because you're visiting Dublin on a budget! Let us talk you through how we saved as much as possible on our trip, and teach you how to cut costs when you travel.
How to get cheap accommodation in Dublin:
Everyone knows that one of the biggest expenses when traveling is accommodation - just your bed for the night can often take up a huge chunk of your budget for the entire trip. If you want to save money, you need to see your accommodation as just somewhere to sleep and shower, not a luxury base to relax in. In Dublin, there are a variety of affordable options to choose from, including hostels, guesthouses, and Airbnb Rooms.
Hostels are a great way to meet other travellers and save money, just remember to be careful, and check reviews to make sure they're clean and safe. We use Hostelworld to check reviews and see what's best for the area, but sometimes it's then cheaper to book direct with the hostel themselves.
If a hostel doesn't sound like your thing, guesthouses are often family-run and offer a more personal experience. Some hostels do have a focus on providing a good party experience for younger travellers, so if you're looking for a quieter break, a guesthouse could be a better choice. You can find lots of options of guesthouses in Dublin on booking.com.
Airbnb Rooms are another money-saving option - this means you stay with a host in their home, potentially sharing their bathroom, or having your own private suite. Again, be vigilant, check reviews for safety and to ensure it's what you want for your trip. Full homes on Airbnb are a great option if you're looking for more space and privacy, but they will come at a higher cost.
Personally, we stay in Staycity Aparthotels, which vary in price depending on which hotel you select and the time of year you're visiting. We thought they were good value for money, especially considering the great location and the amenities you get included.
How to save money on transport in Dublin:
When you're visiting Dublin on a budget, one thing you can definitely avoid is spending on taxis or car hire. Dublin has a well-connected public transportation system, including buses, trains, and the Luas light rail system aka the trams. You could even rent a bike for the duration of your trip if you want to stick to your own schedule.
But, to cut transportation costs completely, the city is also very easy to get around on foot!
Cheap food and drink in Dublin:
There are plenty of affordable places to eat in Dublin, including pubs, cafes, and restaurants. Many pubs offer traditional Irish food, such as fish and chips, shepherd's pie, and Irish stew. You can also find a variety of international cuisine in Dublin. To find more affordable food and drinks in the city, head away from major tourist areas such as O'Connell Street or Temple Bar and move towards the outskirts of the centre. This means you'll be much less likely to fall into a tourist trap with low quality food but high prices.
In addition to this, as we always say at Sightseekr, never be ashamed to try the local fast food options. Menus often differ from country to country, and special items are put on offer for the area, such as the Shamrock Shake at McDonalds (which I highly recommend if it's available!). Wetherspoons is also always a great stop for cheap food and drink, and there are 3 in Dublin city centre!
We can't deny that Dublin is notoriously expensive to eat and drink out, so if all else fails, consider buying food from supermarkets and cooking your own meals. Even some hostels have a shared kitchen you can use, or consider paying a slightly higher price for an apartment with a kitchen to save future food costs. We're not saying don't go out and taste local food from restaurants, but you can save by making 2 out of 3 meals a day yourself, then eating out once in an evening.
Free things to do in Dublin:
There are many free and affordable things to do in Dublin. Some of the top attractions include:
1. Trinity College: A beautiful university with a long history. It's free to enter and explore the campus, but there is a charge to go into the Old Library which holds The Book of Kells - an illuminated manuscript that is over 1,200 years old.
2. Dublin Castle: A historic castle that was once the seat of British rule in Ireland. You can walk around the site for free!
3. St. Patrick's Cathedral: A beautiful cathedral that is over 800 years old. Again, you can walk around the site for free.
4. Temple Bar: A lively district with bars, restaurants, and shops. Yes, the drinks come at a price (a hefty one too) but the vibes are free and very fun to enjoy. If needs be, order a tap water and just soak up the atmosphere!
5. Iveagh Gardens: A beautiful park, located near to St. Stephen's Green shopping centre (a great place for some free window shopping), with stunning sculptures and even a waterfall! A really great place for a bit of tranquillity within the city, and again, completely free.
6. National Museum of Ireland: For those of you who are eager to dive into some history on your trip to Dublin, the National Museum has four sites, all of which are completely free to enter. Perfect for when the weather isn't on your side, you can learn about decorative arts and history, country life, natural history or archaeology!
7. See the top sights: Explore Dublin's attractions spread across the city such as the famous Ha'penny Bridge across the River Liffey, the Spire of Dublin on O'Connell Street and Dublin Quays. It's totally free to wander through the city, spot as many attractions as you can and enjoy the atmosphere.
There are plenty of other things to do in Dublin if you have a bit of a budget to use. For example, the Guinness Storehouse is a popular tourist attraction that offers a tour of the Guinness brewery. Although the tour is at a cost, you can get it cheaper or even included with a package like the DoDublin bus tour.
You can also get affordable walking tours of the city, or take the free option just of getting yourself lost in Dublin's beautiful cobblestone streets! If you're staying a little longer, consider taking a day trip to another nearby town or city to explore further. We'd recommend Howth, the beautiful seaside town only 20 minutes away on the train.
Our tips for visiting Dublin on a budget:
Get a Dublin Pass: The Dublin Pass is a tourist pass that gives you free admission to many of Dublin's top attractions, as well as discounts on transportation and other activities. It comes with a pretty high price, but if you're wanting to see lots of paid attractions, it can definitely save you plenty of money.
Visit Dublin during the off-peak season: Dublin is less crowded and more affordable during the off-season, which is typically from October to March. Your flights and accommodation should be cheaper, although of course typical Dublin prices for food and drink still apply.
Do your research: Look into what you'd like to do, and how much each activity or meal is going to cost, before you arrive. Don't rock up to a city with no idea what you want to do, or you'll most likely spend the majority of your time queueing for tickets to major attractions, then gasping at the price when you go to pay! Dublin has plenty of free attractions, so definitely get these at the top of your list.
By following these tips, you can explore Dublin on a budget and still have a great time!
I hope this post has helped you out when exploring Dublin on a budget - Owen
How long should I spend in Dublin?
Dublin is a huge city, packed with attractions and surrounded by great towns and cities for day trips and further exploration. If you just want to see Dublin, you can see most of the main attractions in a day, but we'd recommend giving yourself 2-3 days to sightsee, relax and enjoy the atmosphere. Make sure to factor in extra days if you'd like to take day trips to other towns, like Howth.
How do I get to Dublin?
Dublin is easily accessible by air, with cheap and direct flights from many major cities around the UK and Europe. It's easy to get from the airport into the city centre by the public bus.
How do I get around Dublin?
Dublin is a very walkable city. It’s flat, and pretty easy to navigate, especially with the help of Google Maps! But you can also use buses and the Luas light rail system to get around the city, or even rent a bike.
Where shall I stay in Dublin?
What else do I need to know about Dublin?
Visas: Citizens of most countries do not need a Visa to visit Ireland for a stay of up to 90 days.
Currency: The currency of Ireland is the Euro.
Language: The official language of Ireland is English.
Time zone: Ireland is in the Irish Standard Time Zone, which is the same as the time in the UK.