Ireland uses the euro as currency which means you will have to spend more money on things than you would in the United States, but don’t let that stop you. If you are careful with your money and plan ahead you can easily see all the emerald isle has to offer for a fraction of the price. Here are my travel tips to visit Dublin on a budget that will save you money and help you have a great trip.
27 Travel Tips for Dublin on a Budget
When most people think of Ireland the first thing that comes to mind is the 4-leaf clover, Guinness beer and leprechauns. It’s true these things all play a role in Irish culture, but more importantly the Irish are truly a warm and welcoming people and have an incredible history that is often sadly overlooked.
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1. Don’t travel to Ireland in the “high season”
The “high season” in Ireland is from June-August and this is generally the time that Ireland see’s most of its tourists (aside from St. Patrick’s Day). Tourist areas and attractions will be overcrowded and overpriced along with flights and accommodation.
2. How to Find Cheap Airfare to Ireland
From the west coast of the US flights can range from $1,200-$1,700+ in the “high season”, whereas traveling in the off season can score you a round trip ticket anywhere from $700-$1,000. Of course the further east you live the cheaper the ticket.
Considering the weather in Ireland is highly unpredictable and it can rain anytime of the year including the summer.
Ready for a little secret that can save you a lot of money on airfare?
I went to Ireland for two weeks in September and I paid $880 round trip for my flight from Portland, OR. Had I went two weeks earlier in August I would have paid at least $1,200. By waiting two more weeks I saved myself $300 on my plane ticket which was the price I paid for my hostel.
While I was there it never rained during the day, but did just one night. Most of the locals told me this was a pretty rare thing and they jokingly consider two weeks of no rain a drought. If you are trying to save money, travel in times like September and May to save money and get great weather.
Side note- I suggest using Google Flights when looking for tickets because they offer the same type of information you get from other sites like kayak.com, orbitz.com, etc.
What sets them apart is that Google Flights allows you to use an interactive map and calendar which was how I was able to save $300 on my ticket by comparing prices in August and September. Before you book an airplane ticket make sure to check pricing if you leave a day before or come home a day sooner as it could save you some serious cash.
3. Don’t Stay in Hotels
I can’t stress this enough, hotels will be more expensive in Ireland than they would be at home. You won’t be able to find the Motel 6 $40 a night special like you could in the states.
If you’re staying in Dublin you will be paying at least $100 USD to stay in a hotel in the city. Downtown areas along with hotels near the Temple Bar district are out of the question when it comes to prices.
But if you really want to find the best cheap hotel rates, below are my favorite places to research!
- Dublin hotel reviews for Dublin Agoda | Hotels.com | Booking.com
- Read reviews for Dublin Hotels on TripAdvisor
4. Do Stay in Hostels in Ireland
If you want to save money you need to become comfortable with the idea of hostels. I know it doesn’t sound like the greatest thing in the world but for a guy like me that likes his personal space and privacy I was totally fine with the hostel situation.
Hostels are often notorious for being dirty and miserable but I never had any problems with any of the places I stayed. If you are staying in a dorm type room expect anywhere from 4-20 beds. I never stayed in a hostel with more than 10 beds and most of the time the rooms were never fully booked, in
I never stayed in a hostel with more than 10 beds and most of the time the rooms were never fully booked, in fact, there were times I had the room to myself. Dormitory style rooms can range from about $10-$30 USD a night, depending on the time of the year and the quality of the room and hostel in general.
Dublin has many hostels to choose from and sites like www.hostelworld.com can give good customer reviews along with pictures, prices, contact info and other helpful information pertaining to booking a hostel. If you’re not a big fan of rooming with other people most hostels will have single, double, triple, and quadruple rooms available for you if you want your own room or are traveling in a group.
Generally the more people in the group the cheaper the cost of the room. The cost of a single private room is about $50 on average which is about half the price of a hotel room. Remember as long as the room is clean who cares? You shouldn’t be spending much time in the room other than to sleep!
If you’re not a big fan of rooming with other people most hostels will have single, double, triple, and quadruple rooms available for you if you want your own room or are traveling in a group. Generally the more people in the group the cheaper the cost of the room. The cost of a single private room is about $50 on average which is about half the price of a hotel room. Remember as long as the room is clean who cares? You shouldn’t be spending much time in the room other than to sleep!
5. Eat Breakfast at Your Hostel
Make sure to take advantage of the extras that hostels may provide. Hostels will provide certain benefits to attract travelers and it’s worth shopping around before you go so you can get the most value for your money.
For example, a lot of hostels will offer free breakfast which will usually consist of toast, cereal, milk/juice and things of that nature. It’s usually not anything special but it’s free. Some places will offer more but for a small fee (around 3 euros).
6. Check If Your Hotel or Hostel Offers Airport Pick Up
The first hostel I stayed at called Paddy’s Palace offered the most benefits in my opinion. They pick you up at the airport and take you to the hostel and when you leave they will take you back to the airport free of charge.
They also offer a free day tour if you stay more than two nights which is normally $30! I would stay at least two nights here and get the free tour considering most day tours from Dublin will be from $30-$80.
- Find Best Prices for Paddy’s Palace on HotelsCombined (they search all sites to find the best deals!)
- Read reviews for Paddy’s Palace on TripAdvisor
7. Ask Hotels & Hostels if They Offer Freebies!
Another slightly more expensive hostel I liked was the Times Hostel. They have 2 locations but they both offer the same benefits. Some of these include a free dinner on Wednesday nights along with other nightly freebies like wine/cheese, ice cream, and sangria night.
There are lot’s of great hostels in Dublin that can be found on sites like hostelworld.com, but when you find one you like be sure to check the hostel’s own website for deals. For example, I got a better deal directly from The Times Hostel website.
- Find Best Prices for Times Hostel on HotelsCombined (they search all sites to find the best deals!)
- Read reviews for Times Hostel on TripAdvisor
8. Bring A Towel
The hostels will charge you a fee to rent a towel along with a deposit (that will of course be refunded if returned). The fee to rent a towel should be less than 5 euro in most hostels and if you want a new fresh towel every day this can really add up.
Tip: make sure you hide your towel when you go out for the day or else housekeeping will pick it up if they think you have checked out or are done with the towel.
9. Shop at the Grocery Store & Pack Your Lunch
If you are really trying to save money I would recommend heading the closest market and buying a jar of peanut butter and making sandwiches for lunch from the leftover bread and jelly that is usually provided for toast at the hostel breakfast. No bread left after breakfast? Buy a loaf and it will last you a week or more and you’ll have an economical lunch.
10. Don’t Rent a Car to Sightsee in Dublin
You don’t need a car in Dublin. Most of the things you will want to see are within walking distance and walking the streets of Dublin is an experience you definitely don’t want to miss out on.
However, if you don’t want to walk, the bus is always a good option as well as renting a bike. There are also horse carriages along with bike carriage rides but they aren’t exactly a cheap option (see below for more on these options).
11. Don’t Take Taxi’s
This should be self-explanatory, but it needs to be stated for those that don’t normally take a taxi in their everyday life. Taking a taxi in Ireland will be extremely expensive. I was forced to take a taxi due to time restraints and I spent over 60 euros to get to a small town just outside of Dublin. That’s about $80 USD just to travel a few miles.
12. The Bus is Best for a Budget Trip to Dublin!
The bus is your friend. Taking the bus will be the cheapest option to get around efficiently besides of course walking. It should never cost you more than 5 euro to get anywhere in Dublin.
They only accept exact change so if you try to pay with paper money they will tell you to come back for the next bus with correct change. (Check here for Dublin Bus Fares).
Most of the bus drivers are very friendly and in fact, one of them gave us a free ride and told us “don’t worry about it go buy yourselves a drink” after we struggled to find the correct change.
This was towards the end of the day and his shift was most likely almost over so don’t expect this to be the norm. The Irish are kind and welcoming so don’t be afraid to take the bus because it’s safe, cheap, and efficient.
13. Rent a Bike
Bike it! If you need to get somewhere quick then look into renting a bike. You can pick one up at many different locations as long as you have a credit card and if you return the bike to a station within 30 minutes then it’s free! A great excursion via bike is a ride to Phoenix Park which is one of the biggest city parks in Europe.
14. Find Early Bird Dinner Specials
Eating at restaurants in Ireland is going to be more expensive than in the states but you can make it work if you do it correctly.
Most restaurants will have an “early bird” special which is basically like happy hour. Typically these type of deals are usually around 5-8pm, but note that the discounted prices will end up being about the same as going out to eat back home once you convert the currency.
Many places will offer a 2 for 20 euro dinner deal and will often advertise them out front. Most restaurants will also post their menu outside so you can see their prices so you can pick and choose accordingly.
There are all kinds of ethnic places all over that I recommend you should try since you are of course, on vacation.
15. Use Coupon Sites for Discounts
An option that saved me money was the website www.mydealpage.ie which offers deals for all kinds of things like restaurants/bars, hotels, transportation, entertainment, ext. I saved at least 200 euro buy using this site so make sure to at least take a look at what they have to offer.
Both Groupon and Living Social are fairly popular in the states as well as Ireland. I saved a lot on dinner/lunch with vouchers from both sites. I also was able to get a voucher for a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher for half price!
If you choose to purchase vouchers from either of these sites remember to print it out instead of using an app on your phone because most places will only accept a hard copy of the voucher to be redeemed. Also make sure to read the fine print and rules of the vouchers.
16. Don’t Spend Every Night in Temple Bar!
The Temple Bar district, while worth a visit, will cost you a pretty penny if you spend most of your nights in the pubs. Most places in the Temple Bar district will charge you about $8 USD for a pint of beer and you’ll pay the same if not more for a mixed drink.
It’s popular in Ireland to have a few drinks at home before you go out to combat the high prices of alcohol because beer/wine/liquor is cheaper in stores. In fact, many people will be walking around with a bottle or a can enjoying the music and all the interesting characters that come out at night instead of wasting all their money in the pubs.
Also don’t be afraid to ask the locals where their favorite bar/pub is. The Irish are generally a kind and helpful people and I got many suggestions on where I should go without even asking. You’ll find alcohol will be a little bit cheaper in more rural areas of Ireland (about 4 euro/pint).
17. Take advantage of the Dublin pass
A great way to save money on all the things Dublin has to offer is to purchase the “Dublin Pass”. There are a few different types of passes, but I purchased the two-day pass and saved 25 euro.
I paid 61 euro for the pass and had I not I would have spent 86 euro. There is a one-day option to that is more affordable, but the more you spend the more you save. The Dublin Pass also includes a one-way bus pass from the airport to the city or from the city to the airport.
There are also a large number of discounts that you can get from visiting local businesses with the Dublin Pass that include discounted drinks, food, and entertainment. I highly recommend the Dublin Pass and if you want more information visit https://www.dublinpass.com/
18. Take the Hop On Hop Off Bus Instead of a Tour
The Dublin Hop on Hop off pass will run you about 20 euro, but you can get discounts online and in other places around the city so if you plan ahead you won’t have to pay full price.
The reason I like this pass is that the bus will take you to all of the main attractions in Dublin and then some. They are double-decker style buses with open tops and the drivers are friendly and will keep you entertained with historical facts and little-known secrets about Dublin.
They will stop about every 15 minutes and are highly efficient. If you take the regular bus to all the attractions in Dublin you will spend about the same amount of money as the pass if not more. It’s well worth the money in my opinion and I wouldn’t mind riding it again if I go back as it’s a great way to see the city. http://www.dublinsightseeing.ie/citytour.aspx
19. Look for Discount Tour Tickets
Check out websites before buying tickets in person. If you want to save a few euro on attractions like the Guinness Storehouse or Kilmainham Gaol then make sure to check out the website. Many attractions will offer a discount if you buy tickets online which is usually around $2 USD. If you plan on going to a lot of attractions in Dublin this will add up fast.
20. Find Freebies!
Take advantage of the freebies. As a rule of thumb, anything with the word “national” in front of it will be free. For instance. the National Museum of Ireland: Archeology and Natural History are two great museums that you could spend all day in and the best part is that they are free!
I really enjoyed the museum of archeology and there are so many great artifacts to see that show Ireland’s rich history. Another great freebie is Trinity College. It’s a popular tourist attraction because it houses the Book of Kells which is a must-see in my opinion.
There is a fee to see the Book of Kells but it’s free to walk around the grounds and take in the views of the college. You will also be able to see the famous “Sphere within Sphere” sculpture which is a great photo opportunity.
Another free option is St. Stevens Green. If you walk south through Grafton Street you will walk right up to St. Steven’s Green which is a wonderful park to spend the afternoon feeding the ducks and geese or to just relax and enjoy the scenery.
21. Pay in Euros
Don’t be charged in USD. In many shops and souvenir stores, they will ask you if you want your card to be charged in euro or in USD. In my opinion, you should ALWAYS choose the euro instead of USD.
Like I said earlier the fees charged by my bank were very minimal but I can’t speak for everyone. That being said if you let them charge your card in USD they will use a conversion rate higher than the current rate between the euro and USD. For me the charges were minimal and I always chose euro because I would only be charged in basically pocket change to use my credit card.
Only once or twice did I spend enough to get charges over a dollar. While paying for a day tour online it asked me if I wanted to charge my card in euro or USD and I did the conversion and found out that if I had chosen to charge my card in USD instead of euro I would have paid about $4-$5 more because of the “convenience” fee.
Don’t ask me why they do this, but it’s not because they are trying to trick you. In fact, I doubt any of the cashiers know that it’s better to charge your card in the euro. Doing this saved me a couple bucks here and there but don’t forget to talk to your bank before you head out.
22. Get Euros Locally from the ATM
Wait until you get to Dublin to get euros. As I previously stated my ATM fees were minimal in Ireland and this is one of my favorite travel tips for Dublin. Most people will tell you to wait until you get into Dublin to use an ATM, but for me the fees were about the same at the airport with maybe a difference of a couple of cents.
I only used Ulster Bank and the Bank of Ireland because I wanted to deal with the bigger banks in case anything went wrong. A word of advice, keep all your receipts because you never know when you might need them if things don’t work out between banks.
Don’t try and get euros in the states because chances are your bank will charge you a fee and the kiosks at the airports don’t offer a very good conversion rate. It is advised to use all your cash before you leave because if you exchange it you won’t get the full value back.
Tips for Traveling Outside of Dublin
23. It’s Okay to Use Gas & Convenient Stores
Don’t be afraid to take advantage of gas station/convenient stores on the road. In Ireland I found them to be very clean. In fact, the bathrooms were cleaner than most of the other public restrooms I used. The food is also cheaper and good for any meal or a snack and many of them have a deli section like you would find in a supermarket. I bought breakfast and lunch many times from places like these when I left Dublin and I never had any complaints. If you are trying to save money on the road then don’t be afraid to make a quick pit stop if you need it.
24. Watch Your Purse & Wallet
Be careful with your money in the north. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and the conversion rate is even worse than the euro because they use the pound as currency. For example, a dinner that costs 10 pounds will cost you $16 USD at the current conversion rate (Nov. 2014). There are a lot of great things to see in the north so don’t let the change in currency deter you from seeing all the great things the north has to offer.
25. Renting a Car in Ireland
Car or no car? Are you traveling alone or with a group? If you are traveling alone I wouldn’t recommend getting a car by yourself. You will be paying about 120 euro/week for the cheapest car give or take a few euros.
Not to mention the price of gas will be higher than what you would be used to in the states. Chances are you will pay about $6-$8 a gallon depending on all the factors that go into prices. If you are traveling in a group then this is a more affordable option because you can split the cost between people.
If you do rent a car I would recommend buying insurance for the rental car considering in Ireland you will be driving on the other side of the road and on the right side of the car. This can lead to confusion and it’s better to have insurance in case you accidentally turn the wrong way and cause an accident. Not to mention in rural Ireland the roads are very narrow and the locals drive fast.
Related Post: 12 Things To Know When Renting a Car in Ireland
Even on the bus, I would cringe when we would pass someone because you could basically high-five the person driving in the other lane. I’m usually not a big fan of buying insurance, but in this case, the peace of mind you will get will help with the stress of driving on the other side of the road.
26. Cash is King
Make sure to have cash on you. Usually, people will want you to pay for small things like drinks and snacks with cash instead of cards. In fact, there are some places and attractions that will only take cash. This is much more important when you leave Dublin and head out to more rural areas since ATM’s aren’t always abundant. In Ireland, they use a chip and pin card system vs. our swipe and pin set up in America. A lot of the entrance fees to attractions outside the city are cash only and you should always take at least 50 euro with you wherever you go just in case of emergencies. There is also and
In Ireland, they use a chip and pin card system vs. our swipe and pin set up in America. A lot of the entrance fees to attractions outside the city are cash only and you should always take at least 50 euro with you wherever you go just in case of emergencies.
There is also an international fee charged to your card that is usually added by your bank depending on what kind of bank or card you are using of course. I have an account with a credit union and the fees were usually less than $1 unless I bought something expensive. Occasionally you will have to pay an extra fee for using a card in places like hostels.
I had to pay a $5 USD fee on a 300 euro bill with my card. ATM fees were minimal for me, and I want to say they were about 1%. Always check with your bank and ask questions along with letting them know you are traveling so your card doesn’t get blocked for suspected fraudulent charges (another good reason to have cash).
27. Look for Vacation Packages
Consider a vacation package. This might seem like it would break the bank, but purchasing a vacation package can be surprisingly affordable. For example, Groupon and other sites offer great deals on vacation packages.
Groupon quite frequently offers airfare, accommodation in a castle, and a car for under $1,000. If it’s not on Groupon check www.greatvaluevacations.com for the deal as well as other affordable options. Living Social is a great site too as well as www.aerlingusvacationstore.com/. Personally, I went the hostel route because I wanted to stay for at least two weeks, but if you only want to stay for a week or less then I recommend you don’t shy away from vacations packages because you can find some incredible deals if you look hard enough.
There you have it, these are my top 27 Travel Tips for Dublin. Hope these help to save you money in Dublin and traveling throughout Ireland. Ireland is a beautiful country with kind, charming people and a rich history that is often overlooked. However it’s not exactly a cheap destination, but don’t let that deter you from visiting because if you are careful with your money and plan ahead you can easily make it a much more affordable place to visit.
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