As far as European cities go, Dublin is surprisingly on the more expensive end. While it’s no London or Paris, some things will seem pricier here. For instance, according to these guys, restaurant prices are higher in Dublin than in Paris. And you’ll pay more for alcoholic drinks here too.
Luckily after living in Dublin for almost 1 year, I found a few tricks to make the city more affordable. Here is your ultime guide to exploring Dublin on a budget.
Dublin Travel Guide
Before you travel
Flights: Dublin has been a popular tourist destination for decades now, so you’ll be spoiled for choice when choosing your airline. For budget flights, consider flying with Ryanair, Vueling, Eurowings, Cityjet and Lufthansa. Aer Lingus, the national airline, also offers some great deals throughout the year.
Visa: Ireland makes it pretty easy for most people from around the world to visit the country. Check out this (extensive) list of countries that don’t require a visa do enter Ireland. EU citizens: don’t forget Ireland isn’t in the Schengen Area so you’ll have to bring your passport along!
Best times to visit: Dublin gets a bad rap for being heavily rainy year-round but, from experience, that’s definitely more of a myth. I would advise against visiting in the winter as the sun sets very early (like 4pm) which seriously limits the amount of daylight you’re going to get. In the summer months, even though it never gets very warm (think low 20s ºC / high 60s ºF), you’ll have a stupid amount of daylight to explore the city and its surroundings since the sun can set as late as 10pm!
FREE Things to See & Do
Some things are more expensive in Dublin, but the good news is you can do many things for free in the city as well! Here are all the places you can visit and things you can do in Dublin without having to pull out your wallet:
Visit the National Gallery: If you’re the artsy type, you’ll love discovering the history and culture of Ireland through its collection of national art. European art is also featured here with an impressive display of Italian Baroque and Dutch masters paintings.
See how the President lives at Aras an Uachtaráin: The official residence of the President is located in Phoenix Park and has this
weird and difficult to pronounce Celtic name. You can tour it for free every Saturday from 10:30am.
Visit the Irish Museum of Modern Art: Once a hospital for wounded soldiers, the Irish Museum of Modern Art is Ireland’s leading institution for modern and contemporary art.
Learn hands-on at the Science Gallery: The various exhibitions at the Science Gallery are always changing. But they all offer a fun and practical way to learn about science and see how it applies to our daily lives.
Enjoy a picnic at the park: Dublin is a cosmopolitan city but it’s filled with green spaces. St. Stephen’s Green, Phoenix Park, St. Anne’s Park and the underrated Iveagh Gardens are just some of the places you can explore in the city.
Visit the National Museum of Ireland: Dublin is home to the three different branches of the National Museum of Ireland. You can discover all about Ireland’s history and culture by visiting the National Museum of Ireland: Decorative Arts & History, National Museum of Ireland: Natural History, and National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology.
Take a self-guided iWalk: We all know “Free Walking Tour” really means “tip me at the end or else” (and rightly so!). But if you absolutely need a 100% free guided walking tour of Dublin, download the Dublin Discovery Trails App on the iStore or Google Play and explore the city on your own two feet!
Other Money-Saving Tips in Dublin
Unfortunately, not everything is free in Dublin. But there are plenty of easy ways you can save money while you’re visiting!
Getting into the city: From the aiport, there are a couple of ways to get into the city. One of the most affordable ways is to take the Dublin bus (Route 16, Direction: Ballinteer). The bus stops at Trinity College, leaving you in the city center for just €3.30. For a more convenient yet still affordable option, you can take the Airlink 747 which can drop you off at different points in the city, including over 50 hotels for €6 one-way and €15 return.
Getting Around: Dublin is a big city, but its city center (i.e. where you’ll find all of the main tourist atractions) is quite compact making it super easy to get around on foot. But if you want to get everywhere quickly (or be sheltered from the rain on your way), the Dublin bus system is the best way to get around the city. You can buy a 5-day bus pass (called a Rambler) for just €30. Find more info on that here.
Eating Out: Eating at most of Dublin’s delicious restaurants can quickly take a toll on your travel budget. Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to save some euros during yor visit. For starters, watch out for “Early Bird” Specials – they’re usually adverstised on a chalk board right outside the entrance to most restaurants. Dine early (before 5pm ish) and you can get as much as 50% off the regular price. If eating early isn’t your thing but you still want to eat well and cheap, you can always grab a bite at one of Dublin’s many pubs. I highly reccommend O’Neills Bar & Restaurant!
Going Out: So we’ve talked about how alcohol here is a bit expensive by European standards. But that doesn’t mean you have to go bankrupt when you go out. Definitely avoid Temple Bar: if alcohol is pricier in general, it will be even more so here where all the tourists gather at night. Visit Temple Bar during the day (it’s a very cool place to photograph and discover Dublin’s art scene). When the sun goes down, head to Baggott Street, South William Street or Camden Street to grab a pint (or two) without having to worry about your travel budget.
Do you have any other tips to keep a visit to Dublin on the cheap side? I’d love to know in the comments below!