Dublin is one of our favourite cities, we bloody love it. It is however also one of the most expensive cities in Europe. So on a recent weekend in Dublin we were determined to do Dublin on a budget.
Dublin On A Budget
So here we’re going to share all our best Dublin travel tips to help you with planning a trip to Ireland on a budget. We’ll include the cheapest way to get to Dublin, the cheapest time to travel to Ireland and cheap places to stay in Dublin.
Plus cheap and free things to do in Dublin, how to get around Dublin on the cheap, Dublin cheap eats and lots more helpful information about visiting Dublin on a shoestring.
How to place cheap Dublin breaks – here we go!
What Does A Trip To Dublin Cost?
For 2 nights and 3 days in Dublin, we managed to keep our trip to Dublin cost down to just £250 GBP / $350 USD. Pretty good right?
And that’s including everything. Flights to Dublin, accommodation in Dublin, eating out in Dublin and all the Dublin activities we did.
We had a cracking time as usual in Dublin, proving that even while on a mission do Dublin on a budget you don’t have to scrimp on the fun.
Cheapest Way To Get To Dublin
Obviously the cheapest way to get to Dublin is very dependent upon where you are travelling from. But we’ll cover all the different ways here and how to find the cheapest tickets.
And whichever method of travel you choose to get to Dublin Ireland, you will always get the most reasonable prices the further in advance you book.
And also by being as flexible as you can with dates and times. Generally speaking it will always be more expensive to take a weekend trip to Dublin rather than go mid-week.
Bus and Train Travel in Ireland
Being a small country, if you’re travelling to Dublin from within the country, you’re best option is to just jump on a bus or a train. We always use Omio.com to find the best prices.
Flights to Dublin
If you’re arriving from Europe, there’s several low cost airlines that fly into Dublin airport from most major cities. Irish owned, Ryanair typically have the most frequent and cheapest flights to Ireland. But Easyjet, Flybe and Aer Lingus also have plenty of flights to Dublin.
If you’re travelling from further afield we recommend comparing the best prices through a flight comparison site. We always use Kiwi.com. Because if you miss a connecting flight they guarantee to put you on the next one.
The cheapest time to fly to Ireland is generally outside of peak times. So midweek on early or late flights. However if you book flights to Dublin far enough in advance you can get some great weekend deals.
For example, we booked our flights around 3 months in advance and found return tickets to England with Ryanair for just £45 GBP ($63USD) each.
Another way to save money on your flights to Dublin is to travel carry on luggage only.
Ferry To Dublin
Your other alternative for cheap travel to Dublin from outside the country is to take a ferry to Ireland. From mainland Britain, there are two ports from which you can take a ferry to Dublin.
Holyhead in Wales and Liverpool in England.
The crossing from Holyhead to Dublin is around 3 hours and services from Holyhead port are operated by Stena Line and Irish Ferries.
The Liverpool to Dublin ferry is operated by P&O ferries and will take around 8 hours.
Depending on how far in advance you book, a return passenger ticket will typically cost around £65 GBP ($91USD). You can compare prices for specific dates here.
Don’t forget that you need to factor in the cost of getting the ferry port. If you’re not nearby, Rail & Sail tickets are good options for Dublin budget travel.
These include train travel to Holyhead port from UK mainline train stations, and the ferry trip over to Dublin Port. Depending on how far in advance you book you can find deals for less that £40 GBP ($52 USD) one way.
Obviously this method of travel Dublin will take longer than flying.
But these are especially good options for if you do want to take pets or more than carry on luggage. Stena Line ferries don’t have any luggage limitations and Irish Ferries allow two 22kg suitcases per person.
You can find out more about Rail & Sail tickets here.
Cheapest Time To Travel To Ireland
The timing of your visit will play a big part in how much your trip to Dublin costs.
Winter is by far the cheapest time to travel to Ireland. However it is also the coldest time and by cold, we mean crap grey rainy weather. The most popular time to visit is in summer during July and August. This is when prices for everything are at their highest.
We suggest therefore that Spring or Fall are good times to travel to Dublin on a budget.
Dublin has quite a few festivals happening throughout the year so do check ahead for those too, because accommodation especially will shoot up around those times.
And as with flights to Dublin, you will generally find better deals on accommodation by visiting Dublin during the week as opposed to Dublin weekend breaks
Cheap Places To Stay In Dublin
Exactly the same as with transport options for getting to Dublin, you will always be more likely to find cheap Dublin accommodation deals if you book well in advance.
Now when it comes to cheap places to stay in Dublin, hostels are always going to come up trumps. But if that’s not your travelling style, don’t worry because you can nab some great deals on cheap Dublin B&B’s and budget Dublin hotels too.
Here’s our pick of the bunch when it comes to where to stay in Dublin on a budget.
Cheap & Cheerful Dublin Hostels
If you haven’t stayed in a hostel before some people can be put off by this cheap accommodation Dublin thinking it’s just for the young un’s who like to party. But not so, all of these Dublin hostels also have private rooms too.
Located next door to the Jameson Distillery, in the trendy neighbourhood of Smithfield with Dublin Castle, the Guinness Storehouse and Temple Bar all less than 15 minutes walk away.
There’s comfortable and spacious dorm rooms, private rooms or family rooms, a delicious traditional breakfast for a small extra cost and a 24 hour reception and lounge with good WiFi.
Situated on Aston Quay and overlooking the River Liffey, Temple Bar, Trinity College and Grafton Street are just a few minutes walk away from this Dublin hostel.
There’s private and dorm rooms, each of which have an en-suite shower and toilet. There’s a well equipped self catering kitchen and multiple communal chill out areas with good WiFi.
The Times Hostel
Tucked down a side street next to St Stephen’s Green, this cheap Dublin accommodation is just 10 minutes walk from the centre of the action in Temple Bar and Grafton Street.
There’s dorm and private rooms. good WiFi, 24 hour reception and a communal lounge equipped with a TV and board games. Plus a continental breakfast is included in the price.
Affordable Hotels Dublin
When it comes to budget hotels Dublin, there are a number of good quality. However the ones within walking distance of the city centre get booked up well in advance.
Conveniently located, this 2-star family-run Dublin budget hotel is a 20 minute walk from Dublin points of interest such as Temple Bar, Dublin Castle and Grafton Street.
There’s single, double, twin and triple rooms, a licenced bar to relax in and for a small additional cost, you can start each day with a traditional Irish breakfast in the dining room.
Jurys Inn Dublin Parnell Street
Just around the corner from O’Connell Street, this comfortable and affordable Dublin hotel is centrally located with a less than 15 minutes walk to the Temple Bar District.
All rooms have en suite bathrooms with complimentary toiletries and tea and coffee making facilities. Plus a full Irish hot and cold breakfast buffet is included in the price.
Overlooking the Grand Canal and located on a direct link bus route, this affordable Dublin hotel is also less than a 25 minute walk to Temple Bar, Grafton Street and Dublin Castle.
Spacious rooms feature TVs, hairdryers, tea/coffee-making facilities, ensuite bathrooms with free toiletries and a good breakfast is included in the price.
Getting Around Dublin On The Cheap
Dublin Airlink Express
From the airport into Dublin city centre there’s a really easy and cost effective public bus called Airlink Express, which costs €12 Euro (£11 GBP/$15 USD) for a return ticket.
It runs two routes, the 747 to Heuston Station and the 757 to Camden, both of which go through Temple Bar. You can check the routes, times and buy tickets in advance here.
As Dublin Airport is located just 6 miles from the city centre of Dublin, the journey’s pretty quick and you’ll be there in around half an hour.
Depending on where you are staying in Dublin, the city is quite small so it’s quite manageable to explore most of it on foot. For serious budget travel in Dublin, that’s going to be your best bet.
However there are a few popular Dublin attractions such as Kilmainham Gaol, Phoenix Park, Glasnevin Cemetery and The National Botanic Gardens that are just outside the city centre.
Or may also just prefer to maximise your time by getting around points of interest in Dublin more quickly than you can by walking.
In which cases your best option for saving money in Dublin is to get yourself a DoDublin card.
The DoDublin Card basically an all-in-one sightseeing and transport ticket that lasts for 72 hours.
It includes transfers from Dublin Airport on the Airlink Express, access to the DoDublin hop-on hop-off tour bus with guided tours and rides on all Dublin public buses.
You get free entry to the excellent Little Museum of Dublin and a Free Pat Liddy Walking tour of Dublin included. Plus discounted access to the Guinness storehouse, Jameson Distillery, EPIC Irish Emigration Museum and GPO Witness History Visitor Centre.
Obviously the free and discounted access to those Dublin attractions will only save you money if you were planning on visiting them anyway. But if you are it’s such a good deal if you’re after visiting Dublin on a budget.
But it does also include discounts at a few pubs and restaurants. Plus if you fancy getting out of Dublin City Centre you can jump on the bus to the pretty Irish village of Howth.
TFI Leap Card Dublin
Alternatively if you know you’re interested in accessing any of the free or discounted Dublin attractions that comes with the DoDublin Card you can just pick up a regular travel card.
You can pay by exact cash on the Dublin public transport System, however using a Leap Card is upto 31% cheaper than cash single tickets.
You can buy TFI Leap Cards online in advance and have them delivered to your home address. Or there’s authorised vendors at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of Dublin airport and multiple places throughout Dublin City. Just look out for the ‘Leap Card’ logos.
There’s a €5 refundable deposit required for each card and a minimum top up of €5 per card. And you should download the Transport For Ireland Journey Planner App.
Handily if you’re travelling elsewhere in Ireland they can also be used on in Galway, Cork, Limerick and Waterford too.
Dublin Bike Scheme
Another popular way of getting around Dublin other than on foot is to take advantage of the Dublin Bike Scheme. Visitors to Dublin can grab a three day ticket.
Dublin Bike Scheme offers a three-day ticket for visitors for just €5. The first 30 minutes of your rides are free then €0.50 for an hour, €1.50 for 2 hours, €3.50 for 3 hours and €6.50 for 4 hours.
However if you’re canny and going further than a 30 minute ride you can just switch the bike out for another at one of the many bike stations situated around the city.
Here’s the list of bike stations, the ones marked with asterixis are credit card enabled so you’ll need to head to one of those first to buy your card.
Dublin Hop On Hop Off Buses
You can also buy 24/48 hour tickets separately for the Dublin Hop On Hop Buses, if you’d prefer to do that.
This deal includes the Airport Link Transfer & 48 Hour Hop On Hop Off and this one you can choose from either a 24 hours or 48 hour Hour Hop On Hop Off Bus Ticket.
Dublin Cheap Eats
There’s no doubt that eating out in Dublin can be expensive. However Dublin travel tips at the ready, there are also plenty of Dublin cheap eats to be found in the city.
One of our best tips for doing Dublin on a budget is not to eat out at restaurants 3 times a day.
If the place you’re staying has brekkie included, you’re already quids in. But even if it’s extra it’s often cheaper to add to it on, than eat out elsewhere.
Plus if you have a substantial breakfast you likely won’t want three big meals. In which case you can nip into a supermarket and grab something to take away for a few quid for one meal.
There’s an Aldi on Parnell Street, three Lidl’s and numerous Tesco’s. All of which sell good quality fresh produce at low prices. Lidl and some Tesco’s have great bakery sections too.
Then for another meal treat yourself to one of our fav cheap places to eat in Dublin.
Beanhive Cafe: You definitely won’t be hungry for a good while after breakfast at this busy cafe at the side of St Stephen’s Green.
Gerry’s Cafe: A no frills kinda place, the owner here not only knows how to cook a good fry up but his stews are legendary too. As is the price for such a central Southside location.
White Moose Cafe: This controversial cafe in Phibsborough does some of the best and most reasonably priced brunches in Dublin. You just might want to leave your morals at the door.
Umi Falafel: With a few locations all over Dublin City, this spot for cheap eats in Dublin is great for a filling and healthy lunch.
Eatyard: When Northside of the city from 12pm Thursday to Sunday you’ll want to check out this permanent street food market.
Generator Hostel: If you’re Smithfield way and fancy an award winning yet seriously good priced burger check out the restaurant in this hostel.
777: Head to this Mexican Cantina & Tequila Cocktail Bar in Temple Bar on Sundays when all the dishes are a bargain price of €7.77.
Madina: Not only does this Northside restaurant boast some of the best curries in Dublin, you can also get one for just over a tenner.
Green 19: After a reasonably priced Irish Sunday roast? This Southside place near St Stephen’s Green definitely makes the best cheap eats Dublin list.
Beshoff: Another of the best cheap restaurants in Dublin is this Northside fish and chip gaff. Pick up one of their hearty fish burgers for a great lunch.
Free Things To Do In Dublin Ireland
Okay so you’ve got your cheap transport booked, scored a great price on accommodation and scoped out where you fancy eating. Now to plan what to do in Dublin.
So how expensive is Dublin? Well unfortunately, very, if you don’t go with a plan. I ordered a pint of Guinness in one pub and my jaw nearly hit the bar when I was asked for €8 Euro (£7 GBP/$10 USD).
The good news is there are lots of things to do in Dublin for free. Ready for more Dublin travel tips?
Self-Guided Dublin Street Art Tour
Dublinwalls.com has four different Dublin street art routes of varying length to explore including artists such as Banksy, KinMx, Dan Leo, James Earley and Bordalo. It’s one of the best fun free things to do in Dublin.
Dublin’s Talking Statues
Download the map and make your way around 10 of Ireland’s most influential historical figures. Such as Daniel O’Connell, the prominent Catholic rights campaigner and Oscar Wilde, the famous Irish poet and playwright.
At each statue simply scan the QR code and you’ll receive a call from the statue to tell you their role in Ireland’s history. Sightseeing in Dublin for free, tick.
Stroll Around The Parks
If the weather’s nice enough during your budget trip to Ireland, there’s some cracking outdoor space to enjoy. Our favourites are St Stephen’s Green, Merrion Square and The Botanical Gardens and Phoenix Park. All are free to enter.
But The Botanical Gardens has free guided tours on Sundays at 12pm or 2.30pm. The rest of the time they are €5 Euro* (£4.40 GBP/$6.20 USD) per person.
[* = covered by The Dublin Pass – more on that in the next section]
And you can also score a free tour of the President’s residence in Phoenix Park on Saturdays from 10.30am, every hour, until 3.30pm. You can’t book ahead, it’s a first come first served basis and you’ll need ID.
Ashtown Castle in Phoenix Park is free to explore too, making Phoenix Park a double whammy when it comes to what to do in Dublin for free.
Grafton & O’Connell Streets
Grafton Street is Dublin’s main shopping street and is lined with buskers belting out tunes, it has a beautiful energy. Although this is one of the things to do in Dublin for free, if you stick around to listen be sure to chuck the musicians a couple of quid – especially if you film them.
O’Connell Street is the main thoroughfare of Dublin running north from Temple Bar, over the River Liffey and past many of the most popular free attractions in Dublin.
You’ll see the General Post Office, with its bullet holes from Ireland’s fight for independence in 1916, and the Millennium Spire. Also nicknamed locally as the Stiletto in the Ghetto or Stiffey in the Liffey, the 120m high, pin like monument waves around in the wind.
Another pretty of the places to visit in Dublin Ireland for free is nearby Henrietta Street. The houses are simply gorgeous.
River Liffey & Its Bridges
There are a number of bridges that cross the River Liffey which runs through the centre of the city, but the most picturesque has to be the Victorian Ha’penny Bridge.
There’s an ongoing battle between Dublin council and tourists trying to claim it as a love lock bridge. So depending on when you visit you’ll find a varying number of padlocks on it.
Trinity College & The Book of Kells
An elaborate and ornate collection of beautiful buildings. Trinity College is part of a trilogy of prestigious universities that include the University of Cambridge and The University of Oxford in England.
You can just go in and wander around the grounds for free and see the Campanile of Trinity College, one of Ireland’s most famous landmarks. It’s not free to go inside however because the Book of Kells is here, in the gorgeous Trinity College Library.
It’s free to wander around the outside of the Dublin Castle complex and pretty Dubh Linn Garden. The buildings, all added at different times, range from medieval to Georgian and are a mismatch of natural stonework and brightly coloured render.
Absolutely one of the best free things to do in Dublin.
Originally a viking church and more than 1000 years old, the grand medieval Christ Church Cathedral is another of Dublin’s signature must see buildings.
In the crypt there’s a rather peculiar exhibition of a mummified cat and rat, known locally as Tom & Jerry. The story goes that the cat chased the rat up an organ pipe and become stuck.
There are self guided* tours, or alternatively you can go in when there’s a public service for free. But not into the crypt though.
[* = covered by The Dublin Pass – more on that in the next section]
Then there’s St Patrick’s Cathedral, founded in 1191. With it’s 43 metre spire it’s the tallest church in Ireland. Same deal, if you want to add it to free places to visit in Dublin, you’ll need to go during a service. Outside of that admission is €8.
Even if you’re budget doesn’t allow for much shopping, Dublin’s market are still great places to have a wander around and take in the culture of the city.
The Temple Bar Book Market that takes place every weekend and is great for bookworms and vinyl music fans. The much larger Dublin Flea Market that takes place on the last Sunday of each month is also worth a look at. It has live music, food stalls and plenty of bargains.
George’s Street Arcade is an enclosed Victorian market with over 50 stalls ranging from tarot reading to freshly cold pressed juices. And then you have the Designer Mart at Cow’s Lane stocked with bespoke pieces from independent Irish and Ireland-based designers.
Sandemans Free Walking Tour
This is kind of falls under the free stuff to do in Dublin, but not really. There’s no fee upfront, but the tour guides work on a tip basis so you pay them for what you think the tours worth.
I’ve been on two now and really enjoyed them because they give you a much deeper insight to the city than you’ll get from just wandering around on your own.
I gave a tip of €10 Euro (£9 GBP/ $12 USD) which I think is more than reasonable for a good quality 3 hour tour. You can reserve your spot here.
Unless you’ve gotten a DoDublin Card that is, then don’t because you already have a walking tour included in that package.
Free Museums in Dublin
When it comes to free stuff Dublin, Museums in the Irish capital have got it going on because most of the popular have no charge. And there’s a huge variety too so you’ll definitely find something to match your interests.
Chester Beatty Library
Just outside Dublin Castle this free Dublin museum is one of the best in the whole of Europe. It houses the beguiling collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, it’s definitely worth stopping by.
Dublin Science Gallery
Part of Trinity College Dublin, this museum always has fascinating and interactive exhibitions.
The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)
Located inside the stunning 17th-century Royal Hospital Kilmainham, this museum houses over 3,500 international pieces of modern and contemporary art.
Plus every Wednesday at 1.15pm and Saturdays/Sundays at 2.30pm there’s a free 30 minute tour general.
The National Gallery of Ireland
With over 16,000 artworks stretching back to the 14th Century, there’s a lot of history here. And there’s a free audio tour that will walk you through the permanent collections, including influential Irish pieces.
The National History Museum
Also known as the Dead Zoo. From tiny insects to huge whales there are 10,000 displays over 4 floors. Including some of Ireland’s most endangered and extinct species.
The National Archaeology Museum
This museum has a collection dating back to the prehistoric era with the most fascinating being the mummified bodies that were preserved in Ireland’s peat bogs.
Howth Hill Walking
If you have enough time and fancy getting out of Dublin City, a trip onto the Howth Peninsula. Howth is a beautiful village and there’s some cracking views from the hills overlooking the Irish Sea and Dublin Bay.
There’s also a cracking market there open everyday. Plus if you’ve nabbed yourself and DoDublin card your transport there and back is covered.
Cheap Things To Do In Dublin
Before we get into this section here is a good time to mention the Dublin Pass. Valid for 1-5 days it includes skip the queue entry to 33 of Dublin’s top attractions, discounts in some restaurants, a 24-hour ticket for Dublin hop-on hop-off bus tour, a map and guidebook.
If you are planning on visiting many of the Dublin activities on it’s list it will definitely be worth your while. To help you decide if it’s for you, we’ll mark the things to do in Dublin on a budget that we mention below with an asterix if they are included.
From the last section on free attractions in Dublin, it’s worth noting that the Dublin Pass covers the cost of the Christ Church Cathedral and National Botanic Gardens tours.
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum*
Located in Dublin’s Docklands this new museum provides an interaction connection with Ireland’s history and culture. Covering the emigration of Irish people to other countries, it was voted Europe’s leading tourist attraction in 2019.
Dublin Writers Museum*
Ireland’s literature is renowned the world over and in this magnificent 18th century mansion you’ll find works from all the Irish literary greats spanning 300 years. So if Irish literature interests you this will be a must for your cheap things to do in Dublin itinerary.
Glasnevin Cemetery & Museum*
This historical tour through Dublin’s most prestigious cemetery, will give you a dynamic interpretation of Ireland’s history told through the lives of the high profile people buried here.
You can of course just go on your own for free if your budget prefers, but you’ll miss the dramatic backstories.
Little Museum of Dublin*
The number one museum in Ireland, not just Dublin, this place, located in an 18th-century Georgian town house really does bring the history of Ireland to life.
If you have got a 72 hour DoDublin card remember entry to the Little Museum of Dublin is included in that.
Of course you might just be planning a trip to Dublin for the Guinness and who could blame you.
We certainly done that before! And whilst it isn’t the cheapest, the Guinness Storehouse is high up on most Dublin visitors itineraries – but you do get a free pint with a cracking view.
Old Jameson Distillery*
Likewise if you’re a whisky fan it will be hard to pass up stopping by the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street. The original Jameson Distillery, a visit here includes a tour of the premises and a complimentary whiskey or whiskey cocktail.
The Bow Street Distillery was established in 1780. But after nearly 200 years, in 1975, Jameson expanded their operation and moved it to Midleton in County Cork. If you’re down that way you can alternatively visit the Midleton Distillery.
Teeling Whisky Distillery Tour*
Another for the whiskey fans, this Dublin Distillery is relatively new, having only opened in 2015. But they’re not new to the craft, in fact they’ve been making whiskey since 1782. But interestingly this is the first new distillery to have opened in Dublin in 125 years.
If you know that you definitely want to visit a handful of these, especially the Guinness Storehouse or the Whiskey experiences, your best option for doing Dublin on a budget will be to get yourself a Dublin Pass.
Many Irish revolutionaries, were imprisoned in this former prison, now a museum. If you want to learn about the intense and turbulent and quite frankly violent history between Ireland and England, this is the place to be, with much of the history written within these walls.
Just make sure you book ahead because it is the number one thing to do in Dublin on Tripadvisor right now and everyone and their dog wants to experience it. You can book your tickets online here.
GPO Witness History Museum
Another good place to learn more about the war for independence is the iconic General Post Office on O’Connell Street. Used as the headquarters for the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, it is now a working post office.
So you can go inside for free, but discovering the tumultuous history of the building through the interactive visitor attraction in the basement is one of the best cheap things to do in Dublin.
Just off Grafton Street, this mansion turned Boutique mall in Dublin’s Creative Quarter with it’s independent shops is one of the best spots for picking up some unique souvenirs.
Dublin Comedy Show
One of the best things to do in Dublin on a budget is go to a comedy show and recommend Chaplins Comedy Club. For €10 Euro (£9 GBP / $12.50 USD) you get a two hour show. It’s an excellent price and the compere is seriously hilarious.
A quick google search will bring up a tonne of alternative comedy clubs though. If there’s one thing that Dublin loves as much as its live music, it’s comedy.
Listen To Live Music
Speaking of live music you’ll be hard pushed to avoid it in Dublin. It. Is. Everywhere. And. It. Is. The. Best. It’s a toss up between the music and the Guinness as to what is my favourite thing about Dublin. It’s probably a combination of both, at the same time to be fair.
Here’s some recommendations to start you off, The Porterhouse on Parliament Street, BadAss and The Old Storehouse on Crown Alley, The Brazen Head on Lower Bridge Street and Whelan’s on Merrion Row. They are all fantastic.
Smock Alley Theatre
Dublin’s oldest theatre, this intimate space in Temple Bar always puts on a good show at reasonable prices. Tickets usually cost €10 Euro (£9 GBP / $12.50 USD) are there’s wide range of shows with some great actors. You can check listings and book tickets here.
Recommended Ireland Guide Books
Travelling Elsewhere In Ireland?
You might find some of our other Ireland city guides helpful:
- Your Complete Guide To Killarney
- Why Include Sligo On Your Irish Itinerary
- All The Best Things To Do in Derry
- 33 Stellar Things To Do In Galway
Ireland Travel Insurance
Even though Ireland is one of the safest countries in the world, we don’t recommend travelling anywhere without a good quality travel insurance in place.
Our go to travel insurance provider is World Nomads. They have a no bullshit approach to policy wording & you can even buy a policy even if you’ve already set off on your travels.
Get a no obligation quote here: