In order to fund my expensive habit of going to as many places as humanely possible, I have had to develop some tactics to visit places on a budget.
I am yet to perfect the art of not thinking with my stomach, so I haven’t quite figured out how to save money on food yet (as you can read about in my guide to New York, where I blew all my money on eating but found some really great free things to do), but have become pretty savvy at spending minimal amounts on attractions and transport, while still enjoying all a city has to offer. I visited Dublin on a budget last summer (yet still managed to spend a large percentage of my spending money on food… i’m working on it).
When I told people I’d booked an impulsive trip to the capital of Ireland after finding flights for £50 on skyscanner, everyone’s response was pretty similar… I hope you have a lot of money. Apparently, Ireland’s expensive and the capital’s even more dear. People advised me that if I was venturing into more rural Ireland, the prices do go down a little. But in Dublin? No way Jose.
Ever the optimist, I replied that as I was only going for two days and am used to London prices, so it couldn’t be that bad… Could it? Is Dublin on a budget possible?
Here’s my recap of how much I spent in Dublin in two days…
We very sleepily landed in Dublin airport at 7:30am, but managed to immediately jump on a bus. We bought an airport transfer plus 2 day hop on hop off bus pass as part of a deal in the airport for 20€. Not a bad deal, especially as the bus dropped us off right outside the hostel we’d booked.
We stayed at Jacobs Inn, a fantastic hostel for the price we paid. A 12 bed dorm felt incredibly spacious and it had lots of room to store our belongings – if you want to know what you’ll need to bring to visit Dublin and the surrounding country check out this Ireland packing list.
The place was massive, and a 12 Bed dorm felt incredibly spacious. It wasn’t the most social hostel I’ve stayed in, but then again we were only there for 2 nights on holiday – we hardly spent any time there.
A dorm was €12.50 a night which included a basic breakfast. The only catch was that to rent a locker was €2 extra per night. Still, for a reasonably central hostel in Dublin, we thought it was a pretty good deal.
After this, the only things we spent money on were food or drinks. We managed to pass our time quite well without having to pay for attractions (although that said, a main attraction in Dublin is drinking!) We spent the morning of the first day on the hop on hop off bus, finding it pleasant enough to just sit for an hour and a half and look at the city. There’s quite a lot to see on foot in the capital too- we enjoyed a walk around trinity college and (being avid English students) went to see the Oscar Wilde statue and memorials. We also got into the little museum of Dublin for free with our bus tickets, which was very interesting and gave a real insight to Dublin in the last century.
Although we managed to spend a fair amount on food and drink as we ate out twice both days, it didn’t break the bank. On the first day we found a good lunch deal from a Mexican and Italian themed restaurant appropriately titled Mexico to Rome, which had gluten free pasta and bread. We got a starter, main and glass of wine for under €10. For dinner we spent a little more; we found an authentic Irish pub serving a carvery on the first night, where we got a plate piled high with food for €11, and we had tapas on the second night, where the bill came to €25 each, but that was with a glass of wine and a cocktail each as well.
It was drinking that put the biggest dent in my travel money envelope. Typically, a glass of wine or a spirit and mixer set us back 7€, and a cocktail was anything between 10-12€. In true backpacker style we drank a small bottle of vodka each before going out to avoid spending all our money in clubs. (Which cost €5 to get in, this was on a Tuesday).
A little bit more transport..
Lastly, we couldn’t make use of the bus on our return to the airport as we had to leave at the painful time of 4am… But the hostel offered a handy shuttle service for just 7€!
So, in two days I spent…
25€ on accomodation (plus 2€ locker fee)
20€ on attractions
7€ on transport
60€ on food (including tips)
50€ ish on drink and club entry
At €164 (£129.53 plus £50 flights = a grand total of £179.53), I could definitely have a cheaper couple of days. But we could have cut the costs in half by buying food (they have tesco there) for dinner and lunch and maybe just limiting ourselves to the one glass of wine… We could easily have spent the same amount in London.
Dublin was a great place, and I’d recommend a trip there to anyone. As always, experience counts more than money!