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 expensive cities on a budget.
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 the dearest of all. People advised me that if I was venturing into the rural parts of the country, the prices do go down a little, and there are some tricks to visiting Ireland on the cheap. But in Dublin? I’d be bankrupt approximately 30 minutes after stepping off the plane.
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?
I put it to the test and ventured to Dublin for a weekend with the aim to spent as little as possible. And here are my tips for saving money in Dublin!
Cheap Transport in Dublin
From the airport, you can purchase a two day hop on hop off bus pass for 20€ pp. This not only serves as your accomodation from the airport to the city, but also is perfect for getting around Dublin for the weekend. It stops in lots of places in the city centre, so you’ll likely be able to easily reach your accomodation by foot.
Budget Accomodation in Dublin
Dublin can be pretty pricey for accomodation – but here’s some great inexpensive hotel/ hostel/ apartment options.
Cheap Hostels in Dublin
I stayed at Jacobs Inn, a fantastic hostel for the price I paid. A 12 bed dorm felt incredibly spacious and it had lots of room to store our belongings.The place was massive, and included a well facilitated kitchen, a huge communal area and friendly staff. A dorm was €12.50 a night which included a basic breakfast. Check most recent prices and book here.
Priding itself on being ‘Dublin’s only hostel with a sauna’, Isaacs Hostel offers dorm or private rooms just a stone’s throw from Connolly Station and the central bus station. It has all of the facilities you could want in a modern hostel: a communal kitchen, free coffee and tea, a TV lounge, clean bathrooms and laundry facilities. Breakfast is included. Check prices and book here.
Budget Hotels in Dublin
Dublin City Aparthotel IFSC
Dublin City Aparthotel IFSC provides fully kitted apartments with flat screen TVs, sofas and a kitchen with cooking facilities and a washing machine. It is located near to all the main attractions of Dublin, and is loved by couples. Check prices and book here.
Airbnbs in Dublin
From individual rooms to entire houses, there’s a range of Airbnbs to choose from in Dublin. If you’re not on Airbnb yet, click here for money off your first booking.
Couchsurfing in Dublin
As with all large cities, couchsurfing opportunities in Dublin are abundant. But remember – couch surfing isn’t just a free room, it was designed to get to know your host and enjoy local life! If you don’t have any solid plans for your time in Dublin, spending it with a couchsurfing host could be a great option.
Free things to do in Dublin
- The hop on, hop off bus is included in the ticket you bought at the airport. Not only is this transport around the city, but it’s a fascinating guided tour about the history behind the capital of Ireland.
- With your bus tickets, the Little Museum of Dublin is a free attraction. This museum gives a real insight to Dublin in the last century – detailing the politics and social climate of the city, the celebrations of St Patricks Day throughout the centuries, and the crucial figures that have made Dublin the city it is today.
- The beautiful Trinity College is wonderful for a walk around and one of the best free things to do in Dublin.
- Oscar Wilde, a Dublin local, is commemorated in the city with a statue and memorials which are free to look around
- The Temple Bar Markets often have great products and are free to peruse
- The Chapel Royal, Revenue Museum and Garda Museum are parts of Dublin Castle, one of the best Dublin attractions, that are free to visit.
- Many of Dublin’s best art galleries and museums are free to explore. These include: The National Gallery of Ireland, Irish Museum of Modern Art and the National Museum of Ireland.
How to Eat Cheaply in Dublin
Like a lot of Western European cities, eating out in Dublin can be pricey. Thankfully, on certain days, some places are a lot cheaper, and if you’re savvy enough to know where to eat when, you can save huge amounts on eating out!
Budget Places to Eat in Dublin
- Mexico to Rome, which offers a starter, main and glass of wine for €10
- 777 for €7.77 Sundays, where a variety of meals and cocktails cost just this princely price
- Madina for cheap, delicious curry
- The Pepper Pot for authentic Irish food
- Boojum Burrito for delicious cheap Mexican food
- Green 19 for €10 roast dinners
- Skinflint for delicious pizza
Of course, if you are staying in a hostel or an Airbnb, you will most likely have kitchen facilities, and can visit some local supermarkets (Ireland has Tesco like the UK as well as Dunnes, Eurospar and German companies Lidl and Aldi) to buy ingredients and cook your own food. This is a great way to save some pennies when exploring Dublin on a budget.
Drinking in Dublin on a Budget
The typical cost of alcohol in Dublin is pretty high. A spirit and mixer or glass of wine costs about 7€, a pint of beer about 5-7€, and a cocktail anything between 10-12€. Clubs range from free to 20€ to enter.
Cheap places to drink in Dublin
There are, of course, some cheap deals that can be had on drinks in Dublin. Some of these are:
- Bow Lane, which offers award winning cocktails from 7€ every Sunday night after 6pm.
- Dicey’s Garden, where pints, bottles and wine are 3€ before 10pm on a Saturday – and if you’re in Dublin on a Monday, beers are only 2€.
- Capitol Lounge serves 2 cocktails for €7 on Friday nights.
- The Portobello Bar which serves 4€ pints of beer.
- Porterhouse Central offers ‘pint of the day’ and ‘bottle of the day’ on Saturday for just €4 each.
- There are O’Reilly’s all over the world, but you might as well go to one in Dublin, right? On Saturdays there is a ‘Club Hell’ night of rock and metal music, with €3.30 and €9 pitchers. If your weekend in Dublin is extending to Mondays, you can enjoy €1 shots and €2.50 jagerbombs at this joint.
If you’re staying at a hostel that allows drinking or your own apartment, you can of course buy alcohol in the supermarkets and drink it at your accomodation to make it a bit cheaper!
My budget for a weekend in Dublin
I didn’t adhere to all these Dublin on a budget tips, and spent a little extra on food, drink, etc. Here is my breakdown for the weekend.
In two days I spent…
25€ on accomodation (plus 2€ locker fee)
20€ on attractions
7€ on transport
40€ on food (including tips)
20€ ish on drink and club entry
= 104€/ 92 GBP/ 130 USD/ 163 AUD
For a weekend in Dublin on a budget, I don’t think that’s too bad!
If you’re staying in Dublin a little longer, and aren’t on such a tight budget, check out this guide to Dublin.