Dublin Travel Guide
Dublin was the starting point on my first backpacking trip, and as a result, will always feel like a second home to me. Packed with museums, lively entertainment, and even a castle or two; Ireland’s capital city is a fantastic place for anyone to visit.
What to Budget
€15-30 per night
A typical hostel room in the city will run you anywhere between €15-35 depending on the time of year you’re booking and proximity to the city center. I’ve usually been lucky enough to stay with a friend when in Dublin, but my one hostel experience there was at Oliver St. John Gogarty’s; located right in Temple Bar. For €18 a night, I was right in the heart of downtown Dublin and had access to a roof deck with pretty great views of the city. Not a bad deal!
Going out to Eat
€8-12 per meal
Ireland is home to some amazing comfort foods; two of my favorites being a full Irish breakfast and the beef and Guinness stew. Luckily, both of these dishes can be found in most pubs for a reasonable price of under €10. I recommend sticking to pubs if you’re going to eat out, as the food is just as good if not better than a standard restaurant, and will cost you a lot less.
The best form of transportation around Dublin is by city bus, or the DART; Dublin’s electric rail service. The price varies based on the distance you’re traveling, but typically a one way pass can be had for around €2, or you can purchase a day pass for about €12, which will give you unlimited rides.
€10 per day
The average Dublin museum price is around €10. The major exception to this is the Guinness Storehouse, which will cost you around €14 depending on the time of day you visit.
How to Save
While you should absolutely sample some of the great food Ireland has to offer, going out to eat for every meal will burn through your budget in no time. Luckily, most hostels have kitchens for you to prepare meals. Two of Europe’s most popular grocery chains, Lidl and Aldi, can be found all throughout Dublin. Both stores are very inexpensive, and if you shop smart, you should be able to get 5 days worth of groceries for roughly the same cost as 2 meals out.
Think basic – Eggs, bread, peanut butter, rice, chicken and veggies make up my standard grocery list while traveling. Get creative with your cooking and you’d be amazed at how many meals you can make out of these.
Many hostels offer free breakfast during your stay. Typically, these breakfasts consists of just cereal and toast, but hey, a free meal is a free meal. If need be, you can buy eggs at the grocery store to help hold you over until lunch.
Learn to Love Walking
Dublin is a very walkable city. Most of the major sights are no more than a half hour walk from each other, so skip the transportation costs and save some money by walking to where you want to go.
Alternatively, Dublin offers a public service known as Dublin Bikes. For €5, you get access to bicycles located at stations all throughout the city. There is no service charge within the first 30 minutes of using the bike, so simply check the bike in to another station within half an hour, check it out again, and you’re back on the road at no additional cost.
Free Walking Tour
Located in 18 cities throughout Europe, Sandeman’s Free Walking Tours are a fantastic way to see the sights on a budget. All of the guides are incredibly knowledgeable and work entirely off of tips. From my experience, they are consistently the best “pay-what-you-choose” tour company out there. Make sure to book a reservation at least one day in advance though, as they do tend to fill up.
Dublin, the awesome city that it is, has made all of its government-run museums free to the public. Check out the Natural History, Archaeology, and Decorative Arts and History museums, all without spending a dime. Just be aware, the museums are closed on Mondays and national holidays, so plan accordingly.
You can’t come to Dublin and not visit the Guinness Storehouse. Guinness has a reputation for being THE Irish beer, so don’t miss the opportunity to see where it all began. It’s a little pricey as far as tours go, but if you have a student ID or come earlier in the morning, you can get in for as little as €14. The price of admission covers a 7 floor walking tour through the history of Guinness, as well as a hands-on lesson in pouring the perfect pint. Once you’ve mastered the skill, you can take your freshly poured Guinness up to the Gravity Bar; a glass-enclosed 360° viewing area at the top of the Storehouse which offers panoramic views of the city. Oh, and don’t worry, you can get more Guinness up there as well.
Trinity College Library
Trinity College in downtown Dublin is home to the largest library in all of Ireland. I would also go as far to say it’s one of the most beautiful libraries I have ever seen. The most famous book housed here is the Book of Kells; an ornately illustrated gospel book dating back to the year 800. The cost of admission is €11 at the door, but if you consider yourself a literary buff, it is well worth the price.
Even if you’ve never visited Ireland, you’re probably familiar with the famous Temple Bar. You might be surprised to learn, however, that it’s not just one bar. Temple Bar is actually the name given to a fairly large cultural quarter in the center of Dublin. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a tourist trap, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay a visit. There’s always something going on in this area; be it live music, craft fairs, or the Sunday food market.
Check Out the Buskers on Grafton Street
If you’re not familiar with the term, a busker is another name for a street performer. Grafton street is where the best buskers in Dublin tend to setup shop. You’ll find everything from musicians, to jugglers, to magicians and more. As a rule of thumb, if you’re going to take pictures, be sure to leave a euro or two as a tip.
Visit Dublin Castle
Dublin is very much a modern city, so it might surprise you to learn that you can find a 13th century castle in the downtown area. Granted, it’s not the stereotypical massive fairy tale type of castle you might expect, but it still serves as an interesting reminder of Ireland’s history juxtaposed in the middle of this busy city.
Spend an Afternoon in St. Stephen’s Green
Located just off of Grafton street, St. Stephen’s Green is the largest public park in Dublin. It’s a great place to have a picnic, enjoy the numerous sculptures and fountains throughout, and escape the crowds for a bit.
Head for the Hills
This one is tricky without a ride, but if you’re able to catch one of the downtown shuttles, check out Johnnie Fox’s in the Dublin mountains. It’s famous for being the highest elevation pub in all of Ireland and offers sweeping views of the lush, green countryside. Inside, you can sit by the fire, enjoy a hot meal, and take in the live music and dancing every night of the week.
The Bank on College Green
Admittedly, this is more of a “treat yourself” moment than a budget travel tip. But The Bank on College Green has such a cool atmosphere that it warrants stopping in for a pint. True to its name, it was once an actual bank dating back to the 1800’s, and still retains much of its original look and feel. If you wander downstairs to the bathrooms, you’ll even see the antique vaults on display.