With a rich history, go-all-night party scene, and the world's friendliest locals, it's easy to see why Dublin is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. The vibrant Irish capital is home has something for everyone - whether you're looking to dance the night away in Temple Bar, walk the halls of Trinity Library, or dig into the city's incredible history.
Although it has a reputation as an expensive city, you can still visit Dublin on a budget. Keep reading to find out how you can enjoy all this wonderful city has to offer without breaking the bank.
Dublin on a budget: Know before you go
Visit during the summer months
If you're able to, plan your trip sometime between June-August, when the weather in Dublin is at its best. Even then, be prepared for some rain! There's a reason Ireland is so lush and green...
Dress in layers and pack a jacket – no matter what time of year you visit
Rain is common in Ireland year-round and the weather can change drastically during your trip (or even over the course of one day!).
Save money with a Heritage Pass
If you’re interested in exploring any of Ireland's cultural attractions, you can save money by buying a Heritage Card from the Office of Public Works. For €40, the Heritage card provides free entrance to every state-run heritage site, including churches, war memorials, and castles, for an entire year.
Free and cheap things to do in Dublin
Stroll through world-famous Temple Bar
Yes, it’s extremely popular with tourists. And if you’re looking for something to eat or drink, your travel budget will probably thank you for looking elsewhere. Still, Temple Bar is famous for a reason.
The atmosphere here is always buzzing. Come to Temple Bar to experience the city's electric energy and listen to some of the incredible buskers that fill the street at all hours of the day – just be sure to tip if you're diggin' what they're playing.
If you’ve got a couple of bucks to spare on something other than a pint, the area is lined with independent shops and, on Saturdays from 10 am to 4:30 pm, boasts an incredible farmers’ market packed with fresh produce and delicious sweet treats.
Enjoy a Guinness with a rooftop view
It wouldn’t be a trip to Ireland without savoring a cold pint of the country’s iconic dark stout. To get the full Guinness experience, visit the Guinness Storehouse and take a tour to learn about Guinness's rich history and signature brewing process. Each ticket comes with a complimentary chilled pint (or soft drink for those under 18 years old).
End your trip by bringing your pint ticket upstairs to the Gravity Bar, a rooftop bar that offers spectacular panoramic views of Dublin.
Have a picnic in the park(s)
Dublin’s parks make it easy to swap city streets for relaxing green space. Because food can be a bit pricey in Dublin, they also provide a great place for a relaxing budget-friendly picnic.
St. Stephen’s Green is a beautiful urban park right in the center of Dublin. Grab a spot on one of the countless benches and admire the ducks and swans on the lake. On your stroll through the park, be sure to keep an eye out for the various signs and statues that detail both the park and the city’s rich history.
If you’re looking for even more green space, check out Phoenix Park. This massive expanse is one of the largest enclosed parks in all of Europe – it’s even bigger than New York City’s famed Central Park! Inside the park, you’ll find the home of Ireland’s President, the residence of the US Ambassador, and the Dublin Zoo. Not to mention the roughly 450 adorable wild deer wandering about.
Explore Trinity College
Wander the beautiful and historic grounds of Ireland's oldest university (founded in 1592) before heading to Trinity College Library, one of Dublin's top attractions. The awe-inspiring Long Room houses more than 200,000 of Ireland's oldest books. Trinity is also home to the Book of Kells, an illustrated medieval manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament and dating back to 800 AD.
Tickets to see the book and Old Library start at €16, but the university grounds are open to the public. Try taking a student-led tour to learn more about the school's fascinating history!
Visit Dublin Castle
Even if you're visiting Dublin on a budget, there are plenty of great attractions! Entry to Dublin Castle is free for all visitors until the end of 2021, making it an affordable addition to your itinerary.
Built in the thirteenth century as part of a Viking settlement, Dublin Castle has seen many centuries of Irish history. The building served as the headquarters for English and British administration in Ireland and now belongs to the independent Irish government. Guided tours are available to help you navigate the castle's opulent interior.
Take in history at Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Yes, that Saint Patrick. No visit to Dublin would be complete with a stop at Saint Patrick's Cathedral, where the Saint is said to have first baptized the Irish people into Christianity in the year 450 AD. The existing structure was built in 1191 on top of the original site. As the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, the building serves as both a place of worship and a visitor attraction.
Admission costs €8, but the church services are free to attend. Guided tours are available at no extra charge.
Admire the view from Ha'Penny Bridge
Built in 1816, this pedestrian bridge over the River Liffey is one of the best places to visit in Dublin on a budget. Although officially named 'Liffey Bridge', the nickname comes from the original price of the toll to cross the river - a half penny (or, with an Irish accent, a Ha'Penny). Today it's one of Dublin's top visitor attractions, with more than 30,000 crossing the footbridge every day.
Where to stay in Dublin on a budget
Castle Hotel is a great option for travelers who want to experience tradition and elegance without breaking the bank. Set within 9 restored Georgian townhouses, the Castle Hotel takes guests back in time without sacrificing modern amenities. The rooms are clean, modern, and cozy.
But the real star of the show is downstairs in the Castle Vaults Bar and Restaurant. The one-of-a-kind experience of dining in an original 18th-century wine vault makes this the perfect date spot. Located just steps from the Garden of Remembrance, the Castle Hotel is conveniently located near several popular shops and parks.
Jacob’s Inn was already popular with visitors to Dublin, but this massive hostel recently stepped up their game in a big way with new renovations. In addition to a restaurant downstairs and a modern feel throughout the building, they also added pod-style beds in each of the dorm rooms, providing maximum privacy and comfort for guests.
At just a 10-15 minute walk away from the city’s main hot spots, including Temple Bar, Jacob’s Inn is close enough to the action but not so close that the rowdy crowds will keep you up at night. In addition to private rooms, the hostel offers male-only, female-only, or coed dorms in 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 pod dorm rooms.
It’s not hard to see why people love the Dublin outpost of Generator, a hip boutique-style hostel chain with locations worldwide, from Paris to Miami. With its sleek design, modern rooms, on-site cafe & restaurant, and countless rooms, you could easily mistake this spot for a hotel. Fortunately for budget travelers, though, it’s a budget-friendly hostel with both private and dorm-style room options.
Generator is located in the trendy Smithfield neighborhood, just steps from the Jameson Distillery and a short walk to Temple Bar.
Cheap flights to Dublin
Recently, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Dublin. On average, our members spent $389 on their tickets and saved over $450 per ticket. Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.
New York City (JFK) to Dublin (DUB)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $427
Average Price: $800
Boston (BOS) to Dublin (DUB)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $316
Average Price: $825
Los Angeles (LAX) to Dublin (DUB)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $426
Average Price: $895
Where to find cheap eats in Dublin
Conspicuously named, the Fish Shop serves up some of Ireland's best fish and chips. Surprisingly affordable by Dublin standards, the shop began as an outdoor stall in Blackrock Market, but is now located in Smithfield near the River Liffey. Serving only fresh caught, local fish, the menu changes daily - but their extensive wine and beer menu remains the same!
Finding somewhere to eat in Dublin on a budget can be tough. That's what makes Cafe Sofia on Wexford Street such a gem. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an affordable all-day menu, it's a deal at any time of day. Don't be fooled by the unassuming exterior - the food is delicious and the portion sizes large. It's the perfect place to try a traditional Irish breakfast!
Located in touristy temple bar - the last place you'd expect to find a deal - Sano Pizza is refreshingly affordable. Their Neapolitan pizzas start at just €6, with a cheap drink menu to match. Reviews rave about the fresh homemade pizza at bargain prices, all just 2 minutes from Dublin Castle and the main city attractions. There's no better bargain on this side of town!
Start planning your trip to Dublin
A visit to this fantastic city doesn't have to hurt your wallet! There are plenty of free and cheap things to do if you're visiting Dublin on a budget, from castles to cathedrals and historic libraries. Stroll the cobblestone streets, take in some live music, and relax with a pint of Guinness - that's the Dublin experience.
Remember to save this budget travel guide and sign up to receive cheap flight deals, so you can start planning your trip to the Emerald Isle today!
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BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.