Are you planning a budget trip to the Emerald Isle in the future? If so, you'll need to know how you can save money and in the process, prevent yourself from making some costly mistakes.
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Tip #1: Avoid high season if you’re watching your budget.
Off-season travel in Ireland, otherwise known in the travel industry as “shoulder season,” is generally any time between mid-April and October.
The price of accommodation is lower as is car rental, and the lines to popular attractions are shorter.
Tip #2: Avoid staying in big cities. Instead, opt for smaller towns outside the major cities.
For example, if you’re looking to visit Dublin for a few days, choose accommodation in the suburbs of Dublin like Dun Laoghaire or in a nearby county like Kildare.
Public transportation will be accessible from anywhere within a 50-mile radius of Dublin.
Tip #3: Since Ireland’s weather can be unpredictable, it’s best to be prepared.
Even if you’re visiting during the warmer months, don’t forget a rain jacket. This will save you from having to buy additional gear while you’re there, an expense you don’t need while on vacation.
Flying to Ireland in 2023
If you’re flying from the U.K., you can get convenient flights from major airports to Dublin, Shannon, Belfast, Cork, Kerry, Donegal, and Ireland West (Knock) airports.
Flights from mainland Europe land in Dublin, Shannon, Cork, and Belfast.
Check your airline carrier for more details.
These tools are particularly useful if you’re flexible with your dates and flight times.
For instance, if you don’t mind a layover, you can save on airfares, especially worthwhile during the high season.
Tip #6: “Hubbing it” is another way to get to a destination a little cheaper. Like the scenario above, try booking a flight to say Lisbon (stay a night if you want!), then hop on a Ryan Air flight to Dublin or Shannon. If you’re considering this option, be mindful of Ryan Air’s luggage requirements.
Tip #7: If you are staying in Dublin, the most economical way to get from the airport to the city center or your hotel is to take a bus.
There are several options, including Airlink Express, Aircoach, Airport Hopper, Airbus, Dublin Bus, and more.
Find out more about finding your way from Dublin Airport to your destination.
Creating an Itinerary for your Trip to Ireland in 2023
Tip #8: Avoid the urge to see everything the first time you plan a trip to Ireland. It won’t work. Ireland is a small country, but there’s a lot to see.
Choose your destinations carefully and plan ahead. Check out the other informative articles on planning a trip to Ireland on this website.
Tip #9: Look for more authentic things to do in Ireland other than just the usual tourist attractions.
Don’t get me wrong. Attractions like the Cliffs of Moher and the Book of Kells are well worth seeing but find some time for more authentic experiences that will give you more of an insight into the Irish people and culture.
Getting Around Ireland in 2023
Tip #10: This all depends on your budget. Renting a car can be a great way to see Ireland, but you’ll need to be comfortable with driving on the left (if you’re from the UK, Australia, or mainland Europe, you’re in luck).
Many Americans are hesitant to drive in Ireland, but there are other options if you’re not feeling confident about getting behind the wheel.
Tip #11: If you’ve decided to use public transportation and you want to save on rail fare, in particular, be sure to head to the Irish Rail website where you can book your ticket at the lowest rate.
There are also some excellent deals specifically for tourists, including the Trekker Four-Day Ticket and the Explorer Ticket.
Tickets for travel within Northern Ireland on Translink must be purchased at a train station or on the train.
Tip #12: If you’re keen to visit some of Ireland’s more rural areas via public transportation, traveling by bus is your best option. Bus Eireann operates routes all across the country.
The Open Road travel pass for tourists is worth looking into.
Tip #13: If you plan to rent a car in Ireland, be sure to do the necessary research beforehand. Rather than contacting a lot of different car rental companies, let Discover Cars do all the work for you.
Tip #14: Reserve your rental car with the proper credit card, one that will provide CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance coverage.
This is an important part of the car rental booking process and will lower your car rental cost substantially.
Tip #15: When driving around Ireland, be extra careful when entering roundabouts. You’ll encounter them all across the country.
Know which direction you are going before entering the roundabout and once you approach it, remember to always look to the right and yield to the traffic that is already in there.
Accommodation in Ireland
Tip #16: If you want to experience the genuine hospitality of the Irish people while traveling in Ireland, you should stay at least a few nights in a B&B. An excellent resource is the Irish B&B Directory.
Tip #17: When booking a room, check to see if the rate is per person or per room. Most quote nightly rates based on a couple sharing a room.
Not all accommodation in Ireland includes breakfast, so when booking, be sure to ask beforehand.
Tip #18: Hotels in Ireland are graded from 5-star (think luxury hotels and castles) all the way to 1-star establishments.
When you’re booking a hotel, a 3-star hotel is usually the most budget-friendly option, offering perks such as in-room telephone service, TV, private bathroom, shower, and tub. You can find deals in 4-star hotels, too, so don't count them out for a night or two.
Tip #19: If you want to spend more time in a specific area of Ireland, consider renting a holiday home.
If you are part of a larger group, renting a house or cottage in the country is a good way to split the cost.
Sightseeing in Ireland
Tip #20: If you’re visiting Ireland in the high season, expect to wait in line for some of the more popular attractions. To avoid any inconvenience, you can pre-book tickets to many of the country’s attractions.
Special deals such as the Dublin Pass include free entry to more than 30 of Dublin’s top attractions.
Tip #21: There are many free attractions in Ireland to be enjoyed. Dublin’s many museums are one example. The National Library of Ireland, The National Gallery of Ireland, The Hugh Lane Gallery, and the fabulous Chester Beatty Library are all worth seeing and they won’t cost you a penny (donations are always welcome, of course).
Shopping in Ireland
Tip #22: If you are visiting Ireland from another country other than those in the European Union you are entitled to a tax rebate on certain purchases.
Be sure to fill out the necessary forms and have them processed at the airport before you leave Ireland.
Tip #24: If you’re planning to use your cell phone while traveling around Ireland, it can get pretty expensive if you don’t have a cost-saving plan in place.
An affordable way to access WIFI in Ireland is to purchase a SIM card from any Tesco supermarket in Ireland. The card also comes with a usage plan. Your phone must be unlocked for this to work.
Tip #25: If you’re unable to replace your current SIM card with an Irish one, you can still avoid costly roaming charges by turning off your phone’s cellular data. You can still access free WIFI in Ireland’s restaurants, hotels, and public spaces.
Tip #26: Another alternative is to purchase the Wifi Candy device, a short-term wifi rental at an unbeatable price, with super-fast 4G and unlimited data while you're in Ireland.
The device can be delivered to your hotel at no extra cost. When clicking on the link above, you'll get 10 percent off the cost.
Banks and Money
Tip #27: Exchanging currency for your trip to Ireland can be done before you leave or once you get to Ireland. Call your bank to see if they keep a supply of Euro on hand. It’s always a good idea to have some cash on you when you arrive. You can check the Euro currency exchange against the dollar or whatever your local currency is by using the XE Currency Converter tool.
If you use the Charles Schwab Debit Card, mentioned above, you’ll be able to easily get Euros from any ATM machine without incurring an additional cost.
Eating Out in Ireland
Tip #28: While it is customary for Americans to tip, Irish restauranteurs don’t necessarily require it. Having said that, the practice is becoming more commonplace. If you enjoyed the service, it is perfectly fine to tip in the 10 to 15% range.
Tip #29: Many restaurants in Ireland have Early Bird specials. This is especially important if you plan on eating at more expensive eateries.
Most specials include 2-3 three courses. Book in advance so you won’t be disappointed.
Tip #30: If you’re renting a holiday home in Ireland, you’ll need to stock up on food for the duration of your stay.
Ireland has several supermarket chains, including Dunne’s Stores, Tesco, Supervalu, Aldi, and Lidl in many of its large towns.
In addition to these 30 ways to save on your trip to Ireland, let me know if there are others that you could add to this list.
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