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The town of Dingle. Photo: espiegle, Getty Images Signature.

Choosing Accommodation in Ireland if You Don’t Have a Rental Car

Updated October 2023--While renting a car is perhaps the best way to see Ireland, that option may not be available to everyone due to cost, age, and other factors and if that's the case choosing accommodation in Ireland will depend on how you are getting across the country.

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For those who want to see as much as they can of the Emerald Isle minus the car, some strategic decisions should be made regarding accommodation and its proximity to some of the country’s most popular tourist attractions.

If you are getting around by public transportation, you'll need to think about choosing accommodation in Ireland that is centrally located.

Here are 6 cities that are easily accessible by train or bus and suggestions for where you can stay once you get there.

Many of these accommodations have been selected with the budget traveler in mind. There are of course pricier options in all of this locations as well.


I’m not going to tell you that Dublin is cheap but if you compare it to other European and Scandinavian cities, it’s probably on par with most of them.

When choosing accommodation in Ireland and particularly in Dublin, it's best if you can book it well in advance.

Aside from the cost, Dublin should be on your itinerary, especially if this is your first time in Ireland.

There are several attractions in the city that are worth seeing, including The Book of Kells in Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse, Jamesons Whiskey Distillery, Epic The Emigration Museum, and Kilmainham Jail, not to mention all of the free museums you can visit as well.

building Guinness storehouse
The exterior of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Photo: Tara Morgan for Tourism Ireland.

Pretty much all these attractions are in and around the city center so choosing accommodation that is convenient to all is useful.

If you are visiting Ireland on a shoestring budget, I’d suggest that you stay in a hostel.
The Generator hostel in Dublin is a budget-friendly option when choosing accommodation in Ireland. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

There are several to choose from, including the Generator Dublin, The Jacobs Inn Hostel, The Abbey Court, Abigail’s Hostel, Kinlay House Dublin, the Ashfield Hostel, Gardiner House, Garden Lane Backpackers hostel, My Place Dublin hostel, Abrahams Hostel, and Oliver St. John Gogarty’s Hostel.

You can find all the above hostels at Hostelworld.

If hosteling is not for you, there are other moderately-priced hotels and B&Bs in the city that you should consider, including the Temple Bar Inn, the Leeson Lodge, the Marilyn Mansion, the Dergvale Hotel, Harvey’s Guesthouse, the Tipperary House, and Highfield House.

Check out this blog post for more information on the other Dublin accommodation choices available.
The popular Temple Car section of Dublin. Photo: Brian Morrison, Tourism Ireland.

Moderately priced accommodation is also available at the Trinity College dorms, at a cheaper rate than traditional hotels in the city, as well as at Ardcairn House, student accommodation for Dublin’s Technological University, and at Heyday Student Living in the Liberties section of Dublin.


After you’ve spent a couple of days in Dublin, I’d suggest that you take the Irish Rail train from Heuston Station in Dublin to MacDonagh Station in Kilkenny, Ireland’s oldest medieval city.
Kilkenny, Ireland. Photo: Todamo, Getty Images.

The train ride is just 1 hour and 35 minutes and costs around €12.99 one-way. Once you get to the station, most of the city’s most popular attractions are within walking distance of it.

Kilkenny Castle dominates the city as it has for hundreds of years. Once the home of the powerful Butler family, the structure has been rebuilt, extended, and expanded since then.

castle from the air planning a trip to Ireland in 2022
An aerial view of Kilkenny Castle, a popular tourist destination in Ireland. Photo: Failte Ireland.

Today, it has the look of a 19th-century castellated baronial residence, although it certainly retains traces of its medieval roots.

The focal point of the popular castle tour is the Long Gallery, an impressive hall showcasing portraits of Butler family members, as well as the Butler Gallery in the castle basement.

The exterior of the castle is public parkland and is free to walk around.
The Rothe House on Kilkenny's Medieval Mile. Photo: Failte Ireland.

Other Kilkenny attractions that you should put on your itinerary include The Medieval Mile Museum, St. Canice’s Cathedral, and The Rothe House, among others.

You’ll want centrally located accommodation in Kilkenny so that you can easily walk to the above attractions.

Some of the hotels and B&Bs that I recommend include JB’s Bar & Guest Accommodation, the Kilford Arms Hotel, and the Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel.

Waterford City

From the Kilkenny train station, you can hop on a train to Waterford’s Plunkett Station and get there in 30 minutes or so at a cost of about €6 one-way.
An aerial view of Reginald's Tower in the city of Waterford. Photo: Courtesy Waterford Museum of Treasures.

Waterford is known as a Viking city and Reginald’s Tower is the main Viking attraction in a downtown area known as the Viking Triangle.

Known as Ireland’s oldest civic building, you’ll find a variety of Viking treasures inside.

There are other attractions that are worth seeing in this port city.
The House of Waterford Crystal where you can take a tour and purchase the famous crystal. Photo courtesy Patrick Browne for Failte Ireland.

They include the Medieval Museum, The Bishop’s Palace, and The House of Waterford Crystal, which is located in the center of the Viking Triangle.

Even without a rental car, you can still find convenient accommodation in Waterford City.
The exterior of The Granville Hotel in Waterford is among the centrally located hotels available to tourists who are choosing accommodation in Ireland. Photo: Granville Hotel Facebook.

Accommodation in the center of Waterford includes the 18th-century circa Granville Hotel, which overlooks Waterford Harbor and is a 7-minute walk from the Bishop’s Palace and a 10-minute walk from the House of Waterford Crystal.

Dooley’s Hotel on Merchant’s Quay is also a good choice and a 7-minute walk from the train station. describes this riverside hotel as having “unfussy rooms…with a bistro restaurant, an Irish bar & regular live music.”
The Waterford Marina. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

The Waterford Marina Hotel, The Tower Hotel & Leisure Centre, and Treacy’s Hotel are also good picks if you are staying overnight in Waterford.

The Portree Hostel is the city’s only hostel accommodation, also known as the Portree Guesthouse.

The hostel is located beside the railway station and is an 8-minute walk from Waterford’s bus station.

You can only book single rooms at this time since shared dorms are not yet available, a hold-over from the pandemic. They will become available again at the end of 2023.

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Cork City

There is no direct train from Waterford to Cork City. However, a bus will take you there in about 2 hours.

You can get a Dublin Coach bus from Waterford to Cork’s Anderson Quay for about €10.

houses near a river 4 cities in Ireland to explore
Cork City. Photo: George Karbu Photography.

Once in Cork, there’s a lot to see in Ireland’s second-largest city. Expect a more laidback vibe as Corkonians generally take life a little easier here.

The city has some great restaurants, quirky coffee shops, and a good mix of cultural and architectural charm. Plus, it’s a university city so there are plenty of young people around.
The Shandon Bells and tower in Cork. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland.

Some of its popular attractions include the English Market, Elizabeth Fort, St. Finn Barre’s Cathedral, the Shandon Bells at St. Anne’s Church, and Cork City Gaol.

If you’re traveling around Ireland on the cheap, you might want to consider a hostel in Cork City.

There are a few to choose from, including the Bru Bar and Hostel, Sheila’s Cork Hostel (close to the Cork City Gaol), and Oscars Hostel (opposite Kent Train Station).
The impressive Metropole Hotel in Cork City. Photo courtesy of The Metropole Hotel Cork Facebook.

Other convenient hotels in Cork City for those without a rental car include Hotel Isaacs, The Metropole Hotel, the Shandon Bells Guesthouse, and others that can all be found in this Cork accommodation blog post.


Getting to Killarney from Cork City is relatively easy by train.

Trains leave from Cork’s Kent Station five times a day and operate every day. The journey takes about 1 hour and 35 minutes.
A street in the center of Killarney. Photo: No Limit Pictures, Getty Images Signature.

The popular County Kerry town is a must for every first-time visitor to Ireland whether you have a rental car or not.

The town itself is taken up with shops, pubs, and hotels. Most of the popular attractions are outside the town, so you will need to have a plan in place to see them.
Tourists taking a jaunting car ride in Killarney National Park. Photo: Stephen Power, Tourism Ireland.

My suggestion is to book a tour to some of the local attractions, such as a jaunting car ride from Killarney to Ross Castle, or a number of full-day tours that will take you to the Ring of Kerry, or to Dingle and the Slea Head Peninsula.

Finding accommodation in the center of Killarney isn’t very difficult. There are many choices in the center of town, from hotels, Airbnbs and B&Bs.

If you are looking for hostel accommodation in Killarney, there are a few to choose from.
Photo courtesy of The Black Sheep Hostel & Coffee Shack Facebook.

They include the Killarney Railway Hostel, which is located opposite the bus and train station and the Black Sheep Hostel, conveniently located a minute away from Killarney National Park.

Some of my recommendations for other centrally located accommodation in Killarney include Murphy’s Townhouse, a short distance from the town’s public transportation hubs, the Killarney Towers Hotel & Leisure Centre, which is located close to restaurants and transit; and Tatler Jack, a family-run business.



After you’ve finished exploring Killarney and the surrounding area, you can easily continue your journey by public transportation to Limerick City.

Buses run daily from the center of Killarney to Limerick. The journey takes between 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. You can choose from Bus Eireann or the Dublin Coach bus.
King John's Castle in Limerick City at sunset. Photo: Shannon Development for Failte Ireland.

The main attraction in Limerick is King John’s Castle located in the city’s Medieval Quarter.

The Vikings once lived on the site where the castle stands. It was completed by the Normans in 1210 to protect the city from the outlying Gaelic kingdoms.

Despite being damaged in 1642 during the Siege of Limerick, the castle, considered the best preserved in Europe, still retains many features from its early construction, including a large gatehouse, battlements, and corner towers.

The castle’s interactive exhibition is definitely worth seeing as it will give you a glimpse of its 800-year history through 3D models, touch screen technology, and computer-generated animations.

a castle courtyard choosing accommodation in Ireland
The castle courtyard at King John's Castle in Limerick. Photo: By Nils E. – Own work, Public Domain,

Kids and adults can try on the costumes that are on site, including stunning gowns and chainmail tunics.

The castle courtyard is where you’ll learn about daily life there during medieval times.

You’ll meet colorful characters who will bring it all to life, and there are several courtyard games to play as well, especially fun for children.

Archery, ring toss, tug-of-war, and horseshoe throwing are just some of them.

a church choosing accommodation in Ireland
Saint Mary's Cathedral, Limerick. Photo: Brian Morrison, Tourism Ireland.

Other attractions to see while you are exploring Limerick without a rental car include St. Mary’s Cathedral, The Milk Market, the Limerick City Gallery of Art, and The Hunt Museum.

If you are looking for centrally located accommodation in Limerick, I’d recommend The Old Quarter Townhouse in the city center, with the bus and train stations a short walk away.

You’ll find single, double, triple, and family-style rooms at this accommodation, all en-suite.

Other suitable accommodation can be found at the George Hotel, which is 1 kilometer (less than a mile) from the castle.

a hotel bedroom choosing accommodation in Ireland
A bedroom at The Bedford Townhouse & Cafe in Limerick, one of the centrally located hotels in Limerick and among the hotels you might consider when choosing accommodation in Ireland. Photo: The Bedford Townhouse & Cafe Facebook.

The Bedford Townhouse & Café, an 1830s-style accommodation that is a mere 10-minute walk from St. Mary’s Cathedral is another good option for your stay in Limerick.



To get to Galway without a rental car from Limerick, you can hop on a train or take a bus. The journey takes about 2 hours.

Trains run every 4 hours from Limerick’s Colbert Station to Galway’s Ceannt Station, with one-way tickets costing close to €8.

There is a regular bus service from Limerick’s downtown area to Galway on Bus Eireann or you can avail of the Citylink bus service.

a fountain in a square choosing accommodation in Ireland
The fountain depicting the Galway Hookers in Eyre Square. Photo: Jeremy from Leuven, Belgium – Ireland – London Trip, CC BY 2.0,

Galway City is relatively small and can be explored easily on foot.

If you’re like me and you find yourself in a city that you’ve never been to before, a guided walking tour is always a good idea to get yourself acquainted with your surroundings.

I would recommend two of Ireland on a Budget’s Tourism Ambassadors, Brian Nolan and/or Gerry Hanley.

a cobbled lane choosing accommodation in Ireland
Kirwan's Lane in Galway's Latin Quarter. Photo: Stephen Power, Tourism Ireland.

Some of the popular attractions in Galway include the Galway City Museum, Eyre Square, the Latin Quarter, and the area around Quay Street, including the Spanish Arch.

There is a lot of accommodation in the heart of Galway that is perfect for the traveler who does not have a rental car.

Hostel accommodation includes the Galway City Hostel & Bar, perfect for solo travelers and right next to Galway’s bus and train stations; the Kinlay Eyre Square Hostel right on Eyre Square, the Corrib Village, another ideal accommodation for younger tourists and located on the grounds of the National University of Ireland, Snoozles Galway City Center, a 2-minute walk from Eyre Square, and Sleepzone, also centrally located.

a building in a city choosing accommodation in Ireland
The exterior of The Eyre Square Hotel in Galway is one of the centrally located hotels that tourists might consider when choosing accommodation in Ireland. Photo courtesy of The Eyre Square Hotel Facebook.

Other accommodation in Galway City includes the Nest Boutique Hostel, Jury’s Inn, The Skeffington Arms, and The Eyre Square Hotel, among others.

You’ll find detailed information on those hotels and other Ireland on a Budget picks from this recent blog post on affordable Galway accommodation.

Is choosing accommodation in Ireland a difficult process for you as you plan your vacation to Ireland? Let me know in the comments below and let me know if I can help.


Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

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