Custom House Dublin 1
Custom House Dublin 1

Dublin on a Budget: 5 Money-Saving Tips You Need to Know

Dublin on a budget might seem unrealistic but with the right strategy, you can bring down the cost of your next trip to Ireland’s capital city by utilizing these money-saving tips.

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#1 Use the Leap Card on Dublin’s Public Transportation System

To save the most money on getting around Dublin on a budget, you should purchase the Leap Visitor Card, a reloadable travel card that is available as an app for both iPhone and Android smartphones.

For travel over a 24-hour period, you will pay €8, for 3 days or 72 hours, you pay €16 and for 7 days or 168 hours, you pay €32.

You can purchase the card online.

Dublin has a good public transportation system. If you are in the city for any length of time, use it.

The system includes Dublin Bus, the Luas, and the DART.

a bus outside a large building the best time to visit Dublin
One of the many Dublin Bus double-decker vehicles you'll see when in Dublin. Photo: Gareth Byrne Photography for Fáilte Ireland.

Dublin Bus operates from the city center all across the Dublin suburbs, so no matter where you are in the city, you will be able to get a bus to the major tourist attractions.

The Luas is the city’s light rail system, which also connects passengers from the city center to various suburbs.

Depending on where you are staying and if your accommodation is close to either the Luas Red Line or the Luas Green Line will determine if you should use the Luas system or Dublin Bus.

A DART train makes it way to Dalkey in Co. Dublin. Photo courtesy Tourism Ireland.
A DART train makes it way to Dalkey in Co. Dublin. Photo courtesy Tourism Ireland.

The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) runs north-south along Dublin’s coast. It starts in Balbriggan, north of the city, and extends to Kilcoole in Co. Wicklow.

If you are staying in the towns along Dublin’s coastline, you’ll be able to get the train from any one of those places to the city center.

The DART comes into Pearse, Tara, and Connolly stations in the city center.

Visit this page for more detailed information on public transportation in Dublin so that you have a good idea of how to get around Dublin on a budget.

Read more: How to Save Money on Accommodation in Dublin



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#2 Visit Museums and Libraries for Free

Dublin is blessed with several museums and libraries that are completely free of charge.

Here is a list of Dublin’s free museums that you shouldn't miss on your next trip to Dublin:

The National Library of Ireland – The National Library of Ireland was established in 1877 to make the collections of the Royal Dublin Society available to the public.

On your visit, you’ll discover a treasure trove of fascinating materials, such as the personal notes and writings of James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, and Seamus Heaney, among other archived texts.

building in Dublin
The National Library of Ireland on Kildare Street in Dublin. Photo: YvonneM – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15120535

The library also has a free genealogy advice service. The National Library also hosts exhibitions throughout the year at its main See a list of current and future exhibitions here.

The National Gallery of Ireland – while entry to the permanent collections at The National Gallery of Ireland is free, you will have to pay to see other ticketed events.

The National Museum of Ireland– the National Museum of Ireland includes the National Museum of Archaeology on Kildare Street, the Decorative Arts & History Museum at Collins Barracks, and the Natural History Museum at Merrion Square. All are free to enjoy.

a large building Dublin's free museums and galleries
The Irish Museum of Modern Art building in Dublin. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art – this museum is housed in what was once the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, an extraordinary 17th-century building that was built in 1680 by the Royal Command.

Its design is based on Les Invalides in Paris. It is considered Ireland’s premier museum for modern and contemporary art. Most of the exhibits are free.

The Hugh Lane Gallery – founded in 1908 by Sir Hugh Lane, an Irish art dealer, collector, and gallery director, this amazing gallery includes a permanent exhibition and other revolving exhibitions, mostly by contemporary Irish artists.

two wooden horses in a Dublin museum Dublin on a budget
The Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. Photo: Failte Ireland.

The Chester Beatty Library – The Chester Beatty Library, named after Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, a New Yorker and mining magnate who moved to Dublin in 1950.

The Sacred Traditions gallery at the Chester Beatty. Photo is the copyright of the Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library.
The Sacred Traditions gallery at the Chester Beatty. Photo is the copyright of the Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library.

It has a collection of 20,000 manuscripts, rare books, miniature paintings, clay tablets, costumes, and other historical and aesthetically important artifacts.

The Bank of Ireland Building (once known as the House of Lords in Ireland) is located at College Green. It was home to the Irish Parliament House until 1801.

The exterior of the Bank of Ireland building in Dublin. Photo: Gareth Byrne for Failte Ireland.
The exterior of the Bank of Ireland building in Dublin. Photo: Gareth Byrne for Failte Ireland.

Look for the House of Lords chamber when you visit. Inside, you see displays of Irish oak woodwork, a mahogany long case parliament clock, and a late 18th-century Dublin crystal chandelier.

No booking is required. It is open Monday through Sunday from  10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Guided tours are available on Tuesdays only at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and at 1:45 p.m.

The Central Bank of Ireland Visitor Centre, located in Dublin's Docklands area, is another landmark that you might want to visit.

While it is housed in a modern building, its exhibits might be of interest to you.

The Central Bank building in Dublin. Photo: Paola Floris, Fáilte Ireland.

The bank is currently hosting two exhibitions, including The Story of the Central Bank of Ireland, which tells the early history of the bank right through to the present day.

The other exhibit is called “Pounds, Shillings and Independence,” which explores the development of the Irish currency, following the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Access to the visitor center is free.

Aras an Uachtaráin is the official residence of President Michael D. Higgins and his wife.

Higgins has served as the country's ninth president since 2011.

This beautiful Palladian mansion, located on the grounds of Phoenix Park, was built in 1751 as a home for the Phoenix Park ranger, Nathaniel Clements.

Aras an Uachtarain, residence of the Irish President, Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photo: Government of Ireland National Monuments Service Photographic Unit.
Aras an Uachtarain, residence of the Irish President, Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photo: Government of Ireland National Monuments Service Photographic Unit.

It was later used as the official residence of the viceroys who were in charge of British rule in Ireland before the country gained its independence from Britain in 1921.

Several renovations and additions have been made to the house over the years. It is open to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis. All tours are free.

#3 Use the Go City Pass to See Dublin’s More Expensive Attractions

If, when visiting Dublin on a budget, you are interested in seeing the more expensive attractions that are often the most popular, it’s a good idea to consider purchasing the Go City Pass.

The pass gets you into over 32 top attractions throughout the city.

a large tunnel Dublin Museum
The Emigration Museum in Dublin. Photo: Ros Kavanagh, EPIC Ireland CHQ Limited.

Some of them include Dublin Castle, the Guinness Storehouse, Jameson’s Distillery Bow Street, EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum, the Jeanie Johnson Tall Ship & Famine Museum, the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour for one day, and much, much more.

The interior of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. Photo: Alvaro Prieto, Freeimages.com
The interior of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. Photo: Alvaro Prieto, Freeimages.com

The only popular Dublin attraction that is not covered by the Dublin Pass is Kilmainham Gaol.

#4 Try to Find Budget-Friendy Hotels & Other Accommodation in Dublin

Like other European cities, it’s not always easy to find budget accommodation in Dublin, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be found.

Avoid the city center if you can where accommodation is typically higher.

Photo: William Murphy,
Photo: William Murphy, https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

If you must stay in the city center, I recommend the Maldron Hotel in Parnell Square, which is close to many of the city’s attractions. The rooms in the hotel are fairly roomy.

This hotel is known for its quality breakfast and friendly atmosphere. Rates during the summer average $250 per couple per night. Breakfast is an additional $16.

Wynn's Hotel is another favorite, and it's right in the heart of the city.

Wynns Hotel Dublin
Wynns Hotel Dublin

This historic family-run hotel located on Abbey Street has been part of the Dublin city landscape since 1845.

The pristine 3-star accommodation once played a vital role leading up to the 1916 Easter Rising. It was subsequently burned to the ground during the conflict and rebuilt. Ten years later, in 1926, it was re-opened.

Expect plush furnishings, a distinct Victorian style, beautiful stained glass, and plenty of value at Wynn’s Hotel.

You’ll discover comfortable bedrooms at Wynn’s – there are single bedrooms, double, treble, and even quads available. All come with large bathrooms.

Current rates for summer 2024 are around $288 per night for 2. Breakfast is included.

Dublin’s Embassy District offers some value in terms of budget and it’s only a short distance by public transportation to the city center.

living room accommodation in Dublin
The sumptuous living room, with grand piano, in Dublin's Ariel House. Photo courtesy of Ariel House.

I’d recommend the Victorian-themed Ariel House, which at the height of the tourist season is approximately $214 per night for two, with breakfast included. Obviously, you can get better deals off-season.

A great budget-friendly option, if you can get it, is to stay in the Trinity College apartments, which are available during the summer months when students are away.

If you want to get the best prices, look for hotels or B&Bs at least a 30-minute ride by train or bus from the city center.

Examples include The Royal Marine Hotel, a beautiful building overlooking Dublin Bay in Dun Laoghaire, a 25-minute ride on the DART.

A one-night stay during the summer months is around $161 for 2, so substantially cheaper than the city center.

The Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: William Murphy,
The Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: William Murphy, https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Activities that you can take from the Royal Marine Hotel include a boat cruise from Dun Laoghaire to Howth, farm visits to the Airfield Estate (additional discounts are available for guests), the Sandycove Heritage Trail, which can be accessed from the nearby People's Park, as well as stand-up paddling in the harbor.

If you are in a group of 4 or more, it might be a good idea to rent a house or apartment while in Dublin. Airbnb or Vrbo are both good websites to look.

While hostel accommodation is not for everyone, it can be a great option for those on a tight budget.

The Generator hostel in Dublin. Photo: Tourism Ireland.
The Generator hostel in Dublin. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

The city has several hostels. They include the Generator, Jacobs Inn, the Isaacs Hostel, and more.

Read More: Where to Stay in Dublin: 7 Budget Picks in the City Center

#5 Eat Out at Dublin's Budget-Friendly Restaurants

There’s no doubt that Dublin can be expensive when it comes to eating out. Here are some money-saving tips that will be kinder to your wallet when visiting Dublin.

Tip #1: Eat a large breakfast before heading out for the day. While continental breakfast is available in hotels and guesthouses across Dublin, the full Irish breakfast is a much more satisfying choice.

A full Irish breakfast is a staple at most Irish hotels and B&Bs. Photo: Getty Images.
A full Irish breakfast is a staple at most Irish hotels and B&Bs. Photo: Getty Images.

Fueling up at the beginning of the day will cut down on the necessity for lunch later on.

Tip #2: While they are more common in pubs across other parts of Ireland, some Dublin pubs still serve buffet-style carvery meals that are good value for money.

Photo: tirc83 for Getty Images Signature.
Photo: tirc83 for Getty Images Signature.

Simply put, they consist of honest-to-goodness staples like potatoes, meat, and vegetables, all for a fixed price. Roast beef dinners, turkey, and traditional bacon and cabbage are firm favorites.

These moderately-priced meals can be found at Sinnott's off Grafton Street, Eden House, and The Old Spot (look for their Sunday Old Spot Roasts).

Tip #3: Take advantage of the early bird specials that you’ll find in many Dublin restaurants. Be sure to get there at the designated time to snag the savings.

Photo: gguy44 for Getty Images Pro.
Photo: gguy44 for Getty Images Pro.

Here are some to consider:

The FIRE Steakhouse & Bar – located on Dawson Street in the heart of the city. This eatery offers a 2- and 3-course early bird special Monday through Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.Have you visited Dublin lately?
Toscana Restaurant – located on Dame Street in the city center. This popular Italian restaurant serves up a 3-course early bird pre-theater dinner special for €35.95 per person.
Sole Seafood & Grill – the award-winning Sole Seafood & Grill restaurant is squarely in the luxury category given its recent nomination as “Europe’s Best Luxury Seafood Restaurant,” but if you can snag its 2 or 3-course early bird special, you won’t be disappointed.
Gallagher's Boxty House – if you find yourself in the Temple Bar area, don’t hesitate to pop into Gallagher’s Boxty House, which takes its name from the traditional Irish dish, “boxty.”Here you’ll find interesting variations of the original humble dish, including on its special boxty menu.
Dada Moroccan Restaurant – known for serving up an eclectic menu, this Moroccan eatery offers an early bird Halal menu on Monday through Friday (5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.) and on Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Choose from either two courses for €25.95 per person or three courses for €29.95. The restaurant uses 100% prime certified Irish lamb.
Quays Irish Restaurant – located in the heart of the city’s Temple Bar section, you can get two courses at Quays Irish Restaurant for just €25.95.

Let me know in the comments below your own budget-saving tips when sightseeing in Dublin.

colette

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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