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On CIE's "Taste of Ireland" tour you'll gt to see Blarney Castle in Co. Cork. Photo: Pixabay.

How to Enjoy Ireland’s Tourist Attractions Without Wasting Time or Money

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If you want to enjoy Ireland’s popular tourist attractions without wasting time, you’ll need to decide between simply purchasing a general admission ticket to a tourist attraction or booking a guided tour.

This blog post contains affiliate links, and I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

Here are some of the differences between the two.

Your goal should be to beat the crowds, save money and enjoy Ireland's tourist attractions at the same time.

Purchase Tickets in Advance

Since many of Ireland’s popular tourist attractions like the Book of Kells, the Cliffs of Moher, and Blarney Castle are among Ireland's most popular attractions, it is wise to book your tickets ahead of time.

Tickets for Blarney Castle and Gardens — including the infamous Blarney Stone — can be booked online.

They cost €18 each for adults; €14 for seniors and students; €8 for children (ages 8-16), and €45 for a family of 4.

sign Book of Kells
Entry sign pointing to the Book of Kells Exhibition, Trinity College. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

Since entry is timed at the Book of Kells at Dublin’s Trinity College, it is required that you book online anyway.

Tickets are €18 for adults; €15 for seniors and students; €14 each for groups of 10 or more, and €34 for a family of 4 (children under 16).

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

While you could chance walking up to the gate at Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin in the hopes of gaining admission, you will be disappointed since this, too, is a very popular tourist attraction.

In fact, it is recommended that you pre-book your ticket, which includes a 60-minute guided tour, with a maximum of 35 people on each tour.

Kilmainham Gaol is not recommended for children under 6.

Tickets are €8 for adults, €6 for seniors (60+), €4 for students and children 12-17, and €20 for a family of two adults and 2-3 children ages 12-17.

Even if you have a Heritage Card, you still need to pre-book since tickets are timed.

a passageway surrounded by rocks Newgrange Visitor Center
The passage tomb at Newgrange. Photo: Brian Morrison for Tourism Ireland.

If you want to see Ireland’s sacred site Newgrange, you’ll also need to book your tickets in advance.

The cost of tickets is €18 for adults; €16 for seniors; €12 for students and children up to the age of 12; €48 for families of up to 7 children, and free admission for children under 12.

The tickets include entrance to the exhibitions at Knowth (a nearby archaeological site and part of the complex), to the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre as well as a guided tour of the chamber at Newgrange.

The Hill of Tara from above in Co. Meath. Photo courtesy of Macmillan Media.

When Guided Tours Makes Sense

You’ll find that many guided tours of Ireland’s famous attractions are often packaged together by online travel sites such as TripAdvisor, GetYourGuide, and Viator.

The old railway line at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Photo: Creative Commons.

While such tours will cost more than a single admission ticket, you’re often getting additional value because you are seeing more than one attraction and you’ll have the benefit of a tour guide.

Regular admission tickets to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin will entitle you to a self-guided tour (no guided tours are offered by Guinness).

Adult tickets cost €18. Children (ages 5-17) are €10, with children under 4 admitted free of charge. A family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) costs €46.

a man looking at two pints of Guinness how to enjoy Ireland's popular tourist attractions
Checking a pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar. Photo: ©James Bowden for Contiki and Tourism Ireland.

Other self-guided tour tickets include a free Guinness or non-alcoholic drink in the Gravity Bar (€22), or for €28, you can get a STOUTie, which is the second pint of Guinness with your selfie on the head of the stout.

If you want to get a more in-depth understanding of Dublin’s famous brewery, a guided tour is essential.

Viator’s Skip the Line Guinness and Jameson Irish Whiskey Experience tour gives customers skip-the-line access and includes guided tours of both attractions.

Read More: The 10 Top Experiences in Ireland (voted by TripAdvisor Reviewers)

books on a shelf how to enjoy Ireland's popular tourist attractions
Books on shelves of the Old Library, Trinity College. Photo: twenty20photos

Equally, a guided tour of the Book of Kells and the Old Library may make more sense than doing it yourself.

Since Trinity College does not organize such tours, you could listen to the free audio tour available on both iPhone and Android devices.

Want to Know What to Pack for Your Trip to Ireland?

If you want fast-track access to the Book of Kells, along with a tour of Dublin Castle, this combination tour may be for you.

Rather than booking tickets for the Newgrange Visitor Centre and archaeological site yourself, a guided tour might be more beneficial.

a museum display bru na boinne how to enjoy Ireland's tourist attractions
The interior of the new Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre in Co. Meath. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

For an affordable €55, Mary Gibbons' Newgrange Tours include skip-the-line access to the Newgrange monument as well Knowth, in addition to the Hill of Tara.

Gibbons, a professional tour guide, runs an excellent bus tour that picks up customers at several stops in Dublin.

Discover Ireland's Top Cities and Attractions on an Aer Lingus Vacation(includes RT fare from JFK New York, accommodation, car rental, and the cost of tours)

How to See Some of Ireland’s Famous Attractions for Free

As incredible as it may seem, there are a few of Ireland's tourist attractions that you really don’t have to pay for, even though they are rarely advertised that way.

For example, you could see the beautiful Cliffs of Moher without paying a penny.

This is especially useful if you are staying in Doolin, which is about 4 miles (7.5 km) north of the cliffs.

a walk near the ocean how to enjoy Ireland's tourist attractions
The Cliffs of Moher coastal walk that will bring you along the rugged coastline to the cliffs and O'Brien's Tower. Photo: Alain Rouiller,

By taking the 5-mile (8 km) Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk, which starts in Doolin, you can get to the cliffs in about 3 hours.

You won’t regret walking this stretch of the County Clare coastline.

the front of a building how to enjoy Ireland's tourist attractions
Gus O'Connor's Pub in Doolin, a popular place for traditional Irish music sessions. Photo: Martin Sillaots,

Make your way to the cliffs on this scenic route, which starts near Fisher Street in Doolin (not far from the popular Gus O’Connor’s pub in the village).

Once you reach the cliffs, you’ll see O’Brien’s Tower and the visitor center.

A shuttle bus is available to get you back to Doolin.

Read More: Cliffs of Moher App Helps Plan Visit

The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is another hugely popular attraction, but you don’t need to pay the fee to see that either – if you don’t use the parking lot.

Like the Cliffs of Moher attraction, you’ll need to do some walking to get to the attraction.

Provided the weather is agreeable, I suggest that you take the walk from either Dunseverick Castle known as the North Antrim Cliff Path, 9 kilometers/5 miles away, or from the small seaside village of Portballinatrae, a much shorter walk of about 3.6 miles (almost 6 kilometers).

The beauty of the Coastal Causeway is incredible and what better way to see it than to walk along its shores?

Once you get to the Causeway, you are free to explore to your heart’s content. The visitor center is a short walk away, but again, no need to go there if you don’t want to spend the extra money.

What tourist attractions in Ireland are you planning to visit? Let me know in the comments below.

Read More: 7 New Attractions in Ireland to See in 2022


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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