I love Dublin. While the city isn’t the prettiest in the world (and on a cloudy day it can feel downright gloomy), there is so much literary and cultural history here you can’t help but feel inspired as you explore. It’s a lively city brimming with traditional pubs, live music and dancing (so much Irish jigging), and a hearty, vibrant food scene.
While Dublin does have something for everyone, I think history buffs and late-night revelers will get the most out of the city. Some of the world’s most famous writers cut their teeth here and there is a sprawling pub scene that ensures you’re never far from your next pint.
Best of all, Dubliners are a friendly, inquisitive bunch always happy to show you a good time.
You just simply can’t go wrong with a few days in this city. This budget travel guide to Dublin can help you plan an unforgettable trip while saving you money in the process.
Table of Contents
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Top 5 Things to See and Do in Dublin
1. Tour the Guinness Storehouse
2. Relax in St. Stephen’s Green
3. Take a tour of Trinity College
4. Tour Kilmainham Gaol
5. Drink in Temple Bar
Other Things to See and Do in Dublin
1. Take a walking tour
I’m always a fan of walking tours as they give you a lot of insight and history to your destination. I always start my trips off with one. Dublin Free Walking Tour offers daily tours that last 2-3 hours and cover the main sights. It’s the best way to get the lay of the land and ask a local expert all your questions. Just be sure to tip your guide at the end!
2. Explore The Chester Beatty
Situated at the back of Dublin Castle, The Chester Beatty boasts a wonderful and sizeable collection of Asian, Far-Eastern, and Islamic artifacts. You can admire Egyptian Books of the Dead, illuminated Ethiopian parchments, Jesuit travel journals, French manuscripts, Iranian narrative paintings, and more. They also host a lot of temporary exhibitions, lectures by invited guests, and workshops, most of which also free to attend. It’s one of the best museums in the country. Admission is free.
3. Learn about “Dublinia”
Dublin was founded by Vikings and this museum focuses on the city’s Viking and medieval history. It’s a historical recreation museum with exhibits like medieval street scenes and Viking longboats. They also have actors in costumes to bring it all to life (you can get dressed up in period clothing too). You can learn about crime and punishment in medieval Dublin, see period weapons and armor, and get a glimpse of actual artifacts on loan from the National Museum. You can also climb the 96 steps to the top of St. Michael’s tower (a real medieval tower) to take in the view. Admission is 12 EUR.
4. Visit the Dublin Zoo
Located in Phoenix Park, the Dublin Zoo opened in 1830 and spans almost 70 acres. It has several different areas, each with its own unique flora and fauna. Tigers, hippos, elephants, sloths, primates, pythons, and everything in between can be found here. It’s a perfect place to spend the day if you’re traveling with kids. Admission is 20 EUR (17.50 EUR if you purchase them online).
5. See Dublin Castle
At the heart of the city lies Dublin Castle, which was completed in the early 13th-century. Built as a defense against future invasions, the castle acted as the English seat of governance in Ireland. In 1673, it was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in the Georgian style. The castle remained the seat of government until 1922 when Ireland gained independence. Today, the building is used for governmental business, state receptions, and inaugurations. You can explore the grounds for free but a self-guided tour of the State Apartments costs 8 EUR. You can also do guided tours for 12 EUR.
6. Go on a literary pub crawl
Dublin has a long history of producing incredible writers. This city produced Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and W.B. Yeats to name just a few. The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl is a two-hour walking tour conducted by actors who perform scenes from some of Ireland’s literary greats while you enjoy a drink at 4 different pubs along the way. It costs 15 EUR. They also run a weekly literary walk that visits iconic spots around the city that relate to Dublin’s famous writers. These tours last two hours and cost 12 EUR.
7. Tour the Jameson Distillery
Jameson was one of Dublin’s first distilleries, dating back to 1780. It’s the world’s best-selling Irish whiskey and although Jameson isn’t made in the city anymore (it’s made in Cork now), their distillery remains and hosts daily tours. You can learn about the whiskey-making process and sample the product at the end of the tour. Guided tours are 25 EUR. You can also take a whiskey blending class for 60 EUR.
8. Wander through Phoenix Park
This massive park is the second-largest enclosed city park in all of Europe. Spanning almost 1,800 acres, the homes of the U.S. Ambassador and the President of Ireland can be found here (as well as wild deer that have been living her for centuries). The park was created in 1662 and is also home to a polo field and the Dublin Zoo. It’s an ideal place for a quiet walk on a sunny day or a relaxing picnic.
9. Shop on Grafton and Powerscourt Center
Powerscourt Center is one of Dublin’s most popular shopping centers. Located just off Grafton Street, it’s located inside an 18th-century Georgia townhouse that’s been converted into a retail center. Admire the rococo style hallway, the neoclassical style music room (now a bridal boutique), and ballroom (now an art gallery). While the intricate details within the house are stunning, the central courtyard, with its glass ceiling and crystal chandeliers, is even more eye-catching. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, this is a cool place to browse.
10. Take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher
If you don’t have time to fully explore the west coast during your visit, try taking a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs, which stand a whopping 700 feet tall, are one of Ireland’s top attractions and a stunning sight to see up close. Most tours also include a stop in Galway, which can give you a little taste of life in western Ireland. Tours from Dublin take the whole day as you literally need to cross the entire country, but if it’s your only chance to see the Cliffs of Moher then you shouldn’t pass it up! Tours start at 50 EUR.
11. Visit Marsh’s Library
Built in 1707, Marsh’s Library is the first public library in Ireland. The library is located across from the cathedral in St Patrick’s Close. It has over 25,000 books and 300 historic manuscripts. Inside, you’ll find three traditional scholar alcoves (think “cages”) where readers would get locked in when reading a rare book so that they wouldn’t walk away with it. Admission is 5 EUR.
12. Go to the National Leprechaun Museum
This quirky museum focuses on the folklore and mythology of leprechauns and faeries. A tour of the museum includes fun exhibits of giant furniture and other optical illusions. I had a lot of fun playing here with my friend and listening to the oral history of Ireland’s famous folklore. It was surprisingly informative and fun. On Friday and Saturday nights, there is a DarkLand tour featuring tales from the darker side of Ireland, including some grim Irish folklore (it’s not suitable for kids). It costs 16 EUR for the daytime tour and DarkLand tour costs 18 EUR.
13. See Newgrange
Located 45 minutes north of Dublin by car, Newgrange is a prehistoric burial mound that dates back over 5,200 years (which makes it older than both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids). Human remains, as well as other artifacts, were found in the massive tomb, which is composed of a ring of stone topped by earth. Inside are several chambers and passageways. Every year on the Winter Solstice, a beam of light streams down the perfectly aligned entrance passage to illuminate the interior of the burial chamber. Admission is 7 EUR.
For more information on other cities in Ireland, check out these guides:
Dublin Travel Costs
Hostel prices – A bed in a dorm with 8-10 beds starts at 25 EUR per night while 4-bed dorms cost 40 EUR. Private rooms average 99 EUR per night. Free Wi-Fi is standard and most hostels have kitchen facilities so you can cook your own meals.
For those traveling with a tent, a basic plot for two people without electricity can be found outside the city for around 12 EUR per night.
Budget hotel prices – A centrally located two-star budget hotel starts around 70 EUR. Expect basic amenities like free Wi-Fi and a basic free breakfast.
On Airbnb, private rooms around 30 EUR per night. Entire homes start at around 70 EUR per night. Prices usually average double that so be sure to book early to find the best deals.
Average cost of food – Ireland is very much a “meat and potatoes” country. Cod, salmon, and oysters are some of the most popular seafood options, with other staple dishes being shepherd’s pie, black pudding, bacon and cabbage, fish and chips, and meat stews.
A traditional meal costs around 15 EUR. For a multi-course meal with a drink, expect to pay at least 30 EUR. Fast food (think McDonald’s) starts at 8 EUR for a combo meal.
Pizza costs 7 EUR for a medium while Chinese food costs around 10 EUR for a main dish. Fish and chips can be found for as little as 6 EUR. Beer is around 5 EUR while a latte/cappuccino is 3.50 EUR. Bottled water is 1.50 EUR.
Try Klaw in Temple Bar for oysters and Ramen Bar for ramen. Be sure to also eat at Hatch and Sons and The Pig’s Ear.
If you want to cook your meals, expect to pay 45-50 EUR per week for groceries that include basic staples like pasta, rice, produce, and some meat.
Backpacking Dublin Suggested Budgets
On a backpacking budget of 55 EUR per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, cook all of your meals, limit your drinking, take public transportation to get around, and do free and cheap activities like free walking tours or visiting the Gaol. If you plan on drinking, add 5-15 EUR per day to your budget.
On a mid-range budget of 125 EUR per day, you can stay in a private hostel room or Airbnb, eat out for most meals at cheap fast food places, have a couple of drinks, take the occasional taxi, and do more paid activities like touring Trinity College or visiting the Cliffs of Moher.
On a “luxury” budget of at least 255 EUR per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out anywhere you want, drink more, rent a car for day trips, and do as many tours and excursions as you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.
Dublin Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
Dublin isn’t a super cheap city, but it doesn’t need to break the bank either. Here are some tips to help you save money in Dublin:
- Student discounts – A valid student ID can get you discounts of up to 50% on attractions throughout the country. If you are a student, always ask for student discounts as many places offer them.
- Drink less – Ireland’s pub culture will hit your wallet hard. Temper the cost by visiting happy hours, drinking at home, or skipping drinks altogether.
- Eat the pub food – Eat at the pubs for hearty Irish food that won’t destroy your wallet.
- Get the DoDublin Card – This tourism card includes access to 6 of the city’s main attractions. It you’re planning to see a lot this card can save you money. It’s 39 EUR.
- Get an OPW Heritage Card – If you love to tour heritage sites, pick up this card. It provides free access to most of the castles throughout the country. The card costs 40 EUR. This is a must for people visiting multiple cities in the country!
- Stay with a local – Couchsurfing connects you with locals who can give a free place to stay and introduce you to the city. It’s a great way to save money and make new friends!
- Eat early – Many restaurants have budget dinner options if you eat early (usually before 6pm). You won’t have as much variety since it’s a set menu, but it will be cheaper.
- Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
Where to Stay in Dublin
Dublin has a ton of fun, affordable hostels. Here are my suggested places to stay:
How to Get Around Dublin
Public transportation – There is an extensive bus system in Dublin which runs through the city center and into the suburbs. Buses run 5:30am to midnight and a single ticket costs 2.15-3.80 EUR depending on how far you go. A day pass is 10 EUR.
The Airlink Express bus travels from the airport to downtown. A single ticket costs 7 EUR.
The city also has a light rail system. There are two lines to choose from and trams run 5:30am to midnight. A single ticket costs from 2.10-3.20 EUR and a round-trip ticket costs 3.70-5.50 EUR. Unlimited single-day travel costs 7.30 USD.
For travel to the suburbs, there’s the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) which operates 6am-midnight. Single fares cost 2.50 EUR.
Taxi – Taxis in Dublin can be expensive, with a daytime starting rate of 4 EUR. The rate is 1.35 EUR for each additional kilometer so skip them if you can!
Ridesharing – Uber is available in Dublin but is regulated so it’s the same price as taxis. You can save $15 off your first Uber ride with this code: jlx6v.
Bike – DublinBikes has self-service bicycle rentals around the city. A day pass costs 10 EUR and the first 30 minutes are free. If you return the bike in under 30 minutes, you’ll only pay the initial 10 EUR, otherwise, there is an additional hourly fee.
Car rental – Car rentals can be found for as little as 20 EUR per day for a multi-day rental. However, you’ll only need a car if you’re leaving the city to explore. Drivers need to be at least 21 years old.
When to Go to Dublin
Dublin’s mild, temperate climate makes it a good destination to visit year-round, keeping in mind that you’re guaranteed to encounter rain no matter when you visit!
The summer months (June-August) are the warmest so this is when the city is at its liveliest. However, keep in mind that this is peak season so you’ll compete for accommodation. Prices are a little inflated too. Average temperatures during this time are between 56-68°F (13-20°C), but sometimes can climb up to 77°F (25°C) or more.
Winters can be drizzly with short daylight hours, but temperatures rarely fall below freezing. It’s chilly, grey, and grim. Some people find that unflattering, but I actually enjoy its moody charm. Just dress warmly and be prepared for lots of indoor activities.
Saint Patrick’s Day in March is huge in Dublin and the city becomes crowded with locals and tourists ready to get their party on. During this time, hostels and hotels fill up quickly and prices spike. Temperatures are still mild and Ireland is just as beautiful as ever.
Overall, the shoulder season (March-May and September-October) is my favorite time to visit. Aside from St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll find prices to be a little lower and the city to be less busy. The weather is decent enough for exploring too. Just bring an umbrella!
How to Stay Safe in Dublin
Dublin is very safe and the risk of violent crime here is low. Scams and pick-pocketing can occur around high traffic areas like Temple Bar as well as on crowded public transportation. But as long as you keep an eye on your valuables you should be fine.
Don’t leave valuables inside a car if you rent a vehicle as snatch and grabs on tourist vehicles are common in Dublin.
Some of the rougher parts of town you may want to avoid are Tallaght, Ballymun, Ringsend, Crumlin, Cork Street, Finglas, and Inchicore.
If you do experience an emergency, dial 112 or 999 for assistance.
If you’re worried about scams, you can read about 14 travel scams to avoid here.
Always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID.
If you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it in Dublin!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Dublin Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to Dublin. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the ones I use the most and are always the starting points in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Momondo – This is my other favorite flight search engine because they search such a wide variety of sites and airlines. I never book a flight without checking here too.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or in their spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Booking.com – The best all-around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around Ireland, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link!
- The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
- Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B in the best and cheapest way possible. It gives you all the bus, train, plane, and boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
Dublin Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Dublin Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir, by Frank McCourt
Angela’s Ashes is a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times bestseller — and you’ll understand why within the first few pages of this book. Angela’s Ashes illuminates McCourt’s life in the Limerick slums, where his mother can’t afford to feed her kids and his father drinks away their money. It’s both eye-opening and funny — McCourt’s Irish humor shines through, even in the toughest of times.
Round Ireland with a Fridge, by Tony Hawks
Tony Hawks lost a drunken bet. His punishment? He has to tramp around Ireland…with a fridge in tow. As it turns out, it was one of the best experiences of his life. With his trusty appliance, Hawks makes his way from Dublin to Donegal, then Sligo to Mayo, Galway, Clare, and Wicklow…all before heading back to Dublin again. He finds himself surfing, entering a bachelor festival, and even meeting a king thanks to his trusty fridge. If you need a good laugh, this is it.
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, by Roddy Doyle
Roddy Doyle is a beloved Irish author, and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is one of his most famous works. Set in 1968, Paddy Clarke is just 10 years old. He’s like any other 10-year-old: he loves the Three Stooges and hates his little brother. He and his best friend Kevin roam all over Barrytown writing their names in wet cement. But Paddy has so many questions about his world. Like why didn’t anyone step in when Charles Leavy tried to kill him? And why do his parents fight all the time but insist nothing is wrong? It’s a delightful coming-of-age story.
The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats, by W. B. Yeats
Poetry isn’t something I would normally recommend, but W.B. Yeats is such an important literary figurehead that he deserves your attention. He’s a Nobel prizewinner and his poetry is accessible. It strongly focuses on Irish life and the country’s complicated history. This collection includes all his published poetry, so you can browse through and find a few favorites. You’ll be happy you did so (start with The Isle of Innisfree).
Dubliners, by James Joyce
This book is a brutally honest and vivid account of “dear dirty Dublin” in the early 20th century. There are 15 stories in total, and if you’re only going to read a handful make it “Araby” or “The Dead.” Joyce was raised in Dublin, and his ability to capture the lives of Dubliners and their unique cadence of speech is impressive and immersive. It’s a heavy read, but a memorable one.
Dublin Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Dublin and continue planning your trip: