The Ultimate Guide to Dublin on a Budget (2023)
Are you looking to visit Dublin on a budget? You might think that travelling means having to spend a lot of money, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy this great city even if you don’t have a huge budget to spend.
In this article, we will cover cheap places to stay, cheap food options, as well as budget-friendly attractions and events to check out. With everything from markets to museums, cheap meals and free live music, you’ll find plenty to do in Dublin without breaking the bank.
Where to Stay in Dublin on a Budget
Looking for cheap accommodation in Dublin? There are options that can save money while being great places to stay.
Staying at Clink
If you want a cheap place to stay in Dublin, try Clink i Lar. Our vibrant and welcoming hostel in the centre of Dublin means you’ll always be close to great attractions and events. Our central location is particularly ideal if you plan to go out in the evenings, and it can save you a lot of money on travel compared to staying on the outskirts of the city.
If you’ve never stayed in one before, you should know that there are plenty of advantages to staying in a hostel. The low price is often the biggest draw, but it’s also a great way to stay somewhere that’s lively and bustling. You’ll get to meet other travellers, many of whom have interesting stories and unique experiences to talk about. Our staff can also give you great advice on how to make the most of your visit.
Hostels are great for backpackers and solo travellers, but there is plenty of space for larger groups. You’ll find all the amenities you are used to, like clean showers, comfy beds, and options on-site for food and drinks, so you don’t have to sacrifice comfort when getting cheap accommodation.
How to Travel Cheap in Dublin
Dublin is a great place with lots to see and do, and to get to the best attractions you might have to travel. Here’s our advice on how to get around Dublin cheaply when you visit.
Despite being a major city, Dublin is compact, making it surprisingly easy to walk around. If you pick accommodation in or near the centre of the city, you will be within easy walking distance of most of the big attractions, as well as great locations for eating, drinking, and exploring the nightlife of the city.
Not only is walking a great way to get around the city, but there are also plenty of beautiful walking routes that you can enjoy. Try taking a walk through the Iveagh Gardens with its rose bushes and fountains, or take a stroll through the trees of St Anne’s Court. There are even lots of free walking tours you can enjoy to help you see all the best landmarks in the city.
Renting a bike
If you like cycling, you can also rent a bike to travel the city cheaply. This can be quicker than walking, but you should make sure that you are familiar with the rules of riding a bicycle in Dublin. This mostly means obeying the rules of the road and respecting traffic signs.
If you’re looking for great cycling routes, you’ll find plenty of tracks to explore in Dublin. For a bracing ride, try the 10km coastal path along Strand Road. For a gentler ride, try visiting Phoenix Park, which is well known for its gently sloping hills and the large colony of deer that calls the park home.
Taking the bus
If you want to travel longer distances cheaply, check out the local public transport and buses. Buses generally run in Dublin every day, and late into the evening and night, making it easy to get around.
Remember that it’s always important to check the bus timetables before you set off. Some buses might stop running earlier, or they might take different routes at different times, so you should carefully make sure you know which buses to get.
If you need to take multiple buses on the same day, you can often get cheaper combined tickets that let you have access to more than one bus.
The Leap Card travel card
If you are expecting to travel around Dublin a lot, you should look into the Leap Card. This is a scheme that lets you purchase one card for use on almost all public transport. This includes most buses and trains within the city. There are options for 1 day, 3 days or 7 days, which starts when you first use the card. A 7-day pass is only €32, which can be much cheaper than getting individual tickets or using a taxi.
Be sure to check which buses and trains accept the Leap Card, as not all will. The Leap Card is a physical card that needs to be delivered, so you should purchase a card well before your visit to ensure you receive it in time. You can add additional time to your card at a Leap Card Payment outlet.
Things to Do in Dublin on a Budget
If you want to make the most of your Dublin holiday without spending too much, you will find that there are plenty of cheap things and free things to do in Dublin. Our top suggestions are:
Dublin is a beautiful historic city, and there are a lot of great landmarks that you can visit. There are plenty of free walking tours that you can take to help you spot some of the most famous landmarks, letting you benefit from the expert knowledge of locals. Alternatively, you can grab a map and explore the city at your own pace.
Some of the most iconic landmarks to check out in Dublin are:
- Trinity College – Founded in 1592, this stunning college has beautiful old buildings and an impressive old library that you can visit.
- Ha-penny Bridge – Which cast-iron bridge is a popular landmark in Dublin. It was built in 1816 and got its name from the old half-penny toll that pedestrians used to have to pay to cross.
- St Stephen’s Green – This is possibly the most famous park in the city, with stunning fountains and Victorian features.
- St Patrick’s Cathedral – Built to honour Ireland’s patron saint, this cathedral houses over 200 religious relics
There are several great museums in Dublin that are free, meaning you can see a lot without having to spend a penny. Some of the best free museums in Dublin are:
- The National History Museum – This includes everything from natural history to exhibitions about Irish folklife, making it a great place to take your time exploring
- The Decorative Arts and History Museum – With prints, ornaments and artefacts from Ireland and abroad, this is definitely worth visiting
- The National Gallery of Ireland – Admission to the permanent collection and many temporary exhibitions is free. They even offer free guided tours where you can learn about some of the highlights of the collection.
- The Chester Beatty Library – Founded in 1950, this library was originally built to house collections belonging to Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, a mining magnate. Nowadays it holds books from all over the world, including East Asian and Islamic texts.
Dublin has plenty of beautiful green spaces where you can enjoy a nice quiet picnic or a stroll. Many of them even have good tree cover if you want to brave a walk in less-than-ideal weather. Some of the best parks to visit in the area include:
- Phoenix Park – this is one of the largest enclosed public parks in Europe. It’s home to a visitor centre, zoological gardens, Victorian flower gardens, and a cafe. The park is also famous for its herd of around 450 deer.
- St Stephen’s Green – This green oasis of calm sits in the heart of the city. You can enjoy the manicured flower beds and spot dozens of species of birds here.
- Iveagh Gardens – Known as Dublin’s Secret Garden, this delightful park has lots of beautiful features, including a yew maze, and the Roasium, along with fountains and a water cascade.
- Herbert Park – This is a charming park in southern Dublin with plenty of sports facilities in case you fancy a quick game of football or a round of tennis.
There are plenty of markets that are free to wander around in Dublin. Some markets to enjoy in Dublin include:
- Temple Bar markets – The markets on this iconic street have traders with a wide range of wares, from art to antiques and more.
- Liberty Market – This is one of Dublin’s longest-running markets, and you’ll find plenty of stalls in the covered venue.
- Herbert Park Market – This is one of the city’s biggest food markets, with street food and produce from all around the world.
- People’s Park Farmers Market – If you want fresh local produce, be sure to browse this market in Dun Laoghaire Park.
Top 5 unmissable free things to do in Dublin
Our top suggestions for free things to do in Dublin are:
- Free Dublin walking tour – If you want to see the best sights of the city, find a free walking tour. This is a great way to get an insight into the city from a local perspective.
- Trinity College Campus – Trinity College is a beautiful place to visit. Be sure to explore the old library. You can also pay to see the historic Book of Kells if you want.
- Live music in Temple Bar – The Temple Bar area of Dublin is one of the most iconic streets for nightlife, pubs, and live music. Plenty of pubs have live traditional Irish music during the afternoons and evenings.
- The Comedy Club at the Stags Head – You’ll find free comedy acts every Sunday and Monday on the lower floor of the Stags Head pub. They also offer folklore and storytelling evenings if you’re interested in Irish culture.
- Buskers on Grafton Street – Grafton Street is the most popular location in Dublin for buskers. You never know quite what you’ll see, so it’s worth visiting multiple times.
Eating in Dublin on a Budget
Be sure to try some great Irish food while you visit Dublin. If you’re looking for places to eat in Dublin on a budget, try these:
If you want a hearty meal to start the day, be sure to try a full Irish breakfast. You can get a great full Irish breakfast at Clink Hostel’s cafe, meaning you don’t have to go anywhere to get a good meal if you’re staying with us. Be sure to also check out O’Neill’s Pub & Kitchen with its extensive menu.
For something a bit different, head over to Boxty House, where you can have another traditional Irish breakfast food—the boxty—which is a delicious type of potato pancake. Of course, there are also plenty of bakeries and cafes where you can get a quick bite before walking around the city.
If you’re looking for a brunch spot, there are plenty of places to try in Dublin. Some of our top suggestions include Lovinspoon Cafe, known for its generous portion sizes, and Tang, a cafe that focuses on sustainable yet affordable food.
If you want a bottomless brunch, try Wigwam’s lively Drag Brunch, where you can add unlimited cocktails for only €30, or Revolution, where it’s only €16 per person for endless mimosas to wash down your food. You’ll also find unique and unusual brunch options. Try a Mexican brunch at Thundercut Alley or try Beef & Lobster, a great central spot in Temple Bar that specialises in burgers and seafood.
There are plenty of great choices for a cheap lunch or dinner in Dublin as well. If you want big portions of honest food, as well as a cosy jazz atmosphere, try Stage Door Cafe in Temple Bar. For freshly home-cooked warming soup and fresh bread, give Soup Dragon a try.
For healthy eating, Beanhive is a great family-run restaurant with plenty of options, including vegetarian and vegan plates. If you want more vegan options, there are plenty of vegan specialist restaurants in Dublin as well. Cornucopia wholefood restaurant has everything from pasta to salad bowls, and of course vegan cake and ice cream, as well as gluten-free options. For some vegan indulgence, try the Saucy Cow, famous for its huge vegan burgers and loaded fries.
Going out in Dublin on a Budget
No city break would be complete without some nights out. Here are some of the top cheap ways to enjoy Dublin’s nightlife.
Pubs and bars
If you are looking for someone to get a cheap drink, rest assured that Dublin has plenty of options. One of the most popular cheap watering holes is Dicey’s Garden, a stylish modern rooftop bar with a party atmosphere. They even have cheap weeknight offers with drinks for as little as €2.
If you want somewhere quieter, try Cassidy’s Bar, where there are plenty of cheap drink and food deals, and you can relax and enjoy some board games. For sports lovers, try The Living Room sports bar with its giant TVs and cheap pints. Of course, as with any city, you’ll find plenty of small local pubs to enjoy at good prices.
Dublin has a huge pub culture, so be sure to make the most of it. Even if you only have one drink there, a walk down the Temple Bar area is a must for your getaway, as this iconic part of the city is the hub of Dublin’s traditional pub nightlife.
Live music venues
Ireland is famous for its music, in terms of both folk music and modern tunes. If you’re a music lover, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy free live music on a night out.
One of the most well-known small music venues in the city is Whelan’s. While a lot of their gigs are ticketed, they have frequent free music, so you should always check their website when you are planning a night out. Many big artists have done early gigs at Whelan’s, and you never know what you’ll find there. For live folk music or small bands, be sure to check out any of the numerous live music bars and pubs, such as The Cobblestone or The Mezz Temple Bar.
If you’re looking for an evening filled with laughs, there are also plenty of options for free and cheap comedy clubs to explore during your visit. Every Sunday and Monday evening you can enjoy The Comedy Crunch at the iconic Stag’s Head pub. It’s also worth finding a Stitches Comedy Club performance. The Stitches Comedy Club puts on shows seven nights a week around Dublin, with the venue changing regularly, though their regular weekend shows at Peadar Kearney’s Pub are said to be some of the best comedy offerings that the city has.
To Sum Up
Dublin is a beautiful city to visit, but we all know that travelling can be expensive. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to make the most of a holiday to Dublin while sticking to a tight budget. From walking tours and sightseeing to museums and public parks, you’ll find plenty to occupy your days, while the great nightlife and cheap bars we’ve listed can help you paint the town red without breaking the bank.
Be sure to watch some live traditional Irish music on your visit to really soak in a big part of the country’s culture. If you’re looking for new culinary delights, hit up one of the cafes or restaurants we’ve listed for some cheap food. Make sure to try the full Irish breakfast or a boxty pancake for something new. And, of course, one of the cheapest ways to find accommodation in Dublin is to look at hostels, so book in at Clink i Lár.