Can you Travel Ireland on the Cheap? Ireland is expensive. I’m Irish-born and raised so I can say that honestly. How expensive? Well to give ya some perspective, Ireland was voted the 13th most expensive country in the world. For such a small country, that’s an impressive score.
So yeah, that expensive. But that doesn’t mean you should skip it. Do not skip it! Ireland is a small island packed with contagious culture, a lively atmosphere and craic – and of course, the rolling green hills and beautiful countryside it’s known for. So yea, you should definitely visit!
How to Travel Ireland on the Cheap – Budget-Friendly Tips for Visiting Ireland
So can you travel Ireland on the cheap? Of course! By planning your trip to Ireland the right way, you can definitely travel here on a budget. Lucky for you, I’ve been traveling this country for years and I have the best tips to travel Ireland Cheap.
Let’s break this into easy-to-digest sections, cuz I have a lot to share with you.
1. Getting to Ireland – Booking your flight to Ireland Budget Friendly
While I don’t have to worry so much about getting to Ireland myself, there are so many universal tips you can use for getting a flight to Ireland without breaking your budget. Let’s go with these proven winners:
- Use an incognito window or VPN: I think we all know now, that your browser will save your previous searches. This can result in horrifying flight prices. Use Incognito windows or a VPN to get around this
- Use budget airlines and shop around different airports to get the best deals
- If you are flying to Ireland from Europe, Ryanair is your best bet, with regular offers where you can get flights for as little as €10
- Use flight search-engine sites like Skyscanner to find great deals
2. Don’t spend too much time in the cities – cities are EXPENSIVE
Spending a week in Dublin is going to be expensive, there’s no two ways about that. But instead, spend a couple of days in the cities and then get out and see the rest of Ireland.
Speaking of cities, check out: Why Galway is Better than Dublin | Galway City Vs Dublin City
3. Transport – Getting around Ireland on the Cheap
Public transport in Ireland costs a bomb. To put this into perspective, I’ve taken flights from Dublin to mainland Europe which have cost less than a bus from Galway to Dublin. But you can still get around Ireland Cheaply. You know, I’m really not trying to put you off, but Ireland is the 9th most expensive country in Europe for transport.
Rent a Car – the best way to travel Ireland
If you ask me (which you must be if you’re here!), renting a car is the best way to see Ireland and will also save you money.
You can rent a car in Ireland from ~€14 per day. You do have to add fuel costs on too but if you ask me, there is no question. Not only do you avoid the expensive bus and train fares, but you also have the freedom to visit anywhere in the country you like.
The thing about Ireland is, a lot of the special attractions are found at the end of a narrow windy lane. And you won’t be able to get public transport to these places. Public transport is generally limited to to the cities, and big expensive tourist traps. But you can get there in a car.
Real Ireland is the back roads, the beaches and coastlines, and the ancient ruins you’ll come across when driving from one place to the next. Renting a car will give you the freedom to go anywhere. You can seek out free attractions because you’ll actually be able to get to them. Now if you’re sticking to a city stay, no car is needed, but for anywhere else in Ireland, it is a MUST.
To help you with renting a car, try out some sites like:
Trains and Buses – Travelling Ireland by Train or bus
Trains and buses can be pricey and the routes are limited. But I have some simple tips
- Book your train online at Irishrail.ie . When booking online, prices are cheaper.
- For bus tickets, if you’re using city buses, ask if there is a day pass. Many buses have a pass you can use unlimited times that day for the one price. Rather than paying every time you get on and off. In cities like Dublin and Galway, this can be great for traveling on a budget as you might be hopping on and off the bus all day.
4. Accommodation – Where to Stay in Ireland on a Budget
Accommodation is where you’ll spend the most money. Whenever I go on trips, booking places to stay is always the killer. By the time a hotel is booked, I’ve blown most of my budget, meaning I have to be pretty cautious for the whole trip money-wise. So how do you stay in Ireland when traveling cheap?
Airbnb – a great way to travel Ireland on a budget
While I do love a hotel stay and not having to lift a finger, Airbnbs are much more affordable. You can also find some really quirky and fun Airbnbs all over Ireland that will make your trip that extra bit special.
As well as saving money on your stay, you’ll have the facilities to wash your own clothes and of course cook, helping you save that mula for that guided tour or attraction you want to go see.
Food & Cooking from your Airbnb – easy way to save some money traveling
The second benefit of self-catering accommodation for your stay in Ireland, is having access to a kitchen. You’ll be able to make most of your meals, saving a tonne of money eating out. Eating out in Ireland, especially the cities, is expensive.
Just for perspective: For me and my boyfriend to eat out for our three meals in one day, would be a minimum of €80-90. And that’s just for basic one-course meals.
Having your breakfast in your Airbnb, and preparing a lunch you can take with you, means you’ll only have to eat out once in the day. And this won’t break the bank.
Supermarkets in Ireland – Which grocery store is the best for those on a budget?
Knowing the best supermarkets to pick up your groceries can actually save you so much money. In general, the European supermarkets are much more affordable. Below are some supermarkets you’ll find in every major town in Ireland, ranked from cheapest to most expensive:
Aldi —-> Lidl —-> Tesco —-> Dunnes Stores —-> Supervalue (I’d avoid Dunnes and SuperValue when food shopping on a budget)
Hotels – Where to stay in Ireland on a Budget
If you do want to stay in a hotel, I get it. I love a hotel stay. You can still travel Ireland Cheap and stay at a hotel.
Choose chain hotels like IBIS, Jurys Inn, Travel Lodge. These are always much more affordable
Food – breakfast is usually included when booking a hotel. Make the most of this. For breakfast, fill up! A lot of times it will be a continental breakfast with hot food included. Don’t be shy, have a big breakfast, that way you might even be able to skip lunch or have a small snack instead of a full lunch. Once or twice I have sneaked some “pain au Chocolat” in my backpack to have as a snack while I’m out and about after breakfast
If breakfast is not included, add it to your stay – usually, it only costs ~9 euro to add breakfast, which is generally a lot more affordable than eating breakfast out. I’d opt-in and as I said above, pig out!
Camp on your stay to Ireland to Travel on the Cheap
Now this will depend on the time of the year you are visiting Ireland, but one great way to save on accommodation is camping. If you’re visiting in the spring or summer, campsites across the country are cheap, and can really add to your stay. Or if you can brave it, go wild camping!
Hostels – A Super Affordable way to Visit Ireland
Of course, we couldn’t talk about budget travel without mentioning hostels. You’ll find at least one hostel in the major Irish towns and you’ll be spoilt for choice in the cities. Hostels are perfect for traveling Ireland on a budget because:
- We all know hostels are super cheap. Much more affordable than hotels, BnB’s and Airbnbs
- It’s also great for those wanting to make friends while visiting Ireland
- There’s a variety of rooms and you’ll meet people from all over the world
- They’re safe
- Most hostels include breakfast and have cooking facilities
5. Getting food on the go in Ireland – Eating in Ireland on a budget
Another thing that will eat into your budget (see what I did there?!) when traveling Ireland, is where you go to grab a meal. Restaurants are always going to be the most expensive way to eat, but there are other options.
Supermarkets – How to visit Ireland on a Budget
Pop into one of the supermarkets before and grab some bits for a meal on the go. In Tesco, there is the famous “meal deal” – which is a sandwich/wrap, drink, crips/chocolate bar for less than €5. I always grab a big €1 baguette, some cheese, and a few other things to eat on the go when I’m going on a road trip.
Fruit is another good option as it doesn’t have to be kept hot or cold.
Deli – Budget-Friendly Food in Ireland
If you’re on the go and didn’t bring a lunch with you, stop off at a deli which you will find in pretty much every Spar, Centra and petrol stations. Now it’s not going to be as impressive as what the word “deli” may seem. For me when I hear deli I just think of a French Delicatessen full of artisan sandwiches, cheeses and exotic meats. Don’t expect that!
Nope Ireland does it a bit differently. You can pick up some hot food and it will be pretty damn cheap. Try the Irish favourite – the chicken fillet roll which would rarely be any more than €3-4 and will fill you up. If you want to feel a bit healthier, you can always opt for a salad bowl instead. But you’ll have lots of options.
Restaurants – Avoid at all costs! Not really – the Early Bird Catches the Cheapest Dinner
Restaurants are going to be the least budget-friendly way to eat while you’re visiting Ireland but there are still some ways to do this on a budget.
- A lot of restaurants offer Early Bird menus. Look for restaurants offering an early bird special. That way you can eat dinner at a reduced price.
- Check out the prices before going inside. Most restaurants will have a menu outside so be sure to check a few places before choosing. I always do this, and you’d be surprised how much the price of the same dish can depend on the restaurant.
- Tipping isn’t a big thing in Ireland. Of course, if you really enjoy the service go for it. But it’s handy to know, that in Ireland tipping is not really expected. Especially outside of Dublin.
6. Alcohol – How to drink in Ireland when Travelling on the Cheap?
I know it’s the running theme here, but alcohol in Ireland is expensive. This is pretty surprising given that alcohol is what we’re known for! In 2019, Joe.ie published an article noting that the average pint in Ireland is a whopping €4.94 to give you an idea. This is why in Ireland we do “Pre drinks”.
Get yourself to the off-license and have some drinks in your Airbnb/hotel/hostel room before hitting the city streets. By having a couple of drinks before going out, you’ll only have to fork out for one or two drinks in the pubs. I don’t know if this is a thing all over the world or just here. How it normally works here is you get twisted drunk before even going out, then in the pubs, you are too busy talking off everyone’s ears to buy a drink.
If you’re only heading out for 1 or 2 drinks, you’ll be fine but if you’re out for a big night on the town, pre-drinks are a must for traveling Ireland on a budget. You can grab 500MI bottles of beer in the off-license for half the price of a pint.
7. Stay Away from Tourist Traps – Look for Free attractions on your visit to Ireland
I’m not gona lie, I love the big tourist attractions but I also love looking for free attractions. and this is the key to visiting Ireland without spending a tonne of money. Luckily, there are SO many great things to see in Ireland without spending a penny.
Ireland isn’t the paid attractions, it’s so much more. It’s driving down windy narrow roads, turning a corner and being faced with rolling hills of green fields. The driving by the beautiful beaches and crazy-looking coastlines. It’s walking through the beautiful streets of Galway, Cobh, and Kinsale (just to name a few places). All of which are free to do. Not only are they free, but these are also the parts of Ireland that you’ll remember most, will warm your heart and make you feel at home.
8. Don’t buy souvenirs- Budgeting for Your Trip to Ireland
The best way to remember a trip for me is the pictures and videos I have to look back on. I regularly look back at pictures of my trips. I can safely say I RARELY seek out anything I bought on the trip. So rather than spending money on Aran Jumpers (which cost a bomb) or wool blankets, just take extra photos of the places you visit.
If you do want to take something, sneak a coaster from your favourite pub you visit!
9. Finally – Don’t travel alone when traveling Ireland on the Cheap
As you can imagine, splitting hostel or hotel costs as well as the car rental fee will make it a whole lot more affordable to visit Ireland.
FAQ for traveling Ireland on a budget:
What is the cheapest month to travel to Ireland? The cheapest months are always going to be off-peak times. This is generally January 1st – April 1st and September – December (except Christmas). BUT it’s good to remember, a lot of attractions close up in Ireland for off-peak times. Some towns rely solely on tourism so once peak season is over, a lot of things close.
Planning a trip to Ireland on a Budget
So yes, to conclude guys, you most definitely CAN travel Ireland Cheap, you’ll be glad to know! If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, I hope this helps 🙂 If you’ve any other tips or you found this helpful, let me know below!
I’ll include links to SO MANY free attractions below.
Some free attractions include hikes like Diamond Hill, and Croagh Patrick.
Other free attractions here:
Check out my Instagram for more Ireland Travel Inspiration!
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