According to Expatistan, Ireland’s capital city has the 9th highest cost of living in Europe — making it more expensive than Paris or Rome and only slightly cheaper than London. So what’s a backpacker on a shoestring budget to do? Here are 6 tips to help cut costs…
1. Pick up a combination bus transfer at the airport.
When you touch down at Dublin Airport, you have two options to get into the city; taxi or bus. A one-way taxi journey will cost you €20 or more. But for an extra €7, you can get return airport transfers on the Airlink bus, which stops a stone’s throw away from all the main hotels and hostels in the city. This same ticket also includes 48 hours of unlimited travel on the hop on, hop off sightseeing tour bus, which covers all of the most popular attractions. That’s all of your transport for €27 total. Not bad, right? It’s called the Airlink Combo ticket and you can get yours here. If your stay is longer than two days, the DoDublin Travel Card offers all of the above for 72 hours, plus unlimited travel on public buses and free entry into the Little Museum of Dublin.
2. Cut transport costs and join Dublin Bikes.
Dublin Bikes is a very popular public bike sharing scheme, used by locals and visitors alike to pedal around the city. A three-day subscription costs just €5 (an annual pass is €25 for those staying longer), and that gets you unlimited bike rental for trips of 30 minutes or less. There are bike terminals all over the city centre, and you can pay at the terminals with a credit card for your subscription. 30 minutes is more than enough for any trip within the city center, but beware; any longer than half an hour and you incur extra charges.
3. Get your culture fix at free museums.
Unlike some other capital cities around the world, Dublin’s best museums are entirely free. You can get your fill of culture, from modern art to ancient history, without spending a penny. The National Gallery has works by Picasso, Vermeer, and Monet as well as all of Ireland’s most renowned artists. The National Museum has three locations in Dublin split into three categories — Natural History, Archaeology, and Decorative Arts & History. You can even get a guided tour of Aras an Uachtaran, the President’s residence, for free. Other museums well worth a look include the Chester Beatty Library, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Science Gallery, and the Gallery of Photography.
4. Sniff out some cheap eats.
Eating out in Dublin is definitely not a budget-friendly experience… but if you know where to go, it can be. For the past few years, the city has been swept up in a burrito craze, and there are multiple take-out bars across the city serving VERY generous portions of Mexican tastiness (we’re talking dinner-sized) for around €7.50. Trinity College is famous for being the home of the Book of Kells and the stunning Long Room, but it also has some little-known places to fill up your stomach at student prices. You don’t have to be enrolled to grab lunch at The Buttery, and the Pavilion Bar is the perfect place to enjoy a snack and a cold beer on a sunny day. If you’re on a seriously short shoestring budget, head to discount German supermarkets Aldi or Lidl on Parnell Street for self-catering at knockdown prices.
5. Avoid Temple Bar’s pubs.
A night in the pub is a rite of passage for every visitor to Dublin, but too many newcomers make a big rookie mistake; drinking in Temple Bar. Most of the establishments in this “cultural quarter” are avoided by locals for two reasons. They’re always crowded with tourists, and the pints are seriously overpriced. There are much better deals to be had elsewhere; The Porterhouse on Nassau Street has a different “beer of the day” every day for €4 and 2 for 1 daiquiris on Friday nights. On Wednesdays, The Workmans Club offers €4 pints and cocktails, and Dicey’s is famous for €2 pints and bottles on Mondays.
6. Avoid St. Patrick’s Day, too.
Any savvy traveler knows that traveling off-season is the key to cutting costs. If that’s your game, then you should avoid Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day. The days before, during, and after the four-day St. Patrick’s Festival are the busiest of the year. It’s common practice for hotels to hike up prices just because they can. Pubs and restaurants are jammed with people 24/7. Quality can sometimes suffer as a result, so you end up getting even less value for money. Plus, the city is filled with tourists on St. Patrick’s Day anyway; the majority of Dubliners abandon it in favor of a hike in the mountains, a family day at home, or a weekend away.
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