Dublin has gained a reputation in recent years as being an expensive city to visit. I have personally noticed the cost of living rise in Dublin during the last few years, while here. Having said that, I have also spent that time guiding visitors on how best to save their money when here and find the best “bang for their buck”.
Is Dublin expensive to visit? Dublin is as expensive to visit as any other capital city in Western Europe. While it might be more expensive than a place like Madrid, it will be cheaper than London or Paris. Accommodation in Dublin will usually be your biggest expense, getting here will be cheaper.
Today, let’s talk about how to get the best value for money when visiting Dublin. I will go into detail on many of the things that you will need when you arrive, and there will be tables of information to compare prices for your own convenience. At the end, there will be a table summarizing all of the information.
Please bear in mind that these figures were drawn up at the beginning of 2019, I will add to it as often as I can. So, if something seems like its out of date or missing, please be patient with me and I will update everything as soon as possible.
Travel to Dublin
Arguably the most important piece of information on this list, before you book any hotels or tours, you need to know the best way to get here. In the last few years, the prices of flights to Dublin have been decreasing, making it easier that ever to visit. If you are making your way here from anywhere in Europe, there are many airlines that have low-cost routes to Ireland. Even people making longer journeys will find that flights to Ireland are often cheaper than flights to many other parts of the world, this is especially true for travellers from North America.
Most of you will probably fly into Dublin and I have focussed a lot of my research for this guide on that. However, there are other options for travellers making their way into the city and I will talk about as many of your other options as I can.
Throughout this section there will be tables of information to better compare the value of each of the methods of travel available.
Statistically speaking, this is the way most of you will arrive in Ireland’s capital city. Let’s talk about the best ways of flying to Dublin from various parts of the world.
For detailed information on the best ways of getting from Dublin airport to the city centre, you can find my guide on that subject HERE.
As Ireland is a part of Europe, this is obviously an easier journey. If you can find a non-stop route, getting from anywhere in Europe to Dublin should take 4 hours or less, flight time. The longest direct route that I found was from Moscow, which took a little over 4.5 hours. Most of the routes that are on offer to Dublin will be from major hubs, though some budget airlines will often use smaller airports. Ryanair is the most famous example of this. While airlines like this might seem to offer the cheapest options for getting to Dublin, you must consider the journey to the airport. This can sometimes be more expensive than the flight itself!
For example, the air journey between Dublin and London is one of the busiest air routes in the world, yet many of London’s airports are difficult to get to from the city centre. The airport that Ryanair uses, Stanstead, is about an hour away from the city. Whenever I have used this route, I have often found that this part of the journey was more expensive than the actual flight!
Having said that, Ryanair does offer many routes to Dublin that are not offered by any other companies, so they are often worth considering when booking flights from the continent. Though the state-carrier, Aer Lingus, should be looked at too. On occasion they will have a cheaper and more direct route and they will almost certainly have return flights from Dublin at a later hour in the morning. This means that you will be able to get public transport to the airport and not have to rely on expensive taxis. Not to mention, you will be able to spend longer in bed…
These are just two of the many companies that offer flights to Ireland, of course there are far more. Normally these flights will cost less than €150 for a return ticket if booked about 1 month in advance. This is a very rough figure that I have found in my own experience. This figure may vary, especially around major holidays, like St. Patrick’s Day and during the peak months of the summer.
If you want to find deals on cheap flights from either of the main Irish carriers, you can find their websites below:
If you want to compare the average costs of flights from some (of the many) countries in Europe, please consult the table below. This is a rough guide, the flights are for an adult return ticket, booked about a month in advance:
|Country||Average Flight Time||Approximate Ticket Cost (Adult Return)||Airline Link, for More Details|
|Germany||2.5 Hours||~€150||Aer Lingus|
|Belgium||1.5 Hours||~€100||Aer Lingus|
|The Netherlands||1.5 Hours||<€100||Ryanair|
|France||2 Hours||~€100||Air France|
|The U. K||1 Hour||<€100||Aer Lingus|
From North America
Ireland is a popular destination for visitors from the United States and Canada. Combined, they are the second biggest group of visitors to this country so it’s important that we mention them when we talk about travelling to Dublin. There are several airlines that will make this transatlantic flight. Aer Lingus offers some great deals on flights throughout the year and they are well worth taking advantage of. Unfortunately, Ryanair doesn’t offer any super low-fare flights to North America (yet!).
If you want to find deals from Aer Lingus, you can find a list of their flight deals on their website HERE.
Normally, flights to Dublin from North America are between €350 – €650 for an adult return ticket, when booked about a month in advance. That is the period I have been using to research prices for this guide. I would recommend that you book transatlantic flights about 6 months in advance, whenever possible, to get the best deals.
For more detailed information on journeys from North America, please consult the table below:
|City of Origin||Average Flight Time||Approximate Ticket Cost (Adult Return)||Airline Link, for More Details|
|New York||6 Hours||€550||Aer Lingus|
|Atlanta||12 Hours||€750||Jet Blue|
|Toronto||10 Hours||€550||Air Canada|
|Vancouver||14 Hours||€640||Air Canada|
So far, we have covered the main areas of the world that people come from, but people from all over the planet make their way to Dublin every year. I cannot possibly cover all the many routes that you might take to get here, so I will just cover some of the main ones.
If you are coming to Ireland from pretty much anywhere else, you will likely have to make a layover somewhere. Often this will be in London, so any information above that covers getting to Ireland from the UK might apply to you, even if you came here from the other side of the planet.
Here is a rough guide to the times and prices of adult return tickets to Ireland from some places around the globe:
|Place of Origin||Average Flight Time||Approximate Ticket Cost (Adult Return)||Airline Link, for More Details|
|Johannesburg||14 Hours||€600||British Airways|
|Buenos Aires||1 Day||€950||Iberia|
The links that I have provided to airlines are there to give you an idea of where to look. If you find they are unhelpful, please consult Google Flights, that is what I always use when booking. You can find them HERE.
Alternate Travel to Dublin
If you want alternatives to air travel to Dublin, you are limited in your options. If you are arriving from parts of Britain or France, you will be able to take the ferry. This is only advisable if you are bringing a car or some sort of vehicle. If you are travelling from other parts of Ireland, there are rail and coach links to the city.
Below is a table with information on some of the various non-air routes into Dublin:
|Method||Travel Time||Approximate Ticket Cost (Adult Return)||Company link for Further Details|
|Ferry||4 Hours (UK) 1 Day (France)||€70 (UK) €100 (France)||Ferry Savers|
|Rail||Pretty much everywhere in Ireland is between 1-5 hours away from Dublin by Rail||€40||Irish Rail|
|Coach||3-4 Hours between Dublin and most major Irish cities||€26||Gobus|
Travel Around Dublin
Once you arrive in Dublin, you will need to get around. Though you can rent a car, I personally don’t feel that you need to when visiting the city. If you are travelling around Ireland, then you should investigate it, but for this article, we are just going to stick to Dublin, so we won’t be getting into the difficulties of renting cars in Ireland, not today at least!
This is a popular method of getting around Dublin, especially when the public transport services stop running after midnight. If you want to enjoy some of this city’s famous nightlife, then you might need to avail of one of the city’s many taxis. Normally, you will be able to get wherever you need to go in Dublin in about 15-30 minutes from the city centre by taxi.
If you want to get an idea of Irish taxi fares, please consult the table below:
One thing to note about visiting Dublin is that Uber is not popular here. For information on how to use the taxis in Dublin city, you can find my guide HERE.
This is the most cost-effective way of travelling around Dublin, once you are here. There are several forms of public transport on offer. Dublin Bus runs extensive services all over the city and the surrounding suburbs. The Luas is a tram system that criss-crosses the city centre going north to south and east to west, meeting near the centre of Dublin at O’Connell street. There is also the DART, a light-rail system that goes along the coast of Dublin and connects some of the city’s more scenic coastal suburbs.
Journeys on all forms of public transport in Dublin will vary in length. Though there are many different factors that will impact journey time, traffic is probably the biggest, especially when making your way through the city centre. At most bus stops there are clocks to tell you when the next bus will arrive, these are considered inaccurate by locals and are used more as rough guides than anything else.
Also, to note is that all these forms of transport will become packed with people at rush-hour, so I avoid these busier periods of the day whenever possible.
If you plan on using public transport in Dublin, then I would advise getting a leap card. These function similarly to Oyster Cards in London but can be used on all forms of public transport throughout the Republic of Ireland. They are cards that you can find at any newsagents and you will be able to top them up in similar stores, or at any ticket station for a public transport service like the Luas or DART.
You can pay with cash for any of the public transport services in Dublin, but the Leap Card offers a 20-28% discount. Also, on Dublin Bus they will only accept exact change in coins, no notes and no change will be given.
While you will be able to get the regular Leap Card that locals use, you might find the visitor’s one both easier to use and better value. There are 3 types of cards that are available:
1 Day Card (24 Hours) – €10
3 Day Card (72 Hours) – €19.50
7 Day Card (168 Hours) – €40
You can use these for the duration of your stay in Dublin, or if you are travelling around Ireland. They are particularly useful if you plan on seeing a lot while you are here.
If you want an idea of what you can see via public transport from Dublin, you can find my recommendations for the best day trips in Dublin via public transport HERE.
The best way to get around Dublin is to walk. The city centre is a small and relatively compact area. There is a lot to see and do within walking distance of most accommodation in Dublin city, so you generally won’t have to travel far. Realistically, you will only have to use paid transport options if you are going to and from the airport or if you want to get somewhere in a hurry. Or, if its raining, remember you’re in Ireland after all!
This will likely be your biggest expenditure when you are in Dublin. There has been a housing crisis in Ireland over the last few years, with the prices of property and rent soaring higher than they ever have. Having said that, lots of new hotels have been popping up over the last couple years and there should be plenty of options for accommodation when you arrive in the city, though you may have to do a little more planning than you would for other European capital cities. I want to give you a little overview of what you should expect to pay for different types of accommodation in Dublin.
The check-in times for most accommodation in Dublin is between 2-4 pm, though most establishments will allow you to store your bags on their premises if you arrive early.
For my recommendations on individual hotels and hostels in Dublin, please click HERE.
There are plenty of hostels in Dublin that offer good, affordable accommodation. Though you might be able to find beds for less than €20 a night, they might not be of the best quality. Most hostel beds in Dublin will be between €25-€35 a night. This may change as many establishments will raise their prices at the weekends and on major holidays. If you can, try booking somewhere during the week (Monday – Thursday), for the cheapest deals. If you want to book a private room in a hostel, the price might double, so be aware of that before you book.
The average cost for a hotel room with a twin bed and a private bathroom in Dublin should be about €70-€100. For a double-bed sized room, the prices will go up to about €90-€150. Be aware that the cheaper hotels are located outside of the city centre, where your transport options are more limited. While you might save money on your hotel room, you might wind up spending more money on your travel to and from Dublin every day.
Another issue some travellers have with hotels in Ireland is the lack of air-conditioning. Due to the usually wet weather, Ireland generally doesn’t need any, therefore it will be rare to find it in many hotels in Ireland.
I don’t think that this is a good option for most travellers to Dublin, though it can be useful if you are travelling for a long period of time or if you are with a larger group. Normally this type of accommodation in Dublin will cost about €75-€200+ per night. Usually hostels and hotels are enough for the needs of most travellers in Dublin.
Now we are onto the good stuff! Ireland’s reputation of having bad food has been dramatically changing in recent years. Visitors who came to Ireland as little as 10 years ago often marvel at how good the food has gotten. There are restaurants all over the country that will offer international cuisine prepared with local, fresh Irish ingredients. Dublin has been the epicentre of this “foodie renascence”, and you will be able to find places to suit many different tastes, and budgets.
While it can be hard to find the cheaper places initially, once you know how to avoid the tourist traps around the city centre, there are plenty of places that will give you a good quality meal for a lower price!
Here I will give some recommendations for food in Dublin based on price. If you want my more detailed guide on where to eat in the city, please click HERE.
Breakfast in Dublin – FREE – €15
A free breakfast will be included with the price of your accommodation in most hostels and hotels in Dublin. While this meal is usually simple, it can really help to keep costs down while you’re travelling.
If you want to get something for about €5, many supermarkets and convenience stores have a deli. These are highly popular among locals as the offer (generally) good quality food for a very low price. You should be able to find a breakfast roll for between €3-€6 in a place like Spar or Centra.
If you want somewhere to sit down to eat, there are lots of great options in Dublin. These places usually cost between €10-€15 for a meal. Some recommendations of places to check-out would be Lemon on Dawson Street, which serves great pancakes and The Joy of Cha in Templebar, which is my personal favourite café in Dublin.
You can find detailed information on all those recommendations, and more, in the guide to Dublin cuisine, above.
Lunch in Dublin – €3-€10
If you want something cheap for lunch, then you should consider the deli counters again. You can find these counters in convenience stores like Centra or Londis, but they are also in supermarkets like Dunnes Stores or Supervalu. In fact, the counters in the supermarkets are usually of better quality than the ones in convenience stores and are sometimes cheaper too.
If you don’t know what to order, try the chicken fillet (pronounced fill-et) roll. This is probably the most common, local fast food that you will be able to find, most of the time they will cost less than €5. It will consist of a roll with your choice of condiments and side salads, then meat. The most common choice for this meat will be a breaded chicken fillet.
If you want something a little more upmarket, then there are plenty of sandwich shops dotted around the city that will serve up a traditional, almost as good as home-made, sandwich for less than €10.
If you want to be a little more adventurous, then you might want a burrito. Mexican food has undergone a wave of popularity in Ireland in recent years. Though the height of this wave is probably gone, you will still be able to find many places to buy Mexican food prepared with high-quality, Irish, ingredients. They will normally cost less than €10.
Dinner in Dublin – €7+
There is plenty of choice if you want to eat cheaply in Dublin. Discounting the international fast-food brands, there are plenty of “Take aways” in the city, where your euro will go far. While many of these places might be of dubious quality, in Ireland you are never too far away from a trusty chip shop (or “chipper”). Arguably the best one in town is Leo Burdock’s, located right next to Christchurch Cathedral. Here you will be able to purchase a portion of chips for less than €5. You will be able to add other items to your order for an additional price.
If you want to get something a little more substantive, and sit down while you enjoy it, I would recommend some traditional Irish “pub-grub”. You will find dozens of places advertised all over the city as having the best traditional food in Ireland. This will be a lie. The best traditional food is the stuff that your mother cooks at home! No matter how good the cuisine has gotten in recent years in Ireland, nothing is going to beat that. If you want the next best thing, my advice is to go to the carvery in O’Neill’s pub on Sufflok Street.
This will cost you about €13 and you don’t order from a set menu. You, essentially, pay for your plate and load it up with as much food as you can. This is probably the most calories you will be able to get for your euro in Dublin. When you get a full plate of food, it will normally set you up for the rest of the day and you will be ready for a night of enjoying the famous pub culture in Dublin.
Speaking of which…
This is something that I want to briefly mention here in this guide. Irish pubs are supposed to display a price list of all their alcoholic products somewhere visible in the bar. Normally this will be near the door. This list might not be that noticeable when you first enter a pub, it should look like a framed A4 sheet of paper. There are strict laws regarding the sale of alcohol in Ireland and if an establishment gets a licence to sell it then it must adhere to the state’s laws.
I have already spoken about some of these laws HERE.
The reason why I bring this up is because if an establishment doesn’t have this price list, sometimes they will raise the prices of their drinks throughout the night. This is only common in tourist areas, like Templebar, so once you leave this area you should be fine. The cost of alcoholic drinks in Dublin doesn’t vary much from place to place, only by about €.50 or so. The prices that I will give you below should be true for most bars and pubs in Dublin
The average cost of drinks in Dublin:
|Type of Drink||Average Price||Examples|
|Pint of Beer, Cider||€5.50||Guinness, Bulmers, Heineken, etc…|
|Bottom Shelf Spirits||€5.50||Jameson, Bushmills, etc…|
|Glass of Wine||€4-7||House Red or White|
|Mixers||€5-15||Gin and Tonic, etc…|
This is just a rough guide of what to expect for drinks in the city. There are exceptions to the general rules above, but you will find that this holds true for most of the establishments in Dublin city.
There are plenty of things to see and do in Dublin to suit different budgets. Most of the national museums are free and there are plenty of free tours and cheap activities to take part in while you are here. There are also some excellent paid tours and exhibits that are well worth visiting, if you get the chance. Let’s talk about a few of them, so you will have an idea of what to expect.
There are plenty of free activities in Dublin, the most obvious examples are the national museums dotted around the city. Some of these are internationally regarded and they will give you a great overview of both Irish and global history. You can really get a good sense of the country from some of these museums.
There are also free tours that run every day, which cover some of the main sights of the city and its history and culture. They will start throughout the day and they are almost always led by a local. Though the tour is free, the guides aren’t paid. They rely completely on tips from people on their tours. This means that budget travellers will have access to tours that they wouldn’t normally, and the guide is incentivised to give the best possible experience. I am a little biased though, as I started off in tourism doing this job. I think they offer a fantastic experience for travellers to Dublin. Just make sure to tip your guide.
Normal tips for a 3-hour tour are between €10-20 per person. But it is entirely at your own discretion, if you thought it was excellent, you can pay more or, if you are a broke student backpacking around Europe, the price of a pint is usually considered fair.
You can also see free live music and comedy in Dublin in various locations around the city. For my full list of free activities in Dublin, please click HERE.
There are plenty of paid tours and attractions in Dublin too. Places like the Guinness Storehouse and the Jameson Whiskey Distillery are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe. There are also many different places near Dublin that you will be able to explore in a day and return that evening. Most of the paid experiences in the city will cost about €20 and day trips will cost between €20-€60.
For a list of some of my favourite paid attractions in Dublin, I have another table below:
|Name||Price||Time of Day||Booking Link|
|Guinness Storehouse||€25||9am – 5.30pm||Guinness Storehouse|
|Irish Whiskey Museum||€20||10.30am – 5pm||Irish Whiskey Museum|
|Pub Crawl||€12||7.30pm||Pub Crawl|
|Pub Culture Tour||€20||6pm||Yellow Umbrella|
|Dublin Castle Tour||€12||9.30am – 5pm||Website|
Alternatively, you can find my full list of recommended tours for Dublin HERE.
I also have a full guide to the best day trips from Dublin, which you can find HERE.
Busiest Times of the Year
Like anywhere, there will be busier periods in the year when visiting Dublin will be more expensive. The normal high-season will be from June to August, so visiting then will obviously be more expensive. If you come during the shoulder months, April, May, September and October, you might be able to find better deals and less crowds.
Even still, there will be certain times of the year, when Dublin will get busy for a short amount of time. The week leading up to St Patrick’s Day (March 17th) will be crazy, as will the two weeks around Christmas and New Year. If you are planning to visit Dublin during those periods, you may want to book further in advance and be prepared for larger crowds when you arrive.
Now that we have spoken in detail about what you should expect to pay for things in Dublin and how to make the most out of your money, lets summarise. I don’t want to include the prices of flights here as there are far too many variables involved.
This is just a rough guide on what you can expect to pay for a day in Dublin, based on the information above. This is for 1 adult for1 day.
|Budget Level||Accommodation||Food||Transport||Morning Activity||Evening Activity||Total|