When you are planning your visit to Ireland, you will need to consider where you are going to stay. Two of the most popular destinations in Ireland are Dublin and Galway. Having lived in both, I will give you a detailed comparison of each city and you can decide on which one is right for you.
Dublin has better infrastructure and more amenities and attractions than anywhere else in Ireland. Generally, it suits for short visits or as a base to explore the country from. Galway is cheaper and has better access to the coast. It can be better if you have access to a car or more time to plan your trip.
Though Ireland is smaller than other countries, there is more to see than you might think. You will never be able to see everything in just one trip. So its always good to make the most out of your time here. You never know, you might be able to come back and explore the other on a second visit!
Where is Better to Stay
Dublin is by far the biggest city on the island of Ireland. It is the capital of the Republic and its greater area has a population close to 2 million people. Some of the country’s most popular attractions, like the Guinness Storehouse are located here.
If you are looking for more information as to what the fair city is famous for, I talk about this in more detail in the article below:
When it comes to more practical concerns, Dublin is better when it comes to things like infrastructure and the availability of accommodation than most other parts of Ireland. Most of the flights coming into Ireland will use Dublin airport. So for many people, Dublin may just seem easier than Galway to visit.
However, Galway has plenty to offer itself. As the main city of Connaught, the western province of Ireland, Galway has always hosted plenty of events for people coming from far and wide. There should be plenty of options for accommodation that might be cheaper than Dublin.
Also, there are plenty of options when it comes to travel to Galway, even if you are flying into Dublin airport. Many bus routes will go straight to Galway. I have more information, linked here, on how to travel to Galway from Dublin.
While Dublin may have more options when it comes to things like accommodation, food and attractions, Galway is generally cheaper for all of these things. As Dublin is a major city, the prices are much higher. This has been compounded in recent years by the housing crisis which has hit Dublin particularly hard.
While flights to Ireland are often cheap, the accommodation will usually be the most expensive part of your journey. You may be able to avoid the more expensive rooms in Dublin and just go straight to Galway. As mentioned in the link above, journeys to Galway can be as cheap as €24 return!
If you are willing to spend a couple of extra hours travelling through Ireland, then this is something that I highly recommend you consider.
For more detailed information on accommodation prices, linked below are the main booking.com pages for both cities. These are not affiliate links and are there to help you learn more about what is on offer.
Food and Drink
Both Dublin and Galway have excellent options for food on any budget. In recent years there has been a surge of new restaurants opening up all around the country and they offer both traditional Irish food and international cuisine all served to the highest standards.
The people of Ireland pride themselves on the quality of our produce. This means that most of the food you find in Ireland, especially for things like meat and fish, will be local and fresh.
In Dublin, the Templebar district is a great place to go if you are looking for somewhere to eat. There are plenty of great establishments that will accept walk-ins, so make sure to wander around until you find somewhere that looks good to you! Here is the link to my map of recommendations for Dublin.
If you are looking to have a few drinks in Templebar though, please be aware that the prices here will be higher than the rest of the country. Almost no locals hang out in this district, so please bare that in mind. This article has more information on drink prices in Dublin.
Galway is certainly cheaper than Dublin city center when it comes to drinks in pubs. With the majority of drinks being around a euro cheaper than Dublin. The price of food however, will likely be pretty much the same in both cities.
Don’t worry though, in Galway there are still more than enough places to eat. Galway has some of the best restaurants in Ireland and walking along Shop and Quay Streets, you will find countless places with amazing food.
Things to Do
You will not be stuck for something to do in either Dublin or Galway. There is so much to experience in both cities, though each offers a different experience. In Dublin, you will find more museums and art galleries, in addition to plenty of breweries and distilleries.
While Dublin also has more than enough small and cozy pubs to lose yourself in, Galway has so many in such a small place. You can easily hop from one to the other, eating great food, and drinking with locals and other visitors like yourself. All the while, there will be some amazing traditional live music.
The day trips on offer is where the two cities really start to get different. As Dublin has some of the best infrastructure in Ireland, there are plenty of places to visit in a day, including Galway itself.
Galway however is located on the West Coast of Ireland. This means that, especially if you have access to a car, you will be able to explore the beautiful Wild Atlantic Way.
Is Galway Cheaper than Dublin?
Galway is cheaper than Dublin when it comes to things like accommodation, attractions and drinks. For things like food, it may be more or less the same as Dublin. For transport, including flights, Dublin is cheaper, as it has better infrastructure.
You can easily get around the cheaper flights to Dublin by getting a direct bus from Dublin airport to Galway city. This is of course provided that you can have a couple of hours to spare each way for the journey.