Dublin is not a cheap destination. I don’t know why this surprised me on our recent Ireland trip but it did. Don’t despair though. As we found, there are still ways of keeping your costs down when visiting Dublin, even if like us, you end up travelling during one the most expensive times of the year!
Here are a few ways to enjoy a holiday to Dublin for less. If you have any tips of your own, please feel free to share them in the comments – the more the merrier!
1) Trip Timing
It’s common sense but by travelling at off-peak times, you can really cut costs of a short break in Dublin. Whilst temperatures are warmest in summer, rainfall in Dublin is fairly even across the year so you’re unlikely to dodge the showers by paying a summer premium. Avoid mid-summer and St. Patricks Day (17th March) if you don’t want to pay sky-high prices.
For the best bargains, travel from January to March and take a coat! If you still want the summer temperatures but not the costs then consider travelling the week schools go back in Ireland (usually at the end of August/start of September) when prices dip a bit or during early September or late May.
2) Bag a cheap flight
As with any destination, booking travel ahead of time can really cut costs for a holiday to Dublin, particularly for travel at peak times. Don’t do as we did and leave it until two week’s out to book! Flights are generally cheapest when first released and with Dublin the home of the king of budget airlines Ryan Air (Aer Lingus are pretty competitive too), that means picking up a one-way flight from around £20 during sales! It’s worth checking a few flight brokers as well as the airline’s own websites for the best deals.
3) Go by boat
If you’re planning on a longer stay or live near the UK’s west coast then consider travelling by boat. You can travel to Dublin by ferry from Holyhead, Liverpool and Douglas with some fantastic deals available, especially if you need to take your car as part of a longer trip.
4) Cut car costs
With good public transport and a compact city centre, there is no real need to hire a car in Dublin. It also costs a fortune to park centrally and parking can be tricky to find. Many major hotels out of Dublin ‘s city centre are located on a bus route into town and offer a shuttle to Dublin Airport. If you fancy a visit to places like Howth or Malahide outside Dublin’s centre then you can hop on the DART – you can find timetables and route maps on the Irish Rail website.
Being a city geared up for tourists, there are also a lot of trips running for visiting popular tourist attractions outside of Dublin. If you still need to hire a car then do book as far ahead of time as possible and consider using a price comparison site or cash-back sites (we used Top Cashback to knock £60 off our week’s car hire bill despite booking late) to bring the price down.
5) Travel at anti-social hours
Flights late at night or early in the morning are always the least popular and therefore cheapest options. If you are prepared to get home late then you can gain a whole extra day by travelling home late at night. Suitcases can either be left in storage at accommodating hotels or make use of the left luggage facility at both terminals of Dublin Airport (c. 9 euros for 24 hours) or at the College Green Tourist Office in central Dublin (3 euros for a day).
Another option is to travel at the crack of dawn. By booking cheap accommodation near the airport and travelling on an early morning flight, we managed to spend the same amount on the hotel and flight as we would have done on the flights alone had we travelled at a sociable time the day before.
6) Look for accommodation deals:
Hotels are notoriously expensive in central Dublin. If you’re after a real bargain then consider staying slightly out of town either near the airport or for a more scenic option, choose a hotel or B&B somewhere like Malahide where you can easily access Dublin by DART for the day and return to enjoy fish and chips on the beautiful beach-front in the evening! Search around for accommodation deals- you can find some good prices for hotels in If you can travel home on a Monday instead of a Sunday for a weekend trip then you can also bag a bargain with Sunday night hotel rates instead of Friday ones. If you’re feeling bold then remember there is nothing stopping you from contacting a hotel directly during off-peak times to ask for a better deal.
7) Cut costs on visitor attractions
A trip to the Guinness Factory, the National Gallery of Ireland or Dublin Zoo, Dublin is packed full of great places to visit. The cost of tickets soon adds up though. If you’re on a budget then do check to see if the attraction you want to visit offers a discount for booking ahead online – many do.
If you’re also tight on time then consider getting a ticket for one of the city bus tours. It’s a bit touristy I know but you can hop on and off the bus as many times as you like, cutting down on transport costs around Dublin. Tickets are valid for two days – perfect for a weekend and also includes free hotel shuttles, a walking tour and free entry to the Little Museum of Dublin (highly recommended for a snapshot of Irish and Dublin’s history – we loved it!). There are also other 2 for 1 meal deals, discounted entry etc. for other attractions. We used Dublin Sightseeing (15% discount if you book online!) although there are other tour buses that offer a similar service.
8)Enjoy Dublin for free
There is plenty to see and do in Dublin for absolutely nothing! Head up to Phoenix Park, site of Dublin Zoo and the residence of the President of Ireland, for a long walk or just take an amble around the main sites of Dublin’s compact city centre on foot. There are plenty of museums and historical sites you can visit for free – Lonely Planet has compiled a handy list of twenty of the best and free events can be found on the Dublin Tourist Office website or in magazines and newspapers.