Although I’m already back in the US, I wanted to make sure to put together a list of all my favorite spots in Dublin while it’s still fresh. I love giving suggestions when people visit, so I wanted to share the spots that I have loved […]
So I love to travel and living in Dublin has been one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life. But as we all know, traveling can get expensive so even just pinching a few pennies here and there can really help. As part of my quest to be more cost-conscious, here is my (by no means comprehensive) guide to ballin’ on a budget here in Dublin:
Places to Eat
The Buttery – Tucked away on Trinity College’s front square is a little spot called the Buttery (just to the left of the Campanile if you enter from the front gate). You can get a hearty lunch of thick stew or fish & chips for about 5 euro. The Buttery (as well as the Arts Block Cafe) also has sandwiches and coffee for the cheapest I’ve seen – 3.65 & 1.15, respectively.
KC Peaches – Although not as good a value as The Buttery, KC Peaches makes up for its prices in portions. For less than a tenner you can get a large salad box, which you can stuff as much food in as possible since it’s a set price, not priced by weight. Available in cold (salad, pasta, chicken) or hot (shepherd’s pie, curried veggies, baked potatoes). And they have a 10% student discount with a student card.
Mama’s Revenge – Another solid student card deal, get a basic burrito (essentially all the fixins minus pica de gallo and gauc) for 5 euro. Or a veggie with gauc again for 5. I literally just ate one and may never eat again.
Lemon – Looking for brunch that won’t break the bank? Lemon on both Dawson and South William Street will be your cheapest option. Coffee and a crepe or hearty breakfast sandwich for under a tenner is hard to beat.
Places to Drink
Pygmalion – If you’re visiting Dublin during the week and want to get a good buzz on, check out Pyg’s 2-for-1 cocktail menu. I believe they’re 13 quid so basically 6.50 a pop for whiskey sours, espresso martinis, and more. And you certainly can’t beat the energy of a night at Pyg with DJs most nights and people spilling out into the street.
The Shakespeare – A great pub (and Korean restaurant) on Parnell Street. The Shakespeare has Guinness for 4.20 and you can get a loyalty card, which I’ve literally never heard of anywhere else. Something like 6 pints and you get one free – challenge accepted.
The Pav – Located on Trinity’s campus, The Pav is generally the student bar, but they serve a solid pint on the cheap. The real pro tip here, though, is if you’re around on a particularly nice day and everyone is sitting outside on the grass (as pictured below) go to the Centra across the street from campus and buy 4 cans of Prazsky for 5 euro. Come back to the pav and enjoy the atmosphere at half the price. Just make sure it’s a brand of beer they serve at the Pav (like Prazsky) or else they’ll know you’re BYOB.
Note: Across the board, Foster’s will be the cheapest pint you can get at around 3.50, depending on where you are. Guinness will also be quite cheap since it’s local. Most places also do a Zaconey (a bourbon based spirit) and coke deal for 5, which is decent too if you’re not a beer fan.
Dicey’s – If you’re looking for a night out on the cheap, the infamous Dicey’s will have you handled. On Mondays and Thursdays, they have a 10 euro cover but pints are 2.50 or cheaper all night so you’ll be set for a night of drinking. Pints are also 2.50 every night before 10, if you’re looking to turn up early. (Just beware this is PINTS only, not shots or cocktails, which will be crazy overpriced. Trust me, I have made this dire mistake. Don’t be me – drink your beer.)
Xico – On Monday night, Xico is the place to be – half price drinks! That’s 2 euro tequila shots and 2.50 pints. Once again, Xico has a cover but it’s worth it if you buy like 2 drinks. And they’re music selection is one of better spots in the city.
Workman’s – With no cover and lots of loud music every night, Workman’s is a solid choice if you’re looking to save a few bucks. They usually have a 5 euro cocktail special and reasonably priced pints.
Temple Bar – The famous bar scene comes alive in Dublin essentially after noon with lots of places having traditional music at night, if that’s something you’re after. For the price of a pint and the hassle of finding a seat, you can settle in for a night of live music and fantastic people watching. Whelan’s on Camden Street also has great (arguably better) music, a lot of which is free as well.
A general tip for shopping in Dublin, if you’re a student or recent graduate, is that most shops in the city centre have some sort of student discount. Levi’s, Office, TopShop, and a lot of other brand name places do 10-20% discounts for showing a student card.
Harlequin Vintage – If you’re looking for something a bit more unique than Zara or H&M, Harlequin Vintage is a great spot to find some treasure. The upstairs is a big sale section and I’ve found gems like AllSaints dresses and an Escada sweater for 10 euro. (Another great spot is Lucy’s Lounge in Temple Bar, check out their enormous basement!)
Penneys – If you’re a bargain queen then you must check out Penneys (the Irish version of Primark). It’s like target on crack. Of course the quality isn’t spectacular, but I’ve found adorable shoes for like 12 euro, as well as cute home goods and trendy clothes for huge discounts. It’s bomb.
The nice thing about Dublin is that it really is a walking-around-and-drinking sort of city so you won’t miss out on much if you skip the tourist sites. The biggest trap by far is Guinness, but if you are gonna go use the card machines to the right of the long line inside and get a student ticket (over 18) regardless of whether or not you are, they don’t check and you’ll save a couple quid.
Kilmainham Gaol – One of the more interesting historical tours in Dublin and definitely the cheapest: students are 3 euro and regular adults are 7. Just flash an old student card and you’re set.
National Botanic Gardens & Glasnevin Cemetery – These two spots are literally connected to each other and are both entirely free and open to the public. I’ve done a couple of posts (here and here) on them and why they’re my favorite spots in the area. The Botanic Gardens, especially, are totally amazing. Bus fare will run you about 5 euro round trip or make an afternoon of it and walk.
Science Gallery – On the far end of Trinity’s campus there is a little museum that merges the science and art worlds together. With some of the most interesting exhibits I’ve seen anywhere, the (entirely free) Science Gallery is definitely worth checking out.
The National Gallery of Ireland – A small but mighty art museum, the collection has pieces by Caravaggio, Monet, and Picasso and often houses interesting smaller exhibits throughout the year. And it’s completely free.
National Museum of Ireland, Archeology – Home to the famed ‘bog people’, this museum on Kildare Street is a tour through time in the form of decorative objects, craft art, and incredibly preserved dead people. And once again, admission is free.
Other free outdoors spots to check out, if the weather is good, are St. Stephen’s Green, Merrion Square, Trinity’s Rose Garden, and Iveagh Gardens. All great spots to sit outside for lunch or spend an afternoon reading. Just bring an umbrella because, well, you’re still in Ireland.
This is by no means the be-all-end-all guide to cheap things in Dublin, but when I’m tight on cash or have people come into town who want to stay on a budget these are the things I recommend. As you can tell, most of my suggestions are in the city center because that’s where I live, but, generally, if you get out of the busy parts of Dublin you’re likely to find a lot of cheaper pubs and shops. Moral of the story: if you’re considering coming to Dublin but the price is stopping you, know that there are plenty of ways to enjoy the city on a budget without feeling like you half-assed your trip.
I’ll also be putting together a guide of my favorite spots in Dublin regardless of price, since I get a lot of (real) adults and relatives who ask me for suggestions who aren’t necessarily on a tight budget and probably wouldn’t want to end up at Dicey’s on a Monday night… So keep your eyes peeled for that!
And if you have any other specific questions about things to do or life in Ireland, please let me know! I can be an anxious traveler myself so I totally understand how helpful it can be to get all of my random and seemingly useless questions answered. Plus I totally love talking about my time here, so fire away! And if you’re from the area and I’ve missed something in this post, definitely let me know! I’m always on the prowl for a good bargain myself.
I know I’m always going on about the weather here in Ireland, but it has seriously hit me the hardest this summer. I’m used to long, hot, muggy Chicago summers where you wake up sticky and put on as few clothes as legally possible. Dublin […]
This is by far one of my favorite spots in Dublin! Peaceful, tucked away, and completely gorgeous, the Dublin Botanic Gardens are a great way to spend an afternoon, whether you’re local or just in for the weekend. The gardens are home to two enormous greenhouses brimming with plants from all over the world: succulents, orchids, palm trees, prairie grasses, the list goes on and on.
Summer doesn’t get too warm around here (it’s July and 60 degrees), so my favorite spot has to be the tropics room. The air is humid and hot and reminds me of those super sticky summer days back home in the Midwest. I know most people hate the heat, but I have totally been craving it – this whole ‘temperate climate’ thing just feels so wrong!
I’ve never had much of a green thumb myself (in fact, I can barely keep a cactus alive…) but I’ve always loved a lush garden. One of my first memories is playing in the enormous hydrangea bushes in front of our house and walking barefoot through the dirt in our garden. The city can be great and I love that there is so much to do, but I’d swap a concrete jungle for a real one any day.
I seriously can’t recommend a visit to the Botanic Gardens enough. And if you’re around, there’s no excuse: they’re completely free and open to the public with several bus lines running right out to them. Every time I get out there, I’m always kicking myself that I don’t visit often enough! They’re at the top of my list. 🌿
Check ’em out! Visit information:
Open 9-5 Monday to Friday and 10-6 Saturday & Sunday. Buses 83a, 40, and 140 all have stops either at Glasnevin Cemetery or Botanic Avenue within walking distances of the gardens. Admission is free!
Get your nature on and enjoy!
So I know it’s been a few days since my last post and that’s because my beautiful friend Kristin was here visiting from New York! We’ve been doing all the tourist stuff here in Dublin (Trinity, Kilmainham Jail, Guinness) but also decided to get out of the city center for a bit to visit Howth. I’ve been hearing about the beautiful coastal town since I moved here so we hopped on the Dart and ended up in the land of beaches, boats, and amazing seafood.
The town is seriously gorgeous – houses perched on seaside hills, harbors filled with docked sailboats, and expanses of sea all around. The downtown area is a classic water village with its ice cream parlors and fish & chips shops. In fact, it weirdly reminds me of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: same sort of nostalgic, family friendly beach vibe. It was great, too, because we just showed up without a plan and were able to have a great afternoon wandering around and exploring the town. It was definitely the change of scenery we needed and it’s a low-key (and cost effective) day trip if you’re visiting Dublin.
We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather – 70 and sunny! – to walk around the docks and explore the local sites. We grabbed a couple coffees and mosied our way up to the lighthouse, then doubled back to walk through the yard of St. Mary’s Abbey. We finished up our adventures with some Guinness, oysters, and fish & chips at Crabby Jo’s, which I would definitely recommend for great local grub and full beverage selection. We were tempted by a placed called Octopussy (for obvious reasons) but alas it didn’t make the cut… We hopped back on the train and were back home in 30 minutes. Can’t beat that.
With some long days in the library ahead of me, Howth seems like the perfect weekend getaway for some fresh air and a crisp glass of white wine. Would love to grab dinner out there for a casual date night or take my parents out to Aqua (the fancy restaurant along the ocean) for something a little more special when they come to visit. We didn’t get a chance to see the castle or the gardens, so that’s also on my list for next time. Anything else I should check out? Would love suggestions! ⚓️
Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of going to see Lindy West speak with Irish author Louise O’Neill here in Dublin. The event was part of Lindy’s book tour promoting her memoir, Shrill, but they also talked about body positivity, the #shoutyourabortion campaign, and Lindy’s […]