I will not lie to you, Ireland is EXPENSIVE. What better way to kick off my Ireland series with some money saving tips! With what little traveling I have done in Europe, I do find it to be most expensive in the summer months. If you are able to, try to avoid June through August to save money on flights and accommodations. I was not able to be extremely flexible with my trip since I was attending a wedding, which meant less ways to save. However, if you can be flexible and find the right deal, Ireland can be reasonable.
Here are some tips to save money in Ireland:
The Gathering and/or National Heritage Week
Make sure to research The Gathering 2013 before going. Many attractions and festivals offer discounts or free admission during certain time frames. I was able to get free admission into the Kilkenny Castle. The Gathering has printed books of all the events covered and can be found at many tourist attractions and tourism centers. It will take time to sort through the book, but it may be worth your time.
National Heritage Week allowed us to tour Glenveagh Castle for free, which included a tour of the rooms of the castle. Even though it is only a week in August (August 17-25, 2013), it may be worth checking out if you are planning a future trip.
Stay Outside of the City
If you are renting a car or not, consider staying a little outside of the City Centers and take buses or walk. This may save you a few Euros. However, keep in mind that it does cost money to take the bus, so factor the additional costs in while booking your accommodation.
I stayed in B&Bs for most of my trip. Even though the price is a little more than hostels, an Irish breakfast is served, which can save money by snacking through lunch until dinner.
Find Free Admission Attractions
Go to the attractions that are free. Keep in mind that these might not be the most sought out tourist destinations, but it is a great way to keep to your budget.
Some attractions can be tricky with entrance fees. At some attractions, the entrance fee covers parking and access to the visitor center but can be avoided. For example, Giant’s Causeway only checks tickets as you come into the visitor center, so you can walk around to the coast without paying the fee. Secondly, it may be possible to skip the Cliffs of Moher entrance fee if you park close and walk there. You pay as you enter the parking lot, but no one checks your tickets around the cliffs.
Even though I did not take advantage of this option, it is very common and some are even free! It is a great way to learn more from the area by sticking to a schedule. If you take a guided tour, it may be recommended to at least tip the guide. However, depending on the location, self-guided tours can be found as well.
Ha’Penny Bridge Pedestrian Bridge
I make sure to bring my student ID with me when I travel (even though I am no longer a student). You can save a few Euros off the admission price, which adds up.
City Bus Tours
There are many city sight-seeing bus tours in the major cities of Ireland. If you are not going to be in a city for long and want to see as much as possible, consider paying for a bus ticket. When you get off the bus, make sure you note what times the bus stops at that attraction to save waiting times. These buses are also very informative and provide information you may not learn by attraction hopping on your own.
Depending on your tastes, the Dublin Pass could be just right for you. It is a bit pricey at 35 Euros for an Adult for one day. However, if you are planning on going to the attractions it covers, it may be worth your money. For example, I found myself skipping some attractions because of the entrance fee. The Guinness Storehouse is 18 Euros itself, so it is possible to get your money’s worth if you plan on touring Guinness and Jameson alone.
The other attractions are not as well known. I would have enjoyed going to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, but we did not have time nor wanted to pay the entrance fee. Keep in mind that it is hard to see all the destinations in one day. Try to focus on a few main ones that will allow you to get a return for your investment.
Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar View
Do not forget to grab a pint of Guinness in a local pub. Does Guinness taste different in Ireland?
Did I miss a money saving tip? Please share how you save money on your travels.
More in this series:
- Planning for Ireland
- Accommodations for Ireland
- An Ireland Road Trip Photo Essay
- Newgrange – A Prehistoric Site
- Walking through the Titanic Belfast
- Reasons to Stay at a Bed and Breakfast in Ireland
- Treated like a “President” at Solis Lough Eske Castle
- Giant’s Causeway and Cliffs of Moher
- Review of the Guinness Storehouse
- Meeting Irish Locals
- Glenveagh Castle
- Why I am Glad We Detoured to See Kilkenny
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