Ireland is one of the most popular places to visit on this side of the Atlantic and, for many, it is their first sojourn into Europe. But Ireland also isn’t always considered to be the best destination for budget travellers, especially considering that its capital city of Dublin is one of the most expensive urban areas in Europe. But that doesn’t mean that a trip to the Emerald Isle isn’t attainable for those travelling on a shoestring budget. So is Ireland expensive? And how much will a trip to Ireland cost? Well, I’m here to help you figure that out.
**Ireland uses the Euro, which is what all prices in this article are listed in. To find the most current exchange rate in your home currency, click here**
Trip to Ireland Cost: Accommodation
The first, and often biggest, aspect of an Ireland trip cost that you need to consider is the price of accommodation. The cost of a place to sleep each night is probably going to take the biggest chunk out of your overall daily budget.
Luckily, there are ample accommodation options available in Ireland that are suitable budget travellers. What you will find is that prices can vary drastically depending on where you are in the country. Dublin is by far the most expensive when it comes to accommodation costs, especially if you want to be centrally located. Other urban areas like Cork and Galway also, not surprisingly, tend to cost more than their more rural counterparts.
If you’re going the typical budget backpacker route when you’re travelling in Ireland, you are in luck as the Emerald Isle has quite a well-established hostel scene. There are myriad hostel options in Irish cities and you can normally find one or two in smaller towns. However, don’t expect a dorm bed to be the absolute cheapest option available, especially if you’re not travelling solo.
If you’re planning on staying in hostels while travelling, don’t expect to pay any less than around €30 per night for the cheapest dorm bed in cities and around €20 per night in more rural locations.
If you’re travelling as a couple or in a group, often a cheaper solution to staying in a hostel dorm is renting a private room on Airbnb. Cost per night in city centres tend to average around €35 – 40 per night, so it can definitely work out to be less expensive if you’re splitting the costs.
If you have a little more to spend than that of a typical budget backpacker, then consider staying in a B&B or guesthouse. These are ubiquitous throughout Ireland and can be a great option if you’re travelling on a mid-range budget.
We booked a couple of good-value rooms through Booking.com including the Amberley House in Dublin, The Stop B&B in Galway, and Island View B&B in Roundstone. Click here to find other budget rooms in Ireland!
Trip to Ireland Cost: Transport
Another major factor in your total trip to Ireland cost is going to be the price of transportation. Outside of the big cities, Ireland is a country that is really best seen by car. Public transport exists, but it’s pricey and it can be infrequent, especially if you want to spend some time in more rural areas and want to get a bit off the beaten path. So, if you want to travel independently, your best option for transport in Ireland will be to hire a car.
There are a few costs you need to consider when renting a car in Ireland. First off, as with many places in the world, it is significantly cheaper if hire a manual transmission than an automatic. So, if you can drive stick, it will definitely save you a few euros along the way.
Another money-saving tip when renting a car is to forgo the excess insurance that the car hire company will push and opt for an independent policy. We recommend using iCarHireInsurance whose prices are much less than any of the major rental companies.
The other cost you need to consider in hiring a car in Ireland are fuel prices. The price of petrol is quite expensive, averaging about €1.40 per litre of unleaded. Luckily, most newer cars these days are quite fuel-efficient so you may not need to fill up all that often.
On average, the cheapest price you can expect to pay for a rental car in Ireland is about €25 – 35 per day, and that is only if you get a compact- or economy-sized car with a manual transmission. Expect prices to increase if you need a bigger car or an auto transmission.
In cities, public transport is always an option and generally preferable to driving when you’re sightseeing. However, most urban centres in Ireland — including Dublin, Galway, and Cork — are very compact and all of the main sites are accessible on foot. If you’re looking to save on any transport costs, I would recommend walking everywhere that you can.
Trip to Ireland Cost: Food
The third thing that needs to be considered in the cost of a trip to Ireland is the price of food. Over the past few years, Ireland has seen something of a food revolution where innovative chefs have reimagined the local cuisine and the results are something spectacular. Everywhere from fine-dining establishments to local, neighbourhood pubs serve up fantastic Irish cuisine that you could never have imagined. But how much does a typical meal cost?
Well, if you’re travelling on a super tight budget and staying in a hostel or Airbnb with self-catering facilities, one of the easiest ways to cut back on your trip to Ireland cost is to cook for yourself. Irish grocery prices are affordable and on par with those that you might find elsewhere in Western Europe, the UK, USA, etc.
If you’re not looking to cook for yourself, there are obviously numerous options for food in Ireland. Street and fast food are widely available throughout the country and can be the cheapest, if not always the healthiest, option for those who are trying to keep their Ireland trip cost to a minimum.
For those looking for a sit-down meal at a mid-range restaurant or pub, you can expect to pay somewhere around €15 per person. If your tastes are a little more high-end or you feel like a splurge, expect a nicer, three-course dinner meal to cost about €25 – 30 per person.
If you do want to take advantage of one of Ireland’s fine dining establishments but don’t have the kind of money to blow on a ten-course tasting menu, many of the best Irish restaurants offer fixed lunch, early dinner, or weeknight menus where you can experience the phenomenal Irish food revolution at a more affordable price.
Trip to Ireland Cost: Activities
Now that we’ve covered the most basic aspects of your Ireland trip cost, it’s time to focus on how much it costs to actually do things on the Emerald Isle. Well, depending on your preferences and general travel style, it is actually entirely possible to spend a day visiting museums and sightseeing in Ireland without spending anything.
Most public museums in Ireland are free of charge to enter, much like in the UK. The only time you’re likely to have to pay entry at a museum is if it is privately owned or there is a special, limited-time exhibit.
It is also completely free to experience Ireland’s spectacular natural scenery. Hiking and hill walking are two of the best things to do in Ireland and it costs nothing to do.
If you’re interested in visiting historical sites, castles, or ruins in Ireland, oftentimes these places do charge an admission fee. Generally speaking, a full-price adult ticket to one of the sites costs around €8, but there are almost always discounts available for seniors and students with a valid ID.
Trip to Ireland Cost: Entertainment
No breakdown of a trip to Ireland cost would be complete without factoring in the price of entertainment. What is a trip to Ireland without the occasional pint or dram of Irish whiskey, am I right? Well, unfortunately, liquor prices in Ireland aren’t exactly cheap and if you’re planning on sticking to a tight budget on your holiday, I would recommend keeping pub drinking to a minimum.
The average price for a pint at a pub or restaurant in Ireland is around €5, and a basic cocktail such as a gin and tonic averages about €8 – 10 depending on where you are. As usual, most liquor prices are going to be more expensive in the bigger cities and in places that are more frequented by tourists. Even in Dublin, you can see a massive difference in prices between bars and pubs in heavily touristed areas compared to those that are more frequented by locals. A good tip if you’re trying to visit Dublin on a budget is to avoid drinking in the Temple Bar neighbourhood altogether, as prices here are incredibly inflated.
If you’re looking to go out and party while in one of the big cities in Ireland, it can actually be more worth your money to go on a pub crawl. These usually cost around €12 and generally include a couple of drinks and entry into bars and clubs.
As always, however, it is infinitely less expensive to buy your booze at the supermarket or liquor store or not to drink at all.
Average Trip to Ireland Cost
So how much does it cost to go to Ireland in 2020? Well, while it is possible to travel and an incredibly tight budget while in Ireland but for the purposes of this section, I’ve averaged all of the costs so you can have an idea of how much you might spend per day while travelling in Ireland.
Accommodation: €20 – 30/night
Transport: €30 – 40/day
Food: €10 – 20/day
Activities: €0 – 8/day
Entertainment: €5 – 10/day
Depending on your travel style, it is possible to travel to Ireland on a minimal budget. Assuming that you’re not intending to cook all of your meals for yourself and abstain from drinking alcohol for the duration of your trip, it’s safe to assume that your daily trip to Ireland cost to start at around €65 per day. Obviously, it is possible to cut costs more and spend less per day and it is certainly possible to spend more.
Another thing to consider when determining your overall Ireland trip cost is travel insurance. We personally used World Nomads for our Ireland trip as we do for all our trips! Click here to get a quote from World Nomads.
Travelling in Ireland doesn’t have to be an incredibly expensive experience and it’s entirely possible to stick to a tight budget. If you’re smart about where and how you spend your money, you Ireland trip cost shouldn’t be exorbitant.
Are you planning a trip to Ireland? Have you been? Let us know in the comments!