Dublin on a Budget
Explore some budget-friendly options in the capital!
Dublin on a Budget
Dublin is a city filled with things to do, but like most capital cities, it can be difficult to experience it all without spending lots of money. However, even if you're working as an intern or studying abroad, there are still so many ways to enjoy the city.
In our handy guide, we discuss everything to do and see in Dublin that anyone can take advantage of: from lush, sprawling parks to lively and exciting nightlife. You might not be able to spend lots, but there’s no reason to miss out.
Museums, Galleries and Monuments
For free things to do in Dublin, start at the city’s many galleries and museums that offer free entry every day of the week. The National Art Gallery is a beautiful building that will keep you busy for a few hours. If you love art, this is a must-see. Inside you’ll find a collection of Irish and European art from around the year 1300 to the present day, including works by Pablo Picasso, Jack B Yeats, and Caravaggio. The building design adds to the experience, as works of art are framed by several archways, creating the feeling of extra space as you travel the halls. If you’re living in Dublin, why not pick up a few postcards of your favourite works as a cheap room decoration?
Near the National Art Gallery is the Museum of Literature Ireland. This place isn’t free entry - tickets normally start at €9.50 for students - but they do have ‘first Fridays’. On the first Friday of every month, the museum opens for free from 6 pm-9 pm, allowing you to explore immersive literary exhibitions with some added extras. As well as free entry, first Fridays often include free drinks, a live DJ set, and poetry readings throughout the evening. The cafe, which continues out onto a beautiful garden terrace, is open till late.
On the North side of the river, the Hugh Lane Gallery will appeal to Contemporary and Impressionist art lovers. It also contains Francis Bacon’s art studio, moved from London in exact detail and put on display here in Dublin. For a more global destination, check out the Chester Beatty Gallery on the grounds of Dublin Castle (another free find!). This small but impressive museum houses old artefacts and artworks from Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. By gift shop standards, the prices are also very reasonable - you can buy a postcard for 50 cents or a full print for 9 euros.
If you’re more of a history fan, wander over to the Natural History Museum instead, known as ‘the dead zoo’ by locals and famed for its Victorian feel. Unfortunately, due to building works, only the ground floor is currently open. Still, you’ll be able to get a look of Ireland’s fauna and flora, including the skeletons of a giant ice-age deer, the Megaloceros. Stop by and peer at the animals collected by Charles Darwin himself, completely free of charge.
Natural Scenery and Parks
On a sunny day, parks are a great budget-friendly way to spend an afternoon with a book or a group of friends. In peak summer, you’ll see lots of people enjoying the sun with a few beers. Where you decide to go depends on what you’re looking for. Situated in a beautiful Georgian square, Merrion Square Park is close to most of the big landmarks on the South side of the river, including the National History Museum and Art Gallery. This is one of the busier parks, but there’s still plenty of space. Enjoy the free sculpture trail, starting at the iconic statue of Oscar Wilde, and make sure to browse the paintings by local artists adorning the outside of the park.
Nearby is St Stephen’s Green, another spacious park opposite the Museum of Literature. St Stephen’s provides a peaceful retreat from the city centre, complete with a flower garden and plenty of ducks. The best part is the lake fronted by a gazebo. We recommend bringing a blanket in the summer and spending the afternoon lazing by the water.
Finally, if you have a bit more time and energy, Phoenix Park is worth an entire day’s trip. This huge park in the city centre is one of the largest in Europe, containing more than a day's worth of things to do. It's also famed for its herd of about 600 fallow deer that have roamed the park freely since the 1660s.
Start at The People's Gardens, which first opened in 1864. Located at the entrance to the park, it feels slightly less vast and more charming than some of the other areas. Here, you'll find a lake, picnic areas, and, as the name suggests, some very pretty gardens.
Next, walk over to The Wellington Testimonial, a huge monument at the centre of an even larger square of grass. If you remember that Windows XP background, you'll know what to expect here. While some might appreciate the history - the obelisk was built in dedication to the victories of the Duke of Wellington - most will be impressed with the size of the structure.
While you're here, stop off for a coffee at the Victorian Tea Rooms, a lovely octagonal building serving up paninis and baked goods. Sit at a table outside for views of the park while you eat.
Places to Eat
Food markets are great places if you're eating on a budget, partly because you can buy cheap, fresh ingredients to make your own delicious meals, but also because markets often offer a variety of meals at a lower cost than sit-down restaurants. There is a huge choice of food markets across Dublin, meaning you'll easily find one open any day of the week. Moore Street Market, located just a ten-minute walk from Twin's Dublin office, is the oldest open-air market in Dublin. Here, you'll find cheap fruit and vegetables, homemade Indian sweets, and live music.
For more traditional places to eat out, try looking around Dublin's unofficial Chinatown along East Parnell Street. Bento boxes tend to be good value for money, including a hot dish, vegetables, rice, and Miso soup for less than €15. If you're looking for a treat, pick up a 'spice bag', a mix of fried chicken and chips coated in spices and tossed together with chopped chillis and peppers. A Dublin special, it's easy to find one for €7 and under. Finally, the falafel chain Umi offers deals of falafel/halloumi wraps with wedges, plus a drink, for €12.
Whether you want to experience the many things Dublin has to offer, or you're simply craving a spice bag, take a look at Twin's English courses in Dublin, located within walking distance of all the main attractions!