36 Hours in Dublin on a budget

Dublin Temple Bar

Let me start by answering the question everyone is looking for the answer to. Can Dublin be explored on a budget? Now, I consider myself a budget savvy traveller and even when planning my Dublin city break I considered all the budget options.

I’ve been to many European countries and always found I’ve been able to stretch my Euros as far as humanly possible. It’s probably one of the most common traits of every frequent traveller actually.

So, in answer to the question; Can Dublin be done on a budget? My answer is no. Absolutely not, and I feel like I’ve almost failed myself as a proud budget traveller by admitting that.

Here’s how to spend 36 hours (and a lot more money than expected) on a Dublin city break in Ireland

36 Hours in Dublin

CHEAP FLIGHTS TO DUBLIN

Remember when Ryanair went crazy and did all those £2 flights? Well, I managed to snap up a bargain and grab two returns to Dublin from my home city of Liverpool for the glorious price of £8. Another city and country to explore and Dublin would officially become my shortest but probably most expensive trip to date.

Although I’d only have a full day to explore Dublin I planned my mid-week Dublin city break to the tee to ensure that once I’d landed in Dublin on my bargain Ryanair flight I’d be able to soak up as much as the culture and fun as possible.

Cheap flights to Dublin are quite common from Liverpool and Manchester with Ryanair, alternatively try the Irish national carrier Aer Lingus. They also offer bargain and cheap flights to Dublin throughout the year.

Weekend city breaks to Dublin are popular especially among groups of friends, so if you don’t want to find yourself on a hen do filled plane or feel like you are at someone’s 30th I suggest planning a mid-week trip to Dublin.

A CITY BREAK TO DUBLIN, IRELAND

Dublin is an absolute wonderland during the winter. If you haven’t been then you must imagine live music in every bar you visit, merry tourists, the famous Temple Bar Street, all the Guinness you’ll allow yourself to drink and lots to do, see and experience packed into one small but truly great city.

 

Dublin is everything you would expect from a city as hyped over as Dublin. But, any weekend city break to Dublin comes with a killer price tag. Although Dublin is only a 25 minute cheap flight from Liverpool it’s my first time visiting Dublin and Ireland in general.

Upon arrival in this great city, I expected inflated tourists prices and considering I was visiting Dublin right before Christmas in early December I expected things would be a little ‘London prices’.But, I can tell you now that I genuinely know that the price tag in Dublin does not accurately reflect the rest of Ireland.

The inflated economy in Dublin is something that us happy little tourists have caused ourselves and like any large city with a mass tourism boom, Dublin takes us for all were worth.If you plan to take a weekend trip to Dublin or a Dublin city break then be conscious of the cost of eating and drinking mostly as generally shopping and accommodation are much more budget friendly.

 

36 Hours in Dublin, Ireland
By day and by night.

Dublin city break budget;

Accommodation: €15 – €20 per person for a dorm bed in Generator Hostel

Eating: €25 – €30 per day 

Drinking: €50 Guinness and Magners are usually €7 – €10 per pint in The Temple Bar area  

Airport Bus: €5 return on the Dublin Airlink Airport Bus 

THE COST OF SPENDING 36 HOURS IN DUBLIN

While some of you may think paying €17 for a single round of drinks is sustainable I don’t and upon returning to Liverpool from Dublin on my 25 minute £4 Ryanair bargain flight I realised I’d been had by the city.
 
I suspect that away from The Temple Bar area of Dublin on the river Liffey there are areas that don’t come with the over inflated tourist price tag, but being the fun loving tourist I am I was simply sucked into the bright lights and acoustic music of Temple Bar.
 
The cost of spending 36 hours or longer on a Dublin city break is actually quite mind-blowing. I used the term London prices earlier and that’s a metric I apply to any costly destination.
 
Dublin is in many ways like London, and I know the tourist game in London. As a naive tourist in London you’ll be sucked in and spat back out with an empty Wallet. And that’s exactly what happened to me in Dublin, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it.To me, the capital of Ireland is so similar to London. It’s the classic tourist trap with all the gimmicks and trimmings to go with.

36 Hours in Dublin
The black stuff

DUBLIN AT CHRISTMAS

We travelled to Dublin in the first week of December, meaning Christmas was fast approaching and the icy thick air of both Liverpool and Dublin reminded us of this every second.

Dublin at Christmas makes for the perfect city break or Christmas shopping trip.

Picture this, the scene is set, traditional eateries, Irish pubs, typical bars with live music singing only the best Ireland has to offer Christmas songs and all. We spent most of our time in the brightly light and Christmas decorated Temple Bar are of Dublin that sits on the banks of the River Liffey.

In Dublin at Christmas the days are short and the nights are dark, but the Guinness keeps you warm and almost all of the traditional Irish pubs will have a real lit coal fire. This setting reminded me of a similar winter city break I’d taken to Bratislava.

During our time in Dublin at Christmas we ate the best fish and chips in all of Dublin complete with list of top celebrity customers on its wall. A simple meal will set you back €15 (and that’s without the fish). But in most pubs and bars you’ll find a menu with all the Irish and warm winter favourites.

If you hope to visit Dublin any time soon I’d really recommend a city break to Dublin at Christmas as it really ensured my time in Ireland was extra special. There are some Christmas markets in Dublin and there’s also some great shopping if you plan a Christmas shopping trip.

36 Hours in Dublin

 

TEMPLE BAR, THE BRAZEN HEAD AND SPENDING 36 HOURS IN DUBLIN PUBS

Our city break to Dulbin was a short one and we intended to capture as much of the Irish pub scene in Dublin as possible. After checking into our hostel and taking the short walk along with River Liffey to the main tourist area of the city of Dublin we immediately found ourselves on the streets of Temple Bar.

Temple Bar known originally as barr (as in sandbank) due to it’s location on the banks of Dublin;s River Liffey is the prime tourist location and hotspot in Dublin. You’ll find all of Dublins most popular and best bars in this area.

Temple Bar is the heart and soul of Dublin and an obvious first stop for many eager tourists. This location is world renowned for its infamous stag dos, hen parties, overpriced drinks and the tipsy echo of Galway Girl over the worn cobbles. We laughed because the area very much reminded us of Concert Square in Liverpool – an area we usually try to avoid. Yet, we found ourselves engrossed in the madness and as touristy as a tourist can be in Dublin’s heartland.

With the cold River Liffey behind us and the crisp night outside we found ourselves reluctant to leave every traditionally decorated and cosy bar we found, regardless of the price. There isn’t one place in the whole of Dublin we didn’t feel welcome, that’s the whole charm.

We also visited The Brazen Head, which can be found a short walking distance away from Temple Bar and hidden ever so slightly from the tourists. The Brazen Head is deemed the oldest pub in Dublin and as tourists on a Dublin pub crawl we certainly didn’t want to miss out on having a drink here.

This favourite Irish pub also serves food and although we didn’t eat here, judging by the warm smells and empty plates it might be a one to add to your list if you are planning on visiting Dublin any time soon.

36 Hours in Dublin
The Brazen Head, Dublin, Ireland
36 Hours in Dublin, Ireland

 

36 HOURS IN DUBLIN – THE BEST BARS IN DUBLIN

Here’s a list of the best bars in Dublin and the must see pubs in the city for a Dublin pub crawl; 

  • The Oak: A 1920’s style speakeasy themed bar attached to the hotel next door, this was my favourite of Dublin’s best bars as it’s a cosy escape from the cold and the world in a classy and otherworldly setting. Expect the staff to be dressed in three piece suits and only the bets whisky and cocktails to be served in The Oak, Dublin.
  • The Auld Dubliner: Another of Dublin’s best bars and must see pubs. You can find this Dublin bar in the very heart of Temple Bar, an absolute must Some of the best live music we managed to catch in the perfect Christmas setting during a visit o Dublin at Christmas. The Auld Dubliner can definitely be regarded as one of the best bars in Dublin, especially over the festive period.
  • Temple Bar: Obviously Temple Bar has to make the list of best bars in Dublin. This well kept and traditional Irish pub is even more charming during the Christmas months when the whole pub becomes decorated within an inch of its life. Stick Temple Bar at the top of your must see pubs list and get there before lunch time for a seat and enjoy the live music. Drinks here are some of the most expensive.
  • The Lotts Cafe Bar: Head over Ha’penny Bridge across the Liffey and then a walk straight until you spot the sign for Lotts Cafe Bar, like The Oak The Lotts is a themed. The main bar isn’t anything special but if you walk round into the restaurant you’ll feel like you’ve entered a scene from an early 90’s Christmas Movie set in New York City. We found The Lotts Cafe Bar to be one of the better value for money spots in town and it was very popular with families.
  • The Brazen Head: The oldest pub in Dublin as I mentioned earlier dates back to (apparently) 1198. The Brazen Head is deemed one of Dublin’s best bars and is by anyone’s standards an overly traditional Irish pub. Due to it’s location away from the main drag, the Brazen Head is a lot more relaxed and quieter than the like of The Auld Dubliner and Temple Bar. The Brazen Head also offers ‘Breakfast Drinks’ something that’s apparently very normal in Dublin.
36 Hours in Dublin
Temple fun – Dublin, Ireland

THINGS TO DO IN DUBLIN AT CHRISTMAS

Trinity College was a must visit for us, we arrived at dusk to check out this prestigious establishment and we definitely weren’t the only tourists around. You can walk through the grounds of Trinity College like most tourists do, Trinity College is in a prime location as it is situated alongside a few pubs, restaurants and one of Dublin’s biggest shopping areas. 
Christmas shopping is a popular activity to do in Dublin at Christmas, many people travel from both Liverpool and Manchester on the quick cheap flight to enjoy the shopping in Dublin’s festive setting.
Christmas was in full swing when we arrived in Ireland and we were able to visit Arnotts Department Store which reminded us of an old time favourite Christmas movie. If you haven’t seen The Greatest Store in the World then I suggest you watch it this second.
Another of the best things to do in Dublin is visit Dublin Castle.  Get there early in the morning and explore the gardens and seek out the best photo opportunities. There were a few guided tours exploring when we did and I can imagine a free walking tour would take you to this location.
Although we visited Dublin in the height of winter the weather was perfect during our visit. Cold and crisp with a bright Winter sun illuminating the castles features. We spent the majority of our time in Dublin, as short as it was, wandering. I always enjoy walking around a new city and taking in the popular areas.

DUBLIN PUB CRAWL

Despite having a lot of different things to do and see in Dublin we stereotypically came to Dublin for one ever popular reason. We came to Dublin to experience a Dublin Pub Crawl. If you’re heading to the city for a small amount of time and are hoping to enjoy a pub crawl in Dublin and along Temple Bar expect to spend around €100.

You can enjoy organised pub crawls and the standard hen and stag do tours but we chose to plan our Dublin pub crawl itinerary ourselves. It’s pretty easy to navigate the cobbles of Temple Bar and everyone in Dublin is friendly so if your tourism purpose is the same as ours was then don’t worry about pre-planning your pub crawl in Dublin.

36 Hours in Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College at night (well 6pm in Winter)

 

36 Hours in Dublin
Dublin Castle

 

36 Hours in Dublin
36 Hours in Dublin
Would highly recommend this hostel for a short stay in Dublin

GENERATOR HOSTEL, DUBLIN – WHERE TO STAY IN DUBLIN ON A BUDGET?

Our stay in Dublin was my first hostel experience since our 6 month Central and South America backpacking trip and we couldn’t have stayed in a better hostel in a better location than Generator Hostel. We paid around €24 for one night and two dorm beds in a bigger dorm, but as we only had 36 hours in Dublin we didn’t mind so much.

Generator Hostel, Dublin is one of the popular Generator Hostel chains and the perfect place to stay in Dublin on a budget. For an additional 10% discount use the code Blogger18.

We decided to stay at Generator Hostel in Dublin based on a couple of TripAdvisor and Hostel World reviews and we made a great decision. Generator Hostel, Dublin is in a giant building with an industrial exterior. A large chimney-like-structure to the centre towers over Smithfield Square.

Generator Hostel is a budget friendly, edgy, spaciously modern and clean hostel with large dorms, small dorms and privates available. There’s plenty of hotel accommodations to choose from in Dublin but if you’re budget conscious check out the backpacker hostels in town and you’ll quickly figure out where to stay in Dublin on a budget.

36 Hours in Dublin

 

36 Hours in Dublin, Ireland
A couple of Guinness infused selfies

 

36 Hours in Dublin

 

DUBLIN ON A BUDGET

I’ll end this as I started, asking the same question; Can Dublin be done on a budget?

Overall 36 hours in Dublin took me by surprise in many ways, I was almost Dublined out by the time I left and I know it’s due to the cost of everything. Eating and drinking are the biggest expense in a city like Dublin and you will struggle to find those budget options we all know and love so much.

 

If you want to visit Dublin on a budget be prepared to change your concept of budget travel. Understand that Dublin isn’t your standard Eurotrip destination with cheap booze and street food that you can enjoy on a budget and be willing to adjust you idea of what a budget trip is.

 

Dublin is a fun city to immerse yourself in and it’s hard to be bored in a city filled with so much fun and laughter, although I’ve asked myself if Dublin can be done on a budget several times during my stay and this post I almost find myself not as bothered about the budget and more about the experience to be had.

 

If you can grab a bargain flight I would recommend you do so, maybe just take out a small loan before you arrive so you can truly enjoy all the festive features of Dublin at Christmas. One of the things to remember is that not all destinations can be done on a strict backpacker budget and although I manged to hack my travel and accommodation the cost of food in Dublin will always catch you out.
This shouldn’t deter you from visiting this must see destination and enjoying the bars and traditional Irish pubs of Dublin’s Temple Bar.

 

36 HOURS IN DUBLIN – SURVIVAL GUIDE

EATING AND DRINKING IN DUBLIN

Whatever you’re hoping to spend. Double it, then take your bank card. Especially if, like me, you become spontaneous and reckless after a couple of Guinness. Budget between €7 – €10 for a pint. Food can be cheaper but still over the average expect to budget approx €30 day for eating this would include a takeaway chippy and a sit down meal.

 

There are places on Temple Bar that do cheaper food. There’s a Mexican Burrito bar we ate at. I believe there’s a couple of them dotted around the city but they are good value for money. Check out Pablo Picante.
We also ate fish and chips from one of the typical Irish chip shops, this is also quite a nice way to save some money when eating in Dublin.

 

Drinking comes at a price and if you are planning on seeing Dublin on a budget then a Dublin pub crawl is probably off the cards for you. The majority of the money we spent during our 36 hours in Dublin was on booze!

 

WHERE TO STAY IN DUBLIN

Generator Hostel I would recommend. Located in the Smithfield Square area just set back from the river the hostel is quirky, clean, large and I can only imagine filled with several hundred backpackers in the summer months.

 

There are other great hostels to choose from in Dublin and many closer to the Temple Bar area. If you’re new to hostels don’t be put off by the stereotype. Many of Dublin’s hostels put the budget B&B’s to shame.

 

GETTING TO AND FROM DUBLIN AIRPORT

Return bus tickets to and from Dublin airport to the city centre are available from Dublin airport through Airlink Express. It’s usually around €3 for a single or €5 for a return per person and the bus takes around 30 minutes with no traffic.

Using the Airlink airport bus is a pretty straightforward affair and something I noticed all the tourists were doing. Find the Airlink Express counter just inside the arrivals section and speak to someone for a ticket. We gave our hostel address and the girl at the desk kindly told us which stop to get off at.

Here’s more airport transfer options for getting to and from Dublin Airport.

 

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