This blog post was updated on October 5, 2018.
I came to Ireland in search of the riches of its culture, country and people. I left Ireland with those sorts of riches, but not with pots of gold flowing out from my carryon luggage. A budget for visiting Ireland is often tried and tested more than travelers anticipate. While flights to the Emerald Isle are often the cheapest in Europe when coming from the United States, the expenses start to add up the minute that you touch down. In order to come back from Ireland rich in spirit and in pocketbook, practice these four ways to save.
For Sightseeing, Invest in a Heritage Card: When I traveled around Ireland for a month, each day consisted of entrances fees to heritage sites across the country. A few euros here and there didn’t seem like much at the time, but admission fess quickly added up to a large sum. If you are going to be sightseeing all around Ireland or it’s your first time to the country, you probably will be frequenting many of the major castles and historic sites. In order to save a pretty euro, travelers should invest in the Heritage Card. The card lends fee admission into many heritage sites including places like Connemara National Park and the Rock of Cashel. An adult card runs €21 and affords entry into the heritage sites for one year.
For Entertainment, Attend Traditional Music Sessions: Particularly in the West of Ireland in County Clare, traditional music sessions provide fine entertainment without a large price. Many pubs in Ireland feature live music after a certain time each night or for special nights of the week. The typical traditional music session, sometimes referred to as a trad session, features a number of different instruments and musicians merely coming down to the corner pub to exercise their talents. Generally you can sit and enjoy the song and dance of the country all for the price of a pint.
For Food, Fill up on Irish Breakfasts: The Irish breakfast can be a traveler’s best friend, especially if they are looking to save some cash. If you want to do Ireland on a budget, you can cut back on food costs by only reserving properties that have breakfast included in the room rate. This is generally pretty easy to find in Ireland with the wealth of bed and breakfasts and guesthouses. I found food to be the biggest budget drainer in Ireland. If you can get a night’s sleep and a meal in one price, you should take advantage of the opportunity to save.
For Accommodations, Get Out of the Cities: While there is a great deal to discover in Irish cities like Dublin and Galway, the cosmopolitan accommodations can take a toll on the budget. When I was cruising around Ireland for a month on a budget, I kept my time in cities to a minimum just for my budget’s sake. I discovered the true Irish experiences came in small towns and communities, all for an affordable night’s stay.