Dublin on a Dime: My Guide to Doing Dublin on the Cheap

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So I love to travel and living in Dublin has been one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life. But as we all know, traveling can get expensive so even just pinching a few pennies here and there can really help. As part of my quest to be more cost-conscious, here is my (by no means comprehensive) guide to ballin’ on a budget here in Dublin:

Places to Eat

The Buttery – Tucked away on Trinity College’s front square is a little spot called the Buttery (just to the left of the Campanile if you enter from the front gate). You can get a hearty lunch of thick stew or fish & chips for about 5 euro. The Buttery (as well as the Arts Block Cafe) also has sandwiches and coffee for the cheapest I’ve seen – 3.65 & 1.15, respectively.

KC Peaches – Although not as good a value as The Buttery, KC Peaches makes up for its prices in portions. For less than a tenner you can get a large salad box, which you can stuff as much food in as possible since it’s a set price, not priced by weight. Available in cold (salad, pasta, chicken) or hot (shepherd’s pie, curried veggies, baked potatoes). And they have a 10% student discount with a student card.

Mama’s Revenge – Another solid student card deal, get a basic burrito (essentially all the fixins minus pica de gallo and gauc) for 5 euro. Or a veggie with gauc again for 5. I literally just ate one and may never eat again.

Lemon – Looking for brunch that won’t break the bank? Lemon on both Dawson and South William Street will be your cheapest option. Coffee and a crepe or hearty breakfast sandwich for under a tenner is hard to beat.

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Places to Drink

Pygmalion – If you’re visiting Dublin during the week and want to get a good buzz on, check out Pyg’s 2-for-1 cocktail menu. I believe they’re 13 quid so basically 6.50 a pop for whiskey sours, espresso martinis, and more. And you certainly can’t beat the energy of a night at Pyg with DJs most nights and people spilling out into the street.

The Shakespeare – A great pub (and Korean restaurant) on Parnell Street. The Shakespeare has Guinness for 4.20 and you can get a loyalty card, which I’ve literally never heard of anywhere else. Something like 6 pints and you get one free – challenge accepted.

The Pav – Located on Trinity’s campus, The Pav is generally the student bar, but they serve a solid pint on the cheap. The real pro tip here, though, is if you’re around on a particularly nice day and everyone is sitting outside on the grass (as pictured below) go to the Centra across the street from campus and buy 4 cans of Prazsky for 5 euro. Come back to the pav and enjoy the atmosphere at half the price. Just make sure it’s a brand of beer they serve at the Pav (like Prazsky) or else they’ll know you’re BYOB.

Note: Across the board, Foster’s will be the cheapest pint you can get at around 3.50, depending on where you are. Guinness will also be quite cheap since it’s local. Most places also do a Zaconey (a bourbon based spirit) and coke deal for 5, which is decent too if you’re not a beer fan.

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Night Life

Dicey’s – If you’re looking for a night out on the cheap, the infamous Dicey’s will have you handled. On Mondays and Thursdays, they have a 10 euro cover but pints are 2.50 or cheaper all night so you’ll be set for a night of drinking. Pints are also 2.50 every night before 10, if you’re looking to turn up early. (Just beware this is PINTS only, not shots or cocktails, which will be crazy overpriced. Trust me, I have made this dire mistake. Don’t be me – drink your beer.)

Xico – On Monday night, Xico is the place to be – half price drinks! That’s 2 euro tequila shots and 2.50 pints. Once again, Xico has a cover but it’s worth it if you buy like 2 drinks. And they’re music selection is one of better spots in the city.

Workman’s – With no cover and lots of loud music every night, Workman’s is a solid choice if you’re looking to save a few bucks. They usually have a 5 euro cocktail special and reasonably priced pints.

Temple Bar – The famous bar scene comes alive in Dublin essentially after noon with lots of places having traditional music at night, if that’s something you’re after. For the price of a pint and the hassle of finding a seat, you can settle in for a night of live music and fantastic people watching. Whelan’s on Camden Street also has great (arguably better) music, a lot of which is free as well.

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Shopping

A general tip for shopping in Dublin, if you’re a student or recent graduate, is that most shops in the city centre have some sort of student discount. Levi’s, Office, TopShop, and a lot of other brand name places do 10-20% discounts for showing a student card.

Harlequin Vintage – If you’re looking for something a bit more unique than Zara or H&M, Harlequin Vintage is a great spot to find some treasure. The upstairs is a big sale section and I’ve found gems like AllSaints dresses and an Escada sweater for 10 euro. (Another great spot is Lucy’s Lounge in Temple Bar, check out their enormous basement!)

Penneys – If you’re a bargain queen then you must check out Penneys (the Irish version of Primark). It’s like target on crack. Of course the quality isn’t spectacular, but I’ve found adorable shoes for like 12 euro, as well as cute home goods and trendy clothes for huge discounts. It’s bomb.

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Sightseeing

The nice thing about Dublin is that it really is a walking-around-and-drinking sort of city so you won’t miss out on much if you skip the tourist sites. The biggest trap by far is Guinness, but if you are gonna go use the card machines to the right of the long line inside and get a student ticket (over 18) regardless of whether or not you are, they don’t check and you’ll save a couple quid.

Kilmainham Gaol – One of the more interesting historical tours in Dublin and definitely the cheapest: students are 3 euro and regular adults are 7. Just flash an old student card and you’re set.

National Botanic Gardens & Glasnevin Cemetery – These two spots are literally connected to each other and are both entirely free and open to the public. I’ve done a couple of posts (here and here) on them and why they’re my favorite spots in the area. The Botanic Gardens, especially, are totally amazing. Bus fare will run you about 5 euro round trip or make an afternoon of it and walk.

Science Gallery – On the far end of Trinity’s campus there is a little museum that merges the science and art worlds together. With some of the most interesting exhibits I’ve seen anywhere, the (entirely free) Science Gallery is definitely worth checking out.

The National Gallery of Ireland – A small but mighty art museum, the collection has pieces by Caravaggio, Monet, and Picasso and often houses interesting smaller exhibits throughout the year. And it’s completely free.

National Museum of Ireland, Archeology – Home to the famed ‘bog people’, this museum on Kildare Street is a tour through time in the form of decorative objects, craft art, and incredibly preserved dead people. And once again, admission is free.

Other free outdoors spots to check out, if the weather is good, are St. Stephen’s Green, Merrion Square, Trinity’s Rose Garden, and Iveagh Gardens. All great spots to sit outside for lunch or spend an afternoon reading. Just bring an umbrella because, well, you’re still in Ireland.

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This is by no means the be-all-end-all guide to cheap things in Dublin, but when I’m tight on cash or have people come into town who want to stay on a budget these are the things I recommend. As you can tell, most of my suggestions are in the city center because that’s where I live, but, generally, if you get out of the busy parts of Dublin you’re likely to find a lot of cheaper pubs and shops. Moral of the story: if you’re considering coming to Dublin but the price is stopping you, know that there are plenty of ways to enjoy the city on a budget without feeling like you half-assed your trip.

I’ll also be putting together a guide of my favorite spots in Dublin regardless of price, since I get a lot of (real) adults and relatives who ask me for suggestions who aren’t necessarily on a tight budget and probably wouldn’t want to end up at Dicey’s on a Monday night… So keep your eyes peeled for that!

And if you have any other specific questions about things to do or life in Ireland, please let me know! I can be an anxious traveler myself so I totally understand how helpful it can be to get all of my random and seemingly useless questions answered. Plus I totally love talking about my time here, so fire away! And if you’re from the area and I’ve missed something in this post, definitely let me know! I’m always on the prowl for a good bargain myself.

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