Dublin isn't one of the cheaper cities to visit in Europe for those with a tight pocket book. The average breakfast or lunch for one runs around $21, while dinner prices are around $35 plus the price of drinks. Add in the cost of transportation, lodging, shopping and entertainment and visitors can quickly run up a sizeable bill. Though most things in Dublin are pretty expensive, it does have its cheaper alternatives - but visitors need to know where to look. Here are some cheap or even free things to do in Dublin that won't make your wallet ache...
Creativecommons.org/ Der Robert
Take a stroll down to Henrietta Street and view the perfect Georgian red-brick mansions that were built for the rich and famous in the 18th century, or head down to the South Wall near sunset and walk about one kilometre out to the Poolbeg Lighthouse, which stretches out into Dublin Bay. The summer sunsets there are unbeatable.
St Stephen's Green is Dublin's favourite park and when walking around it, it is easy to see why. The grounds are beautiful manicured. For those who want to venture outside the city for a walk, consider taking the three-hour loop around the Howth peninsula. While hiking along the loop, visitors will not only be treated to ocean views on the beach and over those dramatic sweeping cliffs, but they may also spot more than a few friendly seals.
Visit the Guinness Storehouse
Creativecommons.org/ Jennifer Morrow
Ah, beer. Ireland is famous for being a nation of hearty drinkers, but while they enjoy their whiskey, there is nothing more prized than a pint of Guinness. As this dark beer is so rich and thick, it is practically considered a food in many circles. So when in Ireland, while it is still recommended to pay it homage by having a glass, why not go out of your way to see how it is made?
The Guinness Storehouse is a massive seven-story museum dedicated to the beer. There are a number of exhibits and short videos that detail the history of the beer and how it is made. Alas, this isn't a free museum, admission costs around $20, but that is a small price to pay for the rewards of climbing its seven-stories. From the top, visitors are given one of the best views of Dublin and are rewarded with a free pint of the good stuff.
Window Shop on Grafton Street
Creativecommons.org/ Arnaud Villefranque
Grafton Street is the number one place to shop in Dublin for the discerning visitor. However, shopping there can accrue a very large bill, very quickly. But window shopping is still free and as the pedestrian-only thoroughfare of Grafton Street stretches between Trinity College and St Stephen's Green, it provides a great way of taking in the city sights along the way.
While doing some shopping on Grafton Street is a big no-no for those on a budget, there is another form of entertainment that visitors can enjoy. This busy shopper's paradise attracts a good number of street performers. On an average Saturday, visitors can stumble upon bands, solo guitarists and maybe even an accordion player or two. For those who manage to get a seat, Bewley's Cafe is a great place to sit and watch the musical chaos.
Free Art Museums
There are plenty of options in Dublin when it comes to enjoying local art. Many of their galleries allow for visitors to experience high quality art and soak in the aesthetic free of charge.
The Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art features an array of impressionist and postimpressionist artists. However, the main focus in the gallery is the man that it is named after. Hugh Lane was an Irish art connoisseur who died in 1915 on a ship wreck, so the majority of his collection was donated to this gallery. The building that houses the collection is also the restored studio of the famous hell-raising painter Francis Bacon.
Aside from Hugh Lane, visitors can enjoy Ireland's most popular art gallery, the National Gallery of Ireland, where visitors can explore Irish and European artwork from the 14th to the 20th centuries. Other free art options in the city include the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Chester Beatty Library and the Temple Bar Gallery and Studio.
Tour Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle served as the heart of British rule for the country for centuries. Today, it is used by the Irish government, but it has not often been looked upon so kindly by the Irish. For decades, the lavish state apartments were locked up and left to decay after the country gained its independence. In recent years much of the castle has been restored to its former glory and is often used for formal occasions like when Ireland holds the EU Presidency. However, when not in formal use, it is open to the public for tours. There is a small fee for admission, but it is hardly a bank-breaker. For those who want to avoid the fee, they can stroll its elegant garden free of charge.
The National Museums
Dublin boasts not one, but three branches of the National Museum and admission to each is free of charge. It can be a bit confusing considering all three branches are called the National Museum, but each specializes in a certain subset of history. Within Dublin there is the Archeology Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Decorative Arts and History Museum.
The Archeology Museum on Kildare Street holds treasures from the Mesolithic era through to Medieval times in Ireland. Some of their gems include the Ardagh Challice, Tara Brooch and a huge amount of prehistoric gold. For visitors who are fascinated with Celtic history, this is the museum to visit.
The Natural History Museum on Merrion Street is just a short walk from the Archeology Museum. It is often referred as "The Dead Zoo" as it features skeletal remains and stuffed specimens of animals from all over the world. However, the animals from Ireland are of particular interest, such as their giant Irish deer skeleton and its massive 10-foot antler span.
The Decorative Arts and History Museum is housed in Collins Barracks, which were once used as a British garrison. This museum not only contains comprehensive information on the war in Ireland, but also hosts a large section products from the decorative arts, including silversmithing and woodworking. In a separate building, there is also a sailing yacht from 1905 named the Asgard. It was famously used on a gun running trip for Irish rebels in 1914.
Dining on the Cheap
Creativecommons.org/ Dan Perry
Eating on the cheap in Dublin requires a bit of bargain hunting skill. Generally the foods that are cheapest in Dublin are surprisingly not from Dublin or even Ireland.
Asian and Indian flavours are generally the cheapest in town, like at Delhi O'Deli, where visitors can get their vegetable curry for a cheap $7, or the Hot Wok Noodle Bar, where visitors can get a whole variety of different flavoured noodles for just $10.
For a more traditionally Irish meal, visitors should hit up The Pepper Pot at least once. They specialize in hearty Irish baked goods, but they also serve up a mean lamb stew. It will be a bit pricier with the average cost around $15, but for their dinner menu, that is a steal.
For visitors looking for general bargains in the city, it is best to head for a cafe or a pub rather than a proper restaurant. Usually, they will have decent sized portions for a much cheaper price. However, just be sure to avoid eating in the Temple Bar area. Most places there tack on an extra 20-30 percent due to the area's popularity.
Hit the Pubs
There is zero chance that you will go to Dublin and not end up in a pub. It's just one of those things that visitors cannot resist. While the beverages inside are tasty, they are certainly not free. However, enjoying a drink or a meal in Dublin's pubs often comes with a bonus - live music.
The Temple Bar area pubs often hold a lot of performances, but visitors should remember that a drink in those pubs will always be more expensive. Instead, try heading up to O'Donoghue's which has become famous for live music.