Being an Australian living in England, I am on a very strict visa that does not allow me to work, volunteer or make money in anyway. On top of this, living only 40 minutes away from Stansted Airport, which is the cheapest airport to fly out of in London, it is beyond tempting to book a ticket for a long weekend abroad. Do you think money has stopped me? Of course not! I moved away from home to study abroad early January, and yes this is the first time I have lived out of home. 20 years old, out of home for the first time in a new country – where learning how to cook has probably been my biggest accomplishment – has opened me up to new travel experiences that I couldn’t have had living in Australia.
Skyscanner is a mobile app that features very, very cheap flights. When a flight comes up for 30 Euro return to Dublin, who would ever pass that up? Without a second thought I booked it, with no intention on what to do once I got there.
Accommodation and Transport budgeting
Four days may not seem like a long time, but when you are a student escaping for a weekend between daily classes, it feels like a lifetime. Not only did four days set me back on course work, but the four days set me back on money that I really couldn’t afford to spend. I am the sort of person that takes opportunities as they come, I don’t stop living my life out of fear, financial issues or course work – that’s normal for a 20 year old though right?
After booking the cheapest accommodation in Galway and Dublin, I needed to book transport. Go Buses is the cheapest form of transport across Ireland, also booking them in advance is even cheaper. Go Buses leaves from the Airport, the city of Dublin and Galway (as well as other places). As my Canadian friend learnt the hard way, research, research, research. The first website that pops up is more often than not, the more expensive option of getting from point A to B.
Here is the cheapest options I discovered on my trip to Ireland.
Go Buses – Transport – Return to Galway from Dublin averaging at 29 Euro.
Galway City Hostel – 19 Euro a night – Central location.
Dublin Four Courts Hostel – Averaging at 80 Euro for three nights in a mixed dorm.
Food and Daily Budgeting
Before I exchanged my pounds for euros, I sat down and organised how much I wanted to spend a day (and how much I could afford to spend a day). I took into account the average prices eating and tourism across Dublin and Galway. On average a meal in Dublin/Galway cost €12, and drinks can be anywhere from €2 to €6. I managed to budget and not exceed my budget of €40 a day, including food, snacks and tourist attractions.
Ireland has an array of food options, bakeries and dessert houses, more than any other country I have come across. Finding food to eat was not hard, nor was finding cheap prices, as most food places were pubs.
Cheap food eats I found in Dublin/Galway
The Skeff Late Bar Galway – Traditional Irish music, food and alcohol all for a good price.
The Natural Bakery Dublin – Pastries, fresh bread and cakes located near the National Museum.
The Oliver St John Gogarty Temple Bar Dublin – An incredible Irish atmosphere, vegetarian options and live music every night. There is also a hostel located on top of this restaurant for a good price in Dublin’s centre.
Free attractions in Dublin
In Galway, I spent €2o on a day trip to the Moher Cliffs, as there isn’t much else to do in Galway besides be in awe over the beauty of such a small Irish town. I was more concerned, however, when it came to visiting Dublin. I discovered that visiting Dublin on such a low budget extremely limited the options I had to visit attractions that cost money. When I accepted the fact that I can’t spend money on attractions, it opened me up to experience so much more of the city without spending a cent, and at the end of the day I had more money to spend on food (aka desserts at The Rolling Donut).
National Gallery of Ireland – Be lost amongst the colours and minds of great artists.
Trinity College of Dublin – Be in awe of the neat and beautiful grounds of Trinity College.
National Museum of Dublin: Archaeology – Get up and close with animals from around the world – not alive of course.
Not only did I discover that there is a heap of free attractions, but I discovered that through immersing myself within the streets I experienced the beauty of both Dublin and Galway, beauty that I wouldn’t have seen if I caught public transport everywhere.
Both Galway and Dublin are easy to walk around and navigate. Both cities are relatively flat and small enough that catching public transport isn’t necessary.
Comment below if you found Ireland to be good for budgeting, just like I thought it was.