Ireland on a Budget? Totally Possible!

How to Get Value for Money on Your Irish Vacation

You are on a budget, and you want to travel in Ireland? It can be done, even though Ireland has long held on to the unsavoury nickname of "Rip-Off Republic", reflecting the impression that prices are not low. And they aren't by any standard (unless you are a Scandinavian flying in for beer and whiskey). But the traveller forewarned is a traveller forearmed ... with good advice, vouchers and a keen eye for a bargain. Here are some tips to help you keep within your budget.

  • 01 of 10

    Book Ahead

    As the Ulster American Folk Park proves, travelling on a budget was all the rage even in the 18th century ... though the spelling mistake has taken on a different meaning over time
    ••• As the Ulster American Folk Park proves, travelling on a budget was all the rage even in the 18th century ... though the spelling mistake has taken on a different meaning over time. © Bernd Biege 2016

    I always stress that by booking ahead you can be on a tight budget and survive. Yes, you will not be able to get last minute bargains this way. But you will be able to find the most suitable combination of purchases without too much stress. And also be save from sudden price increases (though beware of fluctuations in the exchange rate, which also can be a killer). Plus you are certainly able to budget better once the costs for flights, accommodation and a rental car are out of the way.

  • 02 of 10

    Drop the Extras

    Not every bargain is as good as it sounds - a German travel agency advertises the cheapest car hire in Ireland but includes extras such as a second driver and baby seat. If you do not need these extras you can get a rental car much cheaper. Also try to book the rental car suitable for your needs, not a huge model stuffed with extras you will not need.

  • 03 of 10

    Focus on Essentials

    Try to determine what you actually want to see and where to go, then analyze this rough plan. Are you mainly focused on indoor attractions or unfazed by frequently changing weather? Then travel outside the tourist season. Are you planning to stay a few days in Dublin? Then do not rent a car for these days.

  • 04 of 10

    Shop Around for Bargains

    On the Internet and in tourist offices you will find loads of offers for cheaper entry or other reductions - printing out the free Cultural Explorer Discount Pass for instance can save you up to € 400!

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Do Not Dine Out

    It is easy to spend € 30 or more for an evening meal in Ireland's restaurants. If you are travelling on a budget, simply avoid evening meals - most restaurants offer cheaper lunchtime menus, some also have an "early bird special" in the late afternoon. Also consider "carveries" in pubs or "family restaurants" (often glorified take-aways with a no-frills interior and a simple menu). Take-out menus are available from many fish and chip shops, Chinese and Indian restaurants or take-aways.
  • 06 of 10

    Use Your Plastic

    If possible use your credit card for larger purchases and insist to be billed in Euro (or Pound in Northern Ireland). This will normally secure a much more favourable rate of exchange than changing money or even leaving the seller to apply his or her own rates. Note that some small businesses (such as bed & breakfast houses) may want to apply a surcharge for credit card use.

  • 07 of 10

    Use an ATM

    Getting cash from an ATM (or "hole in the wall") usually has the advantage of a good rate of exchange, though your bank or credit card provider may raise a charge for every transaction.

  • 08 of 10

    Reclaim the VAT

    Did you know that you can save more than $ 17 for every hundred Dollars you spend on goods in Ireland ... if you are exporting these goods to a destination outside the European Union. Reclaiming the high Value Added Tax will net you some bargains.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Hit the Supermarket

    For all your daily needs and even some souvenirs large supermarkets like Tesco, Dunnes Stores or (in Northern Ireland) Asda and Sainsbury's are the place to go - prices are much lower and you may even buy some Irish whiskey to take home with you. Investing in bulk at the start if your journey pays dividends - six 2-litre-bottles of spring water will set you back by € 2.10, the same quantity bought in smaller bottles in convenience stores will cost roughly € 30, at tourist shops even € 40 or more!

  • 10 of 10

    Consider the Heritagecard

    If you are planning to visit several of the state-owned sites like Newgrange or Glendalough, consider getting the Heritagecard - this will give you "free" entry to all sites for one payment!