Ireland's diaspora is many times larger than its population. Whether you long to visit because your ancestry is Irish or for the breathtaking scenery we'll show you how to explore Ireland on a budget in our how to save money on travel series.
There are two great places to find package travel deals to Ireland: Travel Zoo and Aer Lingus. If you don't like group tours, don't worry. Neither are for guided group tours. The package means there are multiple components of a vacation packaged together for one price.
Travel Zoo has various package deals to Ireland that include things like roundtrip airfare, hotel stays, car rental, and admission to some tourist sites. Several of the packages are under $1000.
Aer Lingus is the flag carrier airline of Ireland. Currently there is a four night package to Dublin which includes round trip airfare and the hotel stay for $599.
The only catches with these packages are the flights and the timing. Travel Zoo includes the roundtrip airfare from just a handful of U.S. airports in major cities, and Aer Lingus mostly offers the round trip flight deal from JFK. If you don't live near any of the available airports, you can probably still find a flight from your city to one of the included cities for a reasonable price.
The dates for both are also restricted. You must have some flexibility in your travel dates to take advantage. Date flexibility though is a key to saving money on any vacation.
Did you know that Groupon operates in Ireland? They do, and if you've used them in the States you know Groupon offers some great deals. When I checked the site out there were some terrific deals in Ireland.
There was a deal for one or two nights in a hotel resort and spa in Galway for $101 (89 Euro) per night which includes a glass of wine upon arrival, late check out (1:00 pm), and a $23 (20 Euro) spa credit.
If Dublin is on your wishlist, you can get a 3 night stay in a hotel with late (4:00 pm) checkout, breakfast for two, a two-course dinner for two, and a glass of wine for two upon arrival for $124 (109 Euro) per night.
If you like a bit of pampering while on vacation, Groupon offers several spa deals, and there are lots of restaurant options too.
Those were some of the deals available when I wrote the article, but there are more than a dozen pages of Groupon deals for Ireland. Be sure to check it out as part of your trip planning process.
Whiskey A Go Go
Even if you aren't a huge fan of whiskey, it's part of Irish history and culture, so a trip to Ireland without visiting one of the country's storied distilleries would be a crime. The Jameson Distillery in Dublin has a terrific deal for those looking to explore Ireland on a budget.
The distillery offers the Bow Street Experience, which includes a 40 minute guided tour, a comparative tasting of Jameson (obviously!), Johnny Walker Black, Jack Daniels, and a cocktail at the onsite bar all for the low, low price of…$25 (22 Euro). This might be the best deal you'll ever get on any vacation. So cool.
The Culture is Free
While you're in Dublin, get your museum hours in. Dublin has many free museums covering several different areas of interest, so there should be something for everyone. And free doesn't mean just free for students or EU citizens as is the case in many European countries, it means free for everyone.
You can visit The National Library of Ireland, The National Gallery of Ireland, The Natural History Museum, The Hugh Lane Gallery (if you're a Francis Bacon fan, this is a must! His entire London studio was disassembled and reassembled inside the museum after his death exactly as it had been in London), and the Chester Beatty Library.
The Best Bargain
If your travel plans include the famous tourist sites in Ireland like Killarney National Park, Donegal Castle, Boyle Abbey, Coole Park, Adare Castle, Altamont Gardens and many, many more, the best money you spend on your trip will be the Ireland Heritage Card.
The card gets you entry into any site operated by the Office of Public Works for one year. It costs $46 (40 Euro) for a single adult pass and $103 (90 Euro) for a family pass. You can buy the pass online, and it will be mailed to you, or you can buy it at the first included site you visit. If you plan to visit a handful of these sites, the pass is a real bargain.
Eat on the Cheap
Eating is the best part of any vacation, and you can do it cheaply in Ireland. Order a full Irish breakfast, which includes bacon, sausage, black and white pudding, eggs, vegetables, and potatoes all fried lovingly in butter and served with Irish soda bread, tea, and orange juice. You can order a full Irish in cafes up and down the country for $8-11 (7-10 Euro). Unless you're appetite is huge, you can easily split one breakfast between two people.
If you're feeling a little peckish come lunch time, you can get a soup or a sandwich in a pub for a few dollars. You'll be hungry for dinner, and the Irish and Europeans in general eat the last meal of the day later than we're used to in the States.
Many Irish restaurants offer an "early bird special." In the U.S. that is generally between 4:00-5:30, a bit early for most of us, but in Ireland the hours are typically from 6:30-8:00, prime dinner time for us! The special typically offers a three course price fixe meal for about $29 (25 Euro).
The Right Credit Card
Having the right credit card makes traveling to Ireland or anywhere else cheaper. A good travel card gives you things like trip and lost luggage insurance, rental car insurance, points toward free flights and hotel stays, and no foreign transaction fee.
A Budget Traveler's Paradise
Ireland is made for budget minded travelers, particularly if you live on the East Coast because the flights are so cheap from there. Even if you're not on the East Coast, it's easy to explore Ireland on a budget. Lots of free museums and natural scenery that is free to enjoy, inexpensive sightseeing, and with the right planning, you can eat really well for about $45 a day.
Grab your passport and pack your bags, and may the road rise up to meet you!