see dublin on a budget {top five}

Back to Ireland we go!

For those who may not have been following the Ireland saga (it’s almost the one year anniversary of our departure from Ireland! Sad…) we made it to Dublin, somewhat accidentally, and ended up spending a weekend in the city before getting back on track. Although our B&B was awful, we had a couple of days of great weather, and spent much of our time getting acquainted with the city.


We went on a hunt for a farmers’ market Rachel had read about, and three hours later did not find it. We did find the zoo though, a large war monument, the Guiness factory, almost all of Phoenix Park, a tiny little bookstore, and got asked for directions! Managed to also find ourselves – completely accidentally of course – at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, which was absolutely free (again, serious perk of Ireland). It was one of the coolest buildings I think we saw the whole trip, We meant to come back and never did, so that’s definitely on the list for next time.

We spent more time in Dublin than we did anywhere else (spoiler alert: we came back to Dublin after being in Wicklow, doing what we’d meant to do in the first place! Ha). Here’s our list of ‘Must See and Do’ in Dublin, on a budget, with limited time:

Walk the Grand Canal to the Portobello Neighbourhood

The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal flows into the River Liffey (one of the most beautiful rivers in Ireland, in my opinion) near-ish to Trinity College. On the day we went to the Book of Kells at the College, we continued down the river until it intersected with the Grand Canal, a tree-lined escape from the noise and bustle of Dublin centre. Rachel had read about the Portobello neighbourhood, and we ended up coming across it via the Grand Canal. It’s not the flashiest, most exciting neighbourhood, but it was the only time we escaped the crowds of tourists and felt like we’d found the real Dublin – high school students walking home, people cycling to and from work, grandmas out with their children and grandchildren. Cute and quaint, and a little break from the madness.

Irish Museum of Modern Art

We can speak honestly that you shouldn’t miss this gallery, because we actually missed it, and very much regret having done so. Our quick glimpse (a tease, really) revealed a large square courtyard, cheerful staff, music coming from an unknown location and an exhibit on what seemed to be World War One, with interactive aspects for children and real artifacts to keep everyone engaged in history. Don’t be like us, just go to the museum.

Phoenix Park

Of course, St. Stephen’s Green is gorgeous and green and filled with swans which will chase you if you come to close. And yes, in the fall it is really pretty and definitely worth checking out if you have time. But for something completely different, head to Phoenix Park. Not only do you pass the Law Society, the Criminal Courts of Justice, the National Museum of Ireland, and almost every bridge in the city just to get there, but it is huge, and less frequently overrun by tourists than St. Stephen’s. We came upon a group of university students taking photos at the War Memorial, and an elementary school cross-country running meet, which was very sweet, and immediately made us feel a little bit Irish, just watching them run. If zoos are your thing, there’s one at Phoenix Park, and apparently also a farmers’ market (though we’re a bit skeptical of that now).


Grafton Street Buskers

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I don’t know a budget traveler who doesn’t love buskers. We hit Grafton Street for the bookstores, but were completely distracted by all the buskers. Almost every style of music you could think of, child prodigies, marionette artists, painters, dancers, you name it. Absolutely filled with tourists, but worth it. Every few hours there’s a new performance artist to see, so we definitely recommend returning a couple of times throughout your stay in Dublin to see all the variety that is offered.

Take the DART out of Dublin

Yes, technically this isn’t a thing to do in Dublin. But, for the three pounds on the DART, it was the best thing we did. All over our hostel were posters of beaches and blue sky and quaint towns, and we learned that we could hop on the train (the DART) to seven or so different villages surrounding Dublin. We arbitrarily chose to go to Howth, got our tickets at a kiosk just around the corner from the hostel, and arrived in a tiny fishing village on the coast. There’s so much to share about our time in Howth, it requires its own post (check back next week!) but it was one of our most memorable day trips, and is reason enough for us to return to Dublin.


Four out of the five things listed are absolutely FREE, and even on a tight budget, we didn’t have any trouble seeing loads of Dublin and enjoying our time(s) there. We will be back!


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