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Dublin: 5 ways to save on food, drinks and getting around

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Gogarty's pub in Dublin
Take in free entertainment in Dublin's pubs, including Gogarty's, above. Photo: Elizabeth Burnett

by Jessica Colley—

Dublin used to have a reputation as a wildly expensive city. All of that changed in the last few years, as the financial crisis has pushed prices down. Now there are more ways than ever to save money in the Irish capital.

If you’re traveling on a budget, there’s no time like the present to hop a flight to Dublin (even the flights are cheap). Once you’re on the ground, use these five tips to keep your money where it belongs: in your pocket.

1. Don’t waste money on transportation

It can be tempting in Dublin just to hop in a cab, but this is one way to empty your pockets very quickly. Instead of cabs, check out the local bus schedule. Dublin Bus is very affordable, and routes connect all different areas of the city.

Alternatively, Dublin’s bike share program, called Dublin Bikes, is a cheap and easy way to get around the city. And remember, Dublin is very small and manageable on foot, too.

2. Eat your dinner early

During Dublin’s boom, a large number of gourmet restaurants opened. These same restaurants are struggling to stay open in a new economy. One of their strategies is offering heavily discounted “early bird” or pre-theater specials.

Take one of my favorite restaurants in Dublin for example–The Winding Stair. A meal here is usually a splurge, but early birds can enjoy an incredible 3-course meal for just €30.95. You will leave stuffed and your wallet won’t be nearly empty.

3. Make friends with the half pint – And keep your change!

There’s no such thing as a discount on alcohol in Dublin–you won’t find any “happy hours” in the city. If you’re trying to keep your costs down on beer, order a half pint instead of a full pint. This way you can spread your money a bit farther between different pubs.

Also remember, if you order from a bartender, there is no need to tip. Keep all your change!

4. Seek out free entertainment

While you’re sipping on that half pint, how about some entertainment? Many Dublin pubs are known for their live music, so check out pubs that provide some entertainment beyond the Guinness and Jameson.

For traditional music, check out O’Donoghue’s on Merrion Row. Another great option for live music is Doyles, right across the street for Trinity College. If you happen to be in Dublin on “match day” (whether it’s rugby, soccer, or the Gaelic games) be sure to grab a seat in the pub–both the game and the locals will provide the entertainment.

5. Research your ride to the airport

If there’s one thing visitors complain about when it comes to Dublin–it’s the lack of airport transportation. You won’t find a train or a subway system that connects Dublin Airport to the city center. Some visitors resign themselves to taking a taxi (this costs at least €20) but Cheapos will want to check out the buses.

There are two options: the local bus that is very cheap (but stops frequently, seriously lengthening your journey into Dublin) or taking the Aircoach, a 24-hour express bus service into the city. Purchase a return fare for €12 (instead of paying €7 each way). (Read more on Dublin’s airport transportation.)

A little airport research ahead of time could mean a lot of money saved during a trip to Dublin.

Jessica Colley is a freelance travel writer and poet. She blogs about Dublin and more at www.thegreatamericantraveldream.com

About the author

Jessica Colley is a freelance travel writer and poet. She blogs about Dublin and more at www.thegreatamericantraveldream.com.

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