Backpacking Dublin: Budget Travel Tips, Highlights & Attractions

Cathedral when traveling Dublin on a budget

Are you planning a trip to Dublin? Awesome! The Irish capital is a fun and exciting city with lots to offer. In the following, I will tell you everything you need to know about backpacking Dublin, including important budget travel tips and the best highlights, attractions and places to visit and see!

Backpacking Dublin Travel Tips & Infos

Let’s start with some general travel tips and useful information for your Dublin backpacking adventure.

Why should I go backpacking Dublin?

I personally love Dublin and there are many good reasons why you should include the Irish capital on your next backpacking adventure. While there are lots of interesting places (see below), I really enjoyed the fun nightlife around the pubs of the city as well as the friendly Irish people. And if you get bored of the city life after a few days, I highly recommend heading out to explore more of Ireland – the country is beautiful and you could easily spend weeks here exploring the island.

How to get around Dublin?

There’s a public transport network in Dublin, consisting mostly of busses and a few tram lines. If you’re coming from the airport, there’s also an airport bus (Airlink Express 747) which takes you from the terminal to the city center for only 7€.

Keep in mind that Dublin is actually not a big city and you will be able to explore and see most parts of the city by foot. 

Panorama of Dublin
View of Dublin (from the Google Office!)

Dublin backpacking budget: How expensive is Dublin?

Let’s be honest – Dublin is not a cheap city and therefore, backpacking Dublin on a (very) low budget is not easy and you certainly can’t compare your backpacking budget with i.e. Thailand or Vietnam. However, as always, there are still lots of opportunities to save money when visiting Dublin as a backpacker. Sleep in hostel dorms instead of hotels, eat in bakeries or street stalls instead of restaurants and don’t drink too much Guinness in the pubs – it’s good, but also not cheap.

Keep in mind that while you can normally get a bed in a hostel dorm for about 30 € per night, prices significantly increase for Friday and Saturday in the hostels around Dublin* (sometimes prices more than double!). I was a bit surprised about that since I haven’t really experienced such varying prices between week days and weekends in many other places and it’s important to keep this in mind before planning your trip. Sure, the nightlife in Dublin is lots of fun with all the bars, pub crawls and parties – but it’s also expensive. Therefore, if your priority is rather sightseeing instead of a party trip, I’d avoid the weekends in Dublin in order to save money.

Dublin backpacking accommodation: Where to stay in Dublin?

As I just mentioned, Ireland is a rather expensive city and you can save big money by sleeping in a hostel. There are lots of great choices around the city, ranging from huge party hostels to more intimate and chilled places.

Keep in mind that hostels in Dublin are almost always sold out (especially on the weekends) and I highly recommend booking a bed in advance. You can find a full list of all hostels with current prices and availability here*.

Nightlife in Dublin: Where to go party?

Let’s sum it up – Dublin’s nightlife is great, and I personally love the “typical Irish” pubs and bars, with its live music, its traditional beer and the friendly and fun Irish people. Especially around the Temple Bar area, the streets in the evening are full of people enjoying a drink at the local pubs and it’s easy to have a fun night out. Since all pubs are around the same area in the city center, you can easily check out several places and pick the spot with the best live music and atmosphere.

Keep in mind that pubs close fairly early (at least compared to other European cities) – 11:30 pm on week days, 12:30 am on Friday and Saturday.

How much time should I spend backpacking in Dublin?

Dublin might not be such a famous backpacking destination in Europe as Prague or Barcelona, but there’s still a lot to do! I recommend spending at least two days in Dublin. This amount of time will give you enough opportunity for some sightseeing as well as the chance to explore the fun nightlife in Dublin with all its busy bars and pubs. If you got more time, I recommend exploring some other parts of Ireland. The country is generally small, and you can reach lots of beautiful places, such as the famous Cliffs of Moher or even Northern Ireland, as part of a day trip from Dublin.

Backpacking Dublin streets
Streets of Dublin

Highlights & Attractions when backpacking Dublin

I’d like to continue with the best places to visit and things to do when backpacking Dublin. Since there’s so much to see in the city, I asked some of my fellow travel bloggers for the best recommendations.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

On my recent trip to Ireland, we stayed in the capital city of Dublin for a few days. The first place we visited after checking into our hotel was Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It was one of the iconic places I had always heard about and so I was pretty excited to see it.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland and serves as a place of worship, a tourist attraction and the host of many events. Constructed between 1220 and 1259, the current Cathedral building is approximately 800 years old and built on the site of a well that supposedly Saint Patrick himself used.

In 1432, the Cathedral Choir School was founded and today is the oldest school in Ireland. The students still sing daily in the Cathedral. The choir (or quire) is the part of the Cathedral between the flags in the photo above. As a music lover, this was my absolute favorite part. It is so colorful. I just wish I had gotten to hear the choir sing! Do not miss this beautiful site when you visit Dublin!

Cool Fact: We celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17th because this was the date of the primary patron saint of Ireland’s death.

–  Heather from Trimm Travels

St. Patricks Dublin inside
Visiting the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin is Irelands most prestigious university.  It was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I and was mostly a protestant establishment until the late 20th Century.  Women were also not permitted to attend the college until 1904.

The library, known as the long room is Trinity’s most famous building and the most popular one with tourists.  As a legal deposit library for Ireland and the United Kingdom, it has the legal right to own a copy of any book published.

There are approximately five million books kept in the library, but the most precious one is undoubtedly the Book of Kells.  Tourists flock from all over the world to see this manuscript of the four gospels and its permanently on display.

The book was most likely written by the monks of Iona in the 9th Century, and it’s beautiful calligraphy is what makes it so valuable.  Many of Irelands other precious books are on display at the Chester Beatty Library near Dublin Castle. This library has books that are even older than the book of Kells, and it’s well worth visiting.

In addition to the long room, the university also allows tourists to visit other parts of the campus.  Student tours are given regularly, and you can join one at the entrance to the college.

Tours depart every 40 minutes throughout the day and cost just €5.  The tour gives you an insight into the history of the college, the architecture and the lowdown on famous graduates.

`After completing a tour and visiting the library, it’s worth stopping by the science gallery. Here you’ll find interactive displays and exhibits which are great fun for all members of the family.

If you’re visiting Dublin in the spring, the grounds of the college are particularly beautiful as the cherry blossom trees will be in full bloom.

–  Fiona from Passport and Piano

Trinity College Library inside
Visiting the Trinity College Library

Kilmainham Gaol

One of the most unique historical places you could visit in Dublin is Kilmainham Gaol. Located past the Guinness Storehouse, the jail has so much Irish history to share that it can’t be missed. The jail is now a museum, but once held woman suffragettes, children arrested for petty theft, Irish revolutionaries and where the British imprisoned and executed the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.

You can schedule a guided tour through one of the largest unoccupied prisons in Europe, which will take you past the empty rundown cells, gloomy corridors where the prisoners walked to their death, and courtyards with walls riddled with bullet holes from the executions. The prisoners’ crimes ranged from petty offenses such as stealing food (youngest was 7-years old) to the more serious crimes such as murder or rape. Convicts were held here for extended periods of time waiting to be transported to Australia. Walking along the corridors you get a feeling of how life was being incarcerated here and how the prisoners were so passionate about Ireland’s freedom. Written on the top of a door in one of the prisoner’s ward you will see a telling quote: “Beware of the Risen People, That have Harried and Held, Ye that have Bullied and Bribed”. The area that affects you the most though is the courtyard listing the 1916 leaders executed and if you look closely you can see the holes from the number of bullet shots that were spent doing this.

Kilmainham Gaol’s history as an institution is intimately linked with the story of Irish nationalism due to the number of prisoners that were influential in Ireland’s fight for freedom. It is a very somber building, but one that has a story to tell if you are up to hear it.

– Heather from RaulersonGirlsTravel

Kilmainham Goal in Dublin
Visiting Kilmainham Gaol

Visiting Temple Bar when backpacking Dublin

First off let’s be clear, while a pub, this is also the name of one of the Dublin’s most popular districts.  It lies on the southbank of the river can become quite the adult playground, but it is certainly worth a visit given all its culture! The area definitely has an old city vibe with its cobbled streets and preserved medieval buildings. While it clearly welcomes history enthusiasts with Trinity College and Christchurch Cathedral nearby, it is also beckoning to the thirsty that are looking for a pint. Yes, the pub “Temple Bar” is the most famous, but there are plenty of other pubs in the area where you can find a more intimate setting. However, if you’re deadest on this tourist mecca, inside you will find room after room, numerous bars, a beer garden, over 450 whiskeys, but not many locals. I would certainly visit this pub but please don’t spend all night here, especially if you’re only here for a layover or only have 24 hours in Dublin. Make sure to check out other great and more locally trekked pubs like The Quays, The Palace Bar, and Ha’Penny Bridge Inn!

–  Kate from Stop Drop and Trek

Outside of Temple bar
Temple Bar in Dublin

Natural History Museum

Also known as the Dead Zoo, the Natural History Museum of Dublin, located off Merrion Square in the city centre is a great place to visit in Dublin, especially if it is raining. It holds a collection of over 2 million items from the fields of zoology and geology, with many of the specimens coming from the insect family.

Originally spanning four floors, two floors and two balcony floors, the upper two balcony floors are not currently open to the public due to a staircase collapse in 2007. The lower two floors now house the main exhibits of the museum.

On the ground floor you’ll find Irish animals, including examples of the extinct Giant Irish Deer. Make sure to check out his antler span. There are examples of other animals found on the Emerald Isle, both today and times gone by. On the second floor you’ll find examples of mammals from around the world and displays of insects.

The Natural History Museum has been a firm favourite of my family’s for years and I recently brought my son. It’s a great place to visit if you are in Dublin with kids and the best thing is it is free, although donations are gratefully accepted.

– Cath from Passports and Adventures

Inside of the natural history museum Dublin
Backpacking Dublin Highlights: Natural History Museum 

Dublinia Museum

If you’d like to get immersed in history and learn about the different ages of Dublin as a city, then there is no better place to do that than Dublinia. This interactive museum, in the heart of Dublin city, is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

Follow the evolution of Dublin from its beginnings as a Viking settlement, established over 1000 years to, through medieval times and onto modern day Dublin. Each floor is dedicated to an era, with exhibitions and interactive displays to bring the period alive. You can visit a Viking house, try on clothes from the era, and there are actors on hand to chat to or ask questions.

There is an interactive, scale model of Dublin city from medieval times on the Medieval floor which captured my son’s attention. On the top floor you can let the kids have a chance at being an archaeologist in the History Hunters room, another favourite of our sons. You can also climb St. Michael’s Tower for a panoramic view of the city, although this might not be suitable for young kids or those with mobility problems.

Dublinia is a great place to visit in Dublin, with or without kids, and is especially great as a place to visit if it’s raining. You can also pop into Christ Church while there as it is just across the road and is another place in Dublin worth visiting.

– Cath from Passports and Adventures

entrance of Dublinia
Dublinia Museum

Merrion Square Park

Escape from the fast-pace of life in Dublin City with a stroll through Merrion Square Park. Merrion Square is free and open to the public year round during daylight hours. Situated near the National Gallery of Ireland, The Museum of National History (also known as “The Dead Zoo”) and the Irish government buildings, you have no excuse not to plan a visit. Merrion Square is surrounded by historic Georgian buildings with stately yet colorful doors that are a photographers dream. Walk the perimeter of the park and admire the architecture before heading inside via one of several gates on all sides of the wrought-iron fence. Once inside Merrion Square Park, look for the statue of Oscar Wilde, one of Ireland’s most famous and fabulous writers. The statue paints Oscar in a rakish pose and is composed of three different blocks of stone in different colors from three continents.

Enjoy Merrion Square’s well-tended flower beds that change throughout the year. Look for The Joker, a sculpture created in memory of Dermot Morgan, the actor who played Father Ted in the irreverent and hilarious hit TV show. Merrion Square is also great for a picnic or for a bit of casual birdwatching. Every Sunday, the Merrion Square Open Art Gallery surrounds the park with paintings from local artists on sale and on display on the fence. On Thursdays head to Merrion Square for the lunchtime food market which offers all sorts of tasty bites from all over the world.

–  Jennifer from Sidewalk Safari

Merrion Square with flowers
Merrion Square, Dublin

Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park is the largest urban park in Europe and, within its 1750 acres, there’s plenty to see and do. The lush green space is the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of Dublin city and It is the perfect spot for a run, a cycle or a relaxing stroll. The park is a magnet for tourists and locals alike and is a hive of activity during the day.

Phoenix Park’s most famous and popular attraction is Dublin Zoo with its African Savanna, Gorilla Rainforest and Sealion Cove. The zoo is one of the oldest in the world and is hugely popular with families. The park also hosts a prehistoric burial chamber, a giant obelisk monument, a fort, Victorian Gardens, a castle and tea rooms.

Phoenix Park has some very important residents. Both the President of Ireland and the US Ambassador have houses in the park. However, our favourite Phoenix Park residents are the herd of wild deer which roam in the park meadow. Hundreds of deer meander around and they are adorable to watch!
Given the huge size of Phoenix Park, the best way to explore is by renting a bike at the entrance to the park and cycling between the sights.

–  Elaine and David from Show Them The Globe

Deer in Phoenix Park when backpacking Dublin
Phoenix Park

Visit the Guinness Storehouse

A trip to Dublin just isn’t complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. Although this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dublin, it lives up to the hype and is well worth adding to your itinerary.

The storehouse is located in the heart of St. James’ Gate Brewery, covering an area of 50 acres. The interior is designed to look exactly like a pint of Guinness and known to be the largest pint in the world!

During the tour, you will walk through seven floors of brewing history, learning about how the Guinness factory played a major part in the lives of Dublin residents. You also get to see the brewing process and learn about how this stout beer gets crafted to perfection.

The tour ends at the Gravity Bar on the 7th floor, which has amazing 360 views of the Dublin skyline. More importantly, it ends with a complimentary full pint of Guinness. Truthfully I was never a big fan of Guinness, but the pint I had after that tour completely changed my views, it was delicious! A ticket to the Guinness factory will cost you €18.50 if you buy online in advance, or €25 if you walk-in.

–  Lora from Explore with Lora

Backpacking Dublin highlight: drinks in the Guiness storehose
Visiting the Guiness Storehouse

Irish Whiskey Museum

The Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin City centre is a must visit place, especially for any Whiskey lovers out there! The Irish Whiskey Museum is an interactive, ultra-modern whiskey tour offering an experience unlike any other in Dublin.They tell people simple and easy to understand stories from the origin of whiskey in Ireland up to the present day, with all the highs and lows in between.

The best thing about The Irish Whiskey museum that they are independent of the drinks industry and as such, they are able to offer an impartial point of view and aren’t biased, they just serve and sell the best of Ireland. For the whiskey tastings, the museum changes the whiskeys every month so you can easily visit time and time again and not taste the same whiskey twice! The bar at The Irish Whiskey museum is one of the best whiskey bars in Dublin and the Irish coffee served at the bar is one of the best around!

Location: The Irish Whiskey Museum is just at the bottom of the famous Grafton street and directly opposite Trinity College. All public transport routes will leave you within walking distance of the museum.

Price: There are 3 different tour options at the museum, beginning at €20 per adult for the classic tour. More details can be found on their website: https://www.irishwhiskeymuseum.ie/tours/

Opening Times: Opening times vary depending on the time of year, in the summer (May to September) the first tour is at 10 am and last at 6 pm. In the winter (Oct to April), the first tour begins at 10:30 am at last at 6 pm. The bar opening times are as follows:

McDonnell’s Bar:
10:30 – 18:30 pm Monday to Thursday
10:30 – 11:30pm Friday & Saturday
10.30 – 11 pm Sunday

–  Laura from Country Girl Explores

Whiskey Museum glasses
Visiting the Whiskey Museum

Teeling Whiskey Distillery

The Teeling Whiskey Distillery is located in the Liberties region of Dublin, near the centre of the city. The distillery is actually the first new distillery in Dublin for over 125 years. It’s a short walk from the Guinness Storehouse, so a good opportunity to visit both in the same day. When visiting the distillery you have the option of perusing their store that contains all their whiskeys and branded memorabilia, their Phoenix café, or – ideally – taking one of their several tours. You should book a tour in advance as they are popular. The tour begins with the history of Dublin whiskey, with some excellent displays and a very good presentation from one of the knowledgeable staff. You are then shown the whole manufacturing process – the mash room, fermenters, copper stills (they have three – called Alison, Natalie and Rebecca – named after the owner’s daughters). Following this you are shown the warehouse full of maturing casks – and then you head to a tasting room to sample the whiskey and a whiskey-based cocktail. What is great about this tour is that you are actually seeing a working distillery in action, with employees going about their day-to-day duties, stopping to explain to you what they are doing. For those too young, or who don’t enjoy whiskey, the café is a great destination in itself. It serves the most amazing pies and sausage rolls!

–  Tracey from Pack the PJs

Whiskey Teeling in Dublin
Teeling Whiskey

The Chester Beatty

The Chester Beatty is a world renowned library situated in the heart of Dublin’s bustling city centre and it is a must see for all visitors to Dublin. The library is located on the grounds of the historic Dublin Castle, which was once the seat of British Rule in Ireland until 1922. The library was once privately owned by the great American mining engineer Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968) who bequeathed the building to Ireland upon his death. Sir Chester Beatty collected works of art from all over the world and he was made an honorary Irish citizen in 1957.

Nowadays, the library is spread out over two floors with an astonishing 20,000 artefacts ranging from rare books, manuscripts, costumes and artistic displays which originated in countries such as Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The Chester Beatty is a cultural, vibrant library which often holds exhibitions and intercultural programmes for all ages and backgrounds. There are also often public talks and workshops ranging in subjects from Persian music to Japanese origami which can be found on the Chester Beatty website. Looking for somewhere to relax after your exploration of the Chester Beatty? Why not check out the Japanese rooftop garden or enjoy some Middle Eastern food in the ground floor cafe “The Silk Cafe”. Entry to the museum is free all year round although donations are welcome.

–  Ciara from A View Outside

Outside view of library while backpacking dublin
Chester Beatty Library

Marsh’s Library

If you’re looking for rich history in Dublin, you’ll want to check out the oldest public library in Ireland. Marsh’s library first opened its doors to the public in 1707 and currently houses over 25,000 books, some of which date back to the 15th century.

The building itself boasts much of the original architecture, including the wooden shelves and seating. The exquisite oak bookcases are lined with magnificent pieces of history, and some even believe the library is haunted! The complete catalogue of books is available on the Marsh’s library website. Unfortunately, visitors may not touch or read the books, but students and scholars are welcome to make an appointment in advance to carry out research. Photography is not allowed in the building except in designated areas.

Situated next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the library is easy to find. There is a small admission fee of €5, with €3 for students and senior citizens. The library is open every day except Tuesday and Sunday. This is a wonderful stop in Dublin attracting thousands of visitors a year. It is especially a must-see for anyone intrigued by history and literature.

–  Crystalyn from Trip Gazer

Outside view of Marshs library in Dublin
Marsh’s Library Dublin

Learning to play hurling

Hurling, together with Gaelic football, is one of the quintessential Celtic games that are very popular in Ireland. They are at the center Ireland’s communities, and they have also become very popular around the world thanks to the Irish who live abroad, who keep the tradition alive outside of their own country.

Hurling is a notoriously hard game to play. It is, after all, the fastest field sport in the world. But you can learn to play it in Dublin and have a bit of fun with it. Less than an hour away from Dublin city centre, in the small town of Portmarnock, you will find Clash Gaelic Games. It’s company run by the O’Driscoll brothers who are incredibly passionate about this game and who are on a mission to teach people how to play it and love it as much as they do.

The first thing you’ll learn is how to hold and use the hurley (the hurley stick) and how to pick up the ball from the ground just using the hurley. You will learn to control the ball with the hurley and how to steal it from your opponent. If you have are travelling with a group of friends, this is one of the most fun things you can do. It’s a great way to have an adventure in Dublin!

–  Teresa from Brogan Abroad

playing hurling in dublin
Learn to play Hurling

Gravity Climbing Centre

For the traveling climber or athletic tourist looking to stay fit while on vacation to this land of Guiness and boxty, Gravity Climbing Centre offers the best indoor bouldering in Ireland.

As Dublin’s first public climbing gym, Gravity has established a reputation for its exceptional route-setting and welcoming ambiance. Climbers from crusher to brand new will find the walls teeming with clever problems, engaging movements, and diverse styles ranging from finger-intensive crimps and small edges, to balancy slopers, and technical face climbing.

The owners started the gym to emulate the climbing they were finding outdoors, so if you are looking for a training ground to help you prepare for real rock around the country, Gravity offers a safe place to practice for your outdoor adventure. During my visit, everyone from the staff to the fellow climbers were outgoing, friendly, and quick to chat. Welcoming, indeed.

To find the gym, head to the south-west side of the city by taking the Red Line on the Luas light rail system and get off at the Blackhorse Luas Stop. Gravity is tucked away in an office park behind Rascals Brewing, where you can go for a well-earned post-climb beer and pizza. On your way back to city center, you can also take the Red to the Guinness Storehouse, for yet another well-earned post-climb beer.

–  Aaron from Aaron Gerry

climbing center in dublin
Gravity Climbing Centre

I hope I was able to give you some useful information and recommendations for your backpacking trip to Dublin! Enjoy your time in Ireland and let me know in the comments how you like the city!

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