Dublin is one of Europe’s most popular destinations. Roughly nine million people visit the city every year to raise a pint in the pubs, stroll past the colorful doors of its Georgian houses, and see priceless treasures like the Book of Kells. However, like many great European cities, Dublin can be costly. As a result, it can be tricky for first-time visitors to determine which attractions, properties, and eateries are worth the splurge. To help you navigate your way around the city, here's our expert-approved guide to the best Dublin has to offer at any budget.
Stay at the Buswells Hotel, which was formerly a women’s college. The property offers sensibly-priced elegance (think chandeliers and Victorian furnishings in the lobby and stylish décor in the well-appointed rooms). Guest rooms with queen-sized beds start at $150 per night without breakfast, and $175 with. The trade off? A small space, which maxes out at just over 200 square feet. Don’t worry, though. Even if you’re on a tight budget, there’s so much to do in Dublin that you won’t be spending much time in the hotel.
In terms of activities, start at the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology, located just steps away from the property. The free museum is home to many Celtic and medieval treasures, including the Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice. It also features an impressive Viking collection, as well as a display of bog bodies (human cadavers that have been mummified).
Nearby, the National Gallery of Ireland (also free) displays magnificent works by Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt, Claude Monet, and other greats. In addition, the museum also features an array of work from Irish artists such as Jack B. Yeats (the brother of poet William Butler Yeats).
If you prefer exploring the outdoors over strolling the museums, take an Uber to Phoenix Park, which is Europe's largest inner-city park. It's also home to an enormous herd of deer (about 200 deer are born in Phoenix Park every year). We recommend arriving at the park early on Saturday mornings to score a free tour of Aras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the President of Ireland.
Across the street, head to the free National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History where you'll find a mix of furniture, jewelry, ceramics, and other works — as well as a variety of exhibits, including one on the 1916 Easter Rising.
After a day spent exploring the city, you're bound to be hungry. When you hear your stomach growling, head to The Pieman Café, where you can fill up on single-serving savory pies (available in six flavors, from steak and stout, to chili-beef and chorizo), along with a drink for under $12. In addition to pies, you can also order one of four sausage roll flavors, including fennel-chili and leek-sage. Just be sure to get there before they close at 6:30 p.m.
If you're looking for upscale and affordable accommodations, consider a stay at the recently-renovated Davenport Hotel. The property has updated its look and now features modern amenities in each room, such as SmartTVs, USB charging ports, and free wifi. Rates start at $225 for their signature rooms, and they don’t spike much higher during the summer.
In terms of activities, head to the Trinity College campus and purchase a $13 ticket to see The Book of Kells. The ninth-century-era artifact is one of the world's most famous medieval manuscripts, and features a beautifully-decorated copy of the four Gospels. And although the manuscript is impressive, there's even more to see here. While you're exploring the rest of the exhibit, check out the famed Long Room — one of the most impressive libraries in the world.
From the campus, walk to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum ($17). Even if you don’t have Irish ancestors, you’ll enjoy this interactive and fully-digital museum, which showcases the contributions of the nation's emigrants. Allow plenty of time to play around with the touch-screens exhibits, watch the videos, and stamp your museum “passport” at designated stations.
If you're a true crime junkie, be sure to stop by Kilmainham Gaol, an old jail. Throughout the 100-plus years it operated, the infamous jail housed everyone from harden criminals accused of murder and rape, to the leaders of the Easter Rising — as well as ordinary men, women, and children arrested for petty theft. Tours sell out quickly, which is why it's important to book in advance. (under $10).
Also, learn more about Dublin history at The Little Museum of Dublin ($11.50). Unless you're a member of the museum, all tours are guided. The engaging, entertaining staff lead each group through the museum while telling stories of Ireland’s capital through photographs and memorabilia.
Finish the day (or break for lunch) at Temple Bar, a pub within a neighborhood that is also called Temple Bar. Although it’s a bit touristy, the pub plays live music all day beginning at 1 p.m. and serves great sandwiches (from $14), which pair well with perfectly-poured pints of Guinness. Come early in the evening for dinner before a night of pub-hopping.
With its fine art collection, period gardens, and Georgian architecture, The Merrion is one of Ireland’s most luxurious hotels. However, a stay here isn't cheap. During the off-season, a Deluxe King room will set you back more than $500 per night; during the summer, that same room tops $900. But if you want to be treated like royalty, it may be worth the splurge.
Enhance your stay with a reservation at Art Tea ($63). Here, expect an array of delectable creations, including savory sandwiches, scones, breads, and pastries inspired by 19th- and 20th-century fine art.
Additionally, a trip to Dublin wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the Jameson Distillery. You can take a 40-minute tour, which includes a comparative tasting and complimentary drink, for just $25; however, a 20-minute visit to the Maturation Warehouse (with a cask tasting) costs an additional $23. Other tour options include a 90-minute whiskey-blending class ($70) and a cocktail-making class ($60).
If you're looking for something a bit more affordable, Guinness Storehouse offers a similar experience. Prices range from $20 to $30, depending on the day and time of your self-guided tour, and also includes a pint of Guinness served in the building’s seventh floor bar. However, you can also upgrade to the Connoisseur Experience, which includes a tasting at a private bar for an additional $45. There's also the option to purchase more add-ons, such as engraved pint glasses or a Stoutie, which is your own image on the head of a Guinness.
For dinner, reserve a table at Shanahan’s on the Green to sample Ireland’s incredible beef (which start at €49.50 — about $55 USD — for a petite filet mignon). The steaks are all certified Irish Angus beef and are cooked in a broiler at 1600-1800 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can rest assured that they're seared perfection. Eat in the main restaurant or the Oval Office Bar, which commemorates U.S. Presidents who have Irish ancestry (the bar also serves a special single-malt exclusively created for the restaurant).