In our Go Local Guides, we’ve teamed up with local insiders from popular travel destinations; giving you their money-saving tips on how to get a taste of the places they call home, without breaking the bank.
Artist, writer and Dublin specialist John Casey shares some of the lesser considered aspects of Dublin.
There’s more to Dublin than bars, tin whistles and leprechauns. The creative, historic capital of Ireland is set in a beautiful environment too.
Cycling makes sense in Dublin for a thousand reasons. A three-day pass for Dublin’s city rentabike scheme costs €5/£4.82 (plus time and mileage charges). You can jump on the trams too, which are also good value at €12 (£11.32) for a three-day unlimited ticket. Combine this with other great ways to save money on many of Dublin’s main attractions and the city can go easy on your wallet. The Dublin Pass costs €62 (£58.47) a day, but is only €92 (£86.77) if you can commit to three days. These passes get you into most of the amazing historical sites too.
One thing that many people don’t know about Ireland is that it’s welcoming financial environment for creative types has nurtured one of the most dynamic art scenes in the whole of Europe, with a number of great galleries leading the creative charge. A favourite of mine is the Kerlin Gallery, which is a hotspot of contemporary art and represents some of the finest Irish and international talent, including the leading abstract painter Sean Scully. The Molesworth is a small but feisty champion of local art too. Entry fees to specific exhibitions vary, and often come for free.
History and culture are weaved seamlessly into the city’s fabric. Christ Church Cathedral is the Catholic centre of Ireland with its embattled history and is possibly the oldest building in the city, dating from the eleventh century. There’s little more atmospheric than its medieval crypt, whose walls are original and resound with the ghosts of countless martyrs (free with the Dublin pass €7/£6.60 otherwise). You can wander from Christ Church to EPIC, the museum of Irish Emigration (€15/£14.15, free with the pass), which details the influence of the Irish on culture and society all over the world. St Stephen’s Green, just a short stroll away, is of course where many Irish political stories have touched down. A couple of hundred rebels barricaded themselves up in the green during the Easter Rising of 1916 - and famously brokered a ceasefire with the British Army to allow the park keepers to feed the ducks. Now the area is one of the busiest shopping centres in the country and is bustling with the ‘Stags and the Hens’ trawling the bars and eateries around Grafton Street.
The stone cold top money-saving tip for anyone with an interest in marauding or pillaging is the Viking Splash Tour. See the whole of Dublin in a Simpsons-yellow amphibious vehicle from the D-Day landings. At €20 (£18.86) and with group discounts available, it’s the best value of any tour in town. Still on the Nordic theme, Dublinia, Dublin’s Viking Museum, gives another take on the raucous character of the Irish at full tilt (€10/£9.43).
But while you don’t come to Dublin just to drink Guinness there are some great pubs that serve it. A pint of Guinness, which definitely tastes better close to the river Liffey that feeds the brewing tanks, will cost you between €5-€7 (£4.82-£6.60) all over the city. A trip to the Guinness Storehouse gets to the heart of the matter and would normally cost you €18.50/£17.45 (including a complimentary pint for over 18s). The Jameson’s Whiskey distillery is in a buzzing area around Bow Street and Smithfield and also offers free entry with the pass - and you’ll get to try what is the real water of Irish creative life.
This port city is the perfect spot to launch into the hills inland and the spectacular coast of Ireland to the north, south, east and west too. Thanks to the sparkling European-funded highways, you can be out to the rugged surf beaches of County Clare or Donegal in three hours. Buses to the West cost between €20-€35 (£18.86-£33.01), but take a little longer. If you’re strapped for time but craving the famous million shades of Irish green, a great tip is to head south to the Wicklow Mountains. The National Park is free to enter and is full of gorgeous vistas, lochs, hills and well-kept hiking trails - as well as historic sites and ancient settlements. Buses head regularly to Glendalough, which is a pretty town in its own right, for €8 (£7.55).
The centrality of the craic to Irish culture notwithstanding, the Dublin area looks much better without the hangover.
Gaelic Football or Hurling Match
Croke Park, Dublin 3
Tour from €14 (£13.20), match day prices from €20 (£18.86)
A Pint of Guinness
Traditonal Irish Food
Gallagher’s Boxty House
Gaelic Boxty: Medallions of Irish Fillet Beef, Irish Whiskey, Black Pepper & Mushroom Cream Sauce, Boxty Pancake, House Salads €23 (£21.69)
Walk! Or Dublin Area Rail Transport (DART)
Single Fare €2.25 (£2.12)
Pubs, Restaurants and Cafés
In pubs, there is no need to tip. In restaurants and cafés, tipping is not expected, but appreciated
Our insider city guides - packed with tips from locals in the know.