With its rolling green hills, pubs, and rich history, Ireland is one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations and a dream vacation for many. But, just how much does it cost to go to Ireland? Well, there are several factors to consider including your travel style, what you want to see, and where you are flying from.
Ireland, known as the emerald isle, is not necessarily a big island. But there is a lot to see and do, especially considering that it is actually two countries: The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. From historical sights and attractions to picturesque villages and tons of natural beauty and stunning landscapes, there are many things to keep you busy. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to suggest a one-week (seven days and six nights) itinerary in Ireland. Please note that this guide is based on the costs for a single person. If you are travelling as a couple, make sure to double these estimates (except for hotels).
Ireland trip cost for one week
|$1,200 (prices vary by location)
|Food & drink
|$385 ($55 per day)
The above estimate is in American dollars, so please use xe.com to find out the average costs in your home currency.
Keep in mind that this is just an estimate. Ireland isn’t necessarily a cheap travel destination. However savvy travellers will be able to reduce their costs by using some of the tips and suggestions I share throughout this article.
The transportation and attraction estimate is based on travellers relying on public transportation and day tours rather than renting a car. However, information about renting a car can be found in the transportation section of this article.
Please note that this article assumes that travellers will be based in the Republic of Ireland (which uses the euro) rather than Northern Ireland (which uses the pound sterling).
Airfare costs to Ireland can really fluctuate depending on the season and airline. The most expensive times to visit will be during the Christmas holidays (December), the summer months (June-August) and in March around St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th). The winter months, despite being off-season, can also see some expensive fares because many airlines only have seasonal routes to Ireland. When it comes to airlines, it’s definitely worth shopping around since there are quite a few carriers that fly to Ireland.
Your best bet is to travel in the shoulder season of Spring (April and May) and Fall (September-October). Personally, I think that these are the best times to visit Ireland anyway, as you skip most of the crowds, the attractions and sites are open, and the weather can be beautiful.
Many major carriers, including Delta and Air Canada, fly to the Dublin airport, so air access is not an issue. Aer Lingus, Ireland’s national carrier, also flies to many destinations in the United Kingdom and abroad, such as New York and Chicago. Shannon Airport also gets some international flights, but it’s not conveniently located. Overall, you’ll want to budget about $700.
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Platinum Card gives you a generous welcome bonus that’s often worth more than $900 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees, and it comes with airport lounge access.
Accommodations in Ireland can range drastically, depending not only on what type of accommodation you are staying in, but also what city. Dublin is significantly more expensive than any other town or city in the Republic of Ireland. Your best bet is to spend maybe two nights here (maximum three if you are interested in a day trip to Northern Ireland) then leave and spend the rest of your time elsewhere, such as in Galway or Killarney (two of my favourite Irish cities).
*Insider tip: If possible, try to arrange your Dublin stay to be during the week rather than on a weekend. Prices, which are already high, tend to skyrocket in Dublin from Friday-Sunday.
For the purpose of this article, I have based the accommodation estimate on mid-range hotel prices. This estimate can be dropped if you stay in B&Bs, hostels, or more budget-friendly accommodations. Of course, it can also be increased if you stay in a luxury hotel or an Irish castle. Don’t forget to apply for a credit card with no foreign exchange fees before you depart.
Here are some accommodation ideas and recommendations for three popular destinations in Ireland.
If you are a solo traveller, backpacker, or on a tight budget then choose to stay in a hostel. You can get a bed in a dorm (cheapest option) or a private room. Not only is it the most affordable option for accommodations, but many hostels also offer discounts on day tours. Plus, it’s a great way to meet other travellers.
The Irish are known for their hospitality, and this is very apparent in the homey B&Bs. Cozy rooms, friendly owners, and delicious breakfasts make Irish B&Bs one of the most popular choices when it comes to accommodation. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that B&Bs aren’t always as central as other accommodation options. So if you aren’t renting a car, look into the location before booking.
Ireland has hotels for all budgets, but mid-range options promise good locations, clean rooms, and decent amenities at a fair price. Plus, mid-range hotels are easy to find everywhere you go. Again, remember that a mid-range budget hotel in Dublin will be more expensive than elsewhere.
Ireland has its fair share of beautiful luxury hotels, but the real draw is the Irish castle hotels which offer a truly unique experience. However, you will need to rent a car for this experience as most castles are in the countryside without public transit options.
Renting an apartment via Airbnb has become a popular choice for many travellers, including myself. Most offer clean and safe places to stay at reasonable prices. Just make sure to read the reviews ahead of time. As with hotels and hostels, make sure to choose a central area.
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. Americans should strongly consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card since you can earn up to 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and $300 back at U.S. restaurants as a welcome bonus.
Canadians should consider the Marriott Bonvoy American Express, which gives you up to 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s enough points for a few free nights at some hotels, which could easily have a value of over $500.
There are two main ways to get around Ireland. The first is by renting a car, and the second is by using public transit, including buses and trains. This article and Ireland itinerary assume that travellers will rely on public transit and day trips for their one-week vacation. If you are considering renting a car, please see the next section.
All Irish cities have their own local busses, but when travelling across the country, you will often have two choices; train or bus. Most tourists choose the train assuming that it’s the better choice. However, while it may be a little more comfortable, it’s often slower and more expensive.
Bus travel in Ireland is both easy and affordable. Tickets can be purchased either ahead of time or directly on the bus, and many buses offer free Wifi. The most common bus company is Bus Eireann which connects the whole country. As a result, it does take a little longer because it stops in the smaller towns. You can also use Citylink if you travel between Dublin, Cork, and Galway. Citylink is a bit more expensive. However, it’s worth it to save travel time. Schedules and routes can be found online on the respective websites.
Renting a car in Ireland
Renting a car in Ireland is often considered the best way to see the country. However, for North Americans, it can be very daunting.
To start with, Ireland drives on the left side of the road, which can be incredibly confusing for those of us used to driving on the right. Secondly, most Irish cars are standard rather than automatic. It is possible to rent an automatic car. However, they are significantly more expensive and do need to be arranged ahead of time, as some car rentals only have a couple of automatic options on hand.
The third thing to consider is the roads. The big cities like Dublin and Galway can be pretty hectic, but for most travellers, the main concern is the country roads. They are very narrow and winding. It’s also not uncommon for them to be covered in sheep in some areas or sheer drops beside you as you drive the coastline, which can be intimidating.
If you have experience driving on the left side of the road, and plan on getting more off the beaten path, then renting a car is a great choice. However, if you aren’t sure and this is your first visit to Ireland, you can easily get around the main cities and see the big attractions using public transit and group tours. It’s much more relaxing and allows you to enjoy the scenery.
It’s also worth mentioning that not all credit card car rental insurance covers vehicles in Ireland, so you should check your policy details before you depart.
Ireland has so much to see, from adorable villages to pre-historic sites, beautiful nature and UNESCO World Heritage sites. While sightseeing is not expensive on its own, some things can add up quickly.
If you plan on doing many sites and attractions in Dublin, your best bet is to get the Dublin Pass. It’s the ‘best bang for your buck’ as it includes not only skip-the-line entry to over thirty attractions, but also includes hop-on, hop-off bus access and a number of discounts. As the most expensive city in the Republic of Ireland, saving some money on the attractions in Dublin will absolutely help your budget.
In terms of seeing Ireland’s attractions outside of city centres, for example, the Cliffs of Moher, Giant’s Causeway, Blarney Castle, or the Aran Islands, there are several tour companies based in the major cities of Dublin, Killarney, and Galway that offer these day trips in combination with other nearby attractions and sites. There’s no need to book an Ireland vacation package or do an official tour of Ireland. With guided day trips, you can easily plan everything on your own.
Personally, I love Ireland’s day trips as they not only take away the hassle of driving on your own, but the guides are full of historical facts and Irish folklore that adds extra interest. Plus, they are usually smaller groups and are generally quite affordable. Most day tours are around or under $60 per person, though the longer ones (such as a 14-hour day trip to Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and Belfast from Dublin) will be closer to $80 per person.
Even if you don’t drink, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is a must. Trinity College is also worth doing since it’s one of the free things to do in the Dublin city center. That said, if you want to see the Book of Kells, there’s an extra cost.
Food and drink
Food isn’t exactly cheap in Ireland, but it’s reasonably priced. What can bring up the costs is alcohol consumption, so use the following numbers as a rough budget for your daily meals.
- Breakfast: $10
- Lunch: $15
- Dinner: $30
This comes to an average price of $55 a day for food and drink (assuming you have a hearty Irish breakfast that is not included in the price of your accommodation). While this seems expensive, travellers should be aware that food and drink in Ireland can break your budget, so this is one area where you need to be careful.
Typical pub fare can cost about $10 – $20 for a meal, depending on your location. However, Ireland also has an incredible food scene with some top-notch restaurants, which while delicious, can be quite dangerous for your wallet.
Also, you can’t forget about the drinks. Let’s be honest; part of why you are coming to Ireland is for the pub culture. Unless you don’t drink at all, it’s probably safe to say you’ll have at least one pint a day. If you think you will be drinking more, be safe and tack on an extra $20 per day to this part of the budget for drinks.
When it comes to your food and drink budget in Ireland, I recommend allocating extra just in case. It’s better to have leftover money than to exceed your budget.
Ireland has lots of neat souvenirs to buy, from Guinness paraphernalia to the famous Waterford Crystal or Aran wool sweaters and blankets. Not to mention tons of knick-knacks and souvenirs featuring cheeky leprechauns or cuddly sheep. If you love to shop or are looking for nice souvenirs to bring back as gifts for friends and family, Ireland is the perfect spot to shop.
However, even if you aren’t a shopper, budget some extra spending money. You might end up in a pub before dinner for a drink, or if the weather turns, grab a cab somewhere to get out of the rain.
To be safe, I recommend tacking on an extra $200 in spending money for your Ireland trip costs. If you aren’t a shopper, you can get away with $100, but if you want some of the famous Irish wool products or Waterford Crystal, know you may have to add a hundred or even two hundred more.
Cost to go to Ireland
So how much does it cost to go to Ireland? My research estimates your Ireland vacation will cost approximately $2,785 per person for one week, including flights, accommodation, food, transportation, attractions, and some extra spending money. That said, there could be some extra costs involved, such as travel insurance, and exchange rates when converting your money.
Frequently asked questions
What should you not miss in Ireland?
Ireland has so many beautiful places to see and great things to do. A few of my favourite suggestions include visiting the Cliffs of Moher, trying a pint of Guinness, listening to a trad music session in a traditional pub (Galway has some great ones!), and kissing the Blarney Stone. I also love recommending Dingle Peninsula and Connemara National Park (especially Kylemore Abbey).
Where should I go in Ireland for the first time?
My biggest tip for first-time visitors is to make sure you get out of Dublin! Dublin is great, but there is so much more to see and do. I suggest heading to the west coast for a few days. Galway is a great base to see the cliffs of Moher and explore some of the Wild Atlantic Way. Southern Ireland is great too. Killarney is perfect for exploring the famous Ring of Kerry route, and Killarney National Park is also beautiful.
How many days should I spend in Ireland?
You could easily spend a month in Ireland and still not see it all. Despite being a small country, there is much to see and do. Of course, not everyone has that time, so I suggest at least a week, ideally two.
What is the best time to visit Ireland?
I love visiting in spring and fall. The weather is decent but not too crowded with the high-season visitors of summer. Note that the weather in Ireland can be all over the place, so don’t stress out about any potential rain.
How do I prepare for a trip to Ireland?
Make sure to pack appropriately (warmer gear and waterproof gear!). If you are renting a car, make sure to book it in advance. If not, plan your day trips and book those early as well, especially if you visit in the summer as they can sell out. Also, don’t forget travel insurance.
Is Ireland expensive to visit?
Ireland is by no means a place that I would consider a cheap travel destination. But that doesn’t mean it has to be very expensive. If you are concerned about Ireland trip costs, look at my Ireland on a budget guide for some tips and ideas on how to save.
What is the cheapest month to fly to Ireland?
This is tricky because Ireland is a seasonal destination in some areas. The summer months and March for St. Patrick’s Day are traditionally the busiest. Wintertime is the cheapest time, but this also means fewer flights. Typically, I’ve had good luck booking early spring (April) and fall (October). I suggest watching for seat sales rather than relying on a specific month for cheap flights.
What is the cheapest place to visit in Ireland?
Dublin is one of the most expensive cities in all of Europe, so you will notice costs decrease as soon as you leave the capital. Hotel prices can drop dramatically once you get out of the city. Other than that, the smaller villages will be cheaper than cities for things like restaurants and hotels.
Do I need a rental car in Ireland?
Renting a car is by far the easiest option for Ireland travel and offers much more freedom. Public transit in Ireland is decent by bus but can be quite slow and harder to get to some more remote places that may be on your must-see list. That said, driving in Ireland is very intimidating, so only do it if you are comfortable. If not, day trips are a good option.