With its rolling green hills, pubs, and rich history, Ireland is one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe. 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 is not necessarily a big island. But there is a lot to see and do, especially when you consider 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, there are lots of things to keep you busy. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to suggest a one-week (7 days and 6 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
|Accommodations||$1,200 (prices vary by location)|
|Transportation and attractions||$300|
|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.
Also 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 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 see some expensive fares as well 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 seasons 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.
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 Gold Rewards Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $300 (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, a sign up bonus worth $250 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 choose to stay in B&Bs, hostels, or more budget-friendly accommodations. Of course, it can also be increased if you choose to stay in a luxury hotel or an Irish castle. Don’t forget to apply for a credit with no foreign exchange fees before you depart.
Here are some accommodation ideas and recommendations for three popular destinations in Ireland.
Hostels – 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.
Irish B&Bs – 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.
Mid-Range Hotels – 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, keep in mind that a mid-range budget hotel in Dublin will be more expensive than elsewhere.
Luxury Hotels – Ireland has its fair share of beautiful luxury hotels, but the real draw are the Irish castle hotels which offer a truly unique experience. However, you will need to rent a car for this experience as most of the castles are in the countryside with no public transit options.
Airbnb – 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. Use my invite to get $45 towards your first stay.
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. For example, Canadians should consider the BMO World Elite Mastercard since it typically has a sign up bonus of $250 when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership. This card does have an annual fee of $150 but it’s normally waived for the first year so you’re getting $250 for free. There’s also the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $650.
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 is assuming 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 it comes to 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 busses 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 are travelling 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 to be 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, winding, and it’s not uncommon for them to be covered in sheep in some areas.
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 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 nothing is particularly expensive on its own, some things can add up pretty quickly.
If you plan on doing lots of sites and attractions in Dublin, then your best bet is to get the Dublin Pass. It’s really the ‘best bang for your buck’ as it includes not only skip the line entry to over thirty attractions, but it 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, or Blarney Castle, 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.
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 historic 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.
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 a total of $55/day for food and drink (assuming you are having 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 of the areas where you really do need to be careful.
Typical pub fare can cost about $10-$20 for a meal depending on where you are. 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 do 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. If you aren’t a shopper you can probably get away with $100, but if you do want some of the famous Irish wool products or Waterford Crystal, know you may have to add a hundred or even two hundred more.
So how much does it cost to go to Ireland? My research estimates approximately $2685 per person for one week including flights, accommodation, food, transportation and attractions, and some extra spending money. Ireland is not a cheap destination, but it can be affordable and it’s definitely worth it.
Plus, if you use some of the tips and advice suggested in this article, you can further reduce your costs. For more European inspiration, check out my guides to Scotland, Cyprus, Croatia, Austria, Malta and Greece.