Though Ireland is famous for its whiskey and Guinness, don’t think for a moment that Ireland isn’t an adventure for the whole family. This land is full of rich history and beautiful views -- along with hearty meals -- that can inspire even the youngest of children. When you’re traveling on a budget, keep these tips in mind to make the most out of your trip.
Know the exchange rate
A dollar in the United States isn’t worth quite as much as the euro, making each purchase in Ireland a little more pricey. While they have similar values -- €1 is worth just over $1 -- it can be easy to forget how much you’re really spending if you’ve been paying with a credit card.
Stay in a hostel
With nearly 500,000 residents, Dublin is easily Ireland’s largest city, drawing people from all over the world; as such, they offer affordable lodgings. When you think "hostel," you might imagine college students filling every nook and cranny, but hostels are a great way to save some money and many are family-friendly. Many have rooms that fit upwards of five people, so you can fill an entire room with just your family, no strangers included. Hostels usually come with a complimentary Irish breakfast that will be sure to keep you full for hours after you’re done.
If you still don’t like the idea of hostels, bed and breakfasts are another great option. They may be a bit pricier, but they often come with amenities you’d likely see in a hotel, including a full Irish breakfast or a cheaper dinner option. Go to coupon sites or other lodging sites like Airbnb to see local deals in Dublin.
When your full Irish breakfast finally wears off, it might be time to consider a late lunch or early dinner. If you can hold off until around four or five, many restaurants offer early dinner specials during the lulls in normal business hours -- this can save you 25% if you look for the right dinner deals. Scope out restaurants that offer local deals and grab a few snacks for any late-night cravings.
Check out museums
All of the museums in Dublin are free to the public and cover a range of historic and cultural Irish hallmarks: the famine, art, history, religion. Many castles also serve as a type of modern museum: Ireland is rich with castles and the Dublin area houses some of the best in the land. While your kids might get bored or sad in some of the more serious exhibits, many local parks are situated nearby, and they often meld history and nature into one -- St. Stephen’s Green is a great, free romp, and you’ll get to see busts of famous Irish artists and generals.
If museums aren’t your family’s pint of Guinness, then try the Dublin Zoo -- this zoo houses over 600 animals and the great Irish weather means it’s open year-round. Just be sure to bring a few snacks from a local grocery store with you when you enter -- eating out all the time can really add up.
Keep in mind that Ireland is one of the more expensive vacation destinations. Do some saving, pack light, and always scope out local deals to save a few bucks where you can. Ireland’s beauty is incomparable and there are plenty of family-friendly options to guarantee your entire family has a great vacation.