ireland travel guide

Travel Guide: Traveling Southern Ireland On A Budget

In March I went to Ireland for my spring break. It was the most random decision of my life. I was sitting with my friend one morning before classes in September when she suggested we go. At first I wasn’t serious about going but then we started looking into plane tickets. When I saw how cheap they were I was totally in! It was our goal to make this trip as budget friendly as possible. There were three of us that went so it made splitting accommodation costs even cheaper.

Ireland Travel Guide

 

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Here are all the details from my trip!!

Where To Stay In Ireland

We stayed in an Airbnb in every location. This was all of our first times booking with them so the trip was even more of an adventure. Below I will link each of the places we stayed and any relevant information to each of the locations. Airbnb is a great budget alternative. While doing our research for the trip we realized this option would be much cheaper than hotels. We also liked the privacy that Airbnb offers as opposed to hostels.

Sign up for Airbnb here to get $40 off your first stay!

TIP: Stay just outside of major cities for an even more budget friendly option!

Dublin

This Airbnb is actually in Knocklyon. We landed at 5 in the morning and messaged them as soon as we got through customs. They got back to us an hour or so later when they woke up. David let us know that it would be best for us to come later in the morning (around 10). After hearing back from him we took a bus from the airport to the City Center. We killed time by wondering around Dublin and getting some breakfast. From the City Center  we took a bus to Knocklyon. This was a much cheaper option than a taxi and only took about 15 minutes to get there. There is a stop for the bus that leaves you with a very short walk to their house.

castle in dublin Ireland

The room is a large space with two trundle style twin beds and a couch. This was perfect for the three of us!

Kilkenny

This was by far all of our favorite stops. The listing is for two people but we contacted the home owner and she provided us with an additional room. There were beautiful views of a castle and the town from the bedroom windows. The home is in the perfect location to walk to the town in about 15 minutes. Therese is very friendly and provided us with maps of the town as well as her favorite pubs and restaurants. The entire town can be seen in one day which makes it the perfect stop over. THIS TOWN IS A MUST SEE!!!!

streets of ireland

Cork

We decided to stay in a home outside of Cork as well. The listing is provided by Michelle and Eamonn. This family is soo welcoming and hospitable. We took a bus from Kilkenny to Cork which ended up having an arrival time an hour and a half later than we expected. Eamonn picked us up from the bus stop and took us to the home. There is a small city center within walking distance. Additionally, you can find a few dining options as well as a grocery store.

river in Irelannd

The room is on the third floor with beautiful countryside views and two extremely comfortable beds. Michelle made us homemade bread and fresh eggs every morning (my favorite part)! We visited with the family and enjoyed learning all about Ireland and Cork. In their description they say they will do everything possible to make your stay enjoyable and they truly live up to that!

Although I loved everything about this house and our guests, If you are looking to spend most of your time in the city, I would recommend looking into other options.

Where To Eat In Ireland

Before we left we were told to eat mainly in pubs because the food was much better. If I’m being completely honest I didn’t think the food was SUPER SPECTACULAR in any given city that we were in. However, I do have a few places I would like to recommend.

Dublin

The Rolling DonutThis little shop caught our eye almost immediately. It is nearly impossible to walk by the large window that displays a wide variety of donuts. Everything from chocolate raspberry to pistachio. They are almost too pretty to eat. Almost. The donuts are as delicious as they look! I had to exercise self control to not buy four more.

Rolling Donut in Ireland

Presto Chipper: This place is said to be the best fish and chips in all of Dublin. They did not disappoint. I was a little let down that we had to buy any condiments we wanted though. The portions are HUGE and very filling. There is only enough room for a few people to walk in and order at a time so we took our food to a small courtyard/ park down the street. While we ate we had a beautiful view of a castle!

ScholarsSince we actually stayed in Knocklyn (right outside of Dublin) I though I should mention the pub we ate at there on the first night. If you stay at the Airbnb that I talked about earlier, it is a 10-15 minute walk from the home. We went here twice and I enjoyed both times. The first night I ordered chicken fingers that were great. My chicken was extremely tender and juicy which paired perfectly with the crispy breading.

dessert in ireland

Kilkenny

Everyone in this town was very friendly. If you ask any local, they will tell you all the hotspots including pubs and the best restaurants. Unfortunately, we were only here for one night and couldn’t try all of them.

Cafe 22: We stopped by this place for a late breakfast. Each of the things we ordered were delicious!  It was a very small cafe with a delicious display of pastries. For the quality of brunch items, you can’t beat the prices! I recommend the

Matt the Millers Bar & Restaurant: We were told that this was the hottest spot in town. However we were in town on a Tuesday night so there was no one there.

beer in ireland

Mizzonis Pizza: By the time we were ready for dinner everything was closed (the town closes around 8). This was one of the only places open and we decided to order to-go and take it back to the house. Their pizza ended up being one of my favorite meals there. Mizzonis is family run and everything is homemade/fresh. You can totally tell!

Cork

Again since we stayed outside of Cork my only recommendation is in the town we stayed in.

The Abbey Bar & Restaurant: If you choose to stay at the Airbnb that I recommended earlier, you can walk 10 minutes into town and find this gem. We all ordered something different and shared what we got. Out of all the options, what I ordered was my least favorite (of course). The fish and chips were great but the ribs were my absolute favorite!!!

beef dish in ireland

What To Do In Ireland

Dublin

Dublin is a great place just walk around and explore. We originally planned to do a hop on hop off tour that would last all day but I printed off the wrong document which led to us not being able to do this activity.  You can also schedule tours of the Guinness Storehouse and participate in many of the experiences they have to offer. Dublin is the best place to walk around and shop mannnnyyyyy different stores.

There is obviously much more that you can do in Dublin but we opted for the free options!

Kilkenny

Kilkenny is very small. You can walk around the entire town in a few hours. This is a town with A LOT of history!

Tour: We had prescheduled walking “ghost” tour. In this tour we learned all about Kilkenny’s history while dressed up as witches! Even though it was a bit hokey it was fun!

walking ghost tour ireland

You can use this link to sign up for a Viator account and get $10 off your next vacation activity!

Castle: The Kilkenny Castle is beautiful! You can tour the outside for free or pay to tour the inside. Outside of the castle, you will find a large grass areas where you will see many locals going for walks (sometimes with their dogs)!

A local store owner told us that you can go into the castle, and ask to see the art gallery for free. Inside the art gallery you will find a staircase. This will get you into the rest of the castle for free!

Kilkenny castle in Ireland

Cork

Tour: We booked a tour to see the Cliffs of Moher. This tour was through Paddywagon Tours. The driver was great! He was funny and engaging and made the 13 hour day enjoyable. We were running slightly late for the tour but when I called to let them know he was very understanding and waited five minutes for us! The entire ride he shared a lot of his knowledge about Ireland with us.

cliffs Ireland

The price includes the admission fare to the Cliffs of Moher and you get to spend about two hours there. That seems like more than enough time but the truth is you’ll never want to leave the cliffs!

welcome sign cliffs Ireland

After leaving the Cliffs of Moher, the driver took us to what he called the “mini” cliffs. Just like the name suggests, they are a mini version of the Cliffs of Moher, though they are not that mini.

mini cliffs in ireland

After spending some time at the mini cliffs, we were taken to a restaurant for late lunch/early dinner. The food options are limited but everything was DELICIOUS! I had a mini Thanksgiving dinner that I still dream about sometimes! The desserts were amazing as well. People on this tour do have to pay out of pocket for their meals which is a downside.

day trip food Ireland day trip dessert ireland

After leaving the restaurant we made our way back toward Cork, making a stop at the Bunratty Castle. We made it back to Cork at around 6:30 at night.

You can use this link to sign up for a Viator account and get $10 off your next vacation activity!

English Market: We had researched prior to leaving and this seemed like a great idea. Unfortunately, we did not make it there in time. Our hosts described it as a small fish market which made it seem less appealing to us, though I wish we were able to check it out.

Transportation in Ireland

Transportation is very easy in Ireland. We did not rent a car as we are not old enough, however I don’t recommend renting a car if you are trying to plan a budget trip anyways. We got by perfectly with bus, train, and taki transportation!

Bus

There are city buses in major cities in Ireland. This city transport is very budget friendly (especially if you book slightly out of the city like we did). The bus fares differ depending on how many stops you are going and what time of the day it is. We found it to be more expensive during rush hour than it was mid-day.

We also used a long distance bus to get from Kilkenny to Cork (see below for more details). This ended up being a much longer journey than we though it would be. The driver was not very good which resulted in me feeling car sick

Train

This is by far the better choice for traveling a distance. We weren’t sure the exact times we would be taking trains so we waited to book. The train system in Ireland is very unpredictable and trains get canceled all the time (we experienced this).

Our plan was to take a bus from each city. However the railway construction being done during our trip forced us to change our plans for transportation from Kilkenny to Cork. I recommend buying train tickets online the night before so they don’t sell out!

Trains are also a great option to see the countryside! We saw a lot more greenery by train than we did by bus.

Taxi

We took taxis only when we had to because taxis seemed to be less budget friendly even when the fair was split 3 ways. We used takes only to and from the train station in Kilkenny, to and from the city center in Cork to get back to our Airbnb, and to get to the airport on the last morning of our trip in Dublin.

Why You Should Travel To Ireland

Ireland is a beautiful country. People are very friendly (mostly) and like to have a good time. The total cost of my trip was around $1,000! This is proof that budget friendly trips are possible! Even the most expensive factor (air transportation) is low right now! Ireland has beautiful sights to offer! The real question is why wouldn’t you travel to Ireland!?

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below or through my contact page!

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