Dublin gets a lot of stick for being one of the most expensive cities in Europe, if not the world. Transport, admission fees, pints and food can all seem exorbitant for people visiting and might even put people off. What many people don’t know is that there are endless things to do in Dublin that won’t cost you a cent. From free museums, to beautiful parks and botanic gardens, to beaches, lighthouses and music gigs, if you know where to go you really can have an incredible time in Dublin on a very small budget!
This list was compiled thanks to a collaboration with some other bloggers here in Ireland along with my friends who have loved here for years and know all the best spots. Without them, this post would certainly not be as comprehensive as it is, so thanks to everyone who contributed!
20. Go to a Free Music Gig
Dublin is famous for its music, but that doesn’t mean you should have to pay to hear it. You can either go to the tourist trap bars in the Temple Bar region and listen to some free cheesy Irish music or head to some of the spots locals go to such as Sweeney’s on Dame street or Whelan’s up on Camden street. Both attract big numbers of music fans each week, and lots of great up and coming musicians. Doyles, near to Trinity College is another great option for free live music.
19. Search for Street Art
Dublin has some pretty amazing street art – some more obvious such as the murals in and around Temple Bar and the Italian Quarter, and others hidden away on back streets and down side alleys. You could dedicate an afternoon to doing a fun, and free, photo tour of Dublin to find all the best street art.
18. Go for a Cycle
Darren McAdam O Connell says:
“Cycle out along the canals and have a picnic on the lawn in the quad in Maynooth or in Phoenix Park where there is so much to do.” Note: Once you sign up to Dublin Bikes, the first half hour of each journey is free, This means you can virtually get anywhere in the city for free and bikes are the best way to get around!
17. Visit the Garden of Remembrance
This beautiful garden in the heart of the city was designed by Daithi Hanly and dedicated to the memory of all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom. The large sculpture by Oisin Kelly is based on the theme of the “Children of Lir”. The garden is intended as a place of quiet remembrance and reflection and is a beautiful place to stop by while in Dublin.
16. Check out the Irish Jewish Museum
Suggested by Lisa Iadevaia Devlin
Another of Dublin’s free museums,The Irish Jewish Museum stands on the site of Dublin’s Walworth Road Synagogue, which was once in the heartland of “Little Jerusalem,” the densely populated Jewish enclave off the South Circular Road. The area was once filled with Jewish kosher butcher stores, Jewish bakeries, Jewish grocery stores, Jewish tailors, Jewish bookstores and many other stores and businesses owned by Jews. It was actually opened by the Irish born former President of Israel Dr. Chaim Herzog on the 20th June 1985 during his State visit to Ireland.
15. Have a picnic at the National Botanic Gardens
This one is a little out of the city, but totally worth the half hour walk or short bus ride. Located about 3 km North of the city centre, the National Botanic Gardens are an oasis of calm and beauty, and like all the others, entry is free. A premier scientific institution, the gardens also contain the National Herbarium and several historic wrought iron glasshouses. A great place to go in the summer for a picnic or just to try and chase all the cheeky squirrels!
14. A Walk on Dollymount Strand
Mike O’Keeffe says:
“Go for a walk along Dollymount beach out in Clontarf, with the beautiful view of Dublin Bay, Howth Head and all the way out to Dun Laoghaire, followed by a stroll around St Annes park…great spot for a picnic.” The beach is over 5km long, so a round trip to the end and back would be a pretty great Sunday stroll. If you don’t feel like exercising, you could just spend a few hours watching the skilled kite surfers that flock here when the wind is right.
13. A walk in St Stephens Green
Rachel Hally says:
“If you’ve heard of Grafton street in Dublin then you will know about Saint Stephens Green. This is a very picturesque park in Dublin city centre. The park is gorgeous in spring and summer covered in many different types of colourful flowers. It’s a peaceful place found in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Dublin. It is the perfect place to take children to feed the ducks and swans or play in the grass or even have picnics. It is also a very peaceful place to lay in the sun with friends or read a book against a tree. It is a stunning place and of course it is completely free.”
12. See the wild deer in Phoenix Park
Eoin Kernan says:
“For my penny’s worth… go and visit the fallow deer in Phoenix Park. Yes, you can go to the Zoo just down the road and see lots of unusual animals, but at a price. For free, you can see 350 wild ‘Bambi’s’ in their own home, surrounded by wonderful parkland.”
11. Go for a stroll around the city centre
Katie Brennan says:
“There are so many beautiful walks to go on around Dublin. Killiney Hill, Dun Laoghaire pier, Marley Park, Dollymount Strand. It’s perfect on a lovely day! I also love wandering around the city centre and doing some window shopping on the weekends. There’s always people busking and performing and a real buzz in the air!”
10. Witness a Court Case
Fiona Sherlock says:
“If you’re lucky enough to have a few days off during the week, why not head down to see justice being administered in public? Most court cases are held in public (family hearings are usually In Camera), and a quick look at the legal diary will let you know what’s coming up.”
9. Check out the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art)
Lorna Garety says:
“The 17th century Royal Hospital Kilmainham is home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the entrance to which is announced by a fabulous giant sculpture of a hare banging a drum. In the 20th Century it fell into disrepair until restored by the State in 1984, its 300th Anniversary, and became the home of IMMA in 1991. It is now surrounded by avenues and ancient chestnut trees, dotted with sculptures from IMMA’s collection.”
8. View some art at the National Art Gallery
Stephen Hackett Says: “The National Art Galleryexhibits fine art from Ireland and around the world, has a pretty nice cafe and of course it’s free!! It’s also not too far from Trinity College.”
Giselle Campbell says: “National gallery great for kids too. Loads of free workshops, a tour pack and kids corners. Brought my son their last summer. He was only just 2 and we’d a great time!”
7. Host a ‘Supper Club’ instead of eating out
Karolina Badzmierowska says:
“On a sunny and warm evening in June of last Summer, we hosted our first Supper Club dinner. Some of you might be familiar with this concept; in a nutshell, think fine dining meets casual banter in the safety of your own surroundings. As you send out the invites to friends (or strangers), the only rules are the BYOB and BYOF. Try it yourselves, invite friends, or friends of friends, or strangers. Come up with a menu. Experiment, enjoy and have fun!”
6. Visit the dead at Museum of National History
Russell O Connor says:
“The Dead Zoo (aka Museum of Natural History), is a small building packed full of all of the excitement of nature. Its a great way to experience what animals are like up close without the fear of them eating you!”
5. Stop by The Little Museum
Dearbhla McCreesh says:
“The Little Museum on St Stephens green is fab. It’s not always free but there are times during the week when it is. It has lovely staff, interesting artifacts and tidbits..definitely worth the visit.” This museum is a real hidden gem in Dublin and captures the history of Modern Dublin like no other.
4. Walk to the South Wall Lighthouse
Vinnie Glennon says:
“Walk out to the South Wall lighthouse. It took 50 years to make it and few people know it.” While the wall built to shelter Dublin harbour wasn’t completed until 1795, the lighthouse was actually ready in 1768 and initially operated on candlepower, reputedly the first in the world to do so. The Great South Wall on which Poolbeg Lighthouse stands, extends from Ringsend over 4km out to sea. It was the world’s longest sea-wall at the time of it’s construction and remains one of the longest to this day in Europe.
3. Do some reading in the Chester Beaty Library
Described by Lonely Planet as not just the best museum in Ireland, but one of the best in Europe, this great free museum should be a must-see for anyone living in or visiting Dublin. Established in 1950, to house the collections of mining magnate, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, the Library is one of the premier sources for scholarship in both the Old and New Testaments and is home to one of the most significant collections of Islamic and Far Eastern artefacts.
2. Pay your respects at Glasnevin Cemetary
It might be a bit strange listing a graveyard as a top thing to add to your bucket list, but Glasnevin Cemetery is no ordinary cemetery. Almost 200 years old, over 1 million Dubliners have been laid to rest here and it is home to many historically notable monuments. The graves of many of Ireland’s most prominent national figures such as Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Collins, and Éamon de Valera can all be found here.
1. Enjoy a midnight picnic in the Temple Bar Square
Liane Hurray says:
“A fun thing to so is to have a midnight picnic on the square in Temple Bar to watch the ladies in high heels try to walk over the wet cobblestone on a night out!” Struggling girls aside, I really like this idea of having a midnight picnic. I bet there are lots of great spots around Dublin for an alcohol free midnight picnic!