Dublin, the vibrant heart of Ireland, isn’t really the cheapest city for tourists to visit. As you can expect from any capital city in Europe, the rates here from hotels and tours to essential commodities like food can be a little bit pricey. The costs will just keep on mounting if you’re planning to drink and party.
But just because Dublin isn’t cheap doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your trip without burning those much-cherished Euros. One of the best things about Dublin is it’s filled with extraordinary places and activities that don’t require opening your wallet.
Dublin architecture, for a start, is packed with charming buildings you can admire for free. The city also has plenty of green spaces like parks and botanical gardens, which are home to Dublin’s flora and fauna. For indoor attractions, visiting Dublin’s free museums, galleries, libraries, and other cultural destinations can be a great way to lose track of time while feeding the mind and soul with Ireland’s rich history and cultural heritage.
In this article, we’ll list down 10 free things to do in Dublin (that are actually worth doing) so you don’t bust your budget.
1. Travel back in time by wandering the national exhibits
Are you a history buff who’d love to see archaeological artifacts from prehistoric Ireland and Ancient Egypt dating from 7000 BC? Or a wildlife enthusiast who’d go crazy to find a zoological collection of more than 10,000 exhibits? One of the museums to include in your jam-packed itinerary is the National Museum of Ireland.
Whatever suits your fancy, The National Museum of Ireland has something special in store for you. It is comprised of four museums, and you can find three of them in Dublin. These include:
- Museum of Archaeology | Kildare Street, Dublin 2 (free admission)
- Museum of Natural History | Merrion Street, Dublin 2 (free admission but booking required)
- Museum of Decorative Arts & History | Collins Barracks, Dublin 7 (free admission)
2. Spend a day filled with art, literature, and culture
Do you have more time to explore other cultural attractions? Dublin is home to some of Ireland’s national treasures, from artifacts from hundreds of years ago to contemporary art pieces. While an extensive collection is housed in the National Museum of Ireland, there’s still a wide array of other museums, galleries, and even libraries worth checking out in the capital.
If you’re a lover of art and cultural heritage, you’d surely love to visit the following free attractions:
- The National Gallery of Ireland – houses the national collection of Irish and European art, with 2500 paintings and approximately 10,000 other works in different media.
- The Irish Museum of Modern Art – a museum of contemporary art, with free tours delivered by experienced guides 6 days a week.
- The Hugh Lane Gallery – the “first known public gallery of modern art in the world” was established by Hugh Lane, a celebrated art dealer, collector, exhibitor, and gallery director.
- The Chester Beatty Library – this library on the grounds of Dublin Castle contains a vast number of manuscripts, rare books, and other treasures from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.
3. Meet Phoenix Park’s Fallow Deer
Dublin takes pride in its Phoenix Park, the largest city park in Europe. The large park contains the beautiful Victorian People’s Flower Gardens, Áras an Uachtaráin (the home of Ireland’s president), Ashtown Castle, and other significant monuments. Phoenix Park is also home to Dublin Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the world.
Dublin Zoo, as you may expect, comes with a fee, If you want to meet animals without pulling out your wallet, you’d be thrilled to know that Phoenix Park is home to a couple of animals that simply roam freely around the 1,750-acre park. Taking the spotlight is the herd of majestic Fallow Deer, which has been living there since the 17th century.
4. Have a picnic in the park
While it’s not a hundred percent free (because you’ll have to buy your munchies), a picnic in the park is definitely a lot cheaper than sitting in a restaurant, cafe, or pub. Plus, Dublin parks allow you to enjoy a tranquil ambiance in a picturesque natural setting with the presence of local wildlife.
Aside from Phoenix Park, Dublin has other scenic parks and gardens to escape to for sumptuous serenity. Each park offers something different, from quiet, tucked away parklands focused on natural beauty to suburban parks with an extensive programme of activities for families.
- St Stephen’s Green
- Iveagh Gardens
- Ardgillan Castle
- St. Catherine’s Park
- Tymon Park
- Marlay Park
- Newbridge House
- St Anne’s Park
- Irish National War Memorial Park
You can make the travel costs even cheaper by finding an affordable hotel alternative in Dublin that’s near these natural attractions.
5. Take a self-guided street art crawl
It’s almost impossible to get bored in a city characterised by gorgeous architecture and historic buildings. For sure, walking around and taking photos of the landmarks and historic buildings are already included in your Dublin itinerary. But just to put a little spin on your usual sightseeing trip around the city, we’d recommend having a street art hunt,
Artists from around the world have left their mark on the different parts of Dublin. Dotted around Dublin are powerful sculptures and vivid murals, enlivening the walls, buildings, and the smallest of alleys. For a self-guided walking tour, you may check out certain hotspots including (but not limited to) the Temple Bar district, Italian Quarter, Portobello, Drury Street, Tivoli Car Park, and Richmond Street.
6. Snap some “doortraits” or door portraits
Dublin’s iconic architecture that’s composed of red brick houses and vibrantly painted doors with elegant knockers can be traced back to the 18th century. You can find a goldmine of these architectural gems along Henrietta Street, Leeson Street, Merrion Square, and Fitzwilliam Square.
7. Catch some free music
No need to attend a paid concert just to watch a spectacular performance — free music is everywhere in Dublin! Simply hang out on Grafton Street or Henry Street any time of the day. Here, you can find talented buskers and street performers.
As the sun sets, you can enjoy free music in the pubs throughout the city, ranging from traditional Irish music sessions to participatory sing-alongs.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a foodie and travel buff who enjoys writing and sharing articles about travel and money-saving. You can count on her when it comes to hacks on accommodation, airfare, dining, and fun yet cheap ways to get around the city. To know more about budget travel and affordable hotel alternatives, visit DCU Rooms.