The first message I usually receive when people find Ireland Family Vacations is “How much does a trip to Ireland cost?”
And I feel badly when I tell them, “It depends.”
Today's podcast is brought to you by my book Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams, a step-by-step guide to planning YOUR perfect vacation in Ireland.
I begin at the beginning- when is the best time to visit Ireland?– and guide you through every aspect of your trip: flights, transportation, lodging, attractions, food, and even how to save money.
Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams is available in print, filled with beautiful color images, or exclusively on Amazon Kindle in digital form (and available in the Kindle Unlimited library!). Both books include access to an online resource with updated information, downloads, and even more tips!
What is the Cost of an Ireland Vacation
There is no ‘one size fits all' answer. Everything from your airfare and accommodation choices down to the things you see and do play into your Ireland trip cost.
Average daily cost of an Ireland vacation €65- €150 ($80 – $185 / currency conversion 2/25/2021)
The Ireland Vacation Cost Question You Should Be Asking
Instead of asking “How much does a trip to Ireland cost?” turn the question around – ask “How much can I spend on my Ireland vacation?”, and then break it down to see if you can plan you dream vacation to Ireland on the amount you have to spend.
Planning an Ireland Vacation Budget
Your 3 largest Ireland vacation expenses:
- Airfare. Tips for booking your flight to Ireland.
- Accommodation. Quick guide to Ireland lodging.
- Car rental & insurance (don't forget tolls, parking & fuel). Everything you need to know about car rental in Ireland.
Other Ireland Expenses
You will eat really well in Ireland – but those costs can add up! Here are a few tips to rein in that dining budget.
- Choose accommodations that provide a “Full Irish” breakfast. Yes, it can be a lot of food but a hearty breakfast can fuel you through mid-afternoon.
- Purchase local breads and cheese for a yummy afternoon snack.
- Eat your evening meal unfashionably early. Early bird specials usually end around 7pm but can save you up to 25% on your meal.
- Take advantage of local deals. You'll find both Groupon Ireland and LivingSocial – Ireland to have loads of tasty deals. Tip: be sure to check all locations you will be visiting for deals!
- Plan a few picnics. You'll find plenty of grocery stores as you travel. Grocery shopping is fun in Ireland- so many different items and brands!
- If you have a self catering cottage plan breakfast and dinner ‘in' and pack lunch or snacks to take with you, leaving room in your budget for pub evenings and a few nice meals.
Knowing where you want to go and the sites you wish to see comes in really handy as you plan your budget. Even a loose itinerary makes it easier to search for discount cards and free events & attractions.
- If you plan for 2.5 days (or more) in Dublin, the Dublin Pass offers entry into the most popular attractions- including the Dublin Zoo and Guinness Storehouse, queue bypassing in other locations, as well as free gifts and discounts and 24 hour transportation on the fun hop on/ hop off bus. Check out my tips for saving time and money with the Dublin Pass.
- The OPW Heritage Pass can be a great money saver if you plan to visit sites owned by the Office of Public Works. The OPW card does not include sites in Northern Ireland, but does have some Dublin sites (so check it against the Dublin Pass if you are considering both).
- The Cliffs of Moher are not included in the OPW program but do offer a discount if you book your ticket online at least one day in advance.
- Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is one of the most popular attractions in western Ireland. Shannon Heritage manages this site- and many others. Check the Shannon Heritage website for attractions, special offers and to purchase tickets online.
- For independently owned and managed locations be sure to check their websites for any savings.
- If you are planning to stay in a single location for a few days find the village or county website to check for festivals and small local attractions. This is a great way to get the real flavor of Ireland and hang out with the locals!
Souvenirs & Gifts
Of course you want to bring back something fabulous. But think about what you really want. So many souvenirs are broken or lost so quickly. Make purchases that will be enjoyed longer than a few weeks. Unless it's food. Food is never a bad souvenir!
- A nice Aran Sweater runs about €100-200. I consider this completely worth the cost as, well cared for, it will last for years.
- Bunratty Mead in a stoneware jug is a terrific souvenir. After the mead is gone, the jug looks great on a shelf.
- Hand blown glass shops are great for big and little one of a kind trinkets. Costs vary by item but you can find a beautiful vase for under $50.
- A really popular gift for family and friends are Butler's Chocolates. Especially the Irish Cream or Whiskey laced varieties. A plus: they travel quite well. A box of chocolates can be found for about $15- and you can pick these up at Duty Free in the airport!
- If you happen to visit Galway, a claddagh ring is meaningful and beautiful. (You can get them all over Ireland, but legend says they originated in the village of Claddagh in Galway.) Silver rings or necklaces will cost less than gold and costs will range from high to low depending on size and quality.
- Your favorite souvenirs will be your photos. Most mobile phones take quite good photo now, but you may decide to invest in a better camera. When you return home create a brilliant photo book to remember your amazing trip!
What About Ireland Vacation Packages
Ireland vacation packages can be really enticing. But you really need to read the fine print to be sure you are getting what you think you are getting.
Before buying an Ireland vacation package you want to review 4 things:
- The terms. What is included, what is extra, how is the package priced, and what are the dates.
- Transportation. Consider departure airport as well as how you will be getting around while in Ireland.
- Accommodation. Is it set or will you be using vouchers?
- Location. If accommodation is set, are they in an area you want to visit? How far to/ from the airport?
Top 3 Ways to Save Money on an Ireland Vacation
- For self-drive savings use my link on your car rental from Irish Car Rentals – code IFV saves 10%
- Travel in the slower seasons. June, July, and August are the busiest- and most expensive- months to travel in ireland.
- Eat in! Take advantage of the Full Irish Breakfast, grab easy to eat items for a picnic, and dine early in restaurants.
Top 3 Splurges in Ireland that are Worth Every Penny
- A castle stay. You may pay a few hundred Euro for a single night but the level of luxury and service is truly second to none. My top recommendations: be lord of the castle at Knappogue Castle (County Clare), experience the ‘best of the best' at Ashford Castle (County Mayo), or the tranquil escape of Lough Eske Castle (County Donegal).
- A hawk walk. Falconry was the ‘sport of kings' and it's an experience you aren't able to enjoy in very many places. My favorite falconry experience is with Adare Country Pursuits at Adare Manor (County Limerick), but we have also had terrific experiences at Mount Falcon, Westport House, and Ashford Castle (County Mayo).
- A driver guide. Whether you hire one for a day (perfect for day trips from Dublin or tours around the most scenic places) or for your entire trip, an experienced driver guide with a comfortable vehicle is the ultimate way to see- and learn more- about Ireland. Learn more about my recommended driver guide service, Ireland Chauffeur Travel (and get my exclusive discount!)