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How to Spend Two Days in Dublin on a Budget

How to Spend Two Days in Dublin on a Budget

I recently just came back from a trip where I spent two days in Dublin.  And let me tell you, Dublin is awesome!  The trip was fast, time was tight as well as the budget.  So the only thing to do was to fit in as many things as possible to make the most of two days in Dublin.

It worked out that I had 3 nights with two full days so the first night was spent catching up with old friends I had met in Toronto and experiencing the Dublin nightlife and all it had to offer.  The city is bustling at night!  There were people everywhere, restaurants had long wait times, bars were packed and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves to the fullest.  I didn’t expect it to be so lively but rain or shine, Dublin nightlife does not sleep.  So after a good meal, a few drinks and dancing it was time to head back to the hostel to make the most of the time ahead to see as much as possible in Dublin in two days.

Day 1: Exploring Dublin City

The hostel I was staying at offered a free walking tour which is such a great way to see as much as possible in a short amount of time. You also meet people which is a plus if you are solo travelling.

The walking tour run through Generation Tours was amazing. The tour guides are great, funny, knowledgeable and take you to some of the best spots in the city.

A few key stops include:

  • Dublin Castle
  • Trinity College
  • Temple Bar
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • Ha’ Penny Bridge
  • The Spire of Dublin

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle has some very rich history behind it and is a must see in Dublin. The Castle was built in 1204 on a site previously settled by the Vikings and has been used as a fortress, prison, treasury and state of court under English and British ruling until it was given to the new Irish government in 1922.  Dublin Castle now serves as a government complex and major tourist attraction. – (source: wikipedia) 

castle, dublin, ireland
Dublin Castle
Dublin, castle, ireland
Dublin Castle

Trinity College

Trinity College can’t be missed on your two days in Dublin.  Founded in 1592, the college is an architectural wonder with its beautifully designed campus and old buildings.  If you have the time make sure to visit the Library of Trinity College which is home to The Book of Kells, the library’s most famous book.  The Book of Kells which contains four Gospels from the New Testament is believed to have been created around 800 A.D.  There’s a fee to enter the The Library of Trinity College on a tour which costs around 11-14 euros.  If you are opting to have a more budget friendly visit to the college, the campus is free to tour without entering the library. – (source: wikipedia) 

Temple Bar

You can’t head to Dublin and not stop for a pint at the local Temple Bar.  It’s a major tourist attraction in the city in the Temple Bar area. If you don’t drink alcohol, you can also stop for a non-alcoholic beverage or just a quick photo.  It’s great to have one or two drinks, but they are rather pricey so if you want to continue the pints head elsewhere otherwise your wallet will feel a lot lighter.

Temple Bar, Dublin
Temple Bar

Christ Church Cathedral

Another must-do is Christ Church Cathedral.  The church is believed to have been around since 1028 A.D. and is a top attraction in Dublin. – (source: wikipedia) 

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Church
Christ Church Cathedral

Take a Stroll On Ha’ Penny Bridge

Opening in 1816, this charming bridge was the first pedestrian bridge to cross the Liffey River.  Take a stroll across and admire the river views as one of the estimated 30,000 pedestrians to cross the bridge daily.

Bridge, dublin, ireland, hapenny
Ha’ Penny Bridge over the Liffey River

The Spire of Dublin

The Spire of Dublin sits in the heart of O’Connell Street and is one of the city’s famous monuments standing 120 metres tall.

Day 2: Cliffs of Moher Tour

With only two days in Dublin, I had to choose whether to see a few of the city’s other main attractions or do a day tour to see some other parts of Ireland.  I opted for the day tour as I wanted to see as much as possible and figured seeing some Irish countryside and ocean was more important than a Guinness tour.  One more day would have been perfect to fit it all in, but such was not the case.

The tour to the Cliffs of Moher was everything and more I thought it would be.  I booked with a fabulous company called Paddy Wagon Tours and the pick-up location was just outside the hostel. Bonus!  The cost of the tour and what they offered was totally worth the price at 40 euros and the whole tour lasted for about 12 hours.  Budget travel success!  The pick-up time starts around 7:30 am depending where your allocated spot is in the city and you don’t get dropped off until about 7:30 pm the same day.  Tours run daily and year round with weather permitting.  Our group got extremely lucky and the sun was out all day which made it perfect to see the Cliffs of Moher as sometimes it’s near impossible to get a good glimpse if it’s too cloudy.

The day starts with the bus heading out of the city and west for a few hours before you stop in the picturesque fishing coastal town of Kinvara where you get to see Dunguaire Castle from across the inlet.

After Kinvara the bus heads down the Atlantic coast for some breathtaking views of the western edge of Europe before stopping at the Mini Cliffs to get some great photos.  Ireland is also known for surfing and along the way you get to see one of the top beaches that surfers come to catch some waves from all over.

Next stop is Doolin, a coastal town on the way to the Cliffs of Moher where you stop for lunch at a great little pub which even offers its own brew.  (Make sure to have some coin on you as lunch is not included.)

After lunch the tour continues on to the main point of attraction and a gem of Ireland, The Cliffs of Moher where you spend 1.5 hours walking the cliffs for stunning coastline views.  If the weather is in favour, you can get some amazing photos. It almost feels like you are at the edge of the world, well you are at the edge of Western Europe!   There’s also a gift shop, small cafe and information centre on site.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Cliffs of Moher

Following the Cliffs of Moher the tour continues on to the last stop at Bunratty Castle before heading back to Dublin.  There is nothing quite like seeing a real castle up close and in Ireland there is no shortage.  Bunratty is beautiful to see and today is used often as a wedding venue.  We didn’t go inside unfortunately as it was late in the day, but taking it in from outside was still an amazing experience.

Bunratty Castle

After Bunratty, the bus heads back to Dublin arriving back around 7:30 pm.  Perfect time to treat yourself to a meal.  You are dropped off in a very central location with lots of pub and restaurant options around to fit your budget.

I absolutely loved the Cliffs of Moher tour and would have regretted not doing it and opting to spend the second day seeing more of Dublin.  The tour guide fills you in on so much history throughout the tour so you really learn a lot about Ireland and the coast line is beautiful, something I would not have seen.

If you only have two days in Dublin, I would suggest getting in as much as you can in the first day and doing a day tour outside of the city on the second.  As there are many day tour options available, do your research before going and see what calls to you the most.

What Else to See in Dublin?

If I had another day the other spots I would have definitely loved to see:

Guinness Storehouse  – If you are a fan of the traditional Irish beer Guinness, then head over to the Storehouse museum for a tour and a tasting.

Jameson Whiskey Distillery – For all the whiskey lovers!  Take a guided tour and learn the history of the famous Irish whiskey

St. Stephen’s Green – Beautiful outdoor green space in the city perfect for summer picnics.

Kilmainham Gaol – Old jail in Dublin filled with history dating back to 1778 during the rebellion to closing its doors in 1924 after the Irish Civil War.  Today it operates as a museum offering guided tours. – Wikipedia

Where to Stay on a Budget for Two Days in Dublin

As a budget traveller I always opt for hostels and book through www.hostelworld.com.  I stayed at Issac’s Hostel and it was a fantastic.  Extremely clean, free breakfast, friendly staff and the beds were comfortable.  It’s also centrally located and very accessible to major sightseeing spots.

What to Pack for Ireland in December

It can get really cold, wet and windy so a few suggested items to include in packing:

Warm jacket – pack down travel ones are great to save on space in your luggage, they are light and keep you warm.

Waterproof boots or shoes (good for walking)



Scarf – the bigger the better to double as a blanket on the plane


Good Camera  

Day Pack – something you can fold up is great for travelling and saving space

A few other items to pack:

  • Warm clothing – pants, sweaters, shirts
  • An outfit or two for a night out
  • Cash
  • Snack for day tours
  • Tablet or laptop for movies etc.

Have you been to Dublin?  What were your favourite things to do?



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