Getting to Ireland from London
Before arriving in Dublin, I sat down and researched of all the places and attractions that I would possibly like to visit. As I was only going to be in Dublin for three days, I tried to plan my days ahead so I could make the most of it without being rushed or running to get to places – although I pride myself on having organisational skills, time and I are literally the worst enemies!
I wanted to travel light and cheap and still have as much time as possible, so I decided to take an early flight to Dublin – 6:30am to be specific! With a return ticket being only £24, I found it to be a fantastic deal!
Without further ado, I went on Stanstead Express website and booked a return train ticket from London Liverpool Street station to London Stanstead airport and back. The tickets can be quite pricey sometimes, so I do suggest you book it ahead or consider taking a coach to the airport for just a fraction of the price. A return coach ticket could cost you around £8 if you book ahead, whilst a train ticket could be as much as £30.
The journey duration depends on the time of your travel, traffic, roadworks etc., but the train takes up to 45 minutes whilst the coach takes just about 80 minutes. But in this case, merely because of the ungodly hour that I decided to travel, taking the train seemed like the safest and most convenient option.
Flights & local airport costs: £24 + ( £8 coach or £30 train)
Take Me to the City of Dublin!
It was quite a short flight from London Stansted, as it was only about an hour long. I sat down, buckled up and ‘relaxed’ my eyes till the plane landed in Ireland! And for anyone still wondering, no I was not greeted with Irish folk music at the airport.
Arriving to Dublin for the first time can be very confusing, but people at the airport were extremely approachable, friendly and helpful – they knew that I was in need of help just by looking into my eyes. They helped a lot with guidance, suggestions and travel tips.
Having said that, I took their advice and got to the Airlink bus stop right off the airport doors, where I could take the 747 or 757 bus that goes directly into the city centre.
You can buy a single ticket to the city which costs €7 or a return ticket for €12 (return within a month).
Cutting down as much costs as possible, I booked a return ticket and got on the next bus to the city. I sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the journey as they drove us through amazing scenery and landmarks, including the famous and beautiful Ha’penny Bridge, Samuel Beckett Bridge and Liffey River! It took about 45 minutes to get to the final stop, Camden Street.
You can check out the Dublin Bus website for official Airlink timetable and cheaper online tickets, to and from the airport.
To and from the airport costs: €12
Accommodation in Dublin
After a lot of consideration and endless hours of accommodation browsing, I found the hotel rooms to be cheaper than renting an Airbnb flat.
I always have the tendency to book something as close to the city centre as possible, as I like to walk everywhere. The hotel I booked was called The Camden Hotel by theKeyCollections, which was a small, yet charming hotel which had a very ‘local’ vibe to.
It cost about €70 for two nights and it did not include any meals, but it was the most suitable deal as I would not have to pay any transportation fees. But if you do not mind using transportation, there are plenty of cheaper hotels around the city. Just always make sure to calculate your transportation fees to travel in the city daily.
My hotel was situated in Camden Street, which was the final stop of 757 bus. Camden Street is right off St. Stephen’s Green which is in the heart of the city centre.
You can use the search box below to find the cheapest and best deal that suits you.
I arrived at the hotel quite early as it was only a three minute walk from the bus stop. Unfortunately the check-in was not till 2pm, but the staff were more than happy to keep my bags and personal belongings in the luggage room till check-in time. They even gave me a map with things I could do in the meantime to kill some time and told me of tourists traps to avoid. Honestly, best hotel staff I have ever encountered!
Accommodation costs: €70 for 2 nights in the city centre (breakfast not included)
Note: A single bus fare costs €2.15 and you can pay by cash on the bus but will not be given any change. Alternatively, if you are planning to stay longer, you can get a Leap travel card and benefit from cheaper prices by downloading the app. Learn more here.
Rudaí Le Feiceáil… or “Things to See”
Without a doubt, I followed the advice from the hotel staff and went to a local place to try and have a traditional Irish breakfast once I had checked in. I am not going to lie, being a vegan comes with many dietary restrictions so finding a place to eat fresh off the plane, was not exactly a piece of cake. I walked into a local restaurant called Gerry’s Coffee Shop which looked very friendly and promising.
I was greeted by the owner to whom I told about my dietary restrictions. The owner was more than happy to accommodate my requests and even suggested of dishes that they could alter to make them 100% vegan – he even gave me a bit of a discount in the end! I ended up paying about €9 for a full vegan breakfast meal with a large real-fruit smoothie, which kept me going till the evening.
After being well fed, I was ready to embark on a journey around the area. It was only 7°C but it definitely felt extremely cold since it was windy, so I wore multiple layers. I zipped my coat(s!) up and stylishly whipped my winter scarf over my shoulder.
I decided to go through St. Stephen’s Green which is a public park. The park is stunning and it made my day as I could hear birds chirping, children laughing and I could see people reading or simply having a stroll. It made me feel calm and I could appreciate nature’s beauty whilst seeing statues and installations that were in the park, e.g. the statue that pays tribute to the victims of the Great Famine of Ireland. It was a great way to spend some time and gain a first experience of this beautiful city.
After a good walk around and a little shopping spree, I decided to get back to the hotel. It was a very safe and easy walk through the city, so I decided to head back to the hotel and see a few places on the way back:
Molly Malone Statue
Campus of Trinity College Dublin.
Most of the public museums in Dublin are free of charge, apart from specific exhibitions and galleries. When visiting the Trinity College Dublin, which is completely free to enter, I was told I have to pay to see the The Book of Kells Gallery. The Book of Kells is a grand library with a gallery of illustrations of Christian Gospels dating back to the 800AD.
There is a unique Harry Potter and Game of Thrones style to it, so if that is your thing I suggest you go and check it out. A single ticket was at the whopping price of €14, so I personally decided to skip it and explore the rest of the campus instead.
TIP: There was a rather large queue waiting to buy tickets and get in the library, so if you really want to go I suggest you pre-purchase your tickets online!
If you are into modern art like I am and care to re-discover your relationship with plastic, then a place I would really recommend is The Science Gallery. The museum is currently hosting an interesting combination of talks, panels and workshops tackling our complicated relationship with plastic.
There are videos, pictures, installations but also workshops that explore the various ways in which we depend on this material and how it could be responsible for our future. Ultimately, it is an interesting take as they explore how plastic is everywhere and suggest that something has to change, but also suggest that we could not possibly live without plastic. I found the workshops to expose a more sustainable approach to everyday tasks, along with offering plastic-free alternatives to cosmetics and packaging, and the chance to experiment with plastics for future prototyping.
The Science Gallery admission: Free
A Wee Bit O’ Shoppin’
Right off St. Stephen’s Green, you can find Grafton Street which is the epicentre of Dublin shopping. It has everything from high-end boutique shops to regular high street fare. St.
Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is also situated around the corner, which is a building with an eclectic mix of shops. Grafton Street is right in the city centre so it is full of what you expect to see in every shopping street around the world- buskers and street performers vying for your attention. And yes, to answer your question, most of them did perform a song by Ed Sheeran.
TIP: If you are also on a budget, I suggest you try Dunnes Stores. It is an Irish multinational retail chain that primarily sell food, clothes and household wares in discounted and affordable prices.
Continuing my shopping spree, I decided to go and buy something warm as I knew that it would only get colder when the sun goes down. I was advised by locals and hotel staff to go and shop at Penneys to benefit from good clothing at cheap prices.
Funny story – I thought that there would be plenty of Primark stores around since it is an Irish company, but to my surprise, I could not find any. And that is because Primark is actually called Penneys in Ireland. I did not know that and it definitely did make me feel a bit silly. You have been warned!
TIP: If you are visiting during the colder months I suggest you invest in a pair of thermal long johns and a thermal top – they can make a massive difference in keeping yourself warm! A pair of thermal bottoms and a thermal top at Penneys: €15.50
Oh the nightlife in Dublin! The nightlife is simply magical and filled with fun and joy, but the costs of alcohol? Not so much.
Shopkeepers depend on tourism, so going out without a couple cheeky pre- drinks could cost you a fortune. A pint of beer costs around €10, a mixer is at €15 and a cocktail could cost you up to €20.
There was this nightclub around the corner of my hotel, called Dicey’s. The hotel staff actually recommended that place as they described it to be very inclusive, full of life and lots of cheap cocktails.
I took their advice so I went to buy a cheap bottle of wine and got ready whilst sipping wine and dancing to my favourite electro-pop music playlist. The place was very easy to find but I was so gobsmacked when I got there; a massive queue of 20ish year old students waiting to get in, and when I say massive, think of the biggest airport passport control queue you have ever seen. Double that. Then double it once again. Never seen anything like that in my life!
With that being said, I decided not to spend my evening waiting outside in the cold and went to Temple Bar area instead. But if you do not mind a bit of waiting, I suggest you get there early and look as sober as possible to avoid being denied access into the bar!
The Temple Bar area consists of streets full of Irish pubs and bars with live music which is technically a haven for pub lovers. I am not going to lie, the area is packed with tourists so definitely expect to be approached by people trying to lure you into their pub or bar. You should also expect to pay at least €14 for a double mixer, but at least you get to enjoy live music with the locals.
If you are an individual that likes to randomly start conversations with strangers and know their story, then I would say that this is the place to do so – I found the Irish to be extremely friendly and just the right amount of chatty. Hopping from pub to pub in the area will give you the opportunity to meet all kinds of people and possibly enjoy a pint of Guinness with them.
Average cost of an alcoholic drink & cheap wine : €14 & €6
Dublin has managed to exceed all of my expectations and has got me yearning for more. It felt extremely safe for solo travellers and there is so much to do around that you will never run out of things to see. It was fun and enjoyable and the stereotype is real;
The Irish do know how to party!
The trip has been a great experience and I will definitely be back one day- possibly try and stay a bit longer next time?