(Spoiler Alert!) It doesn’t cost a million dollars. It doesn’t even have to cost several thousands of dollars. Traveling to Ireland can be expensive, if you make it expensive, but it can be very affordable too. If you plan a vacation every year, then you can likely afford a trip to Ireland.
We tracked all of our expenses for a 11 day trip in September of 2012 to give you a real life example of the cost of a trip to Ireland. If you are seriously considering traveling to Ireland, but don’t know if you can afford it, this was written for you.
This was our actual spending. No holding back. We are being completely honest, putting ourselves and our spending out there for your benefit.If you get to the numbers and want to scream out I can never save that!!! Don’t worry! This was a super special trip for us and we specifically saved extra to cover our expensive splurges. You can make it a much cheaper experience and we explain how at the bottom of this post.
Let’s Get to it: The Itinerary
Day 1-2: Stayed at Orchid House Bed and Breakfast in Fanore, Co. Clare
- Fanore Beach
- Burren National Park
- Poulnabrone Dolmen
- Dysert O’Dea Castle and Grounds
- Lough Bunny
- Loop Head Drive
Day 3-4: Stayed at Corrib House in Galway City, Co. Galway
- Walking and Shopping in the city
- Galway Cathedral
- Spanish Arch
- St. Nicholas’ Cathedral
- Galway Museum
- Dunguaire Castle
Day 5-6: stayed at Man of Aran Cottage on Inis Mor, Co. Galway
- Cycled the Island
- Seven Churches
- Dun Aengus
- Clochan Na Carraige
- Seal Colony
Day 7-8: Stayed at Rosleague Manor in Letterfrack, Co. Galway
- Walking and Shopping in Clifden town
- Driving the Sky Road
- Kylemore Abbey and Gardens
- Climbing Diamond Hill
Day 9-10: Stayed at Stella Maris in Keel, Co. Mayo
- Killary Harbor
- Walking Westport town
- Atlantic Drive
- Minaun Heights
- Grace O’Malley’s castle
- Keem Bay
- Abandoned Village
Day 11: Stayed at Bunratty Courtyard, Bunratty, Co. Clare
- Galway City
- Bunratty Castle Banquet
What We Spent to Travel to Ireland September 2012
(US/Euro exchange 1.3 Dollars to 1 Euro; 2 Adults):
We flew United Airlines. The total cost of two economy tickets was only $115.20. But we had to cancel our flight in June and reschedule for September. So in turn, we had to eat a hefty$300.00 change fee.
You may ask how was the cost of two international tickets with multiple legs only $115.20? We used United miles to pay for the bulk of the ticket price, 120,000 points. By applying for two credit cards (United Mileage Plus and Chase Sapphire Preferred), we were able to acquire 180,000 points, which was more than enough to cover the tickets.
Obtaining airline miles through credit card applications is not for everyone. For us, it is a great option. We have great credit and always pay off any charges on a card. For more information about points acquisition (and how it works with your credit, not against), go to Help Me Travel Cheap. Craig has a fantastic free service that helps decide which card will help you travel where you want to go.
Car Rental: $1002.69 (€771.30)
We rented an automatic Nissan Micra, an economy car, for 11 days from Dan Dooley at Shannon Airport. We pre-paid the cost of the vehicle including all compulsory charges (basic insurance, taxes, and fees), excess insurance (to bring our deductible to 100 Euro), and one extra driver. By using the coupon code “dochara” we received a 5% discount.
The only major advantage to purchasing from Dan Dooley is knowing that we wouldn’t have any other charges upon arrival. We have used a variety of car rental companies and had generally good experiences. The most important tips here are to be informed about what you are paying for before you leave the parking lot, check for all damages, and get the excess insurance.
Gas: $157.43 or (€121.10)
Gas (or petrol) is expensive in Ireland. It is sold by the liter rather than the gallon. We drove well over 700 kilometers (430+miles) and had 2 fill-ups (one at the start of the trip and one in the middle of the trip).
Bicycle Rental: $39.00 (€30.00)
We also rented bicycles on Inis Mor. If you are going to go to any of the Aran Islands exploring by bike is the best option. Just don’t lose your rental agreement slip or you will have to pay the refundable €20 deposit like we did. Oops!
Parking: $26.00 (€20.00)
While in Galway City we parked our car in a city lot which cost €4/day. We also had to pay for parking at Rossaveal Ferry Car Park after returning from Inis Mor.
Accommodations: $1420.61 (€1092.78)
We stayed at some absolutely beautiful places in the west of Ireland. We always choose at least one splurge location each trip. This time we picked several, which extended our budget much more than usual.
- Orchid House: $221.00 or €28/person/night for three nights; Grade: A+
- Always reserve a room for the night before your arrival so you can rest for a couple hours in the morning after your flight (you may even get a discount like we did on the first night since you won’t be there until morning).
- Fantastic location directly across from the ocean with the Aran Islands in view, nicely furnished rooms and a great overall value.
- Best part: The hosts and the breakfast room for great chats with new friends.
- Corrib View House and Tea Rooms: $260.00 or €50/person/night for two nights; Grade: A+
- Amazing location, delicious food, luxurious accommodations and free wireless.
- Best Part: The food!! It was so good we decided to come back for lunch at their Tea Room (twice!). The water also made a distinct impression. It was flavored with fresh mint, lemon and lime…yumm!
- Man of Aran Cottage: $208.00 or €40/person/night for two nights; Grade B
- Thatched cottage in the middle of Inis Mor with rustic accommodations and delicious food.
- Best Part: The food! While breakfasts are always included, Maura makes the best dinners around and only available to guests of the cottage.
- Rosleague Manor: $432.61 or €166.39/room for two nights; Grade: A
- Beautiful Irish manor house with lovely gardens, tasteful suites and gorgeous views of the Connemara Mountains.
- Best Part: The sitting room with a crackling peat fire, grandfather clock ticking away, and wireless. It doesn’t get much better than that. Although, the amazing service we received when we realized we had a flat tire was as a close second.
- Stella Maris: $208.00 or €40/person/night for two nights; Grade: B-
- A rather large bed and breakfast in downtown Keel on Achill Island with nice views of the cliffs and beach.
- Best Part: The view from our bedroom window of the Minaun cliffs and a short walk to the only couple of restaurants in Keel.
- Worst Part: Beware of the over the top furniture and lilac candles in main areas. These can be a little off-putting, but the rooms are nice and really not worth your avoidance if you are not allergic to floral scents.
- Bunratty Courtyard: $91.00 or €35/person/night; Grade: A
- Perfect B & B for the night before your flight home out of the Shannon airport. Spacious rooms, great breakfasts and within walking distance of Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
- Best Part: The hosts. We have stayed three times and they have remembered us every time. Always asking how we are doing and generally catching up until the next time.
Food and Drink: $535.76 (€412.12)
Every day we had breakfast provided by our B&B. Most of the time they are so filling we don’t eat until much later in the afternoon or early evening. We do however buy some snacks to eat in case we get hungry on the road. Of course dinner is then gobbled up most every night. Food almost always consists of delicious pub grub: soups, stews, chips (fries) or pies (savory and sweet).
We don’t drink too much, but our favorite treat in Ireland is Bulmers, a delicious hard cider that comes in apple or pear. The average cost for a drink depends on where you go. In big towns or tourist bars it will be more expensive. Off the beaten path places with the locals are usually better bets for a good deal. It depends on the drink, but expect to pay three to five euros per glass. Always remember the more you drink, the more expensive your trip!
Entertainment/Attractions: $194.35 (€149.50)
We did plenty of things while in Ireland, but most of them did not cost a penny, such as hiking Diamond Hill or walking towns and beaches. Below are the items we did purchase for two adults.
- Dysert O’Dea Castle: $13.65 (€10.50)
- Dunguaire Castle: $15.60 (€12.00)
- Galway City Museum Donation: $1.95 (€1.50)
- Buskers on Shop Street Galway Donation: $2.60 (€2.00)
- Dun Aengus (Student Rate): $2.60 (€2.00)
- Kylemore Abbey and Gardens: $32.50 (€25.00)
- Bunratty Banquet: $125.45 (€96.50)
Souvenirs: $267.84 (€206.03)
It is difficult to go to Ireland without wanting to buy everything in sight. We refrain and try to remember our pictures are usually most treasured souvenirs. However, we gravitate towards books, woolen items, and of course chocolate.
Miscellaneous: $151.32 (€116.40)
Emergencies do happen, even in Ireland. This time that meant replacing a flat tire, paying for toilets, and buying new umbrellas.
Total Ireland Travel Expenses (US $):
- Transportation: $1640.32
- Accommodation (12 nights): $1420.61
- Food & Dink: $535.76
- Entertainment/Attractions: $194.35
- Souvenirs: $267.84
- Miscellaneous: $151.32
Do you really, really want details? Click here to download every Infinite Ireland expense for September, 2012 in PDF format. Listed is every restaurant, toilet, flat tire, B&B, etc., and how much it cost us.
Simply put, we spent a lot on Ireland for 11 days. You don’t have to spend that much! Please know, you don’t have to spend that much!!! We didn’t budget. We tracked, but didn’t add expenses until we returned home. We ate when we were hungry, bought souvenirs when we were inspired, and stayed at places we knew we would love.
On our first few trips, we absolutely budgeted. We tracked and worried if we could afford it. We have experience on all ends of the spending spectrum and learned how to scrimp and save every penny to afford those extra special experiences.
However, every time we go we learn new things (or are reminded) that help us better manage our money. These are some of the lessons we learned this time around.
- Pay attention to your documents: if you have coupons use them, if you put a rental deposit down–don’t mislay the slip.
- If you paid for all day parking but leave early, pass it on. Give your ticket to the person searching for a spot.
- Don’t leave your umbrellas in the room–you might end up spending money on new ones just for the day.
- Book early if you can. Originally, we were leaving in early spring, but illness pushed back our plans till September, which means we booked our car later than usual and spent a little more than we have in the past.
How Much You Budget for Your Trip to Ireland?
When beginning to plan their trip to Ireland, most travelers have no idea what the middle of the road averages are per day. You could spend much more or a lot less than the estimates below.
This is an average cost of a seven day trip to Ireland for two adults renting a car at 1.3 dollars for every euro (adjust according to the current exchange rate). Keep in mind, your airfare, car rental and accommodation prices could fluctuate depending on where you are departing from and when you book.
Extra Tip: Going for longer than a week? Add $150.00/day.
- Airfare from NYC or BOS: $1500.00
- Car Rental (Automatic with Excess): $525.00
- Accommodations: $637.00 (€35/person/night)
- Food: $369.00 (€40.5/day without drinks)
- Entertainment/Attractions: $118 (€13/day)
- Souvenirs: $100.00 (€77)
- Miscellaneous: $250 (€192)
Grand Total: $3499.00
Remember this is a rough estimate for an average (read: you can spend much less or much more if you like) trip for two. You can maximize your dollar more than this with smart savings, such as 3 or more nights in one location, self-catering rentals, Groupon coupons, pre-paying attractions online, and so many other ways.
You can make your Ireland trip affordable. We hope this gives you a base line to stop dreaming and start planning your first trip to Ireland.
Have you tracked your expenses in Ireland before? How much have you spent? How much have you saved? We would love to hear from you!
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