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A budget-busting 24 hours in Dublin

by Carly Hacon | 24 May 2017

The fair city of Dublin is known for its folk, heavy-drinking locals and literary legends. The Irish capital can be a tourist trap and the Pound to Euro exchange rate isn’t great at the moment but here’s how to enjoy yourself, even if your bucket list has a budget.

Getting and there around: After landing from the 1hr25min Ryanair flight from Stansted Airport, I jumped on the Airlink. The shuttle service runs every 15 minutes and takes half an hour to reach central Dublin. Costing only €10 for a return ticket this undercuts private transfers and the extortion of big city taxi rates. Once arriving into the centre of Dublin, the most efficient form of transport is the Luas. The tram service takes you all over Dublin on its two lines at a fraction of the price of a taxi.

Where to stay: My station for the night was Jacob’s Inn on Talbot Street. With colourful sofas, scattered beanbags, dining area and games room Jacob’s is ideal for young travellers. The selling point of this abode is most certainly the roof terrace, four floors high with great views of the city – it’s a remarkable spot to admire Dublin’s beauty. As the locals would say, Jacob’s Inn is a grand location. It is 50 metres from Dublin’s central bus station, two minutes from Connolly Train Station and a short sprint from the Luas.

What to do: A walking tour is the best way to see as many of Dublin’s historic assets as possible within a short time. The three-hour tour I joined was set up by Jacob’s Inn and was led by comical and knowledgeable guides, starting at 10.10am. Why 10 past you may ask? The guides told me it was originally 10am, “but in Ireland everyone tends to be late”. The tour included the tales of Dublin’s violent past at Dublin Castle, scenic views from Abbey Bridge and the sad story of Somebody’s Child.

The Guinness Storehouse, located in South Dublin, is Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction and the hub of the black stuff. Being so popular, the globally recognised brewery always has a crowd of people at the big black gates. The experience starts at the bottom of the pint glass, revealing Guinness’ brewing history and ends with a spectacular view of Southern Dublin from the seven floor high rooftop Gravity Bar. The experience also offers interactive activities such as a recipe quiz, a flavour of their famous tasting room and learning how to pull the perfect pint.

Where to eat: Head to one of Dublin’s most unconventional but enjoyable establishments – The Hairy Lemon. Inside the 19th Century building is a quirky pub/restaurant, which is filled with years of memorabilia and even holds a sitting room suspended mid-air. It is also a buddy to a budget, offering hearty portions of delicious meals with little expense to the bank, like beef and Guinness pie with mash. Many film scenes were shot from the bar here using the snug counter, such as the classic Irish musical, The Commitments.

Nightlife: Being within the old cobbled streets of Temple Bar district was the highlight of my trip. It is this that would entice me to return to Dublin repeatedly. I now understand that the film and TV programmes really were telling the truth about Dublin’s magical and musical atmosphere. The ambience was created by the sound of folk singers playing Galway Girl and the eager audiences clapping along to the nostalgic rhythm. My overpriced spiced rum and coke was worth every cent to contribute to the rowdiness of the glorious crowds which the bar attracts daily.

However, if you wish to be led into the rabbit hole by a bunch of barking mad, local hosts who lived up to the stereotype of the heavy-drinking Irish, then I would recommend The Backpacker Bar Crawl. The meet-up gathers at the Mercantile Pub, on Dame Street, every evening at 9pm.

Carly Hacon is the friend that will never turn down an adventure but also one with a hectic schedule and little disposable income, so she tries to enjoy destinations the best she can on a budget. Along the way she’s learnt to say yes to generous offers (but be wary of those that are too generous) and to take her share of a free, well… anything. Scrimping at the sale rack and shopping in the reduced aisle at Asda doesn’t faze her, as long as she can feed her growing appetite to travel.

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