I have traveled to Ireland multiple times and I’ve managed to see many of the highlights of this charming island nation, including bustling Dublin, the Ancient East, the Dingle and Kerry Peninsulas, the stunning Cliffs of Moher, and the beauty of Northern Ireland. I’ve also helped many families plan trips to Ireland back in my days of a travel advisor. Needless to say, all this trip research, both personal and professional, has helped me wrap my head around how much a trip to Ireland costs for a family.
Below is an outline of an Ireland trip budget that families can use when planning their visit to Ireland. This Ireland trip budget includes the average cost of flights, approximate cost of accommodations in Ireland for families, how much to expect to pay for a rental car or driver, cost of activities and experiences, food costs, and tips on when to go to save money. Fortunately, with the right planning, travel in Ireland can be more affordable than other European destinations.
How Much Does a Trip to Ireland Cost?
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I have based this Ireland vacation budget on the pricing for two adults and two children between the ages of 6-11, traveling from the United States in the summer months, and spending nine nights in Ireland.
For purposes of this post, I used a typical family vacation itinerary to Ireland that focuses on exploring Dublin and western Ireland. This budget is based on spending three nights in Dublin, three nights in Killarney (southwest Ireland), and three nights in Galway (due west of Dublin).
The bottom line is that a nine night trip to Ireland for a family with two adults and two young children in the summer costs an average of $9,140 or $254 per person, per day. But read on to see the budget breakdown and tips and ideas for savings that I used when planning my trips to Ireland, and I’ve also made recommendations on what I think is worth splurging on based on personal experience and feedback from clients.
You can easily swap Western Ireland for Southern Ireland or focus on Northern Ireland. These changes would only have a small impact on cost, as prices across Ireland and Northern Ireland are fairly consistent. Ireland’s currency is the Euro (though Northern Ireland uses Great British Pounds). I have converted all prices to U.S. dollars in this post.
Ireland Airfare Costs
Airfare is one of the biggest areas of cost savings for a trip to Ireland when compared to other European destinations. In fact, many people end up taking a vacation to Ireland solely because they snagged a great deal on airfare. But before you book that flight, here are a few things to be aware of.
Some of the best deals on airfare to Ireland come from budget airlines, like Play Airlines or Norse Airlines. The national carrier of Aer Lingus is a good “happy medium” to consider.
You can also look at flights in and out of Shannon Airport. Shannon is located on the west coast of Ireland and has many arrivals and departures to the US daily. Shannon is only a one-to-three hour drive from many of the major countryside regions that people want to visit, like Killarney, Limerick, Galway, and Connemara.
Utilizing this airport saves you from backtracking to Dublin at the end of the trip to fly home (and can ultimately save you money in another night of accommodation, another day of car rental, etc.) It is also much easier to deal with than Dublin, but you can still pre-clear U.S. immigration.
In the summer months, families can expect to pay about $500-900 per person in the summer. In the shoulder season of spring and fall, you may find deals for less from major U.S. hubs (just avoid the St. Patrick’s Day and Easter holidays). Another huge budget saver: consider visiting in winter.
Irish weather is often cold and wet year-round, but it rarely gets below freezing there. Meaning if you dress properly, you can still enjoy the outdoors even in winter, when flight prices drop.
When looking for airfare deals, I highly recommend signing up for a membership to Going, which will send you airfare deal alerts for the cities that you are interested in.
Total airfare cost: $2,700 ($675 per person)
Irish Accommodations Cost
A trip to Ireland is a time to forego the nondescript corporate hotel chain in favor of friendly accommodation options that immerse your family in Irish hospitality. Consider booking a stay in a rural bed and breakfast, a farm stay, or a cozy cottage rental.
In general, basic four-star accommodation in Ireland is around $200-350 per night in the summer months, and that includes properties in central Dublin. The caveat is you must plan ahead: most properties have a limited number of rooms that can comfortably sleep four, and these are often booked months in advance.
Once those are gone, you’ll have to book two rooms, doubling your accommodation costs. I’ve helped many clients in the spring for summer travel who had to pay $400-500 each night at a hotel that was half that amount a few months earlier because of this.
If you do opt for a more rustic experience, even if just for a night or two, you can easily find options in the three-star quality range for around $100-150 a night. Rooms will be basic, but clean. On-site amenities will be limited (probably just a small breakfast room and very limited front desk staff), but the service is typically still very friendly.
If your budget is flexible, do consider splurging on a night or two in a five-star castle hotel, like Adare Manor, Ashford Castle, or Dromoland Castle. Summer prices for a family room at these properties range from $1,000-$2,000 per night, so it does come with a hefty price tag but the experience is so memorable.
That said, one of my favorite money-saving tips is that the premier castle hotels (like those mentioned above) often have more budget-friendly sister properties on site. Like the Inn at Dromoland Castle and the Lodge at Ashford Castle, where you can still get a taste of the experience but for hundreds of dollars less per night. Guests at these properties are typically still allowed to utilize many of the on-site amenities at the castle (be advised that many activities are an extra cost, though).
Total Accommodation cost: $3,150 ($350 x 9 nights)
Car Rental/Transportation Costs
Driving in Ireland is intimidating, but I also find it one of the best ways to explore the country as it allows you to go at your own pace and make some hidden discoveries of your own. With children, it also means you have the flexibility to stop when you want, or let the kids sleep off some jetlag in the backseat on longer travel days.
Do expect to pay a bit of a premium for an automatic car, and be sure to reserve one well in advance as manual cars are more prevalent in Ireland. But the ease of an automatic is definitely worth it.
Check in with your credit card company to determine what level of insurance coverage they provide on car rental bookings abroad. The odds that you’ll have a little fender bender with a stone wall on a narrow road isn’t that rare for American drivers!
If you’re not comfortable driving on the opposite side of the narrow, twisty roads, then consider booking a private driver. This can easily start at $700 per day so you’ll need to budget accordingly. One way to keep costs down is to utilize public transportation for your point A to point B travel journeys.
Another cost-saving tip: don’t pick up your rental car until the day you depart Dublin. Dublin is relatively small geographically, so you can easily explore on foot and through a few taxi rides during your time there.
Check rates on Car Rentals in Ireland from Auto Europe
Total transportation cost: $1,000 (including 6 days of car rental and a few taxis/public transportation services)
Food Costs in Ireland
Nearly all hotels include a hearty Irish breakfast in the cost of accommodation, so I encourage families to fuel up on that meal. A light lunch could easily be $10 per person each day at casual spots, allowing you to splurge on a heartier and nicer dinner.
Take full advantage of the local food movement that is revolutionizing Irish cuisine. Allocate $20-30 per person for dinner, more if you indulge in a fine dining restaurant (particularly in hotels.) In general, budget around $160-175 each day, possibly more if you know your family prefers more upscale dining.
Total food cost: $1,440
Tours and Activities
This is the most challenging aspect of budgeting for a trip to Ireland, in part because it’s so personal to each family and their travel style. In general, activity costs will be a bit higher while in Dublin, when you want to do more sightseeing and will likely pay more in entrance fees. (Find out 5 free things to do in Dublin.) I would highly recommend a visit to the EPIC Museum, Trinity College’s Book of Kells exhibition, and maybe a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. (See my 3 day Dublin itinerary.)
Fortunately, activities in rural Ireland are practically free, especially if your family loves the great outdoors. Plan to do a lot of hiking, some castle visits, etc. Entrance fees to major sites will be less than $20 per person, and many are free or only charge for parking.
If you do want to splurge on a few special experiences, I’d suggest a falconry course, an archery lesson, or maybe an Irish dancing class. For private experiences, expect to pay $250-$550 for these half-day activities.
Total Activity cost: $850
Total Cost of a Trip to Ireland: $9,140 (for a family of four for nine days)
This is below the per day budget that is the norm for families traveling at a four-star level in other parts of Europe, which is why I feel Ireland is more of a bargain compared to mainland Europe.
And I also think families can travel to Ireland for under $8,000 in total if they fly a budget airline and do more basic accommodations and fewer pricier activities. That said, if you want to travel in luxury, with castle stays and private drivers throughout, it’s easy for the total cost to rise well above $10,000.
|Tours & activities||$ 850|
|The total cost of a trip to Ireland for 4 people, 9 days||$9,140|
Visiting Ireland? You may also be interested in…
- 3 Days in Dublin
- Stops on the Coastal Causeway in Northern Ireland
- Game of Thrones sites in Northern Ireland
- Things to do in Waterford, Ireland
- Ireland travel tips
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Tamara Gruber is the Founder and Publisher of We3Travel. A former marketing executive and travel advisor, Tamara is an award-winning travel writer and recognized expert in family travel. She is also the publisher of YourTimetoFly and the co-host of the Vacation Mavens travel podcast.