COVID has been a major spanner in the works for our travel plans, to say the least, and continues to be. Despite things getting moving again, fluctuating cases, quarantining measures and vaccination restrictions mean it may be some time before we reach normality when travelling abroad.
In the meantime, we still want to seek out a sense of adventure – explore new sites, discover new places, or soak up some rays, and all the better if we can do this all on a budget!
So, whether the current circumstances mean travelling abroad is just too difficult for you right now, whether it’s not your cup of tea or if you are now keen on the idea of a holiday at home, here are the 7 best budget staycations in Ireland. Well, what are you waiting for?
The South East of Ireland
Arguably one of Ireland’s most gorgeous historic cities, Kilkenny will definitely satisfy those looking to learn about Ireland’s vast history.
The Metropole offers a prime location at an equally prime price. Located right in the centre of Kilkenny, it is a mere 550 yards away from Kilkenny Castle, with parking facilities available, complimentary WiFi in public areas, and private bathroom facilities. All of this for just over 80 euros a night.
Nearby, to get your dose of local history, you can explore St Mary’s Cathedral, an early English Gothic-style cathedral. It is one of Kilkenny’s most famous landmarks, located on the highest point in the city. Why not stop by Black Abbey whilst you’re at it, one of Kilkenny’s oldest churches, originally established in 1225.
For a little bit of peace and quiet during your city stay, Kilkenny Castle Park offers acres of grounds to explore, boasting fountains, shrubbery, an ornamental lake, and even a playground to occupy the kids!
And, best of all, these activities won’t cost you a pretty penny, in fact, they’re all completely free. After all, we promised you the best budget staycations. All mentioned activities in these locations are free unless stated otherwise, providing you with the best options, on a budget!
Cork and Kerry
Located in County Kerry, Killarney is a popular tourist destination and not one you’ll want to miss. Surrounded by mountains, lakes, and woodland trails, it’s not hard to believe that Killarney is one of Ireland’s greatest natural beauties. For this reason, Killarney is perfect for those who wish to immerse themselves in nature (and don’t mind getting a blister or two in the process!)
Whilst you’re here, why not fully surround yourself in the natural Irish landscape? There are multiple caravan and camping sites near Killarney for a cheap stay in this gorgeous destination. The most popular is Fleming’s White Bridge Caravan and Camping Killarney Holiday Park. From just 31 euros a night from June-August for up to 2 adults, you can park your motorhome, caravan, and car, or tent and car, in the middle of the Southwestern countryside, with WiFi, electricity, gas, and VAT all included (weekend rates may differ).
Whilst you’re there, visit Killarney National Park. Part of the iconic Ring of Kerry – the scenery here is unlike anything else. Pull your hiking boots up because you won’t be short of hikes to trek. The 4.5km Torc Waterfall loop hike is regarded as one of the best. Or check out Ladies’ view, a popular lookout point in the Ring of Kerry overlooking the stunning Irish countryside.
- Ballycotton – Cork’s forgotten gem
The end (or start) point of one of the country’s most iconic coastal routes, the Wild Atlantic Way, discovering the picturesque town of Kinsale is a must on your staycation getaway.
Why not start your trip by heading out to the Old Head of Kinsale? It has one of the most amazing loop trail hikes Ireland has to offer, lasting 2 hours and around 6km in length. Along the walk, you can stop by Old Head Lighthouse, which has been dated back to the 1600s, with views overlooking the coast.
Staying close to the shoreline, check out Charles Fort. Located 2 miles from the centre of Kinsale, it was originally built to protect the harbour from naval forces and remains one of the best bastion forts in Europe. You can either reach it by car or walk the coastal path, taking 1 and a half hours with spectacular views. Admission won’t cost you an arm and a leg – only 5 euros for an adult, 4 euros for seniors, and 3 euros for children and students, or snag yourself a deal with a family pass for 13 euros!
Why not try a quaint B&B as one of your staycation accommodation options? Kinsale B&B offers free private parking, WiFi, and a complimentary breakfast, and is located close to dock beach. A double room with a private bathroom will only set you back 96 euros a night.
- The Wild Atlantic Way: 6 of the best accommodation spots
- An itinerary for a successful family weekend in Kerry
Formerly coined Queen’s county, County Laois offers lots to do in the Midland region.
Ground yourself at the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel for around 88 euros per night for two, a lovely traditional hotel set within close proximity of local attractions for a relaxing retreat.
In 20 minutes by car, you’ll find the rock of Dunamase, which shows Celtic fortification superbly. Its gorgeous views capture a 360-degree view of the countryside, with its ruins being significant in Ireland’s Anglo-Norman history.
28 minutes away from Abbeyleix Manor Hotel by car, you will also find Emo Court Manor and gardens, a neoclassical manor with beautiful scaped gardens and woodlands to amble through at your own pace. The grounds are open all year, however, the manor remains closed to the public with ongoing work, but its beauty can still be embraced from its grounds.
The West of Ireland
The west of Ireland sparks an interesting contrast, from its rolling countryside and stretching mountains to the vibrant and diverse streets of its cities, West Ireland has something for just about everyone.
Ireland’s capital of multi-culture has epic nightlife and plenty of bars where you can grab yourself a well-deserved pint. The colour and craic that Galway has to offer means you do not want to neglect this vibrant city on your next staycation.
For that reason, why not stay in Kinlay Hostel, a 6-bed mixed dorm with an ensuite, free breakfast, and free WiFi, which will only set you back 50 euros a night for 2 people – plenty of pennies left to spend on a pint or two!
Whilst you’re there, why not take yourself to Galway market, filled with music, arts and crafts, and locally made and sourced produce, it’s guaranteed to satisfy every one of your senses – open all year on weekends and all week in the summer.
To have some peace and tranquillity in this city that doesn’t stop, you can stroll down to the Salthill promenade to breathe in the fresh sea air along the West Irish coastline, you can even stop at any of the beaches dotted along the route.
The Northwest of Ireland
Arguably one of the most scenic spots in Ireland, the county of the Gaels is definitely one of our recommended destinations, so why not stop in the historic Donegal town for your next staycation?
Donegal town is not shy of historic sites to visit, one of which is the Abbey of the Four Masters. Founded in 1474, the abbey holds the remaining ruins of the Franciscan monastery, with open grounds for you to explore and with gorgeous views as it overlooks Donegal Bay.
Remember my mentioning soaking up some rays? Only a 25-minute car journey or a 30-minute bus ride (costing you around 8 euros), you can mosey on over to Bundoran Beach for your daily dose of Vitamin D. Surrounded by lovely coastline scenery, you can dip your toe in the sea or – if you’re feeling adventurous – take up a bit of rock climbing or surfing whilst you’re at it.
Stay central in Donegal town and book yourself a room in the Diamond Lodgings at only 81 euros a night, it boasts an exceptional location with nearby attractions only minutes away.
The capital of Northern Ireland has plenty of places to visit around every corner. It is equally rich in both culture and history, and has a world of opportunities waiting for those who wish to stay there.
If you have a taste for style (but on a budget!), why not stay at Number 11 by the Warren Collection in the heart of the city. Some online booking sites advertise its modern and spacious rooms at only 70 euros per night, with free parking and breakfast included – you won’t be disappointed.
There is plenty that you can do without having to pay an arm and a leg in this capital city. The Ulster Museum is definitely a must-visit, housing a spectacular array of history, science, and art collections, its unique treasures and artefacts are sure to provide you with a memorable experience.
Right next door you can find the Botanic Gardens. Having been named as one of the UK’s best open spaces, this beautiful array of horticultural delights is one to stop by. The tropical ravine, with its rain forest design and its iconic palm house, bring a delightful green space to the hustle and bustle of Belfast.
For up and down the stretch of Ireland, there are plenty of options for your next staycation. From historic sites to scenic landscapes, bountiful beaches, and buzzing cities, Ireland boasts an amazing array of places to keep you occupied on your next break on a budget. Though, this is not an exhaustive list, there is plenty of this beautiful island left unmentioned in this guide. So, whether your next trip is one of our 7 best budget staycation recommendations, or is somewhere else, rest assured that there are plenty of options for a spectacular staycation on a budget here in Ireland.
Fantastic article, Charlotte! Giving me some really great inspiration for a trip to Ireland in the near future. Particularly enjoyed your description of Kinsale – hoping to read more from you soon!