How much does a 1-week road trip around Ireland cost?

I already shared my 1 week itinerary for a road trip around Ireland and Northern Ireland, but now the big question:

How much did it actually cost?

I recently got a message from a reader asking if I could start doing more budget breakdowns for the destinations I visit so that people can have a better idea of what it’ll cost them to go there. (Thanks for the prompt!) So today I thought I would share what it cost me to spend a full week driving the circumference of the Emerald Isle.

Spoiler alert: it was a lot more affordable than you might think!

Road trip around Ireland

Car rental and insurance

$ 657 USD / € 577 for 5 people

For this trip, we rented a car that would be comfortable enough for 5 people, so we chose a vehicle that was in the VW Jetta / Renault Fluence / or a similar category. Each passenger was allowed to bring a carry-on suitcase and a backpack to ensure there would be enough room (thought I’ll admit I managed to fit my giant 80L backpack because that’s what I’ve been travelling with all along).

After accommodations, our car was the biggest expense, but there are ways to keep the price lower than what we paid. The first thing you can do to save costs on the rental is to rent a car with standard/manual transmission rather than automatic…if you know how to drive one. This cuts down the price of a rental car by as much as half!

The reason we went with the pricier automatic for our trip is that only one person in our group regularly drives a standard car back home and we didn’t feel like putting everyone else’s rusty skills to the test. Trust me, narrow winding lanes that weave up and down hills are not the best place for a refresher lesson.

You can also cut down costs by having less drivers on the rental agreement. Even though there were 5 of us, we chose to have 2 people driving on this trip and that was enough for the distances we were covering. Keep in mind that for every additional driver you have, the price of the rental car goes up.

After browsing through several car rental websites, we chose Sixt because it had some of the best rates out there.

Girls road trip around Ireland

Car fuel

$ 114 USD / € 100 for 5 people

I was pretty pleased with how little we spent on fuel, and this is because we went with a Diesel car instead of petrol. We only had to fuel up twice the whole week we were there – not bad considering we roughly drove the whole circumference of Ireland and Northern Ireland in one week’s time.

Cute cottages in Northern Ireland

Accommodations

When it comes to accommodations we were looking for comfort at a reasonable price. We knew that we would have long days of driving and sightseeing, so at the end of the day, we wanted a place where we could unwind and have our own space. Hostel dorms were out of the question; instead, we opted for a mix of AirBnB apartment rentals, Bed and Breakfasts, and cottage stays.

Here’s how much we paid in each destination:

Dublin – $ 148 USD / € 130

What we got: A luxurious AirBnB apartment in the heart of Dublin, just a few steps away from Temple Bar. The apartment had 2 bedrooms and a huge living area where you could roll out 2 additional foldable beds.

Glen of Aherlow – $ 178 USD / € 156

What we got: A wooden A-frame cottage with beautiful views of the rolling hills below. The cottage had 3 bedrooms, a spacious kitchen where we could prepare our own meals, and it was very cozy.

Killarney – $ 171 USD / € 150

What we got: A family-sized room for 5 in a Bed and Breakfast which was just a short walk from Killarney’s city centre. The room wasn’t outstanding, but it was good enough for 1 night plus breakfast was included in the price.

Scarriff – $ 166 USD / € 146

What we got: We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast run in a woman’s home. We got 2 private rooms with our own private bathrooms. Our host prepared us a snack when we arrived and she also prepared us an outstanding full breakfast the following morning.

Donegal – $ 97 USD / € 85

What we got: A cute cottage at the foot of an ever imposing manor home. The cottage had 4 bedrooms, a cozy living area, and a nice kitchen where we could cook.

Bushmills – $ 158 USD/ € 139

What we got: A 4-bedroom cottage, a spacious kitchen, and a living area that came stocked with puzzles and board games. However, what won me over was that this place was just a 10 minute walk from Giant’s Causeway. Not a bad price considering the location.

Outside Belfast – $ 107 USD/ € 94

What we got: I wasn’t around to see this place since I stayed back in Belfast while the girls drove back to catch their flight out of Dublin, but I know that they booked another cottage that was just outside of Belfast (much cheaper than staying in the city).

Our total for 1 week’s worth of accommodations came to $1025 USD / € 900 for 5 people.

Landscapes along the Wild Atlantic Way

Groceries

$ 170 USD / € 150 for 5 people

When it came to meals, we only ate one meal out per day – usually lunch or dinner depending on where we were. The rest of the time we prepared our own meals.

I know this sounds like a pretty low sum to feed 5 people, so what were we eating?

Breakfast: eggs for omelettes, granola, yogourt, and fresh fruits

Lunch: Baguette sandwiches with cheese and deli meats, and raw veggies like carrots, peppers and sweet snaps

Dinner: Pasta with tomato sauce and veggies, or pesto pasta, or a meat and veggie stir-fry with noodles

We also purposely chose to stay in some Bed and Breakfasts where the cost of breakfast was already included in our accommodations.

Eating in restaurants

$120 USD / € 105 per person

The cost of eating out in restaurants is going to depend on what you order and whether or not you drink alcohol, but I’m going to put the price at an average of 15 Euros /$ 17 USD per meal. This will usually get you some good pub food like Fish and Chips, Irish Stew, Bangers and Mash, Shepherd’s Pie, or something of the sort as well as a beverage.

Visiting the ruins of Hore Abbey, Ireland

Sightseeing and miscellaneous

$114 USD/ € 100 per person

I didn’t keep my receipts for sightseeing and miscellaneous attractions, but I know I didn’t spend very much in this regard.

A lot of places that we visited were free of charge, so we really only paid admission for a handful of castles and to visit the Cliffs of Moher. We found that most attractions ranged between €5 to €20 at most, and we probably only paid admission at 3 or 4 places the whole week we were there.

The rest of the money in the miscellaneous category I’m using to account for things like picking up postcards, and buying the odd snack at the gas station.

At Giant's Causeway

Total cost for a 1 week road trip around Ireland and Northern Ireland?

$ 627 USD / € 550 per person!

I didn’t include any flight costs because that will obviously depend on where you are flying from, and you may also need to factor in visa costs depending on the passport you hold. (I was fine as a Canadian.)

So just to refresh, here are a few ways to save money on a road trip around Ireland and Northern Ireland, or really any road trip:

  • Travel with a group of friends so you can split costs evenly. This is key!
  • Rent a standard/manual car instead of an automatic (if you know how to drive one).
  • Keep the number of drivers to a minimum.
  • Choose a car that takes diesel instead of petrol.
  • Rent cottages or family rooms.
  • Stay in the outskirts of town rather than in the heart of the city.
  • Do groceries and cook some of your own meals.
  • Choose accommodations that offer breakfast.

Ireland Road Trip Travel Budget

Do you have any other tips for doing a road trip around Ireland and Northern Ireland on a budget?
Feel free to share them below. 

20 Comments

  • Wow! That was a lot less than I expected – Now I have put Ireland and roadtripping on my list of places to go, thanks!

    • Audrey says:

      I know, I too was surprised by how little it cost us! That’s one of the many added benefits of travelling with a group – you just have to make sure you choose that group wisely! 😉

  • Julia says:

    Along with choosing accommodations that offer breakfast, take an extra apple, banana, roll, etc. as a snack to tide you over until lunch time, you’ll end up spending less if you’re not crazy hungry by lunchtime.

    • Audrey says:

      Good tip! I’m a constant snacker, so I always have to remind myself to bring something for the road, otherwise I’ll be feeling hungry within the hour.

  • Chad says:

    One thing my wife and I did for the car rental was call our credit card company so that we could get coverage with that. We spent 2 weeks driving around Ireland and our rental only costed us around 300 USD!

    • Audrey says:

      Thanks for the tip! I ended up taking the extra coverage because I forgot to check if my Canadian coverage applied to rentals overseas, and that definitely added to the cost. You guys got an excellent rate for your 2 weeks – I’m assuming the car was also standard instead of automatic?

  • Tara says:

    This is a great budget breakdown. The time I spent traveling alone in Ireland was difficult at times when it came to accommodation because it’s expensive to stay alone. These are great tips and ideas.

  • Roisin says:

    This is really helpful thank you! I live in Ireland anyway, but I will be doing a similar trip soon! 🙂
    Roisin recently posted..Vegan Chickpea CurryMy Profile

  • Zascha says:

    Someone just suggested that I go to Ireland on my next trip, and after they suggested it, I really started thinking about it. So this post was brilliant and I actually never knew it was that affordable!
    Zascha recently posted..Packing List for a Trip to ScotlandMy Profile

  • Patricia says:

    This is a super useful post, because I don’t see that many posts actually analyzing how much money you would need to do a trip. Ireland is one of my long-term dreams and I’m happy to read that it’s possible to do it in a rather affordable way 🙂
    Patricia recently posted..Celebrating my first blogiversary with a travel giveaway!My Profile

  • Impressive! Ireland and the UK, NOT CHEAP, but you did really well. So hard to give up on the great food on the road, but it sounds like you got a few restaurant meals in there. I’m doing a similar trip in Scotland this April, renting cars, staying in cottages. Hopefully we can keep our budget as reasonable as yours!
    Victoria | Girl Tries Life recently posted..Girl Tries Baby: 34 Weeks – Birth & BabiesMy Profile

  • Izy Berry says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us it really help us for better organization
    Izy Berry recently posted..Travel “Extras” You Should Budget for Before You Head OffMy Profile

  • That is super affordable, def cheaper than I would have imagined! Think a road trip in Ireland is on my bucket list now.
    Hannah @GettingStamped recently posted..How Redesigning the Blog Changed EverythingMy Profile

  • Suzanne says:

    Thank you so much for this information. We are visiting in June and this will be so helpful in our planning. I do have one question, in your price for car rental, how much was the insurance? Do you need to have any extra paperwork other than your license for the rental?
    I appreciate your help. Thanks again.

    • Audrey says:

      Hi Suzanne,
      Regarding the paperwork, they only asked for my driver’s license and a credit card. And regarding the insurance, if I remember correctly that was close to 200 Euros. If you already have car insurance back at home, I recommend calling them to make sure you’re covered abroad.

  • Joy P says:

    How do you find your accommodations? Is there a particular web site that you use? Did you have them all booked before you began your trip?

    • Audrey says:

      For this particular trip, we booked a mix of apartments, cottages and BnB’s. We mainly booked through AirBnB and Booking.com, and we did have the majority of the properties booked before we began the trip.

  • Mary P says:

    Great breakdown. Did a 12 day road trip in Sept 2014, going north from Dublin, across to NW and down the west to Co Clare, then back to Dublin. My daughter and I had a smaller vehicle but it was still expensive. I would vote for automatic and the added insurance for ease of mind. If you have time and enjoy hiking, Glenariff Forest Park is lush and beautiful and the Mourne Mountains are also highly recommended. AirBnB and B&B’s provided a full breakfast, we went to a grocery store bought water, fruit, cheese, crackers and nuts, snacked during the day with the occasional coffee or tea stop and basically paid for only one supper meal a day. Derry/Londonderry provides great historical walks.

  • sheila says:

    I’m especially interested in hearing authentic Irish pub music live. Any suggestions as to location and particular days of the week.? I’ll be traveling with the “coach” set. Lol

  • JOHN ZUNICH says:

    Wow. Thanks for your efforts gathering all that info along with the little tips and tweaks. Much appreciated.

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