Ireland Road Trip – How we spent less than $3,500 for 14 days in Ireland

14-day Ireland Road Trip – Expense Breakdown

I have been fortunate to travel to many cities, states, and countries, but wow, is Ireland beautiful! During our 14-day Ireland road trip, we saw some amazing sites.  It’s a country worth returning to. Ireland has the right balance of outdoor adventures, good food, rich history, and beautiful natural wonders. Ireland has won my heart!
I can’t remember what documentary I saw, what book I read or which movie inspired me to choose Ireland for our vacation this year. Yet, once we decided on Ireland I knew that an Ireland road trip was a must. I recommend exploring Ireland by car.
In this post, I’ll share expenses for a two-person trip to Ireland for a 14-day road trip. 
Redeem United Miles for Ireland Road Trip



Once we decided that we would take two weeks to explore Ireland we had to decide when the best time to go was. We were semi-flexible on the dates. But we wanted to take a late summer or early fall trip.

Using the United Airlines reservation system, I compared the number of miles needed for different dates as well as availability. I booked two round-trip tickets to Ireland for $102.46 and 120,000 redeemed United Miles for mid-September. Our flight was on Aer Lingus airlines. We departed on Sunday evening and arrived in Dublin before sunrise.


Before leaving the airport we withdrew €200 = $237.58 USD from an ATM. Our bank did not charge us any withdrawal fees.
Although we used our Chase Sapphire card for most purchases, which does not charge foreign transaction fees, we opted to have cash for things like toll roads, tips, parking meters, and small shops that might not accept credit cards. This also came in handy with some of the museums and castles we went to that only accepted cash. Mr. Miller also got a hair cut while we were in Cork, Ireland.
Once we arrived in Belfast we withdrew £20  which amounted to $24.76 USD.


When booking a car rental I noticed there was a huge price difference between renting a vehicle with an automatic transmission and manual transmission. Automatics were more than double the cost of a manual transmission vehicle. I wanted to choose the inexpensive option available. Mr. Miller knows how to drive a stick-shift. Yet, being in a different country, navigating narrow roads and driving on the left side of the road was more than enough for Mr. Miller to handle on a 14-day road trip in Ireland. We opted for the more expensive option and rented a vehicle with an automatic transmission.
I originally reserved a car online for two weeks for $221.59. But, when we arrived at the car-rental agency they refused to accept our coverage through our Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. After multiple calls with Chase, emails from Chase to the car rental, an hour and a half of “discussion,” I refused to pay the additional $300 in rental car insurance the agency insisted we pay. I canceled the reservation.
Ugh, not a great way to start off a vacation. With my laptop in hand, online I went. Ultimately we went to the other side of the terminal where there were additional rental car companies, I figured it was worth a shot to try and book directly with them. We stopped at the Budget rental car counter and were able to secure a two-week, automatic transmission, vehicle for $358.23. This included the cost of pre-paid gas if we didn’t return the vehicle with a full tank of gas. In the end, we returned the vehicle with a full tank of gas and paid $255.22 for the complete car rental for our 14-day road trip.
Car rental in Ireland
Car rental price listed in Euros


 We paid about $15 in parking costs for metered spots near the various attraction sites and $207.38 for fuel.


 Normally I use credit cards and hotel points for lodging. The majority of our accommodations for this trip were Air BnBs. 
If you haven’t stayed in an AirBnB before, I would highly recommend it. We loved the flexibility it gave us while traveling  – full kitchen, laundry, and it was usually considerably cheaper than a hotel. If you’re new to AirBnB, here’s a link for $40 off your first stay.
Total costs for lodging for 14 nights: $1211.67 this including the costs of two nights at two different castles included the highest-rated castle in Ireland, Lough Eske
I also double-booked one night and spent $67.38 on a Bed n’ Breakfast that I’d forgotten I had booked. Unfortunately, does not offer refunds on prepaid hotel bookings.
For a few of our AirBnBs, we had an entire flat or cottage to ourselves including a washer/dryer and refrigerator.


 Since we were staying at AirBnBs some of our host homes provided either a continental breakfast or a full Irish breakfast consisting of eggs, brown bread, coffee or tea, and sausage or ham. We also went to the supermarket and purchased options for breakfast. Bagels, muffins, fruit, and breakfast cereal, which were quick options and easy to travel with. Most evenings we’d buy a pint of milk. Enough for our cereal in the morning.
Aldi’s was one of the supermarkets we visited the most but also stopped at SuperValu and Tesco. We also had a variety of snack foods like mandarins, bananas, granola bars, beef jerky, and nuts for easy snacks.
Most of our lunches were quick bites and we paid cash for them. For example, delicious poutine from a food cart. Our dinners were never fancy but always delicious.
The total amount we spent on food was:
$583.28 Restaurants
$92.21 breakfast foods and snacks
$115.00 on quick bites and most lunches (estimate)


Ireland is best explored outdoors and on foot. We were outdoors a lot during our 14-day road trip in Ireland. We spent hours walking in the forests, following trails along the coast, on boat rides in the ocean and hiking up hills
Sea Kayaking, trekking the forest with alpacas, museum and castle entrance fees were minimal. We also benefited from free walking tours in Dublin and Belfast. Although the walking tours were “free” we tipped accordingly. I’ve joined free walking tours in Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, London, and a few other cities. They can be a great way to start any trip. The tours are range from 2.5 to 3.5 hours long and the guides work for tips. I’ve seen people tip a $1 -$2. Please do not that. They are giving you an average of 3 hours of their time and I’ve generally found the guides to be well prepared. The tour groups are about 10 people and cost a fraction of what an organized tour company would cost.
One night at Dingle Pub we got to see a performance by David Geaney! The county Kerry Irish dancer has been on Broadway and was in the finals for Britains Got Talent.  The performance was absolutely amazing and saw it all for nothing more than the cost of our dinner at the Dingle Pub. The Dingle Pub was full of tourists but the live music and David Geaney’s performance was not to be missed! 
Total costs for activities and entertainment while in Ireland $524.51

Miscellaneous Expenses

We purchased laundry soap, a journal, a plug adapter and a new cord for my iPhone that decided to go kaput while on this trip. While in Donegal Mr. Miller got a haircut for €9! I couldn’t help but go into Poundland while in Belfast. There were some good buys including a dental hygiene kit for just a £1.
On the return flight home, we purchased wi-fi access for $15.29.
We spent $69.50 in the miscellaneous category.

Grand Total: $3,319.08 for our 14-day Ireland Road Trip

Ireland Road Trip

Cash: $262.34 (food, tour guide tips, metered parking, hair cut, etc.)

Airfare: $102.46

Car Rental: $255.22

Parking: $10.57

Gasoline: $207.38

Lodging: $1,211.67

Restaurants: $583.22

Groceries: $92.21

Activities/Entertainment: $524.51

Miscellaneous: $69.50

*note: All amounts in USD

Trip Itinerary – Quick Recap

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Our vacation to Ireland began on a Sunday evening as we departed New York City and headed to Dublin Ireland to begin our 14-day road trip.

Day 1 – Arrived in Ireland in the early morning hourse. Quick drive to Clontarf Castle outside of the city. Checked into our Air BnB for a quick nap before walking down to The Spire where we began our Free Walking Tour. We stopped by Trinity College, Temple Bar area, Dublin Castle, Phoenix Park, and our guide gave us the lowdown on some interesting museums and exhibits to visit. After our 3 – hour walking tour we were ready to eat. At the recommendation of our guide, we went to O’Neill’s Pub and Kitchen for our first Irish meal. It was inexpensive and the food was good.

Day 2 – Initially we planned on spending the entire day in Dublin but we were fortunate that is was an unusually warm day. With the sun out and the blue skies in full glory, we made last-minute reservations to drive down to Wexford where we went Sea Cave Kayaking.  This was one of the top five experiences of the trip. Kayaking from the Celtic Sea and into the Atlantic Ocean is not to be missed! The water was so clear you see the seafloor!

Day 3 – We checked out of our Dublin Air BnB our Ireland road trip truly began.  Kilkenny Castle and Hook Lighthouse were among the stops before ending the night in Waterford.  Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the day to visit the House of Waterford Crystal Factory. We checked in to our Air BnB in Waterford and grabbed a bite to eat at Geoff’s Cafe and Bar. Unfortunately, we didn’t do much exploring in Waterford. I’d recommend spending at least a few hours exploring Ireland’s Oldest city.

Day 4 – For most of the road trip, we had early starts. Day 4 was no exception. Once we left Waterford and we made our way west to the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey. We opted to skip Blarney Castle. A stop in Cork lead us to a barbershop were Mr. Miller go a haircut for €9! Half the costs of his haircuts in New York City.

Day 5 – After a full Irish breakfast prepared by our Air BnB host, we drove to Kenmare for our next activity which was Trekking with Alpacas. This was my first time surrounded by Alpacas and I loved it! After our morning hike with the alpacas, we began our drive up to Killarney via the Ring of Kerry. We made stops in at the Kerry Cliffs, Ballinskelligs, Valentia Island, had dinner in Portmagee. And ended our day in Killarney. In Killarney, there was live music in just about every pub and the streets were crowded even at 11 pm!

Day 6 – We visited Killarney National Park, Torc Waterfall, Muckross House, and the visited the traditional farms at Muckross Farms before driving up to Dingle. Once in the small town of Dingle, we grabbed a quick bite at The Fish Box and walked around a bit. The day with a stop at Murphy’s Ice Cream where they had some incredibly unique flavors like elderflower and Irish brown bread.

Day 7 – For our 2nd day in Dingle we booked a boat tour to the Great Blasket Island. This was a last-minute decision but very well worth it. We paid $132.83 for a 50-minute passenger ride from the Dingle Marina to the Island. Where we were greeted by these sunbathing sea lions! We opted for the Eco Tour which only included a 1 hour stop on the Great Blasket Island. I recommend skipping the extended boat tour and spending several hours at the Great Blasket Island. Pack a lunch, bring a swimsuit and bring your hiking boots. It’s beautiful!

Blasket Island Ireland

Day 8 – We opted for a slight detour and took the Slea Head Drive and Connor’s Pass up to our next Air BnB in Sligo. Most days we drove a maximum of 2 1/2 to 3 hours, this was our longest driving day. We should have planned a stay in Galway. Nonetheless, day 8 included the Cliffs of Moher!

When possible we always drove the route closest to the coastline and that usually meant adding additional time. We arrived at the Cliffs of Moher around noon and it was just as the fog was lifting. We parked the car in Hags Head and walked the 6km to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center. Wow. Just wow! This was an easy walk and because it was off-season the crowds so many complain about were just not there.  We took a shuttle from the visitor’s center back to our car. We continued our journey north and had an early dinner at Ballyvaughan.

Day 9 – Our Air BnB in Sligo was just steps away from the Slishwood forest. We stayed in a quaint cottage. Early the next morning, Mya the dog, our tour guide was waiting for us for our morning hike. Yes, we had a dog guide! She was great she knew all the scenic spots! Once we checked out of our Sligo Air BnB, we drove to Glencar Falls, Drumcliff Church which is the final resting place of W.B. Yeats.  We also had the most luxurious stay at Lough Eske Castle in Donegal. We used 16,000 Chase Reward Points and paid $80.46 for a one night’s stay.

Day 10 – For the 2nd boat tour of the trip we decided to view the Sliabh Liag Cliffs (Slieve League Cliffs) from the water. These cliffs are the highest in Europes reaching close to 2000 feet! The Cliffs of Moher look like beautifully chiseled rock sculptures, the Slieve League Cliffs are these massively colorful jagged rock formations that are impressively beautiful. We stayed at The River House in Dungloe, our first and only traditional bed and breakfast of the trip. The location was just a short walk away from several pubs.

Day 11 – We began our day with yet another full Irish breakfast prepared for us by The River House. This included eggs, toast, beans, cereal, fresh fruit, sausage, and yogurt. After leaving the bed and breakfast our first stop was Glenvaugh National Park.We then drove to the most northerly part of Ireland, Malin Head. It was now time to head south and drive towards Belfast. We stopped at the first restaurant we saw after crossing into the United Kingdom, Link 47 Bar & Restuarant. We then drove into Belfast and checked into our final Air BnB.

Day 12 – Breakfast consisted of milk, cereal and some fruit we purchased. We walked about half a mile to the Belfast City Hall where we met our guide for the Belfast Free Walking Tour. Our guide gave us a brief history of Belfast and stops to famous locations like the Cathedral Quarter, Albert Clock, the Big Fish, Crown Liquor Saloon and the Europa Hotel. Later that afternoon we drove over to the Titanic Belfast museum. To get the most of this experience plan to be here for at least 3 hours. We arrived later in the day and had to rush through some of the exhibits and there was a lot to see. We grabbed a late lunch at Wetherspoons where I had the biggest cheeseburger of my life! I only ate half and was full for the rest of the day!

Day 13 – Our last day in Belfast was spent exploring on foot. We took a trip to Poundland. They had so many more items and variety than my local Dollar Tree. We also drove around the city and explored the street art.   Our last and final stay for our trip was the Cabra Castle Hotel in Kingscourt County, Ireland.  We arrived at the hotel just in time to witness a bride walk up the castle steps and to her wedding. We arrived around 4 pm and planned on grabbing a bite to eat but both Mr. Miller and I fell asleep around 6 pm! I was wide awake by 3 am but it was nice to catch up on emails and prepare for our morning flight.

Day 14 – After complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we drove south for about an hour and a half to Dublin International Airport. Our 10:50 am flight was on time and a smooth ride back to New York.

Last-Minute Planning

Although not a comprehensive guide to planning the perfect 14-day Ireland road trip, I hope it’s given you some ideas of places to visit and ways to cut costs.  Hotel rooms, Air BnBs, and car rentals were booked less than a week before we departed! The only thing planned a couple of months in advance was our flights. Some of the Air BnBs were booked just two days before we arrived. Honestly, this gave us flexibility. If we wanted to drive more we could if we wanted to take a detour there was no pressure.

All in all our first international road trip was a success. I completely fell in love with this type of vacation style and Ireland has so much to offer. From Michelin rated restaurants to outdoor adventure there’s something for everyone. We were extremely fortunate to have more than 7 rainless days during our trip. And even the days that it did rain it was overnight or it rained while we were driving to our next destination in the mornings.

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

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  1. Rachel @ Money Hacking Mama | 11th Nov 19

    Love how much you saved on your flights! How long do you think it took you to save that many points? Did you wipe out your points or do you still have quite a few banned for your next trip?

    • Mrs Miller | 12th Nov 19

      Being able to use airline miles rather than paying for flights is a huge budget win. I used to travel quite a bit for work so that was one way to rack up airline miles. Another way is applying for partner credit cards and earning bonus miles that way. I used most of my United Miles for this trip, but have other airline miles in waiting for our next vacation.

  2. Michelle @ The Better Grind | 26th Nov 19

    I would love to spend a few weeks road tripping around Ireland! AirBnB is such a great way to save money on a trip. I usually like to find AirBnB’s with a kitchen so we can reduce our food costs as well!

    • Mrs Miller | 26th Nov 19

      Ireland is a great country for a road trip. Having a kitchen or just a refrigerator is a great way to reduce food costs while traveling.

  3. Lela Roberson | 13th Jun 20

    Thank you for sharing, fantastic blog…

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