Free for all: cheap travel

Conundrum: you love Ireland, but you hate spending money.

National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin City
National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin City

But what if you could base an entire holiday around using as little money as possible enjoying festivals, discount dinners and gratis gardens?

Good news alert: you can – and you can do it in Ireland’s cities.

Belfast

If you fancy saving some money on food, Belfast Restaurant Week is awash with discounts, deals and special menus. Follow them on Twitter for info on competitions and special offers.

Belfast’s best complimentary treats include tours of City Hall (Monday to Saturday) and entry into the Ulster Museum (where you'll find dinosaurs and an Egyptian Mummy). A stroll around the colourful Botanic Gardens and Palm House won’t cost you a penny, while the breathtaking wonder of Belfast's St.Annes Cathedral is free to view.

Come night time, head for Fibber Magees in Robinson’s Bar, where you go back in time to an old style spit and sawdust-style pub. And in true traditional style, you’ll find nightly traditional Irish music to entertain you at no extra cost.

Dublin

Of course, all of the National Museums of Ireland located in Dublin are free for you to roam around at your own leisurely pace, too. Keep costs down by picnicking in the Iveagh Gardens with some sausage rolls and salads from the affordable Liston’s Deli.

See the best of Ireland’s art collections gratis in the National Gallery of Ireland and the Hugh Lane Gallery, where you’ll find Francis Bacon’s messy but masterfully maintained studio.

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For self-confessed nerds the Science Gallery is well worth a visit with events and exhibitions throughout the year.

This literary city has always done a good line in free festivals and with Open House and Culture Night both gratis, the tradition continues. Out on the city’s seaside, the Dublin Prawn Festival is nicely peppered with handfuls of no-fee fun.

Cork

Beside the picturesque River Lee sits Fitzgerald Park. Bask in the local flora and fauna before reaching Cork Public Museum in the centre of the park, where you’ll find historic displays spanning from the Bronze Age to the 20th century.

Relax in a traditional Irish pub in the city and enjoy some free music provided by Cork’s finest musicians. The Oliver Plunkett hosts The Midnight Rambles Jamming Sessions or if you’d prefer something more 1920’s style, Crane Lane Theatre hosts free entertainment every weekend.

Culture Night isn’t just for Dublin and events take place all over the country, including Cork. Cork Pride is a joyous city-centre party; Oceans To Sea is healthily packed with free family events and Cork Midsummer Festival’s vast array of shows won’t cost you a penny.

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