Why You Should Take Your Dream Trip Now


Why you should take your dream trip now

If you have a dream trip you have always wanted to take, take it now!  Or at least start planning it. We have heard every excuse in the book–I’ll go when I retire, I’ll go once I finish school, I’ll go when I have more time, I’ll go when I pay off my mortgage, I can’t get enough time off of work, I have too many kids, my kids are too young, right now’s too busy, etc.   In reality, there is never going to be a ‘perfect’ time and you are never going to be able to see everything. However, go explore and experience what you can! Stop making excuses, if you want to travel, make it a priority and make your dream trip happen now.

Now, we are not saying drop all your responsibilities and blow all your money.  It may require some creativity, but you do not have to spend a lot of money or time to take a trip. You are the only one who can make change in your life so stop rationalizing why you can’t travel and figure out how you can.   If you’re not convinced yet, see our top reasons below as to why you should take your dream trip now.


You’ll Never be as Young as you are Today

Why you should take your dream trip now

Seriously though, you will never be as young as you are today.   You want to hike in all the National Parks?  No better day to start than yesterday.   As morbid as it sounds, physical activity only gets harder and more dangerous as you get older.  For example, when we were in Zion National Park hiking, we passed a couple, in their upper 70s, looking defeated and sitting on a rock next to a hiking trail, only about a ¼ mile into it.  The lady said to us “Goodness, I wish we were young like you so we could really enjoy this.”  This comment really drilled home how lucky we are to be making time to hike as many National Parks as we can now. 

Please see Zion National Park Quick Guide for more information on visiting Zion.


Life’s Too Short & No Day is Guaranteed 

Why you should take your dream trip now

Likewise, life is too short and no day is guaranteed.   We all know some otherwise healthy person who got in a car accident, had a stroke, got diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at a young age etc. and now is permanently disabled or even worse, dead.  If there is a place you want to go, make it happen.  Waiting until the “perfect time” is just an excuse.  Stop making them!  Live your life as though tomorrow or next year may not exist.  

Worried about traveling with baby? See our How to Hike with a Baby and Flying with a Baby post to help give you some tips and confidence.

Worried about budget? See our 5 Ways to Save on Flights, How to Save on a Rental Car, How to Book Accommodations on a Budget and Budget Europe Guides (20 cities & counting) for some of our budget tips.

Worried it will be too overwhelming to plan? See our National Park Guides, United States Guides, Europe Guides, Africa Guides and Travel Tips! We have over 75 posts and counting. There is surely a place in one of those you want to visit.


You Never Know when a Place you want to Visit may be Gone or Destroyed 

Why you should take your dream trip now
Glacier Recession, Kenai Fjords National Park

Wildfires, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, global warming, the list goes on.  You never know when the place you want to go may be destroyed by a natural or human cause.  For example, the recession of Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska is really profound and sad.  Some of these natural wonders may be gone before you make time to see them.  Make time to see them now!

Please see Kenai Fjords National Park and Seward, Alaska Quick Guide for more information on Exit Glacier.


Never know when a World-Wide Pandemic may Occur

Why you should take your dream trip now

Oh 2020, how you taught us so much. Never, ever did we fathom the COVID 19 pandemic would occur and have us all on lockdown in Spring of 2020.  Now, it is unlikely we will have another pandemic in the near future but one thing this pandemic has taught us is you never know what tomorrow will bring.  We still may have some travel restrictions but take this time to explore the places you can see. Plus international travel is making a comeback.  We already have 3 international trips booked this year. G is going to get good use of her passport.


Have we convinced you yet to start planning your dream trip now?  Carpe Diem! 

Here are some ways to “force” yourself to commit to a trip

  1. Request vacation before you know where you are going (we often do this!)
  2. Book flights and then plan your trip (we often do this too!)
  3. Determine trip budget, then plan accordingly (weekend trip vs longer more distant trip)
  4. Add social pressure.  Tell family and friends you are going before booking to add social pressure to encourage you to book
  5. Make a list of the top 3 places you want to visit and figure out how you can make those trips happen (we do this at the beginning of every year) 

Any reasons you’d add to our list of why to take your dream trip now?  We’d love to hear your questions and feedback.  Please leave us a comment.  

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And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


How to Stop Stressing While Traveling


You go on a trip to relax and get a break from the daily hustle and bustle of home, right?  Well, sometimes this ideal is not the case while traveling, especially if you are taking a trip and not a vacation. Here are some tricks we have learned on how to decrease stress and stop stressing while traveling. 

How to Stop Stressing While Traveling

1. Under-schedule

Under-scheduling helps you actually enjoy the things you are doing. You don’t want to feel like you are rushing from one place to another and have no time to do any spontaneous activities.  We find that once we arrive at our destination, we usually get tips from locals or other travelers on things to do we may not have known about before getting there. We always allow some wiggle room in our itinerary to add these things on spontaneously. 


2. Be flexible with your schedule, especially the first day

You likely will be fighting jet-lag or may have gotten delayed/missed a flight (all have happened to us) so you want to make the first day of your trip flexible depending on what happens during your travels. For example, the first day we got to Athens on our first Europe trip, we were quite jet lagged.  We powered through the morning exploring the city but in the afternoon, we planned to lay down for only 10 minutes and before we knew it, hours had passed and it was time for dinner. Thankfully we had not planned anything more than what we did in that morning, and this allowed us time to rest up before the rest of our trip. 


3. Schedule a rest day in the middle of a long trip

On our first trip to Europe, we were there for 3 weeks.  Halfway through the trip, in Cinque Terre, we had a “rest day” where we hiked in the morning on the trails but then spent the majority of the day relaxing at our Airbnb on the balcony and then watched a movie.  We believe this “rest day” was very key to the success of this trip.  It allowed us time to unwind and reset for a day while still taking advantage of the beautiful place we were visiting.  


4. Do NOT switch accommodations every night

Switching where you are staying every night on a trip, can be draining.  To unpack and repack everyday gets old very quickly.  While traveling, we try to spend at least 2 nights in several places, even if we are moving frequently.  Can you leave early the next morning for your next destination so you can stay in the same place two nights?  The less moving around you do, the more relaxing the trip will be. 

A great way to maximize what you see while not moving is going on a river cruise.  We highly recommend the Avalon European River cruise we did in November 2018.  Everyday we woke up in a new destination without changing accommodations and it was one of the most relaxing Europe trips we have had (Coming soon…Why you should go on a European River Cruise). 


5. Treat yourself to a massage

One of our favorite ways to unwind on a trip is to get a massage.  Maybe even make it a full spa day!  Spa and massage experiences are different all over the world so it is a fun way to get another view into a culture in addition to relaxing.  One of the most interesting spa/massage experiences Natalie ever had (Sam sat this one out) was at a Hammam Bath in Morocco.  That experience is a post all on it’s own! (See Hamman Bath: Not Your Average Bath).


We hope this post helps you to stop stressing while traveling.  Any tips you’d add to our list on ways to decrease stress while traveling?  We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


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What to Do in Puerto Vallarta, México Guide


Puerto Vallarta is a charming seaside city on the Pacific side of central Mexico.  With cobblestone streets,  parks filled with colorful mosaic artwork and the surrounding Sierra Madre hills, Puerto Vallarta certainly has its allure.  Additionally, from a hopping restaurant scene to hiking through local towns to stunning hidden beaches, the options of what to do in Puerto Vallarta seem endless. 

Puerto Vallarta Mexico

From getting lost in the colorful artwork of Zona Romantica to hiking off-the-beaten-path through small picturesque fishing villages to the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta, our guide on what to do in Puerto Vallarta will cover it all.  Here is our guide on what to do to in the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico area. 

Note: This post is written based on a trip taken in early April. We took this trip with our 8 month old daughter. For tips on traveling with a baby, please see our How to Hike with a Baby and Flying with a Baby posts.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


What to Do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 


Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach Hike

2.25 mile one-way hike, 705 feet of elevation gain

This hike takes you along stunning coastline and through green jungle to several beautiful secluded beaches south of Puerto Vallarta.  This hike starts in the quaint and colorful local fishing village of Boca de Tomatlan and leads you to the lively Las Animas beach.  This adventure was our favorite thing we did while visiting the Puerto Vallarta area of Mexico! 

Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach Hike

Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach Hike Specifics 

This hike took us about 2 hours one-way, longer than we expected, because we had to be more careful with our footing than we anticipated. The trail is very peaceful and makes the extra effort worth it though.

To start your journey from the town, you cross a makeshift boardwalk over the water to get on the trail on the southern side of Boca de Tomatlan.  If you are having trouble finding it, ask a local (in Spanish ideally) where it is and they should be able to show you the way.

We only saw a handful of other people on the path, and it was easy enough to follow.  When in doubt, hug the coastline and cross the several beaches you encounter, paralleling the water, to get back to the trail. Beware that there is barbed wire fence on parts of the trail.  It is usually simple to avoid but be mindful of where it is (especially if hiking with a baby who likes to touch everything and put everything in her mouth). 

Las Animas Beach Hike

Las Animas Beach

When you reach Las Animas, stop and relax at one of the beachfront restaurants for food/drink before taking a water taxi back to Boca de Tomatlan. Alternatively, you can hike back the same route if you are feeling refreshed after a relaxing stop.

The restaurants on Las Animas all have nice beach atmospheres and are very accommodating for you to step up camp for the afternoon.  We particularly recommend eating on the beach at Mariscos Tinos.  We had not only a table on the beach to sit at while dining but also lounge chairs for us to relax on in front of our table (use of both included with dining).  The staff at this restaurant further provided very attentive service. We had a fun afternoon here with our daughter. 

After grabbing a bite on Las Animas, you can take a water taxi back to Boca for 100 pesos per person.  Our waiter helped us coordinate by calling the boat but can also coordinate yourself from the main pier on the beach. Alternatively, you could hike back to Boca de Tomatlan as stated above.

Las Animas Beach

Looking for great hiking boots?  Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 7+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots

How to get to Boca de Tomatlan

To get to Boca de Tomatlan, you can easily take a local bus from downtown PV to this southern fishing village. It takes about 30 minutes.  The ride is bumpy, due to speed bumps, but goes by quickly as you hug the scenic coastline. The bus costs 15 pesos per person each way.  Alternatively, you can take a cab, but it will be over 10x the price and takes the same amount of time as there is only one two-lane road that connects the two areas. We rode the local bus several times during our trip and found it to be both a local and cultural experience. We figured out where to catch the bus through asking locals and recommend doing the same. The people who regularly use the bus are the ones who know it best.

Local Bus Puerto Vallarta

Walk Along the Malecon

The Malecon is a pedestrian-only boardwalk that parallels the beach in downtown Puerto Vallarta. This boardwalk is lined with shops, restaurants and bars as well as many different sculptures for your viewing pleasure.  

Malecon

Tip: Visit the Malecon at different times of day 

In the evenings, vendors set up along the shoreline selling food, drinks, desserts and crafts and the boardwalk is booming with people.  However, our favorite time of the day to walk (or run) on it was in the early mornings just after sunrise.  At this time, it was very peaceful and pedestrians were sparse, a  contrast to the lively nightly scene. 


Explore City Center and Zona Romantica 

Lazaro Cardenas Park

Lazaro Cardenas Park in Zona Romantica is full of colorful detailed mosaic artwork.  This spot reminded us of Park Guell in Barcelona.  See our Visiting Barcelona, Spain on a Budget guide for more details on that trip.  We enjoyed walking through this pretty park several times – observing different mosaics each time. 

Lazaro Cardenas Park

Isla Cuale

Isla Cuale is a cute island in the middle of Zona Romantica.  It is bordered by the Cuale river and ample greenery.  To access this island, you cross a cute wooden suspension bridge from the south or you can walk down the colorful puente iguana stairs from the north. When we visited Puerto Vallarta, few people were on this island. It was a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the Malecon during the day. 

Isla Cuale Puerto Vallarta

Our Lady Guadalupe Church 

This picturesque church is located in the heart of the city center and is very colorful inside.  The interior of the church reminded us of Almudena Cathedral in Madrid (see Visiting Madrid, Spain on a Budget). The tower of the church is topped with a crown which is thought to be a replica of the crown worn by an Empress of Mexico in the 1800s  

Our Lady Guadalupe Church  Puerto Vallarta

Los Muertos Pier/ Playa Los Muertos

Playa Los Muertos means Beach of the Dead and the name originates from legend that a pirate battle took place here.  There are many restaurants along the beach that you may want to check out.  This is a fairly busy beach so we did not spend a lot of time here but rather spent more time at the more hidden and secluded beaches south of Puerto Vallarta that we encountered on the La Animas hike (see above). 

Los Muertos Pier/ Playa Los Muertos Puerto Vallarta

Basilio Badillo Street

This street is filled with art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and bars where you are sure to find something to tickle your fancy.


Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Vallarta Botanical Gardens is located in the Sierra Madre hills south of Puerto Vallarta. These gardens are tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city center of Puerto Vallarta.  There are numerous trails and greenhouses here that showcase the flora and fauna of the area. We loved seeing all the different flowers and several types of unique birds here. 

Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Trails at Vallarta Botanical Gardens

You can easily walk all the trails at Vallarta Botanical Gardens in a morning or afternoon (a couple miles of trails at most) to see all the different areas of the gardens.  We recommend hiking all the trails here but if you only have time for one, hike the Jaguar Trail that leads you through the jungle to a river swimming spot (the water was really cold when we visited so we did not go for a dip). 

Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Eat at Hacienda del Oro Restaurant 

Be sure to eat at the restaurant Hacienda del Oro on site at Vallarta Botanical Gardens.  Good food and beautiful views.  You can visit the gardens from 9 AM-6 PM.  During the busy season (winter), consider booking tickets online beforehand.  You can book admission with or without a tour.  We visited without a tour because we wanted more flexibility having our baby, but you may want to do it if you want to learn more details about the different flora and fauna you will see. 

Vallarta Botanical Gardens

How to get to Vallarta Gardens

Vallarta Botanical Gardens is located south of PV. You can take a local bus or uber/cab here.  We took the bus and it cost 30 pesos (less than 2 US dollars) per person each way.  You can take an uber or taxis as well but it will cost about 10x as much and will certainly not be the same local experience.  We met many friendly locals on the several bus rides we took and found this to be a great way to get some local insight on what to do in Puerto Vallarta. 

Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Gringo Gulch Neighborhood 

The Gringo Gulch neighborhood is a very picturesque area.  You get a taste of authentic Puerto Vallarta strolling through here.  We walked from our Airbnb through this neighborhood to get to the Cerro De La Cruz lookout. 

Gringo Gulch Neighborhood Puerto Vallarta

Cerro De La Cruz Lookout Hike 

Steep short (0.5 mile) climb up a tower that affords you 360 panoramic views of the entire bay, the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains and the rustic rooftops of downtown

Cerro De La Cruz Lookout Hike 

Where to Eat Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


Elizabeth Taylor Mansion

Elizabeth Taylor Manson Puerto Vallarta

The restaurant at this mansion is architecturally beautiful.  It also has very pretty views of Puerto Vallarta from the dining area and elsewhere in the mansion.  There is further really cool history to this mansion.  You can walk on the bridge (Puente de Amor) that Elizabeth Taylor had built to connect her house (Casa Kimberley) to Richard Burton’s (her lover’s) house.  We got drinks here (the best drinks we had in Puerto Vallarta) and you can also get dinner here. It would be a great place to celebrate a special occasion on your trip.  We recommend at least getting drinks so you can explore around the beautiful and historic mansion. 

Elizabeth Taylor Manson Puerto Vallarta

Casa Kimberly


El Brujo

We recommended visiting El Brujo to try traditional Mexican Molcajete.  Molcajete is a sizzling black pot of steak/shrimp/chicken, grilled green onions and soft white cheese in a homemade sauce of dried red peppers that is served with guacamole, refried beans and homemade tortillas. This dish reminded us of fajitas but with a flavorful sauce. 


Trio

This restaurant had the best food we ate in Puerto Vallarta. Although not traditional Mexican, the European cuisine did not disappoint.  The dining area was filled with lush greenery, making the atmosphere on-point to give it a secluded, peaceful vibe.

Trio Puerto Vallarta


Street Tacos

Street tacos were a highlight of our time in Puerto Vallarta.  They were delicious yet so inexpensive, costing 15-25 pesos per taco.  We tried a bunch of different street taco stands. Our favorite stand with the best tacos was located about a ¼ mile east of the Los Muertos Pier at intersection of Olas Altas and Francesia Rodriquez streets 


A Page in The Sun

This funky used bookstore and cafe sells scrumptious baked goods, coffee/tea drinks and tasty salads/sandwiches.   


Joe Jacks Fish Shack

For a lively atmosphere and fun dinner, be sure to eat at Joe Jack’s Fish Shack. The rooftop dining area is decorated with lush greenery.  Joe Jack’s is located in a very lively area of Zona Romantica with lots of bars and restaurants so you can easily go bar hopping from here.  We really enjoyed our seafood dishes as well as our unique cocktails here. 

Joe Jack’s Fish Shack

Joe Jacks Fish Shack Puerto Vallarta

Hacienda del Oro

This restaurant is located on site at Vallarta Botanical Gardens. You can’t go wrong at this restaurant.  The food and views are both great. See the Vallarta Botanical Gardens in What to do section of guide above for more info. 


Tip: Go grocery shopping at Casa Ley on the outskirts of the city center

There are plenty of small stores in the heart of Zona Romantica and the city center.  However, grocery options are very limited/expensive here and you will find little to no produce.  We used our stroller to cart back groceries to our Airbnb in Zona Romantica. If you have a car, go grocery shopping outside of the city center for the most options and best prices. 

Casa Ley Location


Other recommendations we did not have time to check out (all walking less than 10 minutes walking from where we stayed)

  • Coco’s Kitchen (many people recommend to us, good breakfast place, with baby we tend to eat breakfast at our accommodations) 
  • Fredy’s Tucan (Local spot, Breakfast, closes 3 pm, No credit cards) 
  • Langostino’s  (Seafood, Beachfront dining, Surf and Turf at a good price)
  • Los Muertos Brewing (brewery with food as well) 

Tip: Learn some Spanish prior to traveling to Puerto Vallarta

We highly recommend learning some Spanish prior to visiting Puerto Vallarta, Mexico as many people only speak Spanish in this area.  Natalie knows very basic Spanish (took in middle/high school) and Sam is more conversational (taught himself during pandemic lockdown).  We found Sam’s capability to speak Spanish conversationally exceedingly helpful.  We were able to communicate with locals much easier and it really added to our cultural experience.  Sam taught himself Spanish through using several books, the Duolingo App and italki. Please reach out if you would like to discuss with Sam how he taught himself Spanish! 


Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

We highly recommend staying in the heart of Zona Romantica.  From here, you will be able to walk or catch a bus/uber to everywhere you may want to go. You will not need to rent a car.  

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

We particularly recommend the Zona Romantica Airbnb we stayed at in Puerto Vallarta. It has amazing floor to ceiling window views overlooking the picturesque rooftops as well as the ocean in the distance.  It also had a stunning infinity pool on the roof that we loved swimming in with our daughter. 

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

Use this link to get up to $65 off your first Airbnb


We hope this guide helps you plan what to do in Puerto Vallarta.  Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Visiting Ghent, Belgium on a Budget


Ghent, Beligium
Ghent, Beligium

Ghent, Belgium is a port city in northwest Belgium where the Leie and Scheldt rivers meet. This city feels more like a quaint small town with very pretty and well preserved architecture.  Similar to many other western European cities, Ghent can be quite expensive to visit. However, done correctly, you can visit Ghent, Belgium on a budget. We recommend spending 1-2 days here.  Here is our quick guide on Ghent, Belgium on a budget. 

Main Square in Ghent
Main Square in Ghent

Note: This post is written based on a trip taken in early April


What to do in Ghent


Free Walking City Tour

Ghent Walking Tour
Ghent Walking Tour

This tour is by far the best walking tour–paid for or free–that we have gone on.  We have gone on HEAPS of walking tours so this says a lot. Our guide was funny, entertaining, informative and engaging.  If you only do one thing in Ghent, do this. 

We did not book this beforehand and just showed up to it but you can book it in advance.  Make sure to tip your guide well at the end if you enjoy it like we did. 

Ghent Free Walking Tours


See the Cathedrals 

Cathedrals in Ghent, Belgium
St. Bavo’s Cathedral (left), three of the many cathedrals in Ghent (right)

In Ghent, it seems like there is a church on every corner you turn. The most famous is St. Bavo’s Cathedral that houses the famous Ghent Altarpiece.  We paid a small fee to see this up close and have an audio tour of the art piece.


Go to a local brewery

Gruut Brewery
Gruut Brewery

We went to the local Gruut Brewery while in Ghent.  This small brewery had very funky decor, fun staff and a very local feel.  If you are not feeling a brewery stop, consider hitting up one of the many bars with ample choices of delicious Belgian beers.

Belgian Beers
Belgian Beers

See the Gravensteen Castle

Gravensteen Castle
Gravensteen Castle in Ghent

The Gravensteen Castle is a 12th century castle with medieval architecture. You can take a tour here. With the amount of time we had, we opted not to take the tour but it was neat to see, even just from the outside. 


Where to Eat in Ghent


Sample different local cuisine near the main Ghent square 

Locals eats in Ghent
Locals eats in Ghent

We ate at the Holy Food Market, a market in a restored church, that had a lot of local options. Unfortunately, this place has closed since we were in Ghent in 2018 but we think you could get a similar experience by restaurant hopping in/around the square.  Some of our favorite foods in Ghent included croquettes, frites and waffles. 


Where to Stay in Ghent


Stay within walking distance of the main Ghent Square 


Monastery Hotel

Monastery Hotel in Ghent
Monastery Hotel in Ghent

We stayed at Monastery Hotel and would recommend it.  We actually had booked another hotel but that hotel was accidentally overbooked so we ended up at Monasterium PoortAckere and it was a pleasant surprise. This hotel was a former 19th century monastery and has its own chapel. The architecture inside the hotel makes it one of the most unique places we have ever stayed for the night. 

Monastery Hotel


We hope this post helps you plan your trip to Ghent on a Budget.  Anything else you’d add to our guide on visiting Ghent, Belgium on a budget?  We’d love to hear your feedback.  Leave us a comment. 

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

Planning a multi-city trip to Europe? See our How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget guide for more tips on how to do this.

Consider visiting Amsterdam, Paris and/or London while in this area too! See our guides for more budget tips.

Visiting Paris, France on a Budget Guide


Paris is one of the most romantic and elegant European cities. Whether you’re watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle under the night sky or eating a fresh pastry at one of the many local cafes amongst the surrounding iconic architecture, you will feel the magic of this city. Despite being one of the most distinguished cities in the world, you can visit Paris, France on a budget easily. We recommend spending at least 3 days here.  Here is our quick guide on what to do when visiting Paris, France on a budget.

Note: This post is written based on a trip taken in early April


What to do in Paris on a Budget


Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower, Paris
Second floor view Eiffel Tower (left), Eiffel Tower at night (right)

Que the cliché but the Eiffel tower is truly magnificent to behold. See the Eiffel tower at as many different times of day as possible. Our favorite was when it was lit up and sparkling at night. It was truly magical! We also really enjoyed going up to the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower and seeing the panoramic views of the city. 

Eiffel Tower, Paris
Eiffel Tower, Paris

To visit the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower, we recommend taking the Eiffel Tower, Seine River Cruise and City Bus Tour. This tour allowed us to “skip the line” at the Eiffel Tower and was reasonably priced.

Tip: Go here early in the morning to enjoy the Eiffel Tower without the crowds. We stayed near the Eiffel Tower, and we really enjoyed jogging around the tower/surrounding park in the morning when we were some of the only people there. And guess what? This was completely free!


Louvre 

Louvre Museum, Paris
Louvre Museum, Paris

Next, go see the world’s largest, and arguably most iconic, art museum–the Louvre.  The Mona Lisa is housed here amongst many other iconic pieces of art.  You can literally get lost here (we actually did) but that is part of the fun.  Sam also likes to try to be the art (see pictures below). The unique iconic architecture outside of the museum is not to be missed either. 

Louvre Museum, Paris
Louvre Museum, Paris

Louvre Museum

Tip: Make sure to check to see what days the Louvre Museum is open before you visit. The museum was closed on Wednesdays when we were visiting and we were glad to know this prior to arriving so we were able plan out seeing the rest of the city accordingly.

Louvre  Museum, Paris
Louvre Museum, Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

After seeing the Eiffel Tower and Louvre, make a stop at Notre Dame Cathedral. This Cathedral is really a stunning piece of iconic architecture. Unfortunately, the Cathedral was damaged by a fire in April 2019 since our visit but restoration is underworks. This should be completed by Summer 2024.  This cathedral was very impressive and even with the damage, we would still recommend a visit here.


Explore city by foot

Seine River, Arc de Triumph, Luxembourg Gardens
Seine River (left), Arc de Triumph (center), Luxembourg Gardens (right)

On a nice day, this is a great way to see the city. Walk along the Seine river and use this landmark as your home base for navigation.  If walking the city (it is quite large!) is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of bus tours that you can book to see the whole city in a day. Make sure to see the Arc de Triomphe, Jardin du Palais-Royal and the Luxembourg Gardens in addition to all the sites above!


What to eat in Paris on a Budget


Bread, bread, bread!

After exploring the city by foot, you’ll certainly be hungry and have plenty of an appetite to try some fresh French bread and pastries. These baked goods here are really unmatched in taste.  Sample a couple everyday and find your favorite!    


Crepes

Sam loved these and tried as many as possible during our time in Paris.  There are little shops and stands all over the city that sell these. We highly recommend chocolate or nutella filling!


Where to Stay in Paris on a Budget

Stay near the Eiffel tower. We stayed at Hotel Eiffel Rive Gauche near the Eiffel Tower and recommend it. It was nice to be able to run or walk around Eiffel tower park in the morning. This hotel is also within walking distance from most of the other major attractions. The rooms were quite chic and as always, it was budget friendly.

Bonus: Your stay at this hotel includes a complimentary wine and cheese tasting every afternoon. Being from Wisconsin, we are all about a good charcuterie board.


We hope this post helps you plan your trip to Paris on a budget.  Anything else you’d add to our guide?  We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Leave us a comment. 

Tip: Consider visiting London while you are in Paris. There is a high speed train that can get you there in under 2.5 hours! See our London, England Quick Guide for more tips on visiting London.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


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Visiting Lisbon, Portugal on a Budget


We loved Lisbon, Portugal! This city is beautiful with all the different patterned cobblestone streets, colorful buildings and design tile work.  We enjoyed exploring the city by foot as well as eating the freshest seafood and most delightful desserts. You can take in the beauty of Lisbon, Portugal on a budget too as most of the attractions are completely free. We recommend spending at least 3 days in Lisbon.  Here is our guide on what to do when visiting Lisbon, Portugal on a budget.

Note: This post is written based on a trip taken in early March


What to do in Lisbon on a Budget


Explore the Alfama District by foot 

Alfama District Cobblestone Street, Lisbon, Portugal
Alfama District Cobblestone Street

This area is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon. The cobblestone streets and labyrinthine alleyways give it a very unique feel.  The streets here are full of shops selling traditional crafts and food. 

Miradouro Das Portas do Sol, Lisbon, Portugal
Miradouro Das Portas do Sol

The area overlooking the Tagus river is filled with traditional white buildings with ionic orange roofs. Some of the best views of the city are here including Miradouro Das Portas do Sol, a famous viewpoint of the city. 

Cobblestone streets, Lisbon, Portugal
Varying cobblestone patterns that line the sidewalks of Lisbon

Fun fact: Different patterns of black and white cobblestone pave most of the pedestrian walkways throughout Lisbon. We counted 25 + different patterns! The picture above features just some of our favorite cobblestone patterns. Challenge: see how many patterns you can find when visiting. Bonus, seeing all these cobblestone patterns is completely free!


Day trip to Belem 

Belem Tower, Belem, Portugal
Belem Tower

Belem is about 5 miles outside of Lisbon’s city center. You can either walk here or take a Tram from the city center.  Here you can explore the iconic sites of Padrao dos Descobrimentos (Monument of Discoveries to honor Portugesse explorers who departed from here), Belem Tower (UNESCO World Heritage Site, Built to protect access to Portugal on the Tagus River) and the Monastery of Jeronimos.  You also can get Pastel de Nata at the iconic Pastries de Belem (see what/where to eat section below).  

Padrao dos Descobrimentos Monument, Lisbon, Portugal
Padrao dos Descobrimentos Monument

Day Trip to Sintra

Sintra Palace
Sintra Palace

Sintra is an approximately 40 minute train ride from Lisbon and definitely worth the ride.  This magical city is well known for its historic palaces, castles and gardens.  The highlight of our trip here was exploring the Pena Palace and hiking in the Sintra Mountains.  

Hiking through Sintra-Cascais Natural Park
Hiking through Sintra-Cascais Natural Park

We embarked on a steep, very picturesque and green hike through part of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park to get to the Pena Palace located atop of one of the Sintra Mountains. Alternatively, you can take a cab ride to the top of the mountain if hiking is not your idea of a fun time.  However, this hike was so pretty (and completely free) so we really recommend you hike if you can.

The Pena Palace is unlike any castle you have ever seen before with its vibrant colors and unique architecture.  It was very foggy on the day we visited but this only added to the mystical atmosphere of this countryside castle and city. 

Sintra Gardens, Lisbon, Portugal
Sintra Gardens

On our hike down from the castle, we enjoyed exploring the charming gardens as well as the very expansive and luxurious Sintra estates. 

Tip: If you have more time, there are plenty of other attractions to visit in Sintra and you may want to consider making it an overnight trip from Lisbon. 


What/Where to eat in Lisbon


Pastel De Nata

Pastel de Nata at Pastries de Belem
Pastel de Nata at Pastries de Belem

Delicious traditional Portuguese egg tart made with a flakey crust. We loved these! There are little shops selling them everywhere in Lisbon.   

Our favorite Pastel de Nata experience was at Pastries de Belem where Pastel De Nata originated in Belem.  This pastry was created by Catholic Monks in the 18th century to sell and keep the Monastery of Jeronimos open when it was facing closure due to finances. 


Mercado da Ribeira

Times Out Market, Lisbon, Portugal
Times Out Market, Lisbon, Portugal

The Mercado de Ribeira or “Time Out ” Market in Lisbon has a variety of local Portugese food stands all within the same building.  We enjoyed trying a diverse selection of Portugese food here.  We liked this market so much that we ate here twice so we could try more of the food options. 


El Rei D. Frango

El Rei D. Frango, Lisbon, Portugal
El Rei D. Frango

This location is a hole in the wall restaurant (with maybe 10 tables in total) that we stumbled upon while walking around late one afternoon.  The seafood and atmosphere here were really unmatched.   This dinner was our favorite meal in Lisbon and we highly recommend eating here!  We want to fly back to Lisbon to eat here again.

Tips: This restaurant is cash only so make sure to bring enough to pay.  Plan to eat an early dinner unless you do not mind waiting in line outside of the restaurant for a table to open up. There was a line down the street to get in as we were leaving on a Tuesday. We were fortunate to stumble upon this gem!

El Rei D.Frango Lisbon


Chapito a Mesa

Chapito a Mesa, Lisbon, Portugal
Chapito a Mesa

Restaurant in the Alfama district with an incredible view of the river and the whole city. Here you dine in a rooftop garden and it’s the perfect spot for lunch when the weather is nice. The food and atmosphere were both on point. 

Tip: This place is easy to miss because it looks like a gallery from the street.  You have to walk through a little gallery and then take a metal spiral staircase to the main dining area. 


Sardines & Sangria 

Sardines and Sangria in Lisbon, Portugal
Sardines and Sangria in Lisbon, Portugal

To Sam’s delight, Sardines are a delicacy in Portugal and in no short supply.  Sardines were even featured on one of our cheese boards. While Sardines were not Natalie’s cup of tea, the fresh Sangria found throughout Lisbon was.  


Where to Stay in Lisbon on a Budget


VIP Executive Eden Aparthotel

This hotel was large with no fancy frills but the location and price were great.  The rooms were also much bigger than most European hotel rooms and included a small kitchen.  

VIP Hotels


We hope this post helps you plan your trip to Lisbon.  Anything else you’d add to our guide?  We’d love to hear your feedback.  Please leave us a comment. 

While in this area of Europe, be sure to pop over to visit both Madrid and Barcelona in Spain.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

Planning a multi-city trip to Europe? See our How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget guide for more tips on how to do this.

Visiting Madrid, Spain on a Budget


Madrid, Spain’s capital city, is not one to miss.  Despite being a modern city, much of the traditional architecture is well maintained.  Madrid is also a great stepping stone for a day trip to the unique, quaint and ancient city of Toledo aka the “City of Three Cultures”.  We recommend spending at least 2 days here if you plan to take a day trip to Toledo.  A trip to Madrid does not need to be pricey and can be done on a budget as well. Here is our guide on visiting Madrid, Spain on a budget.


What to do in Madrid on a Budget


Day Trip to Toledo

Toledo, Spain
Toledo, Spain views from Mirador del Valle

If you do one thing while in Madrid, do this.  We LOVED our day trip to Toledo.  Toledo is only a 30 minute high speed train ride from Madrid.  This old city is located on a hilltop, surrounded by the Tagus River on three sides and has a very quaint feel.  

Toledo, Spain
Toledo, Spain

It is called the “City of Three Cultures” due to its Jewish, Muslim and Christian influences.  The unique architecture that stems from the mixing of these three cultures is definitely worth seeing.  

Views throughout Toledo, Spain
Views throughout Toledo, Spain

We enjoyed exploring the city streets by foot as well as the Alcazar (Stone Fortification, Army Museum). The best views of the city are from across the river at Mirador del Valle (our first picture is from right before sunset).  

Toledo, Spain
Toledo, Spain

Tip: If you spend three days in Madrid, you could also take a day trip to Segovia.  We did not have time for this but have heard great things about this city. 


Catedral de la Almudena and Palacio Real

Catedral de la Almudena, Madrid, Spain
Catedral de la Almudena

Back in Madrid, this Cathedral has a colorful, bright and unique interior. Not your typical dark cathedral and certainly a photographer’s dream! 

Palacio Real Madrid, Spain
Palacio Real

Right next to the Catedral de la Almudena is Palacio Real.  This Palace has 3,418 rooms and is the largest functioning Royal Palace in Europe.


Parque de Retiro

Parque de Retro, Madrid, Spain
Parque de Retro

This area is a huge and very pretty park in Madrid.  We had this park all to ourselves for an early morning Sunday run.  The size and diversity within this park reminded us of Central Park in NYC (see New York City Quick Guide). Though slightly smaller, it is still over 300 acres!


Dear Hotel Rooftop Bar

Sunset Madrid, Spain at the Dear Hotel
Sunset Madrid, Spain at the Dear Hotel

Great sunset and/or golden hour spot.  Grab a drink at the rooftop bar and enjoy the panoramic views of the city.  


What/Where to eat in Madrid on a Budget


Taberna Alhambra

Taberna Alhambra, Madrid, Spain
Taberna Alhambra

A very cute tapas bar, only a street or two from Puerta de Sol (the main square in Madrid). This place was recommended to us by one of our friend’s who lived in Madrid for a period of time and we really felt like locals here.  The staff were very friendly, the tapas were not only generously portioned but delicious and the atmosphere was really fun.  Definitely make a stop here! 


Chocolateria San Gines

Chocolateria San Gines Churros and Chocolate, Madrid, Spain
Chocolateria San Gines Churros and Chocolate

This cafe specializes in traditional delicious chocolate with churros and has been open since the 1890s.  The atmosphere in here feels very traditional. 

Chocolateria San Gines


Mazapan

Mazapan in Toledo, Spain
Mazapan

This delicacy is a very simple yet very delicious dessert. Made out of ground almonds and sugar.  Make sure to get some while in Toledo. 


Where to Stay in Madrid on a Budget


Lapepa Chic 

Lapepa Madrid, Spain
Lapepa Madrid, Spain

This accommodation is a very cute bed and breakfast less than 10 minutes from the main square, Puerta de Sol.  We were able to walk everywhere we visited in Madrid, including the train station, from this location. The breakfast included was held in a cute main room and was a great start to our days.  The front desk staff were also very helpful and kind.  We’d highly recommend a stay here! 

Lapepa Chic 


We hope this post helps you plan your trip to Madrid, Spain on a Budget.  Be sure to visit Barcelona while in Spain as well. Anything else you’d add to our guide on visiting Madrid, Spain on a Budget?  We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Leave us a comment.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

Planning a multi-city trip to Europe? See our How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget guide for more tips on how to do this.

Visiting London, England on a Budget


Tower Bridge, London, England
Tower Bridge, London, England

London is one of the most influential cities in the world and a must see.  Whether you are exploring the iconic city architecture or enjoying tea time, you are sure to love your time in London.  We recommend spending at least 3-4 days here, as well as taking a day trip to the countryside while in London.  Despite London being one of the most expensive cities in the world, you can visit London, England on a budget. Here is our guide on visiting London, England on a budget. 

Note: This post was written based on a trip taken in early April


What to do in London on a Budget


Take a Day Trip to Stonehenge, Oxford and Windsor

This outing was our favorite excursion we did while visiting London. Book a small group tour that departs from London early in the morning and returns to London in the early evening. This link has the specific Stonehenge, Oxford and Windsor Castle tour we recommend taking. Below is a breakdown of visiting each place.

Stonehenge 

Stonehenge Inner Circle Tour
Stonehenge Inner Circle Tour

Stonehenge, a ring of very large stones, is a mystical landmark located in southwest England. Although its origins are not well understood, Stonehenge is thought to be most likely an ancient burial ground.

Book a tour, such as the one we did, that allows you to go into the Inner Circle at Stonehenge.  Going into the Inner Circle at Stonehenge costs a bit more than a regular tour, but it is completely worth the extra cost. It is very cool to be able to get up close to and walk around the stones before Stonehenge opens to the general public.  This allows you to experience the mystical essence of Stonehenge without huge crowds. 

Oxford

Oxford, England
Oxford, England

Next stop on your tour will be Oxford University. So many famous people have attended or lectured at this school. As our tour guide said “it is just dripping with history”.  Walking around the campus gives you a feeling of prestige. The town is also very quaint and picturesque.  A guided city/campus tour is included in the trip we recommend and our guide was excellent. 

Windsor Castle/Windsor

Oxford, England

Windsor Castle, located in the town of Windsor, is one of the English royal family’s most famous estates. The areas of the castle you are able to see are very impressive. The architecture and elegant décor makes you feel immersed in English high society. The chapel where the royal weddings occur is very cool to see in-person.  Many may have seen this chapel through TV airing of royal weddings, but seeing it in-person is like walking through living history.


Attend Afternoon Tea Time

Afternoon Tea, Fortnum and Mason
Afternoon Tea, Fortnum and Mason

Traditional afternoon tea is an experience we’d highly recommend having in London. We went to afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason in London and really enjoyed it.  Here, we got to try several different teas, tea sandwiches and sweets.  Most notably, we ate the BEST scones we have ever tasted here. Tea time was not only delicious but also quite relaxing. The wait staff here are very helpful and kind as well. They will help you choose what teas and foods you may enjoy.  Afternoon tea took about 2 hours, so make sure to budget enough time so that you can really enjoy and savor the experience. 

Tip: Make a reservation at least two weeks prior to visiting


Visit Iconic London Architecture 

Parliament (left), Telephone stand (left center), Kensington Palace (right center), English Taxi (right)

Tower Bridge, Parliament, Big Ben Clocktower, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, etc.  It is very neat to see the places as they all have exceedingly rich histories and are featured in many different movies/television shows. 

Buckingham Palace, London, England
Buckingham Palace, London, England

These iconic sites are located all throughout the city.  We’d recommend mapping out the location of each on Google Maps and then creating a plan to see them all throughout your stay in London.  We saw a couple each day based on what was in close proximity to what else we were doing. Tours are offered at many of the locations if you want a guided and more educational experience.


Visit one of the many Public Parks in London

Hyde Park, London, England
Hyde Park, London, England

Did you know there are approximately 3000 public parks in London?  It certainly surprised us that such a large city had so much designated green space.

Hyde Park, London, England
Hyde Park, London, England

We’d recommend going to Green Park, Hyde Garden and St. James Park. These are three of the largest and most centrally located public parks.  All of these three parks have very pretty gardens and are a good place to walk around and relax on a nice day. Hyde park was our favorite of these three.

These parks are not a must while in London but definitely worth seeing if you have the time.


What to eat in London on a Budget


Indian Food

Indian Sampler, London, England
Indian Sampler

Did you know chicken tikka masala is the national dish of England? India was a British Colony for almost 200 years and during that time England learned how to really cook Indian food.  We ate Indian food several times in England and were not disappointed once. There are Indian restaurants everywhere in London so we’d recommend going to one conveniently located for you.


Scones

Tea Time at Fortnum and Mason, London, England
Tea Time at Fortnum and Mason, London, England

A scone is a crumbly British pastry that you spread jam and clotted cream on. As noted above, the best scones we tasted in London were at Fortnum and Mason but there were great tasting scones throughout the city.  Try as many different scones as you can while in London! 

Fortnum and Mason


Eat on The Queens Walk

Food on The Queens Walk, London, England
Food on The Queens Walk

The Queens Walk, located next to the Thames River and near the London Eye, has heaps of different restaurant and food stand options. The atmosphere throughout this area is very fun here. We had some scrumptious honey cinnamon ice cream and a Mexican Sampler spread along here.


Most importantly, London is a big, diverse city with many different amazing ethnic restaurants.  We’d recommend eating whatever you are feeling that day! 


Where to Stay in London on a Budget

We’d recommend staying near the London Eye as it is quite centrally located and we were able to walk to all the iconic spots (without having to hassle with using public transportation) in London. 


Premier Inn London

We stayed at the Premier Inn London County Hall.  This was a big hotel but the location was great and the price was reasonable. It was right along the river too, which made a great running path in the morning. 

Premier Inn London


We hope this post helps you plan your London trip.  Anything else you’d add to our guide?  We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

Consider visiting Paris, Ghent and Amsterdam while in this part of Europe too!

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

Planning a multi-city trip to Europe? See our How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget guide for more tips on how to do this.

Visiting Killarney, Ireland on a Budget Guide


Killarney is a quaint and charming town in County Kerry on the southwest shore of Ireland.  Killarney is a great base to see the beautiful Irish countryside and tour the iconic Ring of Kerry.  We’d recommend at least 3 days here to allow you to do an excursion or two from Killarney. Even though Ireland is one of the more expensive countries to visit, you can visit Killarney, Ireland on a reasonable budget. Here is our guide for visiting Killarney, Ireland on a budget. 

Note: This post is written based on a trip taken in early July


What to do in Killarney on a Budget


Ring of Kerry Day Tour

Ring of Kerry Tour
Ring of Kerry Tour

The Ring of Kerry is a scenic driving route along the Iveragh Peninsula of southwest Ireland that takes you along the scenic seaside, coastal villages and Killarney National Park.  The views on this route exemplify the picturesque and green Ireland you have always imagined.

Ring of Kerry Tour
Ring of Kerry Tour

We recommend taking a guided tour of the Ring of Kerry to see as much as possible and learn some history along the way.  We booked a tour that also included hiking up to Bray Head, a popular hill offering scenic coastal views.  

Portmagee, Ireland on Ring of Kerry Tour
Portmagee, Ireland on Ring of Kerry Tour

Ring of Kerry and Bray Head Day Tour


Gap of Dunloe Hike

Gap of Dunloe Hike
Gap of Dunloe Hike

The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow pass that separates two mountain ranges (the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range and the Purple mountain range).  The hike through the Gap of Dunloe is about 7 miles.

Gap of Dunloe Hike
Gap of Dunloe Hike

We took a “tour” where we were picked up in the city center of Killarney and then dropped off to hike the Gap of Dunloe at our own pace. Then, we were picked up by a small boat at the end our hike and given a ride on the Gearhameen River. The boat then dropped us off at Ross Castle where we were picked up by a van and returned to the city center of Killarney. 

Boat Ride from Gap of Dunloe
Boat Ride from Gap of Dunloe

The day we completed this hike, it POURED. The pictures do not do justice to how wet we got from the rain. Despite the pouring rain, this was a beautiful hike and the unrelenting rain made the experience more memorable.  The boat ride on the Gearhameen River was very pretty as well and our boat driver, a local Irishman, was quite entertaining. It is certainly an experience we will never forget!

Gap of Dunloe Tour

Tip: Bring quality rain gear for any hiking you do in Ireland. More likely than not, it is going to rain at some point during your hike (Ireland is so green because it rains ALL the time). We were not appropriately prepared for this rainy hike (and were quite cold during it) but we have since invested in better waterproof hiking gear. We use and recommend the high quality products below. You will get years of use of of each of these items and they are well worth the investment.


What/Where to eat in Killarney on a Budget


Cronins

The food here was delicious.  They have daily specials and we recommend getting one of those. We enjoyed lamb and a seafood special as our main dishes. We particularly loved the dessert, chocolate caramel brownie, we got here too. 

Cronin’s Restaurant 


Lamb & Seafood

Both lamb and seafood are local specialties and extremely fresh.  We ordered both daily at various restaurants. Before we visited Ireland, we were told by numerous people the food was not that good but we disagree.  We did not have one bad meal the whole time we were there! 

Lamb and Seafood in Killarney
Lamb and Seafood in Killarney

The Shire

This Lord of the Rings themed bar is one-of-a-kind.  If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, stop here for a drink.  You can get the signature cocktail ‘Hobbit-Juice’. 


Where to stay in Killarney on a Budget


Stay somewhere in Killarney that is close enough to the main drag so that you can walk everywhere

Old Weir Lodge

We stayed at the Old Weir Lodge and would recommend it. Our stay included a generous and traditional made-to-order Irish breakfast that we enjoyed each morning. The lodge and rooms were quaint and cozy as well. 

Old Weir Lodge


We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Killarney on a budget.  Make sure to check our Dublin while in Ireland as well.  Anything you’d add to our guide on visiting Killarney, Ireland on a budget? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

Planning a multi-city trip to Europe? See our How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget guide for more tips on how to do this.

Visiting Dublin, Ireland on a Budget


There is just something invigorating and intoxicating (and it’s not just the beer) about the atmosphere in Dublin.  From the abundant amount of live Irish music and dancing at the pubs to the friendly people you’ll meet on the street, Dublin certainly has its unique charm.  We’d recommend 1-2 days here to get a feel for the ambiance. Also, although Ireland is rated as one of the most expensive countries to visit, Dublin can be explored on a budget. Here is our guide on visiting Dublin, Ireland on a budget. 

Note: This post is written based on a trip taken in early July


What to do in Dublin on a Budget


Go Pub Hopping 

The Temple Bar, Dublin Ireland
The Temple Bar, Dublin Ireland

Wander through the city center, going from pub to pub, and get lost listening to the live music at each bar. Make sure to go to the iconic Temple Bar with its daily live music and large whiskey collection for an entertaining time. 


Guinness Storehouse Tour

Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse

This stop is a self guided tour that will teach you about the history and brewing process of the famous Irish stout, Guinness.

The Guinness Storehouse is designed to look like a pint of Guinness and is seven stories tall 

At the end of the tour, on the seventh floor, you can enjoy a pint of Guinness Beer at the gravity bar that has 360 views of Dublin.  If you are a sucker for a good view like us, this is really the best part!  

Tip: Make sure you book ahead as tour times tend to sell out a couple weeks in advance 


Visit Iconic Dublin Sites

Trinity College, Grafton Street (Pedestrian Street), Dublin Castle, St. Patrick Cathedral, and more.

St. Patrick Cathedral, Grafton Street and Dublin Castle
St. Patrick Cathedral (left), Grafton Street (center) and Dublin Castle (right)

If you stay in the city center, you will be able to walk to all of these. We’d recommend mapping out the location of each on Google Maps and then creating a plan to see them all throughout your stay.  We saw a couple everytime we went out to do something else. 

Trinity College
Trinity College

Tip: If you are looking for a good (and free) workout, on the main campus at Trinity college, there is a short (approximately ¾ of a mile) running path with HITT stations along it.  After discovering this path while exploring the college the day prior, we went up to the college the next morning and made several laps on the trail for a great morning workout. See How to Stay in Shape While Traveling.


Irish Music/Dance Show

Seeing a traditional Irish music and dance show was one of the highlights of our time in Dublin.  We saw the Celtic Nights show and would recommend it.  The show was a fun and energetic performance that included a lot of different traditional Irish music as well as Irish dancing and a three-course dinner.  Neither of us remember the food being particularly spectacular but we do remember that the performances made the experience worth the cost. 

Celtic Nights Show


What/Where to eat in Dublin on a Budget


Traditional Irish Pub

Irish Pub
Irish Pub

We ate at several of these pubs, getting something different each time (fish and chips, smoked salmon, sandwiches).  The food at most places was simple but good and the atmosphere was always fun.  We’d recommend eating at pubs with live music as this is what we remember more than the food in Dublin. 


Where to Stay in Dublin on a Budget


Stay in the city center and near the river Liffey (river that runs through the center of Dublin) to make navigation easy.

Liffey River Dublin, Ireland
Liffey River Dublin, Ireland

Arlington Hotel

We stayed at the Arlington Hotel right off of O’Connell Bridge in the city center.  From here, you are able to walk to all the main attractions. This is a large hotel but the rooms were nice, the location was perfect and it was budget friendly.  We also enjoyed the Celtic Nights Performance here–a live show filled with traditional Irish Music and Irish dancing discussed above.

Arlington Hotel


We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Dublin, Ireland on a Budget.  Make sure to check out Killarney while in Ireland as well.  Anything you’d add to our guide on visiting Ireland on a budget? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

Planning a multi-city trip to Europe? See our How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget guide for more tips on how to do this.