Cheap and cheerful: where to go in Dublin this autumn?

A selection of Dublin’s cheapest spots to unwind and get cultured

To reduce upcoming assignment woes, a venture outside College grounds onto the streets of our fine city presents an opportunity to appreciate Dublin’s little luxuries. An exploration of the city’s affordable activities adds a bit of elegance to the oh so refined student experience.


A kiss from Dublin’s cultural gods has granted us with the pleasure of entering some of the city’s finest museums free of charge. The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) showcases contemporary and modern art in an aesthetically pleasing setting. Starting October 4, IMMA will display Gaze, an exhibition by painter Lucian Freud that will attempt to uncover the significance of the human gaze via a “visceral portrayal of the body in art”.

A ten minute walk west of Trinity, the Chester Beatty Library consists of the “miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and decorative arts” collected by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty during his travels to the Middle East and Asia in the 20th century. On Saturday, October 20, the library will hold classes specialising in Qi Gong, an ancient meditation practice that focuses on “rhythmic breathing” and the coordination of “slow movements”.

Closer to home, the Science Gallery is nestled on College’s north-east end of campus, adjacent to the Trinity Sport Centre. The museum fuses modern art with science, and organises collaborations with authors and scholars to present talks to the public. Most recently, the gallery invited author Ian Hughes to discuss his book, ‘Disordered Minds: How Dangerous Personalities Are Destroying Democracy’. Events are held on a weekly basis and are announced on their Facebook page.

Other free museums to put on the radar include: The National Gallery of Ireland, The Hugh Lane, and the National Museum of Ireland.

Parks and nature

In keeping with Irish tradition, accessible, green space is a feature that even Dublin city centre possesses. For those who find that St. Stephen’s Green is a bit too mainstream, a wander into Merrion Square may help to broaden your botanical horizons. A ten minute walk from campus, the park provides a quiet place to enjoy a stroll in a picturesque Georgian setting.

Enter the National Botanic Gardens gratis to enjoy flora in a meditative atmosphere. The “premier scientific institution” boasts seven glasshouses, presenting a lovely opportunity to sketch the 15,000 plant species that the gardens house. On the agenda for October is an array of free workshops that vary from photography and sculpture, to an informative session on National Tree Day. The gardens are accessible from 9am to 5pm during the week, and 10am to 6pm on weekends and public holidays.  

For the more athletic and adventurous, Dublin’s hiking trails present a walk that’s slightly more intense. Mask the burn in your calves with friendly chats and the lovely sea views that Killiney Hill, the Howth cliff walk and the Bray to Greystones walk have to offer. All three destinations are accessible via a short trip on the DART, which will cost you €4.75 maximum with your student Leap card.

Foodie experiences

While it is tempting to categorise Dublin’s main food groups into stout, burritos (sigh), and donuts (double sigh), it is actually possible to enjoy the finer things in life while keeping tabs on the budget. Stepping 100 metres outside the vicinity of Trinity allows for expansion into the city’s food marts, coffee nooks and cafes.

The Temple Bar Food Market sells seasonal produce, meats and cheeses, baked goods, and quick bites in one of Dublin’s prime locations. The market is held at Meeting House Square, the heart of Temple Bar, from 10.30am to 4.30pm every Saturday. On your day out to Howth, it’s also worth snooping about the Howth Harbour Farmers Market, which operates from 10am to 5pm every Saturday, Sunday, and Bank Holiday Monday.

As an affordable way to spend time in the company of others, grabbing a coffee has long been a means to strengthening friendships via caffeine-fueled conversations. The Dublin Barista School off Dawson Street provides you with all of the bits and bobs of a high-end coffee shop without having to spend an unreasonable amount. Better yet, their happy hour lasts from 2pm to 4pm Monday to Thursday, just in time to cure the afternoon slump.

If coffee doesn’t satisfy the soul, Cafe Moda in Rathmines certainly satisfies the stomach. The affordable eatery enables students to attend their social outings without suffering from the guilt of spending an excessive amount on brunch. As proof, the Moda Mega Breakfast consists of a massive fry with a complimentary coffee or tea on the side, for only €6.95. To visit the cafe, take the 140 bus from Dame Street into Rathmines town centre. From there, it’s a short walk to the all-day breakfast, open weekdays from 7:30am to 6pm and weekends 9am to 6pm.

Although we’re naturally drawn to Trinity’s little world, other activities available around Dublin’s city centre add value to the college experience. In balancing the treat yo ‘self attitude with financial accessibility, take time to delve into the cultural scene of the the city which we all call home.

Caroline Boyle

Caroline Boyle is a current Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. She is a Senior Fresh BESS student, and a former Senior Reporter.