By Amanda Little
Traveling around the world comes with expenses, but not everything has to cost you cash. There are plenty of free things to do for any kind of traveler. Check out these 15 free activities for the next time you're in Ireland.
1. Trinity College and Science Gallery • Dublin
History and education presented for all to see.
You could go on a tour hosted by students or wander the grounds yourself, but make sure not to miss its beautiful Science Gallery just within its gates. A practical approach to science in this gallery shows how things we do everyday involve art and science. This college also houses the Book of Kells in its library. Entry to the Book of Kells is not free, however Trinity College students enjoy free entry for themselves and one guest at any time; strike up a conversation with a nearby student and schmooze your way to a free ticket!
2. Street Performers • Galway
Entertainment runs rampant along the streets.
Shopping Grafton Street is fun, but quite a few of the stores along the pedestrian street are chains that you will likely find near your home. Instead, wander among the bustling people and pick out street performers to watch. Performances range from Irish violins and singers to full-sized pianos and even a fire-breathing magician that turns up more often than not.
3. Phoenix Park • Dublin
Wander a patch of green in an urban jungle.
You might want to set aside a full day to explore the beauty of Europe's largest inner-city park. You can look for Ireland's national animal, the red deer, that roam openly in the woodlands of the park, or stop in and enjoy the Dublin Zoo, which is also within Phoenix Park and is free to enter.
4. The Ulster Museum • Belfast
Take a step back in time to an ancient Ireland.
If you crave history, Ulster Museum should be your first stop in Belfast. This magnificent building houses artifacts from Ireland's complex past, as well as international treasures, among them an Egyptian mummy! Along with the county's history, you can take a walk through the natural history section as well as an art gallery. With several floors to explore, it's a full day of fun, or you can come back again later, since it's free!
5. Botanic Gardens • Belfast
Find a moment of peace among these sprawling gardens.
Pick out a sunny day to walk among students, dog walkers, and locals in the Botanic Gardens next to Queen's University. This peaceful part of the city provides green open spaces and a wonderful place to picnic. You could walk through the Palm House, a greenhouse hosting tropical plants and hanging baskets, or the Tropical Ravine, which has some of the oldest seed plants, banana plants, and orchids.
6. Views over the city • Belfast
Enjoy the unique points hidden in Belfast with the best views.
Take the walk up to Belfast Castle and look out from its gardens over Belfast Lough, or make the 45 minute climb up Cave Hill from the castle for an even better view out over Ireland. On a clear day, you can even pick out Scotland in the distance. If the climb doesn't appeal, you could also stop in at the Victoria Square Shopping Center in the city and make your way to the glass dome to look out over Belfast's rooftops.
7. Croagh Patrick & Clew Bay • County Mayo
Emerge triumphant atop the mountain overlooking the water.
Take a long stroll along the beautiful beaches and port of Clew Bay. The choice to explore just ten minutes from Westport or take a full day to wander the shore is yours. Or, if you're looking for a bit more of an adventure, just before Bertra Beach is Crough Patrick. Standing as the third highest peak in County Mayo, the mountain is best known for its holy association with Saint Patrick who is said to have fasted for 40 days on its summit. The most popular trail to the summit begins at the west end of Murrisk on Louisburgh Road.
8. Aran Islands • Galway
Set sail to the islands laden with ancient sites.
The ferry from Galway to the Aran Islands may not be free (and it's recommended you book ferry tickets in advance), but once you've arrived there are so many free opportunities to explore, either by foot or bike. Make your way through Inis Mor, Inis Meain, and Inis Oirr as you parade through medieval castles, enjoy beautiful sandy beaches, and make your way through prehistoric forts.
9. Live Music • Galway
Enjoy the lively Irish music floating through the air.
Nothing brings about the liveliness of Ireland like its music. Monroe's Tavern in Galway is known as the place to go for free live music every night of the week. With over 50 years of the guarantee, Monroe's is the place to be. While you're there, maybe you'll get into the spirit enough to get a pint of Guinness, too.
10. Lismore Castle • Waterford
Walk the historic grounds of Lismore, and more!
Just beyond Waterford, the scenic town of Lismore sits along the Blackwater River, with Lismore Castle towering above it all. The heritage town hosts walking tours twice a day, and the Heritage Center is open to all for more information about walking the stunning gardens as well as other attractions nearby, such as St. Carthage's Cathedral and the Towers Woodland Trail, which is just outside of town.
11. Curraghmore House • Waterford
Get a taste of what ancient royal life was like in Ireland.
Stop in at the largest private dwelling in Ireland, the Curraghmore House. This historic house was built for the La Poer family in 1177 and is still occupied by their descendants. Their grounds, spanning over 2,500 acres of woodlands, gardens, and pastures, are open to the public. Tours through the grounds explain plans for their improvement, and tours through the house are available as well.
12. The Viking Triangle • Waterford
Take a look at how history and its people has changed the land.
Narrow streets, public spaces, and cultural attractions make up the Viking Triangle in Ireland's oldest city, Waterford. Norse settlers establishes the city in 914 AD and among their rampaging of Ireland, they also laid the foundations for many towns and cities. Embark on a tour through the heritage sites and maybe stop in at Reginald's Tower for an exhibition of their past.