Have a layover in Dublin and looking to explore? Then this post is for you! Dublin may not be a major hub for layovers, but if you are lucky enough to have a few extra airport hours in Ireland’s capital, then it’s pretty easy to make the most of it. Dublin airport is quite close to the city centre, making it easy to spend a couple of hours exploring before your next flight. Here are my top recommendations for a layover in Dublin.
How Long Do I Need for a Layover in Dublin?
Dublin city centre is quite close to the airport, but you still have to consider how long it will take you to get through immigration, then check in again. Immigration at Dublin Airport can be slow (my last visit this area was under construction), so I’d allow an hour from the time you land to get out of the airport, especially if you need to find somewhere to store your luggage.
Keep in mind, you also need to check back in and go through security for your next flight. Dublin Airport recommends at least 90 minutes for this. The final consideration is getting to/from the airport. It’s about 30 minutes each way (depending on traffic) so you will need to allow minimum one hour there as well.
With all of this in mind, to be safe, I’d recommend a layover of six hours or more before thinking of venturing into the city. That being said, if you are able to speed through immigration you could probably swing a very quick visit on a five-hour layover.
Where Can I Store My Luggage?
There is a paid left luggage service in Terminal 1 of the Dublin Airport at the Excess Baggage Company. The terminals are located side-by-side so it’s easy to walk from one to the other if you are using Terminal 2.
Another option is to take your luggage with you and store it in the city centre. The Dublin Tourism Office, located across from Trinity College at 37 College Green, will store your bags for 6 euro a piece for up to 24 hours. It’s close to the drop-off and pick up point for the bus from the airport, though check ahead and see what the opening/closing times are.
How Do I get to the City Centre?
There are several options for getting to Dublin city centre from the Airport. Taxis are probably the quickest, though most expensive, option. There is also a city bus which is inexpensive, but quite slow. I prefer the Airlink Express bus which stops at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of the airport, then offers a pretty direct route to Dublin city- stopping only at a few major areas. You can purchase your ticket on board or, save time and money, book ahead of time online (no need to pre-book a bus time or a seat).
The Airlink Express buses run every 15-20 minutes and offer free Wi-Fi on board. I recommend riding until O’Connell Street/ Bridge or the Trinity College Stop. This is the heart of the city and the big spire or Trinity College make for easy landmarks to remember where to get off and back on later. That being said, you can get on or off at any of the stops along the route.
Please note, at this time programs like Uber are not very common in Dublin, so don’t rely on it for your layover.
What Can I Do on a Layover in Dublin?
The quick answer? A lot. Dublin has a lot to see and do in the heart of the city centre and many of these attractions are free and within walking distance of each other. If you only have a couple of hours to explore, then I suggest that you consider some of the following:
Window Shop on Grafton Street
Grafton Street is Dublin’s main shopping street and has a number of great International and Irish stores, but even if you aren’t a big shopper it’s still worth exploring. This pedestrian-only area is also where you will find most of Dublin’s street performers. From musicians to artists to bubble-blowers, they can be a lot of fun to watch.
Walk in the Park at St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green is a park in the heart of the city, located just at the base of St. Stephen’s Green. There are several paths, a duck-filled lake, and beautiful gardens in the spring. On a warm sunny day, this park will be filled with locals lounging on the grass. St. Stephen’s Green is also played a large role in the 1914 Easter Rising- there are signs around the park to fill you in on the details.
Wander Through the Grounds of Trinity College
Trinity College is Dublin’s famous and historic university. It’s a gorgeous building and the grounds are open to the public. Trinity College is also where you can find the Book of Kells and the stunning Long Hall. However, this requires a ticket and the lines can be quite long, making it not the most ideal option on a short layover in Dublin. However, if you have a longer layover, they are worth the visit.
Explore Temple Bar District
Temple Bar District is known as the tourist party spot in the city, but there is also plenty of culture to be found here as well. Seeing the Temple Bar Pub is, of course, a must. But I also recommend you pop into some of the boutiques, shops, and galleries you may find along the way. Keep in mind, food and drink in Temple Bar tends to be much pricier than in other parts of the city. So if you are on a budget, save that meal or a pint of Guinness for somewhere a little less busy.
Dublin Castle may not be the most impressive castle in Ireland (so don’t get your princess hopes up too high) but it’s still pretty impressive and an important part of the city. The building dates back to the early 13thcentury but today is a government complex and museum. To go inside, you will need to book tours. But walking around the outside is free.
Grab an Irish Meal and/or a Pint of Guinness
Exploring on a layover is hungry work and, let’s be honest, food in the city is way better (and probably cheaper) than at the airport. While Dublin has no shortage of pubs, I have a couple of favourites that are easy to find, central, and authentic. Here are a couple of Dublin’s pubs that make a great stop for a pint and a bite to eat.
- Davy Byrnes: A historic literary pub just off of Grafton Street. Serves a good selection of fresh pub fare and plenty of drink options.
- The Palace Bar: On the outskirts of Temple Bar, this Victorian Pub is a local and tourist favourite. Not a great pick if you are really hungry, but perfect if you want to enjoy a pint in a historic Irish pub.
- Bewley’s Café: If you’d prefer a nice café to a pub, then Bewley’s is the perfect pick. Located on Grafton Street it’s an elegant spot with great food and drink options. Perfect for a meal or even just a cup of tea and a fresh scone.
You will probably wonder why major Dublin attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse or any of the city’s museums aren’t on this list. That’s because these attractions require tickets and often come with long lineups (plus the Guinness Storehouse isn’t exactly close to the other areas). If you have a day or longer in Dublin, it’s definitely worth your time. However, for those who only have a couple of hours on their layover in Dublin, I’d stick to the areas above which will allow you to see and do more during your short visit.
Tip: If you don’t have data plan while you are travelling, you can grab a Dublin map from the information desk at the airport. Or, download an offline city map (I use maps.me) to make it even easier to navigate your way around.
Staying the Night?
If you have a longer layover and need to spend the night, there are a number of options for accommodation. If your flight has an early departure, I might recommend staying in a Dublin airport hotel. However, if you have a later departure definitely spend the night in town. Dublin has plenty of hotels, B&Bs, and hostels to choose from depending on your travel style and budget. Here are a few of my recommendations.
If you have a long layover in Dublin, don’t spend it sitting in the airport! With the city centre so close by and plenty of easy, free things to do, it’s definitely worth venturing into town for a quick visit.
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