How to get around Dublin, Ireland: a practical guide by a local on how to use Dublin’s public transport and taxis – options, tickets and practical tips
Dublin has a compact city center and most of its most famous attractions are a short distance from each other.
However, some important sights are a little detached from the town center proper and to visit them, you will need some form of transport.
The city offers a few good options ranging from double-decker buses to trams (the Luas), and a light urban railway (the Dart) and you can also, of course, use the car.
I have been living in Dublin for over 14 years and, as you can imagine, I have been getting around a good bit, over this time!
This is my guide on how to get around Dublin Fair City and it complements my recommend Dublin itinerary for a perfect city break in the Irish capital!
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How to get from Dublin airport to Dublin city center
Most people arrive in Dublin by air, landing at Dublin international airport (DUB).
Dublin airport is to the North of the city and about 25-30 minutes from the center, traffic permitting.
Connection is ensured by buses and taxis and you can choose between several solutions, depending on the time you have available and budget.
Need to know: traffic can be very intense in Dublin and can really impact on the time needed to get into town. Always factor in a little longer and don’t book tours straight after arrival as you may get delayed.
Dublin airport to city center by bus (Budget option)
Several buses connect Dublin to the city center and their terminal is just outside the Dublin airport arrivals hall.
If you head left as you leave the building, you will see them in front of you: they are double-decker buses, yellow and blue in color.
These buses are part of the Dublin bus network and are the cheapest (and longest) option to go from the airport to Dublin city center and the South of the city.
The cost of this option is a little less than 4 Euro at the time of writing.
Tickets can be bought on board, cash only, or at the machine located at the stop.
Need to know: While convenient if you have accommodation on their routes or if you are on a strict budget, I do not recommend taking the normal bus if you only have only one weekend in Dublin or have accommodation more than a few stops away. The journey is long (it takes me an hour to get home on the Southside of the river) and will eat into your time in town.
Dublin airport to Dublin city center by shuttle bus: mid-budget option
A faster way to get to Dublin city center without breaking the bank is by using one of the specialized buses.
The 2 bus services cater specifically for the airport route, Airlink and Aircoach.
They both stop immediately outside the arrivals terminal building and connect you swiftly to the city center (traffic permitting).
The cost is around 7 Euro per person (12 euro return at the time of writing).
This is an excellent option if you are staying in Dublin city center (O’Connell Street, Grafton Street area). Both buses have space for luggage and tickets can be purchased when boarding.
Dublin airport to the city center by taxi (most expensive option)
By far the most convenient way to get into Dublin city center is by taxi.
A ride will cost anything between 30 and 40 Euro (depending on traffic, metered) and bags go free.
This is a great option for small groups especially and by far the quickest way into any part of town.
Need to know: If you are traveling to Dublin with kids in town, please be advised that car seats are not compulsory on taxis and usually not provided. Bring your own if necessary – our selection of portable car seats is here.
Dublin airport to Dublin city center by car
If Dublin is the first stop on an Ireland road trip, you may find yourself wanting to collect a car at the airport and drive into town.
This is easily done and the way into Dublin well signposted.
The best and cheapest way is to follow the main motorway into town or you can opt for the port tunnel.
This is a slightly faster option usually but also a more expensive one (10 Euro toll at peak time): personally, I believe this is money you can save. You can find additional information here
Once in the city, I recommend you do not drive but rather park the car and explore on foot.
Ideally, when planning your trip to Ireland, look for a Dublin hotel with free parking or consider day rates in one of the many parking lots in town.
Most streets in Dublin city center are pay and display and hourly rates add up fast.
Arriving to Dublin by ferry / cruise ship
If you are arriving in Dublin from the sea, you can choose between getting a taxi, tram or bus.
The tram stop serving the cruise port is not ideally situated and only really convenient if your accommodation is along the tram line.
Buses are more convenient: the line 53 and the Dublin port shuttle bus both bring you to the city center.
How to use public transport in Dublin
Dublin has a transport network of buses and trams (the LUAS), plus a light railway (the DART).
The system works pretty well and while not cheap, it is a good way to move around the city if you have accommodation outside of the center or you need to reach some attractions a little outside of the main city center area such as the Guinness Storehouse or Kilmainham Gaol.
Tickets can be bought on the bus (kids under 4 go free) while tram tickets are sold by automatic machines at each tram station.
The DART, the city’s light railway system, is excellent to explore the coast: tickets for the train can be bought at each train station, some of which are right in the city center (Pearse street, Tara street station, Connolly station)
Type of tickets available
There are several ticket options and which one to go for will depends mostly on how long you will stay in Dublin and your exact plans.
This is an overview of the best of them.
Single hop bus tickets
This is the best bus ticket option if you only need the bus occasionally.
The cost of each ticket depends on the distance traveled and currently, it can be anything between 1.30 Europ (up to 3 stops) to 3.30 Euro (13+ stops).
You can buy tickets from the driver when boarding, paying with coins (no bills or cards accepted). No change given.
Leap visitor cars
The leap visitors card is a handy card that allows for unlimited travel on Dublin public transport services including Airlink 747 and 757 buses, standard Dublin buses, the Luas (the Dublin tram) and trains (short hop zone only)
The visitors leap card is s great solution if you are planning on using public transport several times in a day or if traveling longer distances.
The leap visitors card is valid 1, 3 or 7 days and costs 1 day – €10.00, 3 days – €19.50, 7 days – €40.00. You can buy it online and it will be delivered to your postal address.
Need to know: the visitors leap card is not an e-ticket and you need to have the physical card on you any time you wish to use it.
Regular Leap card
The regular Leap card is not designed for visitors as such (it is the ticket I use as a local) but it is excellent for anyone staying in Dublin for over 7 days.
It is a rechargeable card and it has a minimum first purchase of 5 Euro
You can buy the leap card in many shops in Dublin or online: it is available both for adults and children.
Need to know: when using your Leap card, you need to ‘tag on’ when boarding the bus or Luas. When using the Luas, don’t forget to ‘tag off’ or you will be charged the top fare!
Dublin on foot
While you are likely to use the bus, tram or both while visiting Dublin, you will be happy to hear that large parts of the city are actually walking distance from each other.
To give you an idea: St Stephens’ green (park), Grafton Street (shops) Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Christchurch and St Patrick’s Cathedral are all within a 10-minute walk radius.
Attractions that will require you taking the bus/tram are the Guinness Storehouse, Phoenix Park, Imaginosity children museum and Glasnevin cemetery.
Hop-on hop-off bus tours
A good alternative to public transport are the hop on – hop off tours crisscrossing the city.
While pricier than standard buses, they do allow to easily reach more off the beaten track attractions worth seeing.
I recommend this solution if you are short on time and would like to see attractions such as Glasnevin cemetery, which is wonderful but quite a way if reached by standard bus.
The most scenic is the open top tour which is wonderful on a sunny day and yes, we do get sunny days in Dublin, more than many realize actually!
Getting a taxi in Dublin
Dublin has many taxis that you can flag on the street or call via the app FreeNow. Fares are metered and most accept both cash and card although not all do.
If paying by card or with a large bill like a 50 Euro note, check with the driver that they are ok with it and can give you change before boarding.
I hope this found this guide useful!