Sleeping in Airports

Dublin Airport Layover Sightseeing

This article includes links to our travel partners at TripAdvisor, where you can read traveller reviews, book tours and plan your visit to Dublin.

dublin airport layover sightseeing
(photo credit: Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock)

Known for its music, friendly and hospitable people, and fascinating legends and tales, Ireland is one of the most beloved countries in the world. This country has five international airports, but the largest one is Dublin, conveniently located 11 km north of the city centre. If you ever find yourself on a long layover here, you cannot miss the chance to venture outside the airport and see what Ireland’s capital offers!

Airport Overview

If your layover is short and you don’t want to risk it, don’t despair. You can still have a comfortable experience at Dublin Airport. Pass the time shopping in its many boutiques, which sell Irish products such as high-quality whiskey and feature fashion brands ranging from Jo Malone London to Estée Lauder. If your wallet isn’t in the mood for shopping, you can grab a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants and cafés in the airport or enjoy the free WiFi available throughout the building. For more information on the airport, check out our Dublin Airport Guide.

Dublin Sightseeing Attractions

Below are a few of the top things to do in Dublin during your layover:

Hop-on Hop-off Buses

Hop-on Hop-off buses are always a great choice as they allow you to see the main city landmarks without worrying about transportation. Stops include Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Temple Bar and more. Prices start from about 30 euros and increase depending on the type of ticket you want to buy. Visit TripAdvisor to compare tours and read traveller reviews.

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol
(photo credit: matthi / Shutterstock)

Kilmainham Gaol is one of Dublin’s most popular attractions, and for good reasons. This used to be a former prison, and it was here that several Irish revolutionaries were imprisoned and executed under orders of the UK government. Throughout the years, this place symbolized the Irish long struggle for independence from the British. Today, Kilmainham Gaol serves as a museum. Here, you will learn everything about the prisoners’ daily lives while refreshing your memory of Irish history and its perpetual fight against its neighbour, the UK.

  • How to get there: Kilmainham Gaol is slightly outside Dublin city centre. You can take a bus to Dublin Heuston and enjoy a 20-minute walk, or go to the city centre and rely on public transport. Check out this Google Map link for details on public and private transit options and the required time for each.
  • Time Required: Tours here last about an hour, so give yourself at least 90 minutes to visit this place.
  • Plan your visit: Visit TripAdvisor for more information about visiting Kilmainham Gaol, book a tour or read traveller reviews.

Guinness Storehouse

If you are a Guinness fan, you cannot miss seeing the official home of the world’s most famous stout. Learn about the life of its creator, Arthur Guinness, enjoy the self-guided tour, check out the tasting room, and get a refreshing pint of Guinness while admiring the view from the terrace of the building.

  • How to get there: Head to Dublin Heuston and enjoy a 15-minute walk to the Guinness storehouse.
  • Time Required: The tour is self-guided; however, we suggest you budget at least 90 minutes here.
  • Plan your visit: Visit TripAdvisor for more information about visiting the Guinness Storehouse, book a tour or read traveller reviews.

Trinity College

Trinity College
(photo credit: Bealf Photography / Shutterstock)

Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest university, and it was here that famous people such as Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett were educated. Visits to this establishment are free, so you can grab your favourite book and a cup of coffee along the way and enjoy your time in one of the many green areas surrounding this fascinating building. If you are a bookworm, don’t miss the chance to visit the Long Room, a stunning library home to over 200,000 books. Also, check out the famous Book of Kells, one of the oldest books in the world, dating back to the 9th century.

  • How to get there: Trinity College is in the city centre. Opt for any of the buses departing from Dublin Airport, and you will be there in about 20 to 40 minutes.
  • Time Required: This largely depends on what you want to see. Visits can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.
  • Plan your visit: Visit TripAdvisor for more information about visiting Trinity College, book a tour or read traveller reviews.

Swords Castle and Rivervalley Park Swords

swords castle
(photo credit: Eimantas Juskevicius / Shutterstock)

Swords Castle is a nice choice if you’ve already seen Dublin and prefer a crowds-free layover. With over 800 years of history, this is your chance to visit a typical ancient Irish castle while avoiding the stress and crowds in Dublin. After your visit, you can grab a bite to eat in one of the many lovely restaurants in Swords or enjoy a stroll at Rivervalley Park.

  • How to get there: Several buses operate from Dublin Airport to Swords town. Here is a link to Google Maps to check your options.
  • Time Required: Admission to Swords Castle is free, so you can decide to stay as much as you want. If you prefer a slow-paced experience in Sword, budget at least five hours.
  • Plan your visit: Visit TripAdvisor for more information about visiting Swords Castle, book a tour or read traveller reviews.

Airport Transportation

Buses to Dublin city centre depart from outside terminals 1 and 2 and take 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the final stop and bus company. Here are some of the many bus companies you can choose from:

  • Dublin Express: This is one of the fastest companies to reach Dublin city centre. Departing from both terminals, Dublin Express stops in several places in the city and operates multiple buses every hour. A ticket with them will cost you about 8 euros.
  • Aircoach: This is another popular option. This company is slightly cheaper, with a ticket costing 7 euros, but is a bit slower, taking you to the city centre in about 30 to 45 minutes.
  • The Dublin Airport website has more information on all the buses available.

You can opt for a taxi if you prefer to travel more comfortably. This will cost 25 to 40 euros depending on which area of Dublin you want to see. Taxi ranks are outside both terminals, so you must follow the signs.

Before You Go: Layover Tips

Now that you are motivated and excited about your mini layover vacation, make sure to check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.

  • Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost, and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
  • When is your next flight’s check-in time? Double-check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
  • What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for extended security wait times, so be sure to research in advance and factor that into your overall time budget.
  • What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, confirm whether your luggage will be checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights. Check out our Dublin Airport Guide for information on luggage storage.

Other Useful Resources

Finally, here are a few handy resources to help you plan your layover even more thoroughly: