All you need to know to plan your stay in Dublin: public transport options and need to know transport tips for a stress-free trip
Dublin is the biggest city in Ireland and while most of its main attractions are within walking distance from each other in the city center, chances are you will need to get public transport at least once during your stay.
We have spoken before about the best way to get from Dublin airport to your hotel, so today we are focusing on how to use public transport in Dublin city.
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What is the best way to get around Dublin?
Dublin has a transport network of buses and trams (the LUAS), plus a light railway (the DART).
Getting the bus in Dublin
Dublin buses are yellow and blue in color and they are usually double-decker buses, so big enough beats with room for passengers both on the main and the top floor.
On the main deck, you have both seating and standing spaces plus areas for wheelchairs/strollers while upstairs you only have the option to sit.
Standing on the top deck is dangerous and the bus has cameras to make sure people comply with this rules and general bus-appropriate behavior.
Strollers on Dublin buses: Dublin buses have an area reserved for wheelchairs and strollers. Wheelchairs have precedents and strollers are only allowed up open if there is space available. On busy days or when it rains, it is not usual to have to wait for several buses before being able to get on with a stroller: make sure you always leave plenty of time if using a popular route.
The bus has the most extensive network in Dublin and it is the mean of public transport you are most likely to use in Dublin as a visitor unless you find your accommodation to be n the LUAS or DART line.
How to use the Dublin tram system (LUAS)
The LUAS is Dublin’s tram.
They were established less than 20 years ago and they look pretty modern both outside and inside. Like the bus, they offer both seating and standing spots but, unlike the bus, they are one story tall only.
The LUAS is very handy if you have accommodation along its line however, it only served part of the city so you may well not find a use for it, should your area not be served by one of its stops.
If you are on the LUAS line, consider that this is a popular means of transport for city center workers so it tends to get very busy at rush hour.
Using the DART, Dublin’s train system
The Dart is the Dublin urban railway and has been around for decades. Less modern that the LUASS yet efficient, the DART is excellent for longer distances within the Dublin Bay area.
It is a very handy way to get around Dublin if you find accommodation along the coast or for easy day trips from the city along the bay.
How do you pay for public transport in Dublin?
How to pay on public transport in Dublin depends on the typs of transport in question and the ticket you need.
Bus tickets can be bough on the bus when boarding. In this case, you will need change (coins): buses do not accept credit/ debit cards nor notes.
LUAS tickets are available at each LUAS stop and are sold by vending machines. They accept coins, cards and notes and give change. Please note: you cannot buy the LUAS ticket on board, make sure you have one before you get on!
DART 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 ticket: best for occasional journeys
If you only need to get the bus occasionally, the most budget-friendly option is to just pay for the driver for the trip you need.
People who need tickets stand in line and get one from the driver before being allowed in: if you already know your fare, just ask for a ticket for the right amount. If you have no idea, just mention your destination and the driver will print a ticket for you.
Make sure you have coins on you, as close to the exact amount as possible: no change given.
The cost of each ticket depends on the distance traveled and currently, it can be anything between 1.30 Euro (up to 3 stops) to 3.30 Euro (13+ stops).
Leap cards for visitors: rechargeable public transport card
A ‘Leap Card’ is the rechargeable public transport card locals use and has a version for visitors too.
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)
It is a great solution if you are planning on using public transport several times in a day or if traveling longer distances and takes away the need for coins: you simply charge your card at one of the machines (you find them at tram and train stations) and you are good to go.
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. You will need to ‘tag on’ when boarding a bus and both ‘tag on’ and ‘tag off’ if using the Luas
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!
Visiting 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 and the walk between one and the other is pleasant.
Attractions that will require you to take the bus/tram are the Guinness Storehouse, Phoenix Park, Imaginosity children museum and Glasnevin cemetery.
Need to know: you will find yourself walking a good bit in Dublin so packing good walking shoes is a must! Opt for models with a comfortable rubber sole and rainproof (sneakers and boots are perfect): you can find my recommended packing list for Ireland here
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!
How to get 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.
Tipping a taxi driver is not necessary but usually appreciated: rounding up the fare when appropriate is an easy way to do so.
Catching a taxi with young children: car seats are not compulsory in taxis in Dublin and usually not provided.
Driving in Dublin
if you are planning to drive around Ireland it may be tempting to also use the car in Dublin but to be honest, if you can avoid it, don’t drive in Dublin city center!
the city is not car-friendly and getting around by car is likely to be frustrating, long (traffic is mad for such a small city center!) and costly: parking is hard to come by and hourly rates add up fast.
I highly recommend you leave the car before you come to Dublin or select a hotel with free parking and good connections with the city center.
I hope you fond this visitor’s guide on how to get around Dublin and how to use public transport useful. Safe travels!