On one of my last return trips from Boston to Rome passing through Dublin, I was able to distance my connecting flight so as to have a good Dublin layover of about 10 hours. I was arriving in Dublin at about 5am, and I was supposed to catch a connecting flight around 2pm. Plenty of time to make a few visits in the city, which I had already done once before so I kind of knew my way around a bit too. Well, my connecting flight was even delayed a few hours so I got a good 13 hours to visit around! My connecting flight was leaving at 5pm in the end, and my arriving flight actually arrived early. I was off the airplane from Boston by 4:40 am.
Leave your carry-on in storage!
Now the first thing I try to do when I have a layover, seeing that I always have a carry-on that I really would prefer not to lug around the city, I look for some kind of storage either in the airport or in the nearest train station. Well Dublin airport does have what it calls a “left luggage facility” in Terminal 1, but it has changed places since my last trip. It is no longer in the car park in Terminal 1, it is now in the Terminal 1 arrivals hall in front of the car park, near the information desk, by the escalator. This information is now available on the Dublin Airport website too:
Thank goodness this facility opens at 5am, compared to the previous facility which only opened at 6am. Well since my checked bags were going directly to my final destination I didn’t have to waiste any time waiting to pick them up, so I went straight from Terminal 3 arrivals to Terminal 1 arrivals and I found a cafè where I could have some breakfast right nearby the Left Luggage facility, while I waited for it to open. No rush at this point in any case, since the city attractions won’t start opening until about 9am in any case. After I had some breakfast and left my carry-on and my laptop at the left luggage facility (it cost me about €25 for the day), I was about to go looking for a place to buy some kind of a day pass when I found out from the Left Luggage facility that I could buy one from them. They had the “Freedom Pass” on hand, which is a 3 day public transport pass for €33, including the Airlink shuttles between the airport and the city center.
I would consider getting a Dublin Pass including free entrance to museums and tourist attractions if I were to do a Dublin layover again. With a minimum cost of €52 for a single day, it includes transfer from the airport, the hop-on hop-off bus (which stops nearby most of the main attractions), and free entrance to a number of museums and attractions. It would certainly be worth considering for a 3 day visit at €83. It depends also on which sites you would like to visit in the few hours you have on hand. Note however that the Aircoach service from the airport is a one-way ticket to the city center. Not quite knowing ahead of time (I didn’t work everything out to the T beforehand), I just got the 3 day Freedom Pass for €33 which I was able to buy directly from the left luggage facility. This was still useful, giving me access to all public transportation including the hop-on hop-off bus tour and the airlink to and from the airport (being able to ride back to the airport with the airlink bus is a good reason to get this Freedom Pass ticket!).
Sites to visit during your Dublin layover
The first time I had a Dublin layover, I first stopped by the Ha’Penny Bridge to take a few pictures. I then visited Trinity College, following the guided tour that takes you through the grounds and into the library where you can see among other things the Book of Kells. I also visited Christchurch Cathedral where I also got a guided tour that brought us up to the belltower. I was able to make it to The Guinness Storehouse where I again had a guided tour on the making of Guinness beer, including a free sample in the panoramic bar on the upper floor. I visited Dublin Castle. I walked around the gardens outside of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral but I didn’t have time to visit inside, I had to make it back to the airport. I was able to walk between most of the sites in the city center, except for the Guiness Storehouse, I took a bus to get to and from the Guinness Storehouse. Instead I was able to walk just fine from the Ha’Penny Bridge to Trinity College to St. Andrew’s Street where I happened upon the statue of a voluptuous dame by the name of Molly Malone, to Dublin Castle (I believe I did a self-guided tour rather than the guided tour in this occasion), to Christchurch Cathedral, to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral… All of these sites are within reasonable walking distance.
This second time around I wanted to visit a Distillery during my Dublin layover, so after taking the 747 Airlink bus (which leaves from Terminal 3) and getting off nearby Christchurch Cathedral, I set out for the Old Jameson Distillery at Bow Street which supposedly opens at 9am. Well I wandered around the area taking pictures along the riverwalk and along the inner streets seeing the various churches and neighbourhood curiosities, and I kept peeking about the entrance area of Jameson Distillery from 8:45 am onwards… I saw all the employees entering, but the main doors weren’t opening… I waited until about 9:15 am when someone poked their head out of the door and asked me if I needed anything, I said I was interested in the guided tour. I was asked if I had made an appointment. Since I hadn’t, I was told to come back at about 11:30 am. Well, at that point, I decided to forget about the Jameson Distillery and I moved on the Teelings Distillery. The Teelings Distillery opens at 9:30 am, I was able to arrive soon after the opening and I was able to get a ticket for a guided tour immediately. The next tour was starting at 9:45 am. The tour was delightful, with many descriptive panels illlustrating many curious facts about whisky history and production. At the end of the tour we got a sample of the whiskeys, I paid for the triple sample in my ticket so while everyone else only got one sample whiskey and one fruit cocktail I got the triple sample of three distinct whiskeys produced by the Teelings factory. From there I went on to visit Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where I did a self-guided tour using the pamphlet they give at the entrance. I continued over to Dublinia where I found a lot of information on the Viking and Medieval Dublin. At this point there were about 2 ½ hours left before my connecting flight, so I decided to head back to the airport to be on the safe side. There are still a number of sights I would like to visit, perhaps for the next layover, such as the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland, the Dublin Writers Musem, the Story of the Irish Museum…
If you have at least 6-8 hours in your Dublin layover, you can very well get out to see a few sights in the city!