Dublin Airport: The Complete Guide

Dublin Airport, Ireland

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Dublin Airport is Ireland's largest airfield and the main entry point for most visitors. Thanks to improvements and expansions, it offers several facilities to make travel as easy and comfortable as possible.

Make the most of your pre-flight time, or take advantage of a layover with this complete guide to Dublin Airport.

History

The British Army was behind the creation of very first airfield to open in Collinstown, the area outside Dublin where the modern airport is located. The military airstrip was placed here in 1917 during World War I, but it soon fell into disrepair following Irish independence a few years later.

Construction of what we now know as Dublin Airport began on the same site as the earlier Collinston Aerodrome in 1937, and the airport opened in 1939. After a brief pause during World War II, the number of carriers serving Dublin continued to grow. By the late 1950s, regular flights were departing from Ireland to North America via Shannon Airport.

The increased demand for transatlantic flights led to the steady growth of Dublin Airport. Eventually, Terminal 1 was built in 1972, and the newer Terminal 2 followed, opening in 2010.

In 2017, 29.5 million passengers passed through Dublin Airport, and the popularity as a transit hub shows no sign of slowing down.

Largest Airlines and Major Destinations

Dublin Airport is the largest airport in Ireland and it serves as a hub for European destinations as well as long-haul flights to North America, the Middle East, and East Asia.

It serves as the base for the national carrier, Aer Lingus, as well as the popular Irish budget airline RyanAir. Other major airlines that fly through Dublin Airport include British Airways, Etihad, and Emirates. Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, and Norwegian also have flights from Dublin Airport to the United States.

Because Dublin Airport is a major European hub for flights to and from North America, the airport is one of only two airports in Europe (the other being Ireland’s Shannon Airport) that has pre-clearance for passengers traveling to the U.S. That means that U.S.-bound passengers go through customs and border control in the Dublin Airport and are then treated as domestic arrivals when landing in the United States. If you are traveling to the U.S. from Dublin Airport, be sure to arrive three hours before your flight to leave time for these procedures.

Dublin Airport Terminals and Facilities

Dublin Airport has two terminals. Terminal 1 is mainly for short-haul flights, including all Ryanair flights. Terminal 2 is usually reserved for long-haul flights and any flight operated by Aer Lingus.

Once past security, Terminal 1 has multiple shopping and dining options. Pop into Boots for personal items, magazines, cosmetics or to pick up a pre-made lunch to take on the plane. You can also find Irish salmon at Wrights of Howth, clothes from Superdry, or travel accessories at Dixon's. Restaurants include pub-style food at Gate Clock Bar (near the 300 Gates), bar and grill at The Garden Terrace (The Loop), fresh salads at Chopped (The Loop), and Starbucks Coffee (The Loop).

Terminal 2 is newer and larger compared to Terminal 1 and has even more option for eating or duty-free shopping. Stock up on Tipperary Crystal or find souvenirs at the Guinness Storehouse shop. Avoca is another airport shop that specializes in Irish-made gifts. For fashion-conscious flyers, there are also LK Bennett, Longchamp, and Hugo Boss stores inside Terminal 2.

Terminal 2 has plenty of coffee options near the 400 gates (Lavazza and the Java Republic). After U.S. pre-clearance, you can find last-minute snacks and light lunch items at Irish Meadows, but it is better to eat before leaving the main Loop area if you would like a sit-down option. There you can find Harvest Market (Irish breakfast or sandwiches), and Flutes Champagne Bar with wine and bar bites.

Other facilities and services at Dublin Airport include a pharmacy (Terminal 2 after security), International Currency Exchange (baggage area), multi-faith prayer room (Terminal 2), and baggage storage (Terminal 1, Arrivals hall).

Car Rentals and Parking

There are several car rental companies serving Dublin airport, including Hertz, Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Budget, Sixt and Dooley Car Rental. All have desks in the Terminal 1 Arrivals hall and most are also present in the Terminal 2 parking structure. There are regular and complimentary shuttle services provided to take you from the airport to the lots where you can pick up the rental car.

While it is possible to rent a car on the spot, this depends on availability. It is advisable to reserve a car via one of the company websites in advance and to purchase insurance. Also, keep in mind that the car rental liability offered by many American credit cards is not valid in Ireland so you will need to add obligatory insurance on top of the cost of the rental.

If you are driving your own car, there are several options for parking at Dublin Airport that are operated by the airport itself or by private businesses nearby. The prices tend to depend on if the parking is short-term or long-term, and how close the parking spot is to the airport (though complementary shuttles are offered from every parking lot). Short-term parking is available within a two-minute walk from the airport, and valet services are available in all short term lots.

For the best price, you can pre-book a parking spot online. However, you do not need an existing reservation to park at the airport, and you can simply arrive and take a ticket when you leave your car. 

How to Get to and From the Airport

Dublin Airport is located about six miles north of the city center near the suburb of Swords. There are several ways to go to and from Dublin and the airport using public transportation, express buses, and taxis.

If you have rented a car or parked at the airport, you can self-drive between the city and airport via the M50 (which has an automatic toll without a toll booth, requiring you to either pay online or in person at various authorized SPAR shops within a few days).

One of the most popular and affordable ways to get between Dublin and the airport is via bus number 747. The express coach is also known as the Airlink and is operated by Dublin Bus. The bus travels between the airport, Dublin’s main bus station, O’Connell Street and the Heuston train station. Tickets can be purchased from the driver for 6 euros each way, or 10 euros round trip. The bus picks up passengers outside of the Arrivals hall in Terminal 1.

Aircoach is another private bus that runs between the Dublin Airport and the city. The trip costs 7 euros one way or 12 euros round-trip, and the buses depart every 15 minutes. In addition to O’Connell Street, Aircoach makes several stops in central Dublin, including Grafton Street. Kildare Street and Leeson Street Lower.

Dublin public bus number 41 also serves the airport and is the most cost efficient way to travel to and from the city. From the airport, take bus 41 for “Lwr Abbey St. Via Aerfort,” and this will stop at O’Connell Street in the city center. A one-way ticket is 3.30 euros.

Dublin taxis also travel between the city center and the airport. Taxis are available at ranks throughout the city, as well as just outside (to the right) of Terminal 1 Arrivals. The cost depends on traffic and how many passengers, but the taxi should always use a meter. The average cost is between 25 euros and 30 euros.

Dublin Airport Accommodation 

The airport is about a 25-minute drive from Dublin city center when traffic is light, but it can sometimes be easier to stay near the airport itself. The best options are the two hotels which are located at the airport itself. The Maldron Hotel Dublin Airport is the closest to both terminals. It is a three-minute walk from the airport but there is also a free 24-hour shuttle provided. The Radisson Blu is a 10-minute walk away, or just two minutes via its free shuttle bus.

The Clayton Hotel (formerly Bewleys Hotel) is located in Swords rather than inside the Dublin Airport complex; however, they offer long-term parking and a free shuttle to and from the airport. The hotel is usually a good value compared to other airport hotels and is only about a 10-minute drive from the terminals.