Public Transport in Dublin

  • 01 of 08

    Public Transport in Dublin

    Dublin by bus
    Bernd Biege

    First things first — taking a car into Dublin as a tourist is, to be mild, a very foolhardy thing. Because you'll get stuck in traffic jams, you'll get lost, you'll get caught in one-way systems even locals have problems with, you'll pay way over the odds for parking, and you'll be more tired in the end than if you had walked into town.

    So, unless you have a really good reason why you need a car in Dublin, just don't. And even if you have to take your car into Dublin, maybe because you'll be traveling on with it later — do not use it to get around in Dublin. Park at a safe, convenient, and affordable location, then use your own two feet and public transport because there are so many ways to get around Dublin, that you'll actually be spoilt for choice. Always bearing in mind that the actual city center is small enough to be navigated on foot.

    But before we negotiate Dublin City proper, let us start with the most pressing problem of many a traveler: how to get to Dublin City once you've landed at Dublin Airport?

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  • 02 of 08

    Dublin Bus

    Dublin airport bus
    Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images

    Dublin Bus is the main provider of road-based public transport in the Irish capital, as the name suggests. If, however, you are only planning on following the main tourist trail, without the risk of getting sidetracked or losing too much time, joining one of the many hop-on-hop-off tours of Dublin is advised. Here tickets are valid for the whole day, and the buses will take you to the major attractions on circular routes.

    But if you are feeling more daring, or wish the go off the well-beaten track, Dublin Bus is the provider of choice. But get a bus map first (the main office is in O'Connell Street, they have all the information you need including tours).

    Yet beware: actually catching a Dublin Bus is not always easy, the arcane art of making the bus stop when and where you want has to be learned. And the routes serviced by Dublin Bus can, at times, be on long and winding roads, and connections to other routes might be inconvenient. But you will get almost anywhere in the capital and suburbs for an affordable price.

    In addition, it might be mentioned that cruising through Dublin on the upper deck of a double-decker is a unique experience, well worth a few hours, even if you do not really have a plan where you are going.

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  • 03 of 08

    LUAS: Tram Into the City Center

    Dublin's LUAS
    2c image/Getty Images

    The LUAS (initially known as the Dublin Light Rail System) is named after the Irish word for "speed," though the writing in capitals always suggests an acronym. Speedy it can be, but also slightly cramped.

    Dublin's LUAS is a tram system that was introduced with great fanfare in the early years of the 21st century — after trams were declared redundant in the middle of the 20th century. Two new lines were created, one starting at Saint Stephen's Green, the other at Connolly Station (now extended to the Point Village in the Dublin Docklands).

    The genius stroke of the planners was the interconnectivity of the two lines. As in "exit one train, walk half a mile, then enter the other." In 2015, parts of Dublin are still being dug up to rectify this avoidable problem.

    LUAS trams are fairly fast, but they can often become slightly cramped. They run along roads, and on some stretches of dedicated track. Unfortunately, occasionally other road users tend to miss noticing the LUAS, or try to run a red light, mostly minor, collisions ensue. So delays can happen but thankfully they are rare.

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  • 04 of 08

    DART: Train on a Coastal Route

    Dublin's DART
    Moment Editorial/Getty Images

    Dublin Area Rapid Transit, always shortened to DART, is one of the most convenient ways of public transport in Dublin – but only if you are planning to go from north to south (or vice versa). And if you are planning to stay traveler near the coastline of Dublin Bay.

    Given those two caveats, the medium-comfort trains are a good way to travel between Malahide and Howth in the north, down to Greystones in the south. Via Dublin's city center. 

    The northern and southern coastal suburbs can be reached by frequent and reasonably fast trains, these are quicker than any bus you can take. But it might not always be the most comfortable of journeys, as during rush hour the trains tend to be packed. DART trains connect (in a loose, geographical sense) to the LUAS at Connolly Station, and to suburban and intercity services at several other stations as well.

    At all stops an interchange with Dublin Bus is possible. We mentioned that this is a geographical connection only — timetables are not synchronized, so you may arrive and wait a while to carry on.

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  • 05 of 08

    The Suburban Rail Network

    Suburban Rail
    Paul M O'Connell/Getty Images

    This is the slightly awkward bit of public transport in Dublin — the Suburban Rail Network is, for the most part, a remnant of the original Irish rail network, but more or less streamlined towards commuter usage.

    And here already lies the biggest catch, as suburban trains are fairly frequent around rush hour (when they are also fairly full, and not very much fun). Yet outside these hours, you may well prepare to while away some time, waiting for the next train. Prepare yourself by studying the timetables — because with good timing you might get around quite a bit.

    As the name implies — the Suburban Rail Network serves mainly the Dublin suburbs and the so-called "commuter belt." The latter extends further into the country than you may imagine, this is a legacy of the Celtic Tiger years. The bad news for the workforce (long commutes from satellite towns) is the traveler news for the intrepid traveler, as quite some interesting destinations can be reached this way.

    On the other hand, it has to be said that the Suburban Rail Network is fairly useless for travel within central Dublin, despite sharing tracks with the DART at times.

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  • 06 of 08

    Bus Eiréann

    Bus Eiréann
    Alessandro Ambrosetti/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Bus Eiréann is nothing less than Ireland's national bus transport provider in the Republic but as such it does not run in direct competition with Dublin Bus.

    For you this means that buses by both providers may run on the same routes, and even use the same stops within Dublin but with a major difference: Bus Eiréann buses will only pick up passengers travelling outbound, to destinations beyond the reach of Dublin Bus, and will only drop off passengers travelling inbound from these same places.

    The invisible demarcation line corresponds roughly with the M50. Within this perimeter, Bus Eiréann bus stop signs will usually be marked "Set-Down Only" (inbound) or "Pick-Up Only" (outbound). Using Bus Eiréann for inner-city transport is therefore impossible.

    But you may find some connections into the suburbs and into the "commuter belt" (extending ever further) that suit your travel needs. But while these may be quicker than comparable Dublin Bus routes, they are almost always more expensive.

    Bus Eiréann is at its best if used for day-trips to destinations outside Dublin. There is also is an alternative (or complementary service provider) to the Suburban Rail Network ... albeit, generally speaking, much slower.

    For timetable and services information, check out the Bus Eiréann homepage — which might also give you some good travel deals when booking over the internet.

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  • 07 of 08


    Dublin Taxi
    Teddy Libon/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Taxis are regarded as part of Dublin's public transport system and since deregulation, actually finding a taxi has become much less of a problem. So far the good news. Bad news? Some "cabbies" still live up to the image of sprouting all sorts of nonsense (like their opinions on immigration), while taking the unwary tourist down the not-really-scenic-but-certainly-more-profitable route.

    In-depth local knowledge can occasionally be a problem if the driver goes outside his or her comfort zone (though GPS certainly helped a lot here), and vehicles still tend to be of varying quality.

    Thankfully, rogue operators are in the minority. And taxis are therefore recommended to avoid walking down ill-lit sidestreets at night, or even to save journey time if there is no alternative direct service. A taxi to and from the airport can also be an advisable option, especially if you are not in any accommodation serviced by the airport bus routes.Taxi prices are, obviously, higher than those of all other public transport alternatives — but bear in mind that with a taxi you pay for the whole cab, while on other services you pay per passenger. Do the math; sharing can work out quite affordable.

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  • 08 of 08

    Getting to and From Dublin Airport by Public Transport

    Dublin Airport at night Terminal 2
    mikroman6/Getty Images

    Let us be honest, one thing is sure about Dublin Airport: it isn't in (or even near) the city center — and unless you pick up a rental car (or your own car in the parking lots), or somebody picks you up in Arrivals, you are in for a ride. Unfortunately, there are only two accessible options for the traveler:

    • Bus: There are a number of options available here, for both travel into Dublin, and travel to other destinations. All buses leave within an easy walking distance of Terminal 1 (bad news for those arriving at the swishy, modern Terminal 2: the walk is considerably longer).
    • Taxi: There is a well-signposted and controlled staging area for taxis outside both terminals. Bear in mind that a taxi might start to make economic sense when you have a group of four or more passengers (six- and seven-seaters are available, but you may have to wait a bit), and it'll drop you off in front of your destination, not at the "nearest" stop.

    And, yes, a rail connection to Dublin Airport has been talked about for quite some time now, the theoretical planning started decades ago.