What to do with a layover in Dublin
There may be affiliate links in this post. Read my disclosure policy to learn more.
The very best things to do with a layover in Dublin.
When you have a large family, airfare becomes the most expensive part of any vacation. So we plan our trips around the cheapest airfare available.
Flights to and from Ireland have been very inexpensive from New York City over the past few years. So we have figured out that flying in to Dublin and taking a Ryanair flight to another destination in Europe is much cheaper than booking to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Rome, Paris, etc.
This has created some awesome layovers in Dublin, and if that layover is 5 hours or longer, you can pack in another mini vacation!
Check out our article 4 days in Ireland with the kids.
How to plan to make the most of a layover in Dublin
- Make sure you have 5 hours or more to be able to enjoy your visit and not feel stressed the entire time.
- Bring minimal carry on luggage. If you can check all of your luggage through to your final destination that is the best. If you need carry on luggage try to make it lightweight and easy to carry.
- Make sure that you have the legal right to enter the country of the layover. Check Visa information before you go. (This was not an issue in Ireland.)
- Plan ahead- make sure you know what you want to see and how long it takes to do each thing.
- Plan your transportation.
- Make sure that attractions are open. (If you get in at 5 AM many of your choices won’t be open yet.)
- Have your top 3 attractions on a list so you don’t waste time figuring out what you want to do.
- Plan on seeing some of the beautiful scenery near Dublin. There are a variety of hikes near Dublin that will take your breath away.
If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry, following is a step by step guide to taking advantage of a layover in Dublin.
How to get from Dublin Airport to Dublin City Center
One of the fabulous things about Dublin is that the airport is quite close to the city center. It takes less than 30 minutes to get downtown if it isn’t rush hour. But with only 5-6 hours to spend, I recommend a taxi.
Taxi to Dublin
Because we only had 5 hours to get into Dublin and get back, we asked the taxi driver we had if he would wait for us at different locations and drive us to the next one. He was very happy to, and I highly recommend this if you are pressed for time! It cost us about 200 euros for the 5 hours, and it was well worth it.
We were able to fit so much more in because we didn’t have to wait for a taxi or get public transportation. Our taxi driver even clued us in on some fabulous places to grab lunch and things the kids would enjoy. We were even able to leave our carry-on luggage in the trunk as we went to the sites!
Of course, your trip may vary, and maybe we just got lucky (I have told other people about this and they have been lucky too). So make backup plans, but try it if you can!
Bus tour of Dublin
If hiring a taxi for the half day makes you nervous (or if you are traveling solo to Dublin), I would recommend the hop on hop off bus tour with a fast track to visit the Guiness Storehouse.
It will allow you to do a loop of Dublin in a little over an hour with stops at your favorite spots. You will need to make your way into Dublin to get to the bus, so here are some other options.
Airlink to Dublin
The Airlink to Dublin is a shuttle bus that will take you from the airport to the hop on hop off bus tour. It will also take you to one of 8 locations in Dublin.
Public Transportation to Dublin
If you want to spend less and take the public bus, here is a great article about transportation from Dublin Airport.
However you plan to get in to Dublin, make sure you know what you want to do and then plan to stuff it in quickly! Time is of the essence.
What to do during your layover in Dublin
If you have 5-6 hours, you will have enough time to visit 3-4 sites. If you have more time then of course you can add more. Here is what I recommend and would put first on your list.
Visit the deer in Phoenix Park
There are tame deer living in Phoenix Park in Dublin. We loved petting them, watching them, and enjoying being an eyewitness to nature.
Because the deer move around the park they are easiest to visit if you have a car. That way you can drive around to find them and then get out to interact with them.
We made the mistake of having food with us when we got out. (We were trying to gobble our lunch.) The deer were a little aggressive to get to the food. We quickly put it back in the car and then had a great time. My boys thought it was the highlight of the trip.
You will probably want to hold very little kids.
Plan on 30-45 minutes.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
My oldest son had been on a choir tour to Ireland and sang in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, so he was really anxious to show it off to his brothers. We were there fairly early in the morning, and it was very quiet.
The kids loved the acoustics of the church. They went to different corners of the church to whisper and found that they could hear each other. They wrote notes on a peace tree while we talked about the sacrifices their grandfathers had made to serve in the military, and each lit a candle. It is so great to have moments like that with your kids.
Plan on 30 minutes.[easy-image-collage id=26845]
Visit the oldest book in the world
The Book of Kells is a copy of the first four gospels written in Latin. The book is beautifully illuminated with intricate illustrations. It is thought to date to 800 A.D. and therefore a relic of the Christian world.
The Book of Kells is named for the Abbey of Kells where it was kept for centuries.
The book is now on display in Trinity College in downtown Dublin and can be viewed along with the rest of the library in which it is housed.
I recommend buying tickets as soon as your trip is booked. That way you won’t waste time waiting for your entry time. (You don’t want to miss your flight!)
Plan on 45 min if you pre-book your tickets.
Kilmainham Gaol Museum
This is one of the largest tourist attractions in Dublin and for good reason. The word “gaol” is the Irish word for jail and is pronounced the same way. This jail was built in 1796 to replace the older jail in Dublin.
The jail is notorious for its atrocious treatment of prisoners during their incarceration. It was also the home to many famous Irish political prisoners and the stories of their mistreatment helped me to understand history differently.
The guided tour that is included in your entrance fee is superb. Our tour guide was compelling and tailor-made the tour to not scare the kids.
Keep in mind that you must buy tickets in advance if you want to fit them into your tight schedule because they sell out weeks ahead.
Plan on a little over an hour.
If you want more ideas of what to do in Dublin during a layover, check out my post on Ireland with your spouse!
I hope this inspires you to get out and make the most of a layover in Dublin! Let me know if there are things that you enjoyed or hated! I love feedback.
Not sure what to pack for Ireland? Here is a free packing guide!
Like this article? Pin it for Later!
I endorse products I’ve personally used or come highly recommended by my trusted peers. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Leave a Reply