Getting Around Dublin: From Public Transport To Walking Adventures 

Getting Around Dublin: From Public Transport To Walking Adventures 

Published: June 27, 2024

Dublin is ideal for tourists, offering a perfect blend of size and charm. It’s big enough to boast a variety of fascinating sites and attractions, yet small enough to explore on foot. Whether you have a few days to enjoy each spot or just a day or two to pack in as much as possible, getting around Dublin won’t be a problem for you!

Public Transport in Dublin: Easy and Well-Connected

Dublin’s public transport system includes buses, trams (Luas), and the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train. These options give extensive coverage across the city and into surrounding areas.

The DART is Dublin’s electric train system, offering a scenic ride from Malahide and Howth in the north to Greystones in the south. With trains running every 5-20 minutes from 6 AM to midnight, it’s very easy to get from south to the north of the metropole. Granted, this is only one north-south line, so it is not a great option if your destination is rather far from the station.  

There are, of course, other train lines that take you out of Dublin if you’d like to go further north (past Malahide) to Belfast, to Sligo in the north-west, Limerick in the west, Cork in the south-west, Waterford in the south or Wexford in the south-east.

Dublin’s light rail, the Luas, has, since its introduction in 2007, become a very popular way to explore the city. It covers a lot of ground with two lines: the Green Line stretches from Broombridge to Brides Glen (from the north to the south, but a more centrally located route than the DART, which is more so east of the city center). The Red Line runs from Saggart to The Point (great for getting from Heuston train station to O’Connell Street).

Luas passing the street in Dublin city

Trams zip by every 5 minutes during busy times and every 10-15 minutes; otherwise, they operate from around 5:30 AM to midnight. Our local guide, Garvan, mainly uses Luas to get from O’Connell Street to Connolly train station (in the east) or to go westward to Smithfield (for some great coffee and eateries, or, in your case, The Jameson Distillery) or the National Museum of Decorative Arts & History. 

Dublin Bus operates over 100 routes throughout the city, while Go-Ahead Ireland runs over 20 routes. Buses run from 5:30 AM until 11:30 PM, with some routes offering 24-hour service. The ‘Transport for Ireland’ app can help you plan your trip and check real-time arrivals, or you can simply use Google Maps.

The bus is an essential element for getting around Dublin. As they’re all double-decker buses, they provide an accessible and unique vista of the city. Bus lanes make buses (and taxis) much faster during rush hours, making them better than driving your own car.

As a tourist, the bus drivers can be very helpful in making sure that you don’t miss your stop, so don’t be afraid to ask. Nowadays you won’t have to since they all have visual and audio announcements of the upcoming stop. Of course, this is only useful if you know the name of your stop! 

Because many Irish people have lived abroad, we know how efficient Dutch, Scandinavian, and German public transport is. While our system isn’t as good, it’s improving, with a significant fare reduction in 2022. Now it’s possible to go from Howth to the city center by train, jump on the Luas to O’Connell Street, and then take a bus to the Guinness Storehouse, all for just €2 (you’d need to have a Leap Card).

A Leap Card is a prepaid plastic card that you can use to pay your fare on public transport. You’ll find it  fairly easy to buy the card online or from the ticket machines at the Irish Rail stations, and you can top it up via a free app. 

Keep in mind that if you don’t have a Leap Card, you need to pay cash, and only coins are accepted. To make it worse, you need the exact amount because they don’t give change!

If you prefer public transportation because it’s cheaper and covers many areas, keep in mind that it also has some downsides. You’ll face crowded buses and trains during rush hour (but they won’t be stuck in traffic), and limited service late at night.

Busy street in Dublin city with people and transportation

Taking Taxis in Dublin

Whether you use apps like Lynk and Free Now or hail one on the street, taxis offer flexibility and comfort. Taxis in Dublin are easily recognized by their yellow roof signs, and rates vary based on the distance and time of day.

Like hailing a black cab in London or a yellow taxi in New York, Dublin’s taxis are reliable and convenient, but can be a bit pricier. On top of that, city traffic can sometimes affect taxi travel, leading to delays, higher fares, and lost time you could have spent discovering the city.

You’re likely familiar with Uber, which exists in Ireland, but you don’t get an Uber driver; rather, you get just a normal taxi driver. We’d recommend downloading the Free Now app since it works better in Ireland, and you’ll likely get a cab quicker.

If you pick up a cab off the street, a good practice is to make sure that they have their driver info placard visible from the passenger seat. The majority of drivers will have this visible, the shady drivers will not! 

Most, not all, drivers have left the 20th century and have card readers onboard. And all must be able to print out a receipt. However, you typically will have to ask for it. If you pick up a taxi from the airport, and if they’re Irish, they’ll happily recount their knowledge of Dublin’s main sites along your route. Yes, they seem to be after our jobs as tour guides! 

Driving a Car in Dublin: Your Freedom

Driving a car in Dublin gives you the flexibility to go wherever you want and allows you to explore at your own pace. Dublin offers public car parks and on-street parking, though it can be pricey. You can also rent a car from the airport or city center, with options like GoCar offering hourly rentals.

Similar to driving in cities like Paris or Rome, Dublin’s traffic and parking can be tricky: there is slow traffic during peak hours, and finding a parking spot can be challenging.

Our advice is to not have a car while you’re in Dublin. What does this mean? Well, if you’re flying into Dublin on a Monday, but spending 3 nights in the city, don’t pick up your rental on Monday. Pick it up (either from the airport or from the South Circular Road) when you’re getting ready to leave Dublin. Driving on your fourth rather than your first day means that if you’re used to driving on the right, you’ll have time to adjust your mindset to the left-hand drive by the time you’ve planted yourself behind the wheel.

Almost everything in Dublin is nearby, meaning that you can not only take public transport but if you don’t get lost, walking will not cost you more than 25,000 steps every day! 

Biking in Dublin: Eco-Friendly Power

Cycling in Dublin is a fun and eco-friendly way to see the city. Much like cycling in Copenhagen, Dublin’s bike-sharing scheme makes it easy to pedal your way around the city. However, cycling is not recommended for tourists because it doesn’t feel as safe as places like the Netherlands or Sweden. Besides, you’re in Dublin to see and enjoy the city, not to worry about traffic lights, changing lanes, anticipating one-way streets, and trying not to get hit by a car. What else do you need to consider?

This way of getting around Dublin is much less appealing in bad weather! Our advice: don’t consider the bike and go with the less stressful options of walking, buses, and the Luas. 

Greenway Bike Hire

For bike enthusiasts who can’t imagine their trips without the bicycle ride, our team recommends cycling in Phoenix Park, where traffic is low and the park is vast.

Is Dublin A Walkable City?

Yes! Dublin is a compact city, so you can easily walk from many outlying districts to the city center in about 30-40 minutes. From St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the south-western extent of the city center proper to the Epic Museum in the west, along the north quays of the River Liffey, would take only 20 minutes of walking.

Much like strolling through the historic streets of Prague or Florence, walking with a local guide in Dublin gives you a unique, personalized experience. You can inform your guide what you are interested in seeing and hearing about, and they can take it from there without you having to google or consult a guidebook, using up vital time and energy. 

Our tour guide, Carl, in the midst of delivering a Food Tour for a small, private group.

Walking with a local guide is like stepping back in time and exploring Dublin’s hidden gems, rich history, and unique stories. It’s the best way to experience the city like a true Dubliner!

While large tours may provide generic information, a private guide offers a more tailored and in-depth experience. They can delve into specific topics that interest you, and their personal touch can make your tour more engaging and memorable.

Of course, a bonus to the history and information is having someone who can entertain you for 3 to 5 hours on top of that! The time flies on a private tour, and at the same time, your perspective on the city and country changes. With more insight into Ireland and the Irish, everything will have more depth and meaning.

Another way a private guide is helpful is that you get advice on the best eating and drinking options. As the Dublin Tour Guide team roams around the city daily, we always know the best place to grab lunch, a coffee, or a pint, depending on the location. New places open and close all the time, too, so Google or a guidebook can only sometimes help with this.

Create Your Memorable Dublin Experience

Each way of getting around Dublin has its unique charm. For an unforgettable and authentic experience, try walking through Dublin’s charming streets and neighborhoods. If you truly want to bring the city alive in a layered way, then a private guide is the best option. 

Discover the true Irish spirit in Dublin’s hidden gems, hear captivating tales from locals, and taste authentic local dishes—all handpicked by the friendly Dublin Tour Guide team to make your visit truly special.

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