Getting around Dublin is it’s own adventure. A typical evening trying to cross the street goes something like this: The cars are going the wrong way, crossing the street when the street sign says “walk” is your number one safety risk, and there’s bubble bath overflowing from a nearby fountain. Everything will be explained, and you can take advantage of these Dublin travel tips to have an amazing experience in Ireland’s capital.
Once you get the hang of things, this city is enchanting and full of places to discover. I enjoyed 3 days in Dublin on my visit. In this post, I’ll pass on some hard earned wisdom (and by that, I mean misjudged “walking distance”) for getting around. You can focus on taking in the sights!
These Dublin travel tips will take you deep in to the city centre and far out to surrounding areas, and save you time and money!
Dublin Travel Tips
1. Get the Leap Visitor Card and use Public Transportation
One of Dublin’s best-kept transportation secrets is the Leap Visitor Card. The card comes in 1, 3, and 7 day increments. No more trying to load exactly the right amount of cash on to your card to get around Dublin during your visit, or trying to calculate how many zones you’ll cross each day. I think there’s still money on my Oyster Card from London!
Where to buy a Leap Visitor Card: the easiest way is to pick up a Leap Visitor Card in the airport on arrival. You will be all set to ride the bus, DART, rail, and Luas around Dublin. Check out the Dublin Bus website before you travel and map out a few key roots from wherever you’re staying to hubs like O’Connell Street and Trinity College.
- 1 day (24 hours) – €10.00
- 3 days (72 hours) – €19.50
- 7 days (168 hours) – €40.00
2. How to order a Taxi in Dublin
There’s an app for that, but it’s not Uber in Dublin. If you want to skip public transport, you will have to call a taxi. The taxi services in Dublin do have their own apps, that allow you to instantly request a taxi, or to book one for a upcoming date and time.
I order a taxi a day in advance using the NRC Taxi App and, happily, the driver pulled up 5 minutes before the specified time!
3. When to Take the Hop on and Off Bus
While most of the things that you want to see in Dublin are with in one area, some are a little further away. The majority of the tourist attractions are within walking distance of Trinity College, with some exceptions. Glasnevin cemetery, the zoo, the Guiness Storehouse, and Kilmainham Gaol are out of the way, and too far to walk. Public transit is definitely an option, but it’s even easier to get between these sites with a Hop on and Off Bus pass. The Hop and Off Bus pass can be purchase on it’s own, or as part of the Dublin Pass.
Navigating the Streets of Dublin
4. Street Signs
The street signs, or lack thereof, was one of the first things that I noticed in Dublin. Streets names are often painted on the sides of buildings, so they fade overtime or get covered by plants or construction. If you’re used to looking for street signs out by the road, like I am, you might find you’re just not quick enough to spot the streets that are labelled.
A valuable strategy for finding your way around Dublin is landmarking and pubs. This is what many locals suggest themselves on forums like Reddit, and it did help me find my way around!
5. Crossing the Street in Dublin
You’re an adult, you know how to cross a street. Stand at the corner, wait for the walking man to light up, and cross, right? Nope. This Dublin travel tip is a little bit unique, but it’s honestly important for safety. If you wait for the walking man and cross at the proper light in Dublin, it is somehow, inexplicably, more dangerous than jay-walking. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s the way it is.
When you jay-walk along with the Irish, you arrive safely at the other side. When you wait for the walking man to cross the street like a good Canadian, you find yourself sprinting for the curb as a truck lurches towards you. Trust the locals. They have a sixth sense specifically for crossing the street. You will feel most comfortable if you go with the flow of pedestrians.
6. Where to find Adapters
Successfully forgot all of your international outlet adapters at home, or brought the wrong one? The tourism centre on O’Connell Street has you covered.
7. Where to score free Wifi
If you’re really in need of wifi, buses and Starbucks are a couple of the easiest ways to get online. Dublin City buses are all equipped with free wifi, so even standing near a few buses can get you online for long enough to figure out your next move. For longer stretches, make your way to a Starbucks location. Within the touristy areas, there’s one just down the street from the main entrance of Trinity College.
8. Buy the Heritage Pass
History lovers will love this Dublin travel tip. Get access to all Office of Public Works attractions in Ireland with the Heritage Pass. It’s one of the most affordable entry passes there is. Student and family pricing is available, and it gives you access to historical sites all over the country. Dublin Castle, Kilmainham Gaol, Phoenic Park, and the Botanical Gardens are just a few of the sites included in the pass. You can purchase the Heritage Pass in Dublin, at various pass locations.
9. Wake up Early to have Dublin to yourself
Dublin, like many cities, is quietest first thing in the morning. Early means something different anywhere, and in Dublin it’s around 8AM. Things that have no line up or crowds then will have lines down the block and around the corner by noon. This includes the Book of Kells, Temple Bar area, and Stephen’s Green.
10. Get the Dublin Pass for a Day
The Dublin Pass includes entry to many of Dublin’s iconic attractions, and free use of the Hop on and Off bus to get around. The pass goes on sale frequently, so buy online in advance if you think you’ll make good use of your pass. The Dublin Pass includes the Guiness Storehouse, the Jeannie Johnston Tallship (highly recommend), the Glasnevin Cemetery, and multiple castles and museums. I love including a city pass + hop on and off bus tour in any city I visit, because it lets you get around easily and see a lot!
11. Plan Ahead (but don’t over plan)
There are some attractions in Dublin that you will have to plan ahead to enjoy. This includes some of the walking tours, like Kilmainham Gaol which typically to be booked at least 3 days in advance. You can see a lot of the highlights with as little as 2 days in Dublin if you plan ahead.
There’s a lot to discover in Dublin, too. When planning my trip I decided to leave a couple an afternoon. This was perfect, because it gave me time to return to areas that I wanted to spend more time in, and to add in activities that I only learned about while already in Dublin.
Food and Dining
12. No napkins or straws
Dublin is a wonderfully environment-oriented compared to Canada and the United States. On my visit, I quickly noticed less of things like napkins and straws (yay!) You will also notice relatively little trash and litter. That said, if you eat a crumbly muffin with a gooey centre, you will want to clean your hands. Pack some hand wipes (check out these eco-friendly ones) or napkins and keep them in your bag. If you really prefer drinking out of straws, there are plenty of reusable straw options available for order before you travel.
13. Vegetables & Cheap Meals
Dublin is famous for it’s beer and all things potato based. Believe it or not, you might just find yourself craving vegetables while you’re here.
The best (and cheapest) place to get your leafy greens and vitamin D on the go is Chopped. Pay €4.50 for a smoothie packed full of fruit, vegetables, or both, or try a salad or wrap for around €6.50. There is a Chopped location just down the street from Trinity College and the Bank of Ireland, on Westmoreland street and you will find many other locations around the city.
Enjoying an evening out and looking to splurge and have a great meal? Check out one of these places.
14. Bring Reusable Bags
On the same note as there not being many napkins or straws around, many stores don’t give out plastic bags. Bring your own reusable bags. I’ve been bringing reusable shopping bags on trips with me for years, and they always come in handy.
15. Tipping in Ireland
This is not just for Dublin, but most of Ireland. Tipping exists and is welcome, but staff are not dependent on your tips for their wages. It’s appropriate to leave a tip for good service, typically around 10%.
On day tours and walking tours, it’s appropriate to tip the tour guide. Dublin’s free walking tours, in particular, are purely-tip based. Please at least $10 per person!
Day Trips from Dublin
There’s so much to see in Dublin, but you’re definitely going to want to get out of the city to see Ireland’s incredible landscapes, too. I wrote a guide to my favourite day trips here.
17. Plan Day Tours in Advance
If you’re planning on an organized tour, this is something that you will want to book in advance. I like to book day tours through sites like Viator and Expedia because there are typically lots of honest reviews available on the site and detailed information about the tours. If you choose to rent a car and drive yourself, here are some helpful tips!
The day tours leaving from Dublin typically all start from the same place, just down the street from the main entrance of Trinity College.
18. Take the DART out of Dublin
Dublin is more expansive than most people realize, and it has smaller communities branching off from it that are absolutely beautiful. Most day tours involve a few hours of driving, but you can escape the city with a brief train ride too.
Take the DART from central Dublin, to outlying areas like Howth, Dún Laoghaire, and Greystones. These areas are completely different than central Dublin, and have incredible views of the ocean. Hiking in the cliff walk in Howth was one of my favourite parts of my Ireland trip!
19. Ride the bus to Belfast
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, and worth exploring on your own time. I took M1 bus from Dublin to Belfast and it was way easier than I expected. The drive is only 2 hours, and a return ticket is 20 euros. If there are any other cities you want to explore on your time, I’m sure the bus can get you there too!
Preparing for the elements
20. Ireland’s Weather
Throughout the day you will experience sunshine, rain, and skies of grey. On my visit there were only a couple of truly rainy days, but it rained for at least a few minutes every day. Carry a rain jacket or umbrellas with you, or step in to a shop to wait it out.
It’s not particularly hot in Ireland (usually, there are exceptions to this) and it can actually be surprising chilly even on warm days, if the sun is hidden.
21. What to wear in Dublin
Mostly, regular outfits like jeans and t-shirts are just fine in Dublin. Don’t take up space in your suitcase with cute sundresses, because you likely will not wear them very much.
- Footwear: wear flat shoes that you walk in. There are a lot of cobblestones in Dublin, and uneven brick roads everywhere. I love Keds, and wore them every day that I was in the city.
- Rain jacket: while you don’t necessarily have to bring it everyday, definitely have it packed for days where the forecast is calling for rain.
- Light sweater: a sunny day can turn cloudy very abruptly, so it’s nice to have a light sweater with you in case it gets chilly. My go-to place for sweaters and light cardigans is usually Gap.
- Pants/ jeans: if I were going to Dublin again, I don’t think that I would even bother to pack shorts or capris. The weather is just too unpredictable if you’re out all day. Jeans are a safe go-to for a range of temperatures, and you can layer t-shirts and sweaters.