Despite its status as such an innovative and go-ahead European capital, Dublin’s airport is singularly unconnected to the center of the city, and no efforts to connect it better have yet come to fruition.
Sitting in a northern suburb, the airport has still not been tied in with any form of transit other than road. Dublin City Council (“the corpo” as they’re still affectionately known) are often slow to act in questions of infrastructure, and for decades efforts to run a train or tram line out to the airport have become bogged down in bureaucracy or the objections of vested interests.
All of which leaves the traveller with really only two choices on arrival at the airport: car or bus, both of which are of course subject to the vagaries of traffic conditions.
One thing that people arriving do benefit from though is that the Corpo finally managed to get the Port Tunnel built, which makes road travel into the center a much swifter prospect than it used to be. However there’s a toll to be paid there – €10 at peak times – so taxi drivers will ask whether you want to use the tunnel or not because you’ll be paying!
The best way to get from Dublin airport into the city
There’s a great new service called Welcome Pickups which sends a car to meet you. You book online, you’ll get sent the driver’s name and photo, they know what flight you’ll be arriving on, and they’ll be waiting for you at the terminal with your name on a card. Limo service for the price of a taxi!
There’s a taxi rank (taxi stand) outside the terminal exit. Lines can get extremely long at busy times and sometimes the wait can be excruciating. Taxis have to sit in a “holding pen” parking lot at the airport and wait to be called to the rank to avoid traffic jams. This causes delays in itself, and sometimes the holding pen empties altogether, waiting to be filled again. A cab into the city center is going to cost the best part of €50.
Car rental offices are through the parking lot building opposite the terminal exit. There are several car hire companies based at the airport, with all the usual suspects – Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Budget and many more – represented. Note that the default transmission in Ireland is manual; you will need to specifically request an automatic car if that’s what you want (automatic transmission is not as common and the cost to rent an automatic is higher).
Driving into the center from the airport should take between 30 – 45 minutes depending on traffic, as well as your confidence level and navigational skills. Don’t forget to drive on the left!
Coach or bus
There is a private coach service serving Dublin airport called Aircoach. Route 700 will take you from the airport into the city center. The coaches run every few minutes, with one-way tickets starting at €7 and round-trip tickets from €9 depending on journey duration. They stop in various places in the city, shown below. Of course, if you have luggage, you will still need to get to your hotel from there – perhaps by hailing a taxi.
By far the cheapest way to travel from the airport, these routes are somewhat meandering through northern suburbs, but get you there in the end.
To buy tickets for Dublin Bus routes, you can pay on board, but note that Dublin Bus operates an exact fare system, with no change given. Furthermore, only coins (no notes) are accepted – which may present a challenge for someone just off an international flight.
If you plan to avail of Dublin Bus services during your trip, you may want to purchase a Leap Card, the prepaid travel card you can use on all Dublin Bus routes and other public transport options in the capital and around the rest of the country. At Dublin Airport, you can buy a Leap Card at WH Smith in the Arrivals area of Terminal 1 or at the Spar shop in Terminal 2.
The Airlink service operated by Dublin Bus runs between Dublin Airport and the city center. Stops include the main bus station (Bus Aras) and both Heuston and Connolly train stations from where cross-country rail services operate. The Airlink also connects with the Luas (Dublin’s tram service) Red Line.