How to Spend an Overnight Layover in Dublin

Sep 23, 2018

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It’s always fun to visit a new city, even if just for a short layover. TPG‘s JT Genter (my husband) and I had an overnight layover in Dublin between two different tickets recently, so we decided to make the most of our limited time in the city.

Here’s what we did during our slightly-less-than-24-hour layover. And check out TPG‘s Ireland trip-spiration if you’ve got a longer trip planned.

The Dublin airport (DUB) doesn’t recommend visiting the Dublin City Centre unless you have at least five hours between flights. Considering that it can take about 45 minutes by taxi or an hour by bus to transit each way, this is a reasonable recommendation. If you don’t want to carry your luggage with you into the City Centre, baggage storage is available in the Terminal 1 arrivals hall.

We took the double-decker Airlink Express bus from the airport to the City Centre for 12 (about $14) per person round-trip. Aircoach also operates routes between the airport and City Centre for a similar price. Both types of buses depart every 10 to 30 minutes. Alternatively, taxi fares usually cost 20-30 (about $24-35) each way.

Wander the City Centre

One of the first things I like to do when visiting a new city is go for a walk. Dublin is a flat city that is well-suited for walking. In just a few hours I strolled down the River Liffey, through Trinity College, around St. Stephen’s Green, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, past Dublin Castle and to the Temple Bar area.

Trinity College is open to guests.
Trinity College is open to guests.

There are also some free walking tours that operate daily — we’d hoped to go on one, but our flight arrived too late.

Eat an Irish Meal

It would be a shame to visit Dublin and not have a classic Irish meal. We followed TPG‘s Lori Zaino‘s lead and had dinner at one of the oldest pubs in Ireland, Brazen Head.

We grabbed a table in the crowded outdoor garden, ordered Irish stew (15.50 or about $18) and fish and chips (15.50 or about $18) and enjoyed a Guinness and a Smithwicks Blonde. Although there were clearly other tourists at the bar, we were surprised to see locals as well.

A stereotypical Irish meal at Brazen Head.
A classic Irish meal at Brazen Head.

Find a Place to Crash

Dublin is a relatively expensive city and there aren’t many US-known chain hotels in the City Centre. The ones that do exist feature steep prices regardless of whether you pay with cash or points.

As we just needed a place to sleep for the night, we opted for LIV Dublin, a new student housing complex that we booked a few hours before check-in for just 76.50 (about $89). We’ve enjoyed other student lodging facilities in Europe that are rented out to tourists during the summer months and this was no exception. We received a clean private room and bathroom in a six-bedroom apartment with excellent city views and facilities. Plus, the Wi-Fi was speedy, the staff and fellow guests were friendly, and the property was very centrally located.

The shared kitchen and dining area in our student housing apartment.
The shared kitchen and dining area in our student housing apartment.

The next cheapest centrally-located private room option, found on HotelTonight, was a self-proclaimed “cheap dive” with shared bathrooms located directly above a bar on Temple Street for 85 (about $99). Considering it was a Friday night and we needed sleep, this didn’t seem like a good option.

Learn About (and Drink) Guinness

When you think of Ireland, two things likely come to mind: St. Patrick’s Day and Guinness. Although we didn’t visit for St. Patrick’s Day, we did visit the Guinness Storehouse at the historic St. James’s Gate Brewery. Book your tickets online for the best prices and to avoid long lines; prices range from 18.50 (about $22) per person online when there’s high availability to 25 (about $29) per person on-site.

Allow at least 90 minutes to walk through the self-guided exhibits. Although there are opportunities to use your coupon for a complimentary pint of Guinness on lower floors, I’d recommend saving it for the top-floor Gravity Bar, which features 360-degree views of Dublin.

Learn About (and Drink) Irish Whiskey

Jameson Distillery Bow Street is the original site where Jameson Irish Whiskey was distilled until 1971. Although the distilling is now done in Cork, Ireland, you can tour the historic Bow Street location. There are a variety of tours on offer, including whiskey tasting, whiskey blending and a cask draw experience.

We tasted and compared three styles of whiskey during our tour.
We tasted and compared three styles of whiskey during our tour.

We opted for the basic 40-minute Bow Street Experience, which costs 20 (about $24) for adults — or you can save €3 (about $4) if you do a tour at 12:45pm or earlier. We found the three-stage tour to be informative and surprisingly well produced.

How to Book a Ticket With a Stopover

Although no airlines explicitly offer a Dublin stopover program, some award tickets allow free stopovers. Alternatively, you could build a less than 24-hour layover — perhaps an all-day layover or overnight layover — into an itinerary connecting in Dublin.

Or, you could leverage the fact that Dublin is often cheaper — both in cash and in distance-based award programs, with rates starting at just 13,000 Avios one-way — to reach from the US than and book separate tickets. Plus, Dublin is a Ryanair hub. As such, you could fly to Dublin, build in a 24+ hour stay — that also serves as buffer room for delays — and then continue onto another European destination on a separate Ryanair ticket.

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