Ever dreamed of visiting the beautiful green country of Ireland, but haven’t had the time or funds to do so? Dublin is a popular layover destination for those traveling eastward to Europe, so take advantage of your stop and stretch it into an extra one-day mini vacation!
With a little preparation and planning, you can see a little slice of the Emerald Isle and spend an entire day experiencing some of the best things the capital city of Dublin has to offer.
How to Spend a Long Layover in Dublin, Ireland
When using your favorite flight comparison site, take a close look at the various itineraries they offer to your final destination. I happened to be traveling to Hamburg when I saw the option of enduring either multiple 4-5 hour layovers in various cities or one 20 hour layover in Dublin; I had always wanted to see Ireland, so I thought I’d turn an otherwise exhausting day of traveling into a fun day trip!
I knew I’d have limited time upon arriving in Dublin, so I made a tentative itinerary beforehand and got to visit nearly all of the stops on my list. If you only have one day in this charming city, check out my collection of must-see places.
Get a LEAP Card
First and foremost, head to Dublin airport’s information center in Terminal A and purchase a one-day LEAP card (about €10). This card will give you unlimited transportation on buses and trams throughout the city for 24 hours, including the bus to/from the airport. The information desk will give you a map of all bus stops throughout Dublin, though I’d suggest downloading the Journey Planner app that will give you exact bus numbers and arrival times to specific stops you choose.
I bought the card primarily to save on the bus fare to and from the airport — as one-way trips without the card cost about €7 — but otherwise, Dublin is actually a very walkable city. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes as the streets are cobblestone, but walking throughout the quaint, historic streets is most definitely the best way to get around.
Old Jameson Distillery
The Old Jameson Distillery on Bow Street is an obvious draw for anyone visiting Ireland for the first time.
With their whiskey-tasting experience comes a guided tour rich with anecdotes of Jameson history, the opportunity to shop for souvenirs, and, of course, whiskey! Though they no longer actually make their famous whiskey here, nearly everyone that has ever visited says this is a must-see stop — and I wholeheartedly agree.
The Guinness Storehouse is both a brewery and a museum, and well worth the entry fee. This is a must-see.
Purchase tickets in advance online for a cheaper rate than at the door, and let the fully immersive experience begin! Learn to pour your own pint, get a glimpse of how Guinness is made, and make the climb to the rooftop Gravity Bar for a panoramic view of Dublin.
Take a self-guided tour (the guided tours can last over an hour) around the Dublin Castle, a massive landmark right in the center of the city. Ireland is well-known for its ancient castles, and the opportunity to see one inside and out firsthand can’t be surpassed.
Trinity College Old Library
The Book of Kells — actually a small collection of books — can be seen after a self-guided tour through the literatures’ Celtic history, though Trinity College’s library alone is enough to make your jaw drop. Marble busts of famous authors and philosophers adorn the long hall, and ancient books fill the towering ceiling-high shelves; pictures can’t do this place justice!
Temple Bar is an area of Dublin known for its plentiful pubs, boutique stores, and various places of entertainment. Grab a Guiness and bite to eat (no tipping necessary!) and be sure to watch an indie film at the Irish Film Institute. You can even visit the original Temple Bar and listen to live Irish music every day of the week!
St. Stephens Green
St. Stephens Green is not an essential stop, but a beautiful one nonetheless. Statues, swans, fountains, and gorgeous green scenery make this park a sight for sore eyes after being on a long-haul flight.
If you’re lucky enough to snag a flight from Dublin to your ultimate destination that departs at night, you’re one of the few; most long-layover flights depart early morning, leaving you without a place to sleep for the night. Thankfully, the time difference and my evening latte allowed me to stay awake through the night and work from the airport’s lounge. However, I found there were plenty of places to stay — via Airbnb — within close proximity to the airport for €20-€30.
While I can’t generally say I love layovers, I loved this one; a memorable day spent in the heart of Ireland is well worth the extra day added to any trip!