Doofus does Dublin
May 2, 2023 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm heading to Dublin and Galway with my mother this week, and realizing I have a lot of mostly transit-oriented questions I've run out of time to dig into! Hope me with my annoyingly specific questions, please?

Is there a generally-agreed-upon best/least annoying way to get into the city center from the Dublin airport? I was planning on just getting a cab or scheduling an airport shuttle service, but our hotel is near the Charlemont Luas stop and it seems like a hike from the shuttle stop.

On cabs, I've been told that Lyft and Uber are reliable in both cities, and seen that Lynk is a local cab app - are any of these options more reliable/better than each other in some ineffable way (including being non-horrible for drivers)? Are there any places where getting a cab should be considered a last resort (over public or other private transit options) because of how annoying it is/how long the wait tends to be? We're planning to do a lot of walking, but I'm specifically thinking here about the times when we'll be toting our luggage around.

The main places/situations I'm anticipating being a slog: getting into the city from the airport, getting from Heuston Station to an airport-adjacent hotel (after train travel from Galway - I'm also considering taking the bus straight to the airport and taking the hotel shuttle), and getting to/from said hotel to Howth for a half-day tootle-around. Any hot tips for any of these situations, or should I just embrace the slog?

And lastly, much of our itinerary is going to be wandering around, viewing the odd bog body, looking at literary landmarks, and generally enjoying ourselves - is there anything within Dublin or Galway that I should make a point not to miss, especially any sights or experiences that have emerged in the past few years, or any lesser-known music or medical history sites? Travel further afield, aside from a boat-assisted day trip to Inishmore and side excursion to Howth, won't be possible within our schedule (I'm bummed to miss Newgrange on this trip!), but I'm hoping to make the most of the trip while maintaining a breezy attitude, which may be a too-lofty goal.
posted by quatsch to Travel & Transportation around Ireland (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Just take a cab from the Dublin airport. Neither the Luas nor the DART commuter train connect to the airport and it sounds like the shuttle isn't convenient. Free Now is the local taxi app but Uber also works reliably and some drivers say they prefer it. Lyft does not operate in Dublin. For getting to Howth, you could take the DART from Grand Canal Dock or Landsdowne Rd stations which are about half an hour's walk from Charlemont.
posted by 4rtemis at 10:44 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]

A taxi is easiest, but it will be expensive. As much as EU60. If you don't have much luggage you can just take the number 16 bus.

Getting a taxi to the airport during rush hour can be a right pain, so bear this in mind if you're catching one of the flights that leave Dublin around 11.

For everyday getting around I usually just get the bus (woeful service) or walk.

Don't miss the Kilmainham Gaol tour. Important part of Irish history. Very well done.

The EPIC museum is shite.

You can get to Howth on the DART.
posted by Morpeth at 10:45 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]

We were there a couple weeks ago and took the AeroBus from the airport. If it stops near your hotel, that would be a good option. Most of the taxis we saw were from the local taxi app, which works exactly like Uber/Lyft.
posted by matildaben at 11:10 AM on May 2

Best answer: Take the 16A or 41C from the airport into town. You get a nice view from the top of the bus. Bring your bags upstairs with you though. The 41C is better because the terminus is in town so you don't have to try and do a mad struggle downstairs with your bags while on the move (how you get off busses otherwise). It's about 2.50 euro, you can and should get a leap card at the airport to tap and ride. For town you won't bother with transport in the city, just toddle about, nothing is more than 20 minutes walk from eachother.

But take a taxi back, why chance it, leave looooads early, the Markett food place in the Airport is good. Do not pay 60 euro, I've never heard the like.

Take a bus from Galway, not a train, and it stops by the airport. 20 euro. 3 hours.
Go to Howth for sure, take the bus from town like the ... uhhh.. 20A maybe? Up to the Summit, walk down the coast trail from there and have a few chips and walk down the peir, get an icecream. Consider taking a boat back into town, otherwise the DART is fine.

For a little outing in Dublin if the weather is nice go to Glasnevin Cemetry, and then skip out the side gate and go into the Botanic gardens, look at the lovely ancient hothouses and smell their amazing smell, feed the squirrels on the sly, then slip out of *there* and into the Gravdiggers for a pint and a bite. Get coddle if they have it and you eat pork.
posted by Iteki at 11:25 AM on May 2 [4 favorites]

I visited Dublin last spring. Taxi from the airport is easy but early morning you may have to wait a few minutes (we did.) My local friend ordered taxis via Free Now and it worked great all over the city.

I found the bus/tram service in Dublin to be exemplary but I'm coming from an American perspective where a lot of bus routes in my city of 1.5 million people run once an hour on Sunday, so YMMV if you're visiting from a country with actual good public transit, I guess.
posted by rhymedirective at 11:43 AM on May 2

For middle ground between the scenic route on the top deck of the 16 bus and taxi; take the Aircoach 700 service to Leeson Street Bridge for €10 one way: it's 1,000ft West along the canal to your hotel - about the same distance as the nearest #16 bus-stop. Unless you like trains catch the CityBus GoBus from Galway to Dublin Airport: more frequent and quicker and cheaper. If you do like trains The [Model] Train Museum in Malahide is midway between the Airport and Howth.
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:19 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don’t recommend catching the 16 or 41 from the airport to the city centre; they’ll take forever and there’s unlikely to be room for your luggage. The Aircoach is a great option, like BobTheScientist says, but it’s a coach with steep steps (aside from the walk along the canal, which is nice but maybe less so wheeling heavy bags) so if mobility is an issue, the taxi rank is your friend. There will be a queue at peak times but they usually move pretty quickly. And if they’re charging you €60 you’re being ripped off; €30 is about what you should expect to the city centre, and your hotel is just south of that. The Dublin Airport website has more info.

Factor in some slack in your getting around. Dublin’s public transport network is extensive but notoriously unreliable. Buses are more frequent than they used to be, but precise timing remains a mystery. The Luas in the city centre is practically unusable during rush hour. Do get a Leap card each which you can use across the city bus network, the Dart (and commuter rail) and the Luas.

The Dart is the most direct way to Howth but much of the route through the northern suburbs is in a cutting; the bus takes longer (by 30-40 mins I’d say) but the views are much better. The relatively new route 6 runs to/from Howth Dart station right up and around the Hill of Howth, none of which you’d see from the railway. There are Martello towers in the area: one’s on Ireland’s Eye, another is on a hill above the East Pier and it’s a museum of old radios.

I like the train to Galway myself but for convenience’s sake, the coach from Galway to the airport is very handy. Galway itself is probably my favourite place to visit here, speaking as a native, but it’s absolutely choked with traffic (blame the short-sightedness of local councillors) beyond the walkable pedestrianised parts. Consider a coach day trip, either north to Kylemore Abbey and Connemara or south to the Cliffs of Moher (these may include stops at monastic sites and the like for your history fix, cultural or natural).

Back to Dublin: unless I’m mistaken, there’s a bog body in the National Museum of Ireland’s Archaeology branch; admission is free. You may already know this so feel free to disregard!
posted by macdara at 4:15 AM on May 3

Another thing to make clear about Dublin transport, at least for the bus network, it’s a hub-and-spoke layout or the most part. Orbital routes aren’t great, so frustratingly your getting around will likely require heading into the city to head out again (especially to/from an outlying spot like the airport). Making those connections is where most of the slog comes in, alas.
posted by macdara at 5:33 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My favorite, quietly unspectacular, short urban walk in all the world is up along the Corrib River from Spanish Arch / Leonardo Hotel, to the cathedral and the university.
posted by BobTheScientist at 6:24 AM on May 3

If you do go to the museum of archeology, please don't miss the Broigher hoard boat, the most charming little artifact you'll ever see. The Ardagh chalice is some sight too, more fun if you can get a curator to chit chat with you s little.
posted by Iteki at 7:56 AM on May 3

Aircoach 700 is your way to go. I’ve been to Dublin 5 times, and that’s always how we do it.
We *really* enjoyed 14 Henrietta Street, but note that you do need to pre-book.
The National museum is a great (free) way to spend some time (they even have a Vermeer).
For traditional (“trad”) music, O’Donahue’s Pub has live music 7 nights a week. We heard The Old Blind Dogs last we were there.
Have a great time!
posted by dbmcd at 10:04 AM on May 3

Good advice generally, seconding Kilmainham and Glasnevin (take the tour; you get let into Daniel O'Connell's tomb, and they also have some great stories about Michael Collins' grave). The Trinity College library exhibit - with the Book of Kells and the Long Room - is well worth it. It's also fun to hang out on campus a bit, get a coffee in the student center, etc.

We found getting around on the Luas fine and legible; also, it's just a good walking city. We didn't notice a crowding issue, but we're from the NY area so maybe it just didn't seem unusual.

In Galway, don't miss the upstairs at the Crane Bar for nightly trad music and sometimes storytelling in a great atmosphere. Charlie Byrne's bookshop is also a great spot for browsing. From Galway, you can also book a day or overnight trip from there to the Aran Islands, which is a remarkable experience.
posted by Miko at 7:24 AM on May 4

Assuming you have data (and a SIM is cheap enough here), Moovit is the app I use for public transport directions. Google Maps as well, but Moovit integrates realtime information from public transport, Google Maps just uses the schedules, which are of little use.
posted by Boobus Tuber at 9:43 AM on May 6

Response by poster: Thank you all so much! All of these answers were extremely helpful, I just marked the ones I kept returning to during the trip as "best."

For posterity, we cabbed it from the airport (the least brain-requiring option after a sleepless overnight flight); did a mix of walking, cab-calling (using Free Now - thank you for the tip!), and Luas-riding to get around Dublin depending on location, urgency, and the prospect/intensity of rainfall; took the train to Galway (where we exclusively got around on foot) and the coach and Dublin airport hotel shuttle on our final leg, skipping the trip to Howth in favor of a little more time ambling around Galway. In Galway, we happened to be staying at Jurys Inn and made good use of the gorgeous riverside walking trail, as well as the seaside walking trail. We also took a ferry-assisted day trip to Inishmore and rented ebikes to get around there, which was a great experience.

I also didn't get to nearly as many sights as I would have liked to (looking at you, Glasnevin and botanic gardens), but I guess that just means I have to plan a return trip!
posted by quatsch at 8:43 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]

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