Dublin International Airport is approximately 6 miles / 12 kilometres north of Dublin city centre, near a large suburban area called Swords. When you arrive at Dublin airport, there are four main ways you can get to the city centre:
For payment, consider buying a Leap Visitor Card in the airport.
Express public bus (Airlink / 747)
Airlink -- also known by its route number, 747 -- is an express coach service operated by Dublin Bus, which also runs the city's public bus service. The Airlink is an express service (fewer stops) that goes from the airport to Dublin's main bus station Busaras, then to O'Connell Street in the city centre and finally to Heuston, one of Dublin's main train stations. 747 buses are frequent, departing every 15 or 20 minutes, from 5am to 11.30pm (11.20pm Sundays). See the official Airlink timetable.
Where do I get the Airlink?
The Airlink stopsstops just outside the exit to Terminal 1, Arrivals level (above Departures). Look for the bus stop on the left of the Arrivals exit. Look for the bus stop on the left as you exit Arrivals.
How much does the Airlink cost?
The Airlink costs €6 one-way for adults, €10 return. The child fare is €3 one-way, €5 return. See the official website for price details. Unlike the regular Dublin Bus service, you do not need to have the exact coins / notes on the Airlink. If you give the driver a €10 or €20 note, she will give you change. The Visitor Leap Card, which gives unlimited city travel for 72 hours (3 days), and costs €19.50 in the airport shop, can also be used on the airport. (More details below.)
What is the Airlink journey time?
The listed journey time for Airlink to go from the airport to O'Connell Street is 40 minutes, although it sometimes takes less. The Airlink is not always faster than the regular bus but it has a big advantage during high traffic periods -- it goes via Dublin Port Tunnel. This underground tunnel links the edge of the city centre with the motorway close to the airport. Even if traffic is busy above ground, vehicles usually zip through the tunnel.
Express Private Coach (Aircoach)
Aircoach is a privately-operated, 24-hour coach service that takes passengers from the airport to the city centre, and other parts of the south Dublin suburbs, as well as other Irish cities. The Aircoach that goes through Dublin city centre is number 700. The Aircoach departs every 15 minutes between 3.15am and 11.55pm. It departs every 30 minutes after that, until 3.15am. See the official site.
Where do I get the Aircoach?
The Aircoach stops just outside the exit to Terminal 1, Arrivals level (above Departures). Look for the bus stop on the left as you exit Arrivals. It also departs from just outside the main door of Terminal 2 Departures level.
What is the Aircoach journey time?
The official journey time for the Aircoach to the city centre is 25 minutes. This can increase to up to 45 minutes with heavy traffic. The Aircoach does not go through the Port Tunnel, but it does not make many stops, and it uses the bus lanes and the motorway.
How much does the Aircoach cost?
The adult fare from the airport to Dublin city centre (O'Connell Street) with the Aircoach is €7. A return ticket is €12. A child one-way is €2. A child return is €4. Exact cash is not required -- the driver will give you change if you need it. You can also purchase slightly cheaper tickets online in advance, on the official site.
Public bus (Dublin Bus)
The main users of the public bus service (known as Dublin Bus) which via the airport to the city centre are commuters from the Swords area and airport workers. Many tourists are unaware that they can take the Dublin bus, which is the cheapest option, or else they prefer to take an express coaches, which is a little quicker. The Dublin Buses are easy to recognise as they come into the airport -- they are double-decker (two-tiered) buses, like the one shown below. They are yellow with blue strips along on the bottom, although sometimes Dublin Buses are used to display advertising, usually on the rear.
The main Dublin Bus that serves the airport is number 41. This bus stops at airport Terminal 1 every 10 minutes during busiest times of the day, and every 30 minutes during off-peak times. On weekends, the service is sparser. Here is the official Dublin Bus 41 timetable. O'Connell Street, the main street in Dublin city centre is the penultimate stop, where most passengers alight. Lower Abbey Street (adjacent to O'Connell) is the last stop. Make sure you get the 41 marked Lwr Abbey St. Via Aerfort as shown above. Aerfort is the Irish (Gaelic) spelling for Airport. (I have no idea why Irish and English are mixed together!) Don't get the 41 bus that says "Swords Manor via Aerfort", which goes in the opposite direction. Before you hand your money to the driver, say "city centre please" and he will tell you if you've got on the wrong bus. The other high-frequency Dublin Bus that serves the airport is number 16. This routes stops in the city centre (O'Connell Street) then crosses the River Liffey and continues through the south side suburbs, finally stopping at Kingston / Ballinteer in south County Dublin. This bus will say "Ballinteer via O'Connell Street". Here is the official Dublin Bus 16 timetable. If you are getting out in the city centre, be sure to ask the driver to let you know when you get there, as O'Connell Street is not the last stop for the 16. There are other buses that serve the airport, but you shouldn't have to wait long for a 41 or a 16, so I haven't listed the others. Some are local routes that don't go to the city centre -- for example, the 102 bus serves the North County Dublin areas of Swords, Malahide and Sutton. If you feel unsure about where the bus is going, state your destination to the driver before paying, and ask him to advise you on which bus to get.
Where do I get the Dublin Bus?
Dublin Bus stops just outside the exit to Terminal 1, Arrivals level (above Departures). Look for the bus stop on the left of the Arrivals exit. Look for the bus stop on the left as you exit Arrivals.
How much does the Dublin Bus cost?
The regular public bus service is the cheapest option for getting into the city centre. A single fare from Dublin Airport to the City Centre, at the time of writing, costs €3.30 (around $3.50). You can pay the driver when you get on the bus but you must have the exact coins. Even if you hand the driver a €20 euro note, he won't be able to give you any change back. Another payment option you can consider is to buy a LEAP visitor card -- although if you purchase the LEAP visitor card, you may want to travel on Airlink -- the public express bus, since the LEAP visitor card gives you unlimited travel on the public network in Dublin for 3 days. Read more about the LEAP visitor card, and the Airlink, below.
What is the Dublin Bus journey time?
The Dublin Bus 41 journey time from the airport is about 40 minutes. On busier times (the morning and afternoon commuter rush) it can take up to 1 hour. Although it takes a similar route into the city centre as the Aircoach, one of the private express service, the 41 bus makes more stops along the route. While it uses the bus lane, it doesn't use the motorway. After 6.30pm, traffic lightens considerably and the 41 bus may get from the airport to the city centre in 30 minutes or less.
It's easy to take a taxi from Dublin airport. The taxi rank is just outside Terminal 1 Arrivals level. Look to the right as you exit Arrivals. As with most airports, if the rank is busy, you get in the queue and wait for the next available taxi. The taxi fare will be around €25 to €30, depending on time/distance. Extras depend mainly on whether you booked the journey, whether it is peak time, and the number of passengers. The taxi will be metered. More information about regulated Irish taxi fares and extras. Most taxis can take a maximum of four passengers. If you have four passengers, it can be a cost-effective way to get to the city centre, especially if you have to go to a specific location, and you have luggage. You are not required to tip the taxi driver, but it's nice to. Personally, I always tip around €1.
The Leap Visitor Card
The Leap Visitor Card is a pre-paid ticket that allows you unlimited city travel for 72 hours (3 days) after first use on:
- Airlink 747 airport bus service
- All Dublin Bus scheduled services (not valid on tours)
- All Luas (tram) services
- DART and Commuter Rail in the Short Hop Zone (all of Dublin city and county)
You can buy a Leap Visitor Card for only €19.50 at the SPAR shop (a small grocery shop) in the arrivals hall in Terminal 1 or Terminal 2, or at the Travel Information desk in Terminal 1. Note: the Leap Visitor Card is different to the standard Leap Card used by Dublin's daily commuters. A standard Leap card costs €5 and a pre-paid balance (e.g. €50) must then be loaded onto it. Do not buy a Leap Card anywhere except in the airport -- only the airport sells the Leap visitor card.
Airlink / 747 - Dublin Bus. Image by Canadian Pacific
Airlink. Image by Canadian Pacific
Aircoach at Dublin Airport Terminal 2. Image by Canadian Pacific
Dublin Bus 41, route which goes via the Airport to the city centre. Image by Pavel Koelio
Dublin taxis. Image by Hadi