Layover in Dublin: A Relaxing 12 Hours In The Capital Of Ireland

Layover in Dublin: A Relaxing 12 Hours In The Capital Of Ireland
| 6 min read

Have some free time to spare before your next flight? Explore the historical city of Dublin at your own pace; the wispy threads of its Viking past is hidden between the looming cathedrals and age-old museums, waiting to be discovered by you. Let your hair down and discover the heart of the city that comes alive when night falls - with bright neon lights that line the streets, indulge in a drink or two and you may very well find yourself a new friend here.

Spend your 12 hours here at a leisurely pace, unraveling the threads of Dublin’s rustic past with this layover guide.


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The Nitty-Gritty

1. Leave your luggage at the airport

Outside Dublin Airport
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Billy Hicks used under CC BY-SA 3.0

As with any vacation, taking care of your luggage can be a pain to deal with. Aside from the snaking custom queues, you still need to safely store them before embarking on your next adventure. Thankfully, Dublin’s airport provides just that - the left luggage facility offers both short and long term storage of luggage. Found in both Terminals 1 and 2, you can conveniently drop off your baggage anytime from 05:00 to 23:00, and the price is based on the size of your belongings.

Left Luggage Facility

Price: Envelope 5.5 USD; set rate – pay in advance. Small item 5.5 USD (plastic bag, umbrella etc.). Medium item 8.7 USD (travel bag, suitcase etc. Large item 13 USD (large/heavy suitcase 25Kg+, golf clubs etc.)

Opening Hours: 5am - 11pm

Access: Terminals 1 & 2

Website: Left Luggage Facility, Dublin

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2. Check your Visa requirements

USA passport with immigration stamps from Austria, Germany, Singapore and the US - 20120708
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dancgreer used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

For US passport holders, you do not need to apply for external transit visas if you’re just passing by. However, if Dublin is your first touchdown location in Europe, then you may be required to fill in a card given to you on the plane with your personal details as a formality for the immigration checks ahead. Check the link below to see if you’re required to apply for a visa when visiting Dublin.

List of nationals required to hold a visa for entry to Dublin

Website: Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service

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Dublin (Region) Tour Guide

Dave Kavanagh

Dave Kavanagh

Hello, My name is Dave and I am a local and national licensed Tour guide in Dublin, I operate walking tours taking you to some of Dublin's most iconic landmarks and buildings while discussing our great heritage and culture, we are known here in Ireland for our storytelling so expect lots of great stories on this tour.

Tours by Dave

Dublin (Region) Tour Guide

Diana M

Diana M

Hi there! I am Diana :) My passion in life (next to my loved ones) is travelling and meeting new people, showing others the beauty of the world, art in various forms. My private guided day tours are experiences that are unique and are a great way to do an interesting activity without being overwhelmed. You get to do something only few other travellers would get to do and a chance to gain a local perspective. As your guide, I want to open you the door to Ireland's untouched beauty, from scenic cliffs to fairytale like forests and would point out many details you wouldn’t uncover on your own. You might also like to do an activity which can be difficult without local knowledge, like hiking or horse riding, - I am here to help and guide you.  I’ll handle all the planning and the driving on the left hand side of the road, so all you have to do is sit back, relax, and soak in the beautiful sights and compelling stories. Ireland won’t leave you untouched and I will be delighted to be your guide and ‘local expert’ here. Hope to see you on one of my trips to the heart and soul of our beautiful country!

Tours by Diana

Dublin (Region) Tour Guide

Anne Browne

Anne Browne

Hi - I’m Anne - a native Dubliner. I love this ancient city and am passionate about sharing the history and hidden gems. We have cathedrals, Georgian architecture, castles, distilleries, museums, libraries. Let me show you where the Vikings arrived and founded Dublin 1000 years ago. I also like to visit Wicklow and Newgrange - prehistoric sites an hour from Dublin. I always ensure visitors have a fun day out - and when you have earned it - shopping is option or a pint of Guinness. Contact me for any questions or requests.

Tours by Anne

Dublin (Region) Tour Guide

john ducie

John Ducie

Dublin (Region) Tour Guide

Katherine McCartney

Katherine Mc Cartney

3. Consider faster transport options

Aircoach Setra 03D36555
Source: Photo by user D464-Darren Hall used under CC BY 2.0

There are many transport options available, but the most comfortable one is hands-down the Aircoach service. You can choose your destination - the most common one being the city center. Although slightly more expensive than public transport, you are promised a relaxing trip, of about forty to forty-five minutes. Be sure to factor in morning traffic conditions and the Dublin rush hour (from 16:30 to 19:00), and try to plan your trips to avoid clashing with those time periods.


Website: Price & Location

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And now, your real adventure starts!

10am: National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology on Kildare Street

Catch a glimpse of ancient Irish history here at the National Museum. Famed for the well-crafted Ardagh Chalice and the Tara Brooch, these metalworks date back to as early as the 8th century. Admire the intricate carvings on these timeworn Celtic craftworks, having preserved their elegance even after escaping the eyes of modern civilization for what seemed like an eternity, buried under the sands of time. You may be sidetracked by the intriguing displays of Iron Age bog bodies in the Kingship and Sacrifice exhibit - a collection of four bodies unearthed from various bogs, while still relatively well-preserved. You may recognize the expressions on their face to be uncannily similar to that of those in pain, and the details on their clenched fists and worn-out accessories even after centuries seems to be mind-boggling, but hear this - researchers believe that some of these bodies were heavily mutilated due to sovereignty rules and kingship rituals during the Iron Age, leading to speculation that they were possibly tortured before being thrown into the bog. Piqued your interest? Be sure to check out the other buried material displayed, including weapons, clothes, as well as the replica of a cauldron found from a Danish bog known as the Gundestrup Cauldron. Vivid imagery of Celtic deities grace the rusty metal surface, depicting reenactments of sovereignty rituals as well as human sacrifice.

National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology

Address: Kildare Street

Price: Free

Opening Hours: Tues to Sat: 10:00 - 17:00, Sunday: 14:00 to 17:00, Closed on Mondays

Contact: +353 1 6777444

Website: National Museum of Ireland

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12pm: Long Room in Trinity College

Head down to the Long Room in Trinity College - living up to its name and stretching up to 65 meters in length, this ancient chamber houses up to 200,000 of the oldest books rooted in Irish history. Before the library was refurbished, the low ceilings were chuck full with the abundance of books. Renovated in 1860, the ceilings were raised, and new bookshelves were built to accommodate more books. The upper floor became a leisurely gallery of books for the visitor’s viewing pleasure. Even till now, the library is still stocked up with books - and that is not without reason, as in 1801, the Library was granted permission to request a free copy of every book ever published in the UK and Ireland, making this the perfect haven for book and history lovers alike. If your eyes are tired from all the reading, take some time to walk down the enormous hallway and admire the marble busts that pepper the unending rows of bookshelves. Sculpted after famous writers and philosophers, challenge yourself to find all of the 51 busts that are scattered across the library, and take a picture together with Socrates when you’re done to mark your achievement!

The Long Room at Trinity College

Address: College Green Dublin 2, Ireland

Price: Free

Opening Hours: 9.30am - 5pm.

Access: Walk down Kildare Street to the gates of Trinity College

Contact: +353 1 8962320

Website: The Long Room

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1pm: Book of Kells Illuminated Manuscript - Trinity College

From Kildare, take a left and walk along the walls of Trinity until you come to the Nassau Street entrance. Walk past the tree at the side entrance to Trinity, and you will see an advertisement for the legendary Book of Kells. You may feel as though you have taken a trip back in time after seeing the rustic pavement leading up to the Old Library building. Housing the Book of Kells, the famous medieval manuscript illustrates the Four Gospels of the New Testament in a language that has long disappeared with the evolution of mankind: the latin language. Open for public viewing seven days a week, be sure to book your tickets online in advance to skip the queues and crowd.

Book of Kells Exhibition

Address: College Green Dublin 2, Ireland

Price: from 15 USD

Opening Hours: Mon – Sat (May - Sept) 08:30 – 17:00 Sun (May - Sept) 09:30 – 17:00 Mon – Sat (Oct - April) 09:30 – 17:00 Sun (Oct - April) 12:00 – 16:30

Website: Book of Kells

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3pm: National Gallery of Ireland

National Gallery of Ireland
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kaihsu Tai used under CC BY-SA 3.0

After getting a quick lunch, walk back the way you came, along the walls of Trinity and past the bottom of Kildare Street, onwards for about 600 feet until you reach the National Gallery. Housing about 15,000 artworks spanning across different art mediums, you can find sculptures, paintings, and even works on paper from the early thirteenth century through to the mid-twentieth century. One of the most famous painting on exhibition here is Caravaggio’s “The Taking of Christ”, where the artist uses a technique known as Tenebrism to heavily contrast the shifting light and darkness, making the darkened parts of the painting stand out and in turn drawing focus on the realistic portrayal of human emotions on the subject matter. Other noteworthy artworks include the Yeats collection, an archive of the well-known Olympic medalist Jack B. Yeats’ most heartwarming paintings. His portraits give you a more intimate glimpse into the close relationship he had with his family, as well as how his art style developed from that of a novice illustrator to that of a skillful and expressive use of oils.

National Gallery of Ireland

Address: Merrion Square West, Dublin 2, Ireland

Price: Free

Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday (including Public Holidays): 9.15am - 5.30pm, Thursday: 9.15am - 8.30pm, Sunday: 11am - 5.30pm


Website: National Gallery of Ireland

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4.30pm: Grab a bite

National Gallery of Ireland Millennium wing outside
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user DubhEire used under CC0

Head over to the Wintergarden Cafè conveniently located in the Millennium Wing, at the Clare Street entry level of the gallery. Offering casual dining services, choose from the freshly baked breads and chef’s special everyday.

Wintergarden Cafè

Address: Millennium Wing

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday, 9.15am - 5pm Thursday, 9.15am - 6.30pm Sunday, 11am – 5pm

Contact: +353 1 661 0545

Website: Wintergarden Cafè

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5pm: Shopping at St. Stephen’s Green

Stephen's Green Centre
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A short 15-minute walk south from the National Gallery is St. Stephen’s Green, a huge complex with lots high-quality stores for you to pamper yourself with. After a long day of shopping, head to Green & Baker on the middle floor for a taste of Irish artisanal treats such as handmade breads and desserts baked with love using original recipes - with a grand selection of mouth-watering Irish beef and a refreshing palate of salad, you would be spoilt for choice here!

St. Stephen's Green Shopping Center

Address: Stephens Green West, Dublin 2, Ireland

Opening Hours: Monday, Tue, Wed 9am – 7pm, Thurs 9am – 9pm, Fri / Sat 9am – 7pm, Sun & Bank Holidays 11am – 6pm

Website: St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Center

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7pm: Head on your coach back to the airport

It’s always better to arrive back at the airport earlier, so you should factor in around 2 hours for your return trip in case there are any car accidents that cause a jam on the roads. Walk back up the way you came from to Kildare Street and wait for your Aircoach. Once you’re at the airport, just lounge around and remember: always check in 1 hour before your actual flight.

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On to your next destination!

Abbey Street, Dublin, Ireland
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jaqian used under CC BY-SA 3.0

We hope that in the short amount of time that you’ve layover in Dublin, you managed to catch a glimpse of its beautiful history rich in culture and fine art - perhaps it could inspire you to make this rustic city your next vacation destination.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Crystal is a curious child, who loves exploring Singapore in her free time with a camera in hand. Her street photography subjects often include unaware strangers, uncommon architecture, and...Read more

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