The Dublin Pass, a sightseeing pass available for one or more days, is both a way to save money and a way to experience a well-curated guide to the top sites in and around Dublin. This is a great advantage for a penny (or Euro) pinching family; top family friendly attractions are included and savings are vast.
On a recent long weekend trip to Ireland, my husband, daughter and I spent four days in Dublin. As first-timers, we wanted to see as much as we could.
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To maximize a Dublin Pass, check the attractions list and make sure the places you really want to visit are listed. Then, add up the admission prices to make sure the pass makes economic sense.
Since you will likely want to see more attractions than you can fit into a day or two of the pass, try to hit the more expensive places first. Some of the attractions listed on the pass are actually always free, like the Chester Beatty Library; you get a free book with the pass, but if you don’t want the book, save the free places for another day.
Pick up your pass the day before you plan to start using it. You can get a pass at the Visit Dublin Centre in the center of the city. There are also passes that include round trip airport transportation, but note that once you start a pass, the countdown begins. We had a one day pass, so using it for airport transfers didn’t make sense for us.
Take Advantage of the ‘Free’ Transportation
With a Dublin Pass, you also get a 24 hour pass for the hop on hop off bus. It is valid from the first time you step on a bus, so if you are clever, you can actually use it one afternoon, then the following morning even without the pass.
Keep in mind, though, that there are two lines, and the ‘blue’ line, which goes out to Glasnevin Cemetery, runs much less frequently. We were on our way there, but the tour guide on our bus didn’t know how to properly use a microphone. We got off, made a stop at Christ Church, and then couldn’t get another blue line bus. We met a group of people who had been waiting for 45 minutes for that bus (it is supposed to come every 20 minutes). We waited half an hour before giving up.
Don’t Try to Cram Too Much in
The temptation is to rush around and hit all the big (and most expensive) attractions but you have to rush through each one and won’t have enough time to enjoy each. Best to savor a few and pay separately another day for the ones you missed.
Don’t Forget about Crowds
We thought we could ‘pop’ in to the Old Jameson Distillery before heading to the popular Guinness Storehouse Museum. But tours were booked for the next few hours, and you couldn’t reserve a later tour. We realized there was no way to see both of these very popular attractions in the afternoon with just a one-day pass.
Time Your Visit Correctly
At the Guinness Storehouse, where the price of admission is 20 E without a Dublin Pass, lines start forming early in the morning. But the tour includes a pint of Guinness, which would knock out the rest of the day for me if I had it before noon. (Note: pregnant women used to drink a short glass, about half a pint, daily, to help the baby; the stuff was considered somewhat medicinal. But definitely intoxicating.)
If you go in the afternoon, you could face a wait of over 90 minutes. But if you are on the hop on hop off bus, you can buy a pass to skip the line for an extra 3 E. It’s well worth it.
Hold on to Your Expired Pass
No matter which pass you buy, it comes with a host of other discounts, which you can use after your pass expires. We took the Irish Food Trail, normally 50 E; with the pass, you got 7 E off. If you eat at The Boxty House, you get a free Irish coffee; tickets are 10% off at The Abbey Theatre and Dublin Discovered Boat Tours on the Liffey River are 20% off. There are also discounts for tours outside Dublin.
The Dublin Pass more than pays for itself.
Note: My husband, daughter and I were offered free one-day passes for the purposes of this review. Opinions expressed are my own.