Dublin Airport Guide
While most airline passengers from North America once made a stop at Ireland’s Shannon Airport going to or coming from the rest of Europe, today the title of gateway to the rest of Europe belongs to Dublin Airport, which counts about 19 million passengers a year.
Only about 6 miles north of Dublin, the airport is the thoroughly modern, efficient and pleasant home to Ireland’s flag carrier, Aer Lingus, and Europe’s major low-cost airline, Ryanair, the airline whose outspoken chief executive bans reclining seats and seat-back pockets (among other minor amenities) and discourages checked luggage. US airlines that serve Dublin Airport are United, Delta, American and US Airways. Here's what you need to know to navigate Dublin Airport. May the road rise up to meet you … and all your flights be on time.
Coming and Going
If the booming economy of Ireland -- the “Celtic Tiger” -- had kept roaring, there might be a rapid transit connection between the airport and Dublin, but that’s on hold. Still, inexpensive and very comfortable bus services such as Aircoach, are available to major Dublin hotels for about $10.50 1-way, about a third the price of a taxi. Bus lines including Bus Éireann also serve major cities as far afield as Galway, Cork and Limerick from the airport.
Major highways serve the airport from Dublin, Galway, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary.
Many visitors prefer the advantages of having a car in Ireland. Trains will not take you to the Emerald Isle's charming small towns and castles. And buses are slow and infrequent compared with other major European hub cities.
Major international car rental companies are represented at Dublin airport: Hertz, Budget, Avis, Europcar and Ireland's Dooley Car Rentals.
The swankiest hotel is the Radisson Blu Hotel, which is located within the airport, and boasts an extensive sports and spa facility, 3-hour laundry service, free Wi-Fi and a discount on green fees at a nearby golf course. The Clarion Hotel is very close to the airport as well, and offers family rooms (a double bed and a sofa bed) and 2 restaurants.
A bit closer to downtown Dublin, the modern Hilton Dublin Airport Hotel’s rooms sport floor-to-ceiling windows and 37-inch, flat-screen TVs. A hotel shuttle delivers guests to the stunning Malahide Castle and Gardens, home to a very good cafe popular with locals as well as visitors; the gardens -- featuring exotic flowers and trees collected from around the world by the castle’s previous, globe-trotting owner, are beautiful almost any time of the year.
The well-priced Carlton Dublin Airport Hotel is one of the newest airport hotels (which means large bathrooms) and offers a fitness center and free airport shuttle. Also in the well-priced category: a Crowne Plaza and Bewley’s Hotel Dublin Airport.
Dublin Airport has 2 terminals. Terminal 1, built in 1972, is served mostly by short-haul flights, including most of Ryanair’s flights. It’s connected to the dramatically modern Terminal 2. Opened in late 2010, Terminal 2 handles mostly long-haul flights, though Aer Lingus does call Terminal 2 home for its most popular route, Dublin-London.
Terminal 2 is all glass and sleek metal, with a 3-story, central concourse that boasts a transparent, sea-blue glass elevator shaft running up the middle of the open area. Terminal 2’s dining and bar areas are arrayed around that elevator in what’s called The Loop, which features an Irish bar (naturally) and food areas serving pastries, Thai and Vietnamese dishes, and a burger place featuring beef, chicken and lamb burgers.
Terminal 1 also offers a food hall with the usual selections of sandwiches and drinks. The nicest place to dine is the Garden Terrace, which is a roof garden bar and restaurant with sweeping views of the airfield. It’s also the only place in the airport where smoking is allowed.
Wi-Fi is free in both terminals.
There are 4 airport lounges, two of them operated by the airport itself -- for about $32 (guests 60 years or older pay $24), you may settle in for food, drink and free Wi-Fi. There’s one in Terminal 1, another in Terminal 2. Aer Lingus and Etihad operate lounges in Terminal 2.
Finally, one of the best perks for US-bound passengers is the opportunity -- and requirement -- to clear US Customs before boarding at Dublin Airport, which means no paperwork and no waiting in custom’s lines upon landing at busier US airports.