The Dublin Pass: Is it worth it?

Information and prices updated for 2017

The Dublin Pass is a card issued by Dublin Tourism which offers free entrance to over 30 of the most visited attractions in the Dublin City area. Holders of the card also get free gifts at some locations, coffee, glasses of wine, dessert or other goodies when dining in certain restaurants, discounts on the cost of selected tours in the city and in some stores.

Two additional benefits are priority entrance to attractions, allowing you to bypass lines, and coach transport from Dublin Airport to the City Centre. Plus a free guide book which comes with each card.

Sounds like it might be a steal – but is it? The answer is a definite …. maybe! But leaning towards no. Read on and find out more!

How much is the Dublin Pass?

Prices are correct for 2017, in Euro.

Adult Child
1 Day Pass 52.00 31.00
2 Day Pass 73.00 41.00
3 Day Pass 83.00 52.00
5 Day Pass 104.00 62.00

The Dublin Pass can be used with one year of purchase. It is activated when first used. Passes valid for more than one day must be used on consecutive days.

IMPORTANT: Note that the pass is for calendar days not 24 hours. So, whether you first use a 2 day pass at 9am or 4pm on Monday, it still expires at midnight on Tuesday. You’ll need to plan your use accordingly.

Is the Dublin Pass good value?

I think this card is pricey enough for it to be worthwhile figuring out whether or not it will work for you.

I’ve compared it to similar cards in other European cities, it’s a lot cheaper than Paris, Rome’s card is frankly a mess, the London pass is a bit more expensive, but they are all much larger cities with a lot more to see.

A fairer comparison would be somewhere like Brussels or Amsterdam – 48 hours for €67 and €46 respectively. Note that both those cards include unlimited free city transport – not part of the Dublin Pass, where you have access only to designated hop on hop off buses.  Both are also valid for a full 48 hours from first use, so that you can easily spread their use over three days, which I’ve done to great effect in both cities but which is not possible with the Dublin Pass.

Frankly, they make the pass for Dublin look like quite poor value. That said, there are people for whom it will certainly be good value and others who may be willing to pay a premium for convenience.

What You Get

  • Free entrance to over 30 Dublin attractions *
  • More than 25 special offers or discounts in restaurants, stores and on tours of Dublin
  • Free coach transfer from Dublin Airport to the city centre (but be VERY careful with this, see below)
  • Priority entrance to attractions – you can skip lines
  • A full colour map and guidebook to Dublin

* Total normal cost of entry over €190, but you are not going to visit them all, even on a 5 day pass, some of the listed attractions are free to enter without a pass and others can be visited with the much better value Heritage Card.

Should You Buy a Dublin Pass?

Well, that depends, but we think there are a few things you really need to know before you decide whether it will offer value to you on your trip. You need to:

  • Understand the Pros and Cons of the Dublin Pass (see below)
  • Decide which of the included attractions are ones you will actually visit, and how much the Pass will save you on those attractions.
  • Plan your itinerary carefully to get the maximum benefit from the Pass you buy.
  • Check out the Heritage Card before you buy – it’s quite likely that combining a Heritage Card with paying for some attractions will work better for many people.

The Pros and Cons of the Dublin Pass

Let’s take a look at the arguments for and against buying a Dublin Pass. If you are considering buying a pass, you really should read these before you do!

I want it because …

“The numbers add up – if I went to every attraction, I would get over €190 of value for €79 if I do it all in 3 days. That’s a great deal!”

Yes, on the face of it, it’s a good deal. BUT quite a few of the attractions included are of specialist interest – the chances of any single person being interested in ALL of them is extremely remote. Some are closed except in high season, and it would be difficult if not impossible to see them all in 3 days. A couple are located very remotely from the others, so not going to work into a schedule easily.

“The short duration Passes (1 or 2 days) would let me dash about and see a lot on a short trip to Dublin.”

Good plan. BUT remember that several of the must-see places you will definitely want to include on a short trip are free to enter without any Pass. There are special deals on gifts or meals for Dublin Pass holders at some of these locations, which may or may not be important to you – check first.

castletown-house

Castletown House: Well worth a visit. Free on the Dublin Pass (normally €7) but it’s in Kildare, 45 mins from Dublin by car. Public transport plus a good long walk would be nearer 90 mins and there are no other Dublin Pass attractions in the area.  Value?

“Okay then, I could do the attractions that are free one day, without the Pass, and the paid for ones on another to get maximum value.”

Now you’re thinking! This is a very good idea, but still you need to choose carefully. In general, the more expensive the attraction the longer you are likely to be there. You will need a very good plan to manage both time and distance if you are to get value.

“But I will get priority entrance, I can skip lines! I HATE standing in line.”

Lines are not very common even in high season at the vast majority of these places. Out of the high season there are few to no lines. And there are a number of really busy places where you get no right to skip lines – including Kilmainham Goal and Dublinia for example.

“Airport Transfers! It’s very convenient that it includes transfer by AirCoach from the Airport to my Dublin city hotel.”

DON’T DO THIS – BAD, BAD DEAL!
A ‘day’ is Dublin Pass terms is not a 24 hour period, it is a calendar day. So, if you arrive late and just use your Pass to get from the airport, you have used up a whole day!! ONLY use the Pass for AirCoach if you have a full day of sight-seeing planned for the same day.

“Still, having the AirCoach ticket in advance is handy.”

No. NO. NO.

You really don’t need to purchase tickets in advance for the AirCoach, the normal cost is €7 one way, €12 return, tickets can be bought at the start of a journey and coaches leave every few minutes. You can book online for a guaranteed seat and a slightly reduced fare.

Remember the Dublin Pass is valid ONLY from the Airport to the City, not the other way round, and using it for airport transport can use up a full day.

“But there is good stuff other than discounts – I’ll get lots of free or reduced stuff in restaurants.”

Just how often do you plan to eat in a day? In one day you will get maybe a coffee or two and a glass of wine IF you happen to be in the right places at the right time, which will not always be the case – the choice of places to eat is quite narrow. This is a nice bonus certainly, but not a compelling reason to buy a Pass.

“There are discounts on some other attractions and tours that look interesting to me.”

These are worth something certainly, but the amounts are small – eg €1.10 off a Liffey Tour. Many of these discounts are also available in free coupon books you can pick up in any B&B or hotel.

What about the store discounts then?

The museum shop discounts are 10%, but remember – a discount on something you don’t plan to buy is worth nothing! There are only 2 other stores, and they give you a voucher (or gift certificate) not a cash discount, to the value of 10% of your purchases.

“I get a free guidebook & map worth €4.99”

The guidebook is not for sale separately so its value is a notional one. It contains pretty much the content of the Dublin Pass website and nothing that isn’t in any decent Dublin or Ireland Guide, much less than most of them.

“There is lots of other free stuff though, isn’t there?”

Some, and some of it very good. But you need to be sure you want the stuff and that the discounts make buying the Pass worthwhile.

The Verdict

It may seem if you have read all the above that the Pass is not good value. That’s not what we are saying – we are saying that it isn’t automatically good value, but it may be if you know when to use it, and when not to, and plan your trip accordingly.

For some people, the numbers won’t add up and they would be better off without it, for others it will offer small but not insignificant savings with added convenience.

Read on, take a look at the attractions and note down the cost of the ones that interest you. Have a look at some sample days out in Dublin with the Pass. Then you will be in a position to decide whether it is right for you.

Article updated: May 1, 2017 | Image Credits

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