Travel Writing by Cory Hanson

Review – Dublin CityScape Tours

 

One of Dublin’s newest city tours is a big hit thanks to its very affordable one-day, perk-packed hop on hop off route serving Dublin’s City Centre and south suburb hotels. Dublin CityScape Luxury Sightseeing‘s fleet of yellow double-decker buses (open top, weather-proof seating on the bottom) visit most of the major sights in City Centre regularly through the day from as far west as Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park to as far east as the luxury hotels in Donnybrook and Ballsbridge (see full route map here).

CityScape Fleet

CityScape’s Open-top Buses | Photo Courtesy Dublin Coach Group

We enjoyed a day out in the city with Dublin CityScape, riding the full 2.5 hour tour circuit and making several sightseeing stops along the way. The live commentary on the tours kept things exciting, waiting times were short, and the additional value-added offers with the tour partners were tempting…and tasty.

Harry picked us up in Donnybrook on Saturday morning—in mid-song as he printed our tickets and welcomed us on board—and brought us into City Centre with a lively group of eager tourists. Navigating City Centre traffic can be tricky and tedious, but a good guide makes the time fly between stops—Harry pointed out a section of the old Dublin city wall on Lamb Alley that I hadn’t seen before. Through the day, guides told stories and offered sightseeing advice for points of interest between the stops of the tour, very valuable for a visitor with a one-day Dublin stopover.

Stops are announced well in advance, and they are clearly marked on the handy map. We “hopped off” for a visit to Collins Barracks (and the less-visited Arbour Hill Cemetery behind it) and got lucky with a very short wait for the next bus. In the tourist high season (April–September) buses run approximately every 10 minutes; routes run every 20 minutes in autumn and winter. Each stop is marked with a yellow CityScape sign, making it easy for those unfamiliar with the city to find pickup points with their map.

A Popular Stop—Right to the Door

A Popular Stop

Our next stop was in Temple Bar, for our free glass (half-pint) of Guinness at the Vat House—one of Temple Bar’s well-known live music and sports pubs. With a valid ticket, all passengers on CityScape can enjoy a little Guinness which, at Temple Bar prices, is worth a sizable chunk of the ticket fare. The Vat House is easily accessible from the Temple Bar stop (no. 23 on the CityScape route) or from the Ha’penny Bridge stop across the river (no. 7).

Back on the bus, we finished the tour route through O’Connell Street, along the north quays—the last City Centre stops of 11, 12, and 13—through the Docklands and the hotel stops in Ballsbridge and Donnybrook.

More Perks

The free glass of Guinness isn’t the only additional value with the CityScape ticket. Those looking for a real modern Irish experience can get free entry to a night at the dogs in one of Dublin’s greyhound tracks. Racing (and sports gambling) is very popular among the locals, and anyone wanting to spend a night out like the Irish can’t do much better than putting a few on your favorite dog. CityScape partner Dublin Coach offers free shuttles to and from Dublin’s tracks on race nights, more info here.

In addition to the free night of racing action, visitors can present their ticket at a number of Dublin attractions, pubs, and restaurants for discounts. These include the Liffey River Cruise, Jeannie Johnston Famine Ship Museum, the AVIVA stadium tour, and more. See brochure for more details.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Dublin CityScape’s one-day hop on hop off package is a great value at €10.00*, booked online or bought from the driver; children under 16 go free (up to two kids per paid adult). Tours run every 10-20 minutes through the day; the first loop starts at Kilmainham Gaol at 08:30, last loop starts there at 17:30*. Current schedule here.
  • The additional perks—glass of Guinness, night at the dogs, attraction discounts—can be used anytime during your Dublin visit, not necessarily on your tour day…but are you really going to wait for a free beer?
  • I would recommend maximizing the transportation potential of this hop on hop off tour; plan your day in advance and visit as many attractions as you can, particularly the far-out stops like Kilmainham Gaol. The tour commentary is entertaining and informative, but don’t waste precious time riding the whole loop before deciding what to see.
  • The one-day hop on hop off tour is highly recommended for anyone on a short Dublin stopover. The route covers the hits, the guides are informative and entertaining, and the additional offers make this a very good value for the price.
  • Thanks to Aoife, Harry, Colm, Joe, and the rest of the Dublin CityScape and Dublin Coach team for inviting my wife and me for a review tour.

*Prices and hours of operation are current as of October 2015. Please confirm before your trip on the Dublin CityScape website. See my full disclosure for more about invited reviews.

 

2 Comments

  1. October 13, 2015    

    Great write-up. I’ve seen the CityScape buses quite often while walking around Ballsbridge and the Docklands. Since they are somewhat new on the scene, I wondered if they are as good or better as the other hop on/off bus tours taking tourists around Dublin. I’m happy to find out that you recommend it as a way to explore the city in a fun and easy way.

    • October 13, 2015    

      Absolutely a great way to see the city and the south suburb—and a great price!

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