Which Dublin Bus Tour is Best?

Big Bus vs City Sightseeing and More

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Updated: August 9, 2023

In this post, we will provide information to help you pick the right Dublin bus tour, including tickets, availability, and what sets each apart. 


HOP-ON-HOP-OFF BUS TOURS

These tours allow you to jump off wherever you wish to visit many of Dublin's top attractions.

After you’re done at one stop, you can hop back on and resume the tour.

These double-decker buses have open tops so you can get great views of the sites you pass by.

Also, these tours include guides who are native Dubliners, who provide live commentary in English.

There is also the option for pre-recorded multilingual tours in Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese and other languages.

These tours are an excellent way to get an overview of the city, and the flexibility allows you to discover the city at your own pace.

That said, it should be noted that hop-on-hop-off bus tours only offer basic commentary on the city, seating is first come-first served, and there are more efficient tours that will take less time.

Buses typically stop at or near the following points of interest:

  • Dublin Castle
  • Marion Square
  • Parnell Square
  • Guinness Storehouse
  • St. Stephen’s Green
  • National Art Gallery
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Teelings Whiskey Distillery
  • Trinity College
  • Temple Bar
  • Kilmainham Gaol
  • Marsh's Library
  • College Green

If this sounds like an interesting service, consider one of the following options.

 

Big Bus

This company provides three different tour options for between 24 to 72 hours at a time.

Riders will have the opportunity to visit 36 different stops spread across two routes offered.

A Big Bus Tours double-decker bus. Image Source: Big Bus Tours.

Unlike other hop-on-hop-off tours, this one includes live tour guides who will provide a lot of valuable information about the area.

Better still, you can also use your ticket on either Big Bus or City Sightseeing buses.

NOTE: The prices below reflect an additional 10% off when making your purchase on their website.

Classic Ticket

24-hour Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour

  • Free Guided Walking Tour
    • €27/Adults | €14.40/Children
    • 1 Free Child with each Adult

TIP: This ticket is included with the Go City Dublin Pass.

Premium Ticket

  • 48-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Free Guided Walking Tour
  • Night Bus Tour
    • €36/Adults | €14.40/Children
    • 1 Free Child with each Adult
    • Save 10% when you book online.
    • Purchase or learn more.

Deluxe Ticket

  • 72-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Night Bus Tour
  • Half-Day Coastal Tour
  • Free Guided Walking Tour
    • €54/Adults | €14.40/Children
    • 1 Free Child with each Adult
    • Save 10% when you book online.
    • Purchase or learn more.

Each ticket is valid for use on any date within 6 months of your original purchase. If you buy either the 48 or 72-hour ticket, you must use it on consecutive days.

You can choose to either print your ticket out or use the Big Bus app to present your e-ticket when hopping on board.

Customers frequently give them a score of at least 4 out of 5 stars, so you can expect a reliable, fun, informative, and safe ride on their buses.


Big Bus Routes and Map

There are two tour routes to choose from during the day. Take a look at the map to see the differences between each route and what attractions are included in each route:

Big Bus Dublin Route Map

Click here for a larger map.


Blue Line:

This is the longest and most extensive route offered.

It’s also the only route that includes commentary from a live tour guide. 

The entire tour will take 2 hours to complete.


Red Line:

This route is a bit more concise, focusing on the most popular sites around Dublin.

There is no live tour guide for the red line, but they do provide an audio guide.

The tour takes 1 ½ hours to complete.

 

City Sightseeing Dublin

You can expect the same general route and prices as Big Bus.

City Sightseeing offers free admission for one child aged 4-12 when accompanying one paying adult. Additional children require a ticket.

A double-decker bus from City Sightseeing Dublin. Image Source: City Sightseeing Dublin.

There are more than 30 different stops on this tour, including the top sites listed above, as well as Phoenix Park, Nassau Street, Samuel Beckett Bridge, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin Liberties Distillery, Arran Quay, Ormond Quay, Custom House Quay, Dublin Writers Museum, Pearse Lyons Distillery, National Gallery of Ireland, Book of Kells, Collins Barracks, Cork Hill, Windmill Lane Recording Studios, and many more.


24-Hour Tour

  • 24-hour Hop-on-Hop-off Tour
  • 2 Free Walking Tours
  • 2 Kids Go Free

48-Hour Tour

  • 48-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Tour
  • 2 Free Walking Tours
  • 2 Kids Go Free

As you can probably tell, City Sightseeing offers almost exactly the same service as its competitors.

The main difference between these two services is that you cannot use a mobile voucher with City Sightseeing.

You will need to print out your ticket and present it when you get on the bus.

In addition to the free guided walking tours, you also get 10% off at the Irish Whiskey Museum, Lazy Bike Tours, and Irish Day Tours.

If you need to cancel for any reason, make sure to do so at least 3 days before the printed date in order to get a full refund.

City Sightseeing has an overall rating of 4 ½ out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor and other services (read reviews here).


Routes

This company currently offers only one route which will take you throughout the city to 31 different stops.

This route includes commentary from live guides as well as a free audio guide.

The entire tour will take approximately 2 hours to complete.


DoDublin

Much like its competitors, this company also provides more than 30 stops throughout Dublin.

You’ll be able to tell these two services apart simply by the color of their buses; while Big Bus and City Sightseeing both use a red bus, DoDublin hop on buses are green.

A Do Dublin bus passing by the Guinness Storehouse. Image Source: Do Dublin.

Tickets are available for 24, 48, and 72 hours.

Live tour guides will provide commentary about the city, and they also have audio guides available in several different languages like German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Italian and Irish.

As with Big Bus, DoDublin Tours allows one child under the age of 15 to ride for free with each adult who purchases a ticket.

A free guided walking tour is included as well.

You also get free entry to the Little Museum of Dublin.

 

24-Hour Ticket

  • 24-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Tour
  • Little Museum of Dublin Admission
  • Free Walking Tour
    • €30/Adults | €10/Children * One child under age 15 is free with admission with each adult
    • €28/Students, Seniors
    • Purchase or learn more.

48-Hour Ticket

  • 48-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Tour
  • Little Museum of Dublin Admission
  • Free Walking Tour
    • €35/Adults | €15/Child *One child under age 15 is free with admission with each adult
    • €33/Students, Seniors
    • Purchase or learn more.

DoDublin has an excellent combo deal, the DoDublin Freedom Card, that includes a 48-hour hop-on hop-off bus tour as well as 72 hours of unlimited public transport for just €13 more than the 48-hour tour ticket.

The DoDublin Card

  • 48-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Tour
  • 72-Hour Unlimited Luas Trams
  • 72-Hour Unlimited DART and Commuter Trains
  • 72-Hour Unlimited Public Bus
  • Includes Dublin Airport Bus routes 16 and 41 to/from the City Centre

It’s worth noting that this option will cost the same for children as the 48-hour ticket, so you may want to consider it as an alternative if you have more than 2 kids with you.

Both their 24-hour and 48-hour tickets also include discounts on other tours run by DoDublin such as their Ghost Bus whereas the DoDublin Freedom Card does not.

The entire route, if you did not get off at any attractions, will take roughly 2 ½ hours to complete.

If you want to know more about the places you will visit on this tour, check out its full tour map.

DoDublin has received an overall rating of 4 ½ out of 5 stars (read reviews here).

Many reviewers indicated that their tour guides are informative and funny, providing a unique historical look at the city.


PROS AND CONS OF HOP-ON-HOP-OFF BUS TOURS

Given the convenience, hop-on hop-off tours are one of the best ways to see the Irish capital.

That said, there are some factors you may want to consider before making your purchase.

This section will cover the pros and cons of these services to help you make a decision about whether or not this type of tour meets your expectations.


Pros of Hop-On-Hop-Off Buses

Hop-on-Hop-off buses can be a helpful way for travelers to learn about Dublin.

Here are a few reasons you may find this service very valuable.

Big Bus Hop On Hop Off Dublin Tours

Excellent City Overview

There are a lot of different things to see and do in Dublin, and hop-on hop-off buses provide a great overview of the most notable landmarks.

You will get acclimated to the city quickly which will make it easier for you to get around on your own after.

Live Tour Guides

If you have any questions about Dublin, you can ask a live tour guide for information.

They will also point out most of the popular and historically relevant locations in the city as you make your way around town.

Flexible Tours

As the name implies, you can hop on and off at scheduled stops and explore various areas of Dublin at your own leisure.

When you’re ready to continue your tour, you can hop back on the bus and pick up where you left off!

Reasonably Priced

Hop-on-hop-off tours are pretty affordable, and their value just increases with each day you add to the service.

Tickets for a longer duration typically include additional activities and attractions for just a few euros more, and they usually cost less per day than a 1-day ticket.

You can also save money on these services by using a Dublin tourist pass!


Cons of Hop-On-Hop-Off Buses

Although there are several benefits to taking a tour, they aren’t designed for everyone.

Here are a few factors you may want to consider before making your purchase.

Do Dublin Bus Tour Hop On Hop Off

Basic Commentary

The live and pre-recorded audio commentary is informative, but they don’t offer in-depth insight into the history of Dublin.

If you’re looking for greater details, consider taking a walking tour instead.

Not Very Efficient

If you’ve got a limited amount of time to spend in Dublin, this isn’t necessarily the fastest or most detailed tour you could be taking.

A hop-on-hop-off tour is better for visitors who have at least a few hours to explore the city at their own pace.

No Seat Assignments

While a fully-guided tour typically provides assigned seating to ensure that you have a comfortable place to sit during your outing, seats are first-come, first-served on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.

Depending on how busy the tour is, you may not be able to find a good place to sit when you climb on board.


HOW LONG DOES A DUBLIN HOP-ON HOP-OFF TOUR TAKE?

Every company has its own routes and how long each one takes depends on the route.

These routes typically take between 1 ½ - 2 ½ hours to complete if you were to stay on the bus the entire time, and not get off for any attractions.

For each tour listed in this post, we include the duration of that tour.


ARE HOP-ON HOP-OFF TOURS A GOOD WAY TO GET AROUND DUBLIN?

Hop on hop off bus routes stop at or near the most popular areas of the city, making them a great way to get around Dublin.

Also, if you plan to visit many of the points of interest along a particular bus route, then these tours are a convenient and affordable way to get around Dublin to the places you want to go.

Next, these buses are easy to use. Thus, you won't have to waste time figuring out how to use the various forms of public transport. This way you'll maximize your time.

Moreover, your bus tour ticket comes with a free walking tour which saves you the cost of a tour which is on average between €15 to €20 and upwards.

Some tours also include a Night Bus Tour which is an additional savings.

Lastly, if you are traveling with children, hop on hop off tours are a fantastic option since at least one child rides free with an accompanying adult. If you took public transport, you'd have to pay for your child to ride.

If one or more of these factors applies to your circumstances, then yes, these tours are a great way to get around Dublin!


COMEDY BUS TOURS

If you’re looking for a tour that focuses on specific details about Dublin’s history and culture, consider one of the following options.

In this section, we will provide information about specialized Dublin bus tours including some of the locations you’ll visit, how long the tour will take, and prices for each service.


The Comedy Bus

As the name implies, this tour takes you on a trip through some of Dublin’s comedic history.

Professional comedians will host your journey and tell jokes about some of the more hilarious things that have happened in this city.

See sites such as the Garden of Remembrance, Guinness Brewery, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral while riding around with some of the funniest tour guides in Dublin!

 

Ticket Information

  • €25 per person
  • Availability: Saturdays at 7 pm
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Not currently available

This company has altered its buses to create a stage-like atmosphere in which its comedians can perform.

Although you will be transported around the city to see a lot of the most famous landmarks, you won't be able to hop on and off at your own leisure and there are no stops during the trip.

If you need to cancel for any reason, you can do so up to 24 hours before the tour begins.

The Comedy Bus is still relatively new, so there aren’t many reviews for the service just yet.

That said, many customers who have left a review indicate that this tour is very funny and informative.


NIGHT AND GHOST BUS TOURS

Visitors who are more interested in the spooky side of Dublin’s history might want to think about taking either a night or ghost bus tour.

This section will provide details about these tours, including the length of the tour, which subjects and locations are covered, and the price of each service.


The Gravedigger Ghost Tour

This is a somewhat spookier alternative to the Comedy Bus, as it is both humorous and creepy.

Rather than just scare the daylights out of you, your tour guides will keep things a little more lighthearted while telling you some of the most disturbing stories from throughout Dublin’s history.

In addition to this trip around the city, you’ll also get a free brew (either with or without alcohol) at the Gravedigger’s Pub!


Ticket Information

  • €29 per person
  • Includes free brew at Gravedigger’s Pub
  • Availability: Fri and Sat at 7:45 pm
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Purchase or learn more.

You can cancel at any time up to 24 hours before the tour begins for a full refund.

The Gravedigger Ghost tour takes place aboard a uniquely designed bus which includes a lot of decoration for the experience.

Your tour guides will be dressed up as ghouls, ready to terrify you with tales of Dublin’s haunted past – if they don’t make you bust a gut instead!

As with most of these specialty tours, you won’t have the option to hop on or off at your leisure.

Instead, you will be taken around the city to see major sites and learn about their spooky past.

With an overall score of 4 ½ out of 5 stars, it’s clear that most people who take this tour really enjoy themselves (read reviews here).

Many customers described the outing as both entertaining and informative, suggesting that it wasn’t necessarily a serious history tour, but there were a lot of interesting facts provided during the trip.

Some even described this service as goofy and fun, indicating that it might be good for families. 

 

The Dublin Ghostbus Tour

If you’re looking for an alternative to the Gravedigger tour, this is an excellent option.

Much like their competition, they provide a spooky and fun trip through the streets of Dublin.

While there is a focus on somewhat disturbing and frightening stories of the city’s history, your tour guides will also keep things fun and humorous with a comedic take on the macabre.


Ticket Information

Tickets can be canceled up to 24 hours before your tour date for a full refund.

The main difference between the Ghostbus and its competitor is the free services they offer.

While Gravedigger provides a free brew at their pub, the Ghostbus includes a free guided walking tour covering the highlights of this city

When it comes to presentation, both companies take a similar approach to decorating their bus in order to make the experience even more creepy.

The Dublin Ghost Bus is not a hop-on-hop-off tour, but it does make stops are at several notable locations where your guide will tell you some of the more twisted tales from Dublin’s history.

While on this tour, you will enjoy various activities such as a trip to a haunted museum, a stroll through St. Kevin’s Graveyard and more. 

The Dublin Ghostbus has an overall score of about 4 ½ out of 5 stars


Ghostbus Kids Tour

If you’re looking for a paranormal outing that your children can enjoy, Ghostbus offers a tour designed specifically for younger guests. 

While on this trip, your kids will hear about some of the creepiest stories from throughout Dublin’s history.

Tour guides will take special care to ensure that the details they share are appropriate for younger audiences.

Unlike their main Ghostbus tour, this service does not include an additional walking tour.


Ticket Information

  • €15 per person
  • Availability: Sat at 11 am & 1 pm
  • Duration: 75 minutes
  • Not Currently Available.

As with their other services, this company offers free cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour begins. 

Guests can expect to hear about a variety of subjects such as Mad Willian, Misery Hill, and the legend of the body snatchers.

As previously established, this company has an excellent reputation and they routinely receive excellent reviews.

 

Night Bus Tours

If you’re not interested in a ghost tour, there are still a few options for taking a bus tour after dark.

The larger companies provide their own night tours, allowing you to see what this city looks like when the sun goes down and learn a bit about the history of Dublin along the way.

Dublin Night Bus Tour Route

Accordingly, both Big Bus and City Sightseeing provide a night bus tour which includes 11 stops over the course of one hour after dark in Dublin.

In addition to learning more about the city, you’ll also enjoy some music along the way.

NOTE: The prices below reflect an additional 10% off when making your purchase on their website.

  • Price: €18/Adults | €9/Children
  • Save 10% when ordering online
  • Included for free with the 2-Day & 3-Day Ticket
  • Availability: Daily at 7 pm & 8:30 pm
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Purchase or learn more

DAY TRIPS FROM DUBLIN

There are a lot of different day trips offered from Dublin. Each of these services uses a coach to transport you to-and-from a number of different locations.

Here are just a few of the places you can visit:

  • Blarney Castle
  • Connemara
  • Wild Wicklow
  • Glendalough
  • Kilkenny
  • Giant’s Causeway

If you’re interested in seeing any of these places while you’re in Dublin, visit this page to find the day trip you want to take.


DISCOUNTS AND DEALS

There aren’t many discounts available on these types of bus tours, but if you’re also interested in a hop-on-hop-off tour, you could save some money with combo packages and other services.


Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour Deals

There are several different deals available for Dublin hop-on hop-off buses, including deals through tourist passes and combo packages.


The Dublin Pass

The Dublin Pass is currently the only service offering admission for a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.

This all-inclusive pass includes entry to dozens of popular activities for a specific amount of time (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 days).

In addition to including a classic ticket from Big Bus, this service also offers entry to the following locations and activities:

  • Guinness Storehouse
  • Jameson Distillery Tour
  • Teelings Distillery Tour
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • Croke Park Stadium Tour
  • EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum
  • Newbridge House and Farm
  • Irish Rock & Roll Museum
  • Aquazone Aquatic Centre
  • National Wax Museum
  • Malahide Castle
  • Dublin Castle
  • Dublin Zoo
  • And more!

Pass prices start at just €69 per day, so you’ll need to use this service for at least 3-4 activities before you start saving money.

If that sounds like a fun challenge and an excellent opportunity to save a few euros, please read our post covering Dublin tourist passes for more information.


Combo Packages

There are currently two major hop-on-hop-off bus tour companies offering combo deals in Dublin: Big Bus and DoDublin.

 

Big Bus

Considering that their Premium and Deluxe tickets include activities such as a walking tour, a night bus tour, and even a half-day tour of the coast, one could say their basic services are already combo packages!

That said, it’s worth noting that this company does offer one additional combination deal which includes their hop-on-hop-off bus tour.

Classic Ticket + Dublin Express


DoDublin Combo Packages

This company offers a few different combo packages which include their 48-hour bus tour and one additional activity.

Guinness Storehouse Combo

  • 48-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus
  • Fast Track Entry to Guinness Storehouse
    • €46 per person

Jameson Distillery Combo

  • 48-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus
  • Entry to Jameson Distillery
  • Guided tour of the Distillery
  • Complimentary drink in JJ’s Bar
    • €43 per person

EPIC Museum Combo

  • 48-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus
  • Entry to EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum
    • €36 per person

GPO Witness History Combo

  • 48-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus
  • Entry to GPO Witness History Exhibit
    • €31 per person

Teeling Whiskey Distillery Combo

  • 48-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus
  • Entry to Teeling Whiskey Distillery
    • €38 per person

Purchase or learn more about these combo deals.

NOTE: As of October 2022, all of these combo deals are currently suspended.


Discount Sites

Depending on when you choose to visit Dublin, you may find some pretty good deals on hop-on hop-off tours through websites such as Groupon.

In addition to whatever deal the tour operator may offer to begin with, these websites typically offer coupon codes that you can use to save an extra 10% - 20% off local activities.

Before you make a purchase, make sure to check the top and bottom of the page for banners that may include coupons you can use to save a few more euros!


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About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: August 9th, 2023
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