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Dublin Boat Tours and Cruises

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This post compares boat tours and cruises in Dublin. Though bike, Segway, and walking tours are a great way to see the city, boat tours are arguably even better!

Find out which tours are great for kids, which are best for adults, and which you should avoid altogether.


SIGHTSEEING AND DINNER CRUISES

Though Dublin might not be the first city that comes to mind when considering a sightseeing boat tour or dinner cruise, this city does have a lot to offer!

There are approximately 3 companies offering tours of this kind. Dublin Discovered Boat Tours lead sightseeing cruises for guests of all ages.

Canal Boat Restaurant is another company that offers a dinner cruise around Dublin at a slightly higher rate.

Finally, there is Dublin Bay Cruises, which specializes in day cruises to places just outside of London. 


Dublin Discovered Boat Tours

For a more “grown up” tour of Dublin, check out Dublin Discovered Boat Tours. These guys offer two tours that are informative and fun—but some are geared more toward adults.

The Liffey River Cruise offers plenty of general information about Dublin, while the Dublin Dinner Cruise by Guinness Barge offers a traditional Irish menu with a cash bar.

NOTE: As of April 2022, the Dinner Cruise is not currently available.

Availability: 

  • Dates: April - November
  • Hours: 11:30 am, 12:30 am, 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm
  • Duration: 45 minutes

Cost: 

  • Dublin Liffey River Cruise

Reviews: Guests loved the bantering report between the cruise’s captain and tour guide. Reviewers felt the trip was smooth and comfortable.

Everyone agreed that seeing the city from a different angle gave them the opportunity to learn information about Dublin they didn’t hear anywhere else in the city.

Guests also appreciated that the boat did full rotations on certain parts of the river to allow all guests to get great views of the sights. The biggest complaint was the length of the tour.

A few customers felt that 45 minutes for the Dublin Liffey River Cruise was not enough time to “soak in” enough history.

If you want a longer cruise, check out the Dublin Dinner Cruise. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars


Canal Boat Restaurant

Enjoy a two-hour dinner aboard the Canal Boat Restaurant to see the city of Dublin by night. Enjoy a complimentary drink on the upper deck before heading downstairs for dinner and amazing views.

Availability: 8:00 PM, Nightly

Cost: $49 for 2-Hour Dinner Tour  

Purchase tickets or learn more.

Reviews: Reviewers thought that ambiance onboard the boat was amazing. Small café tables lined up together gave the space an intimate feel.

Many guests used the word “relaxing” to describe the pre-dinner drinks on the upper deck. Everyone loved getting to know their neighbors before the meal was served.

A few reviewers mentioned that both tourists and locals were on the tour, so get ready to enjoy an authentic Irish experience with a few Dubliners!

Some customers were disappointed with the menu selection, but most reviewers thought the food onboard was excellent.

Many mentioned that it was not a Michelin-starred meal but that it was tasty nonetheless. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars


Dublin Bay Cruises

Dublin Bay Cruises specializes in longer boat trips to cities and areas outside of Dublin. Some of these tours also travel on open water.

See more of Ireland with a longer cruise with guided audio. Buy a roundtrip ticket, or take the DART train back to Dublin with the discounted ticket offered with purchase of one-way ticket.

Availability and Cost: 

  • Dublin City to Dun Laoghaire – 11:00 AM
    • Adult: €25 | Children (4-12): €10
  • Howth to Dun Laoghaire – 3:30 PM
    • Adult: €25 | Children (4-12): €10
  • City to Howth via Dun Laoghaire – 11:00 AM
    • €32 per person

Learn more about these cruises.

Reviews: Passengers loved that they had the opportunity to either take a round-trip sailing or take the DART train back to Dublin after their boat trip.

Reviewers felt that the galleys were well stocked and went crazy over seeing Dublin wildlife, including seals. They also loved exploring quaint areas at the other end of their journeys.

A few reviewers mentioned that the staff was very helpful with guests who were uncomfortable due to choppy waters.

Most of the critiques revolved around choppy waters during bad weather, which the tour company obviously has no control over.

Our tip? Check the weather before booking. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars. 


KAYAKING / STAND-UP PADDLE BOARDING

The more adventurous traveler might be interested in renting a kayak or stand-up paddle board to do a bit of sightseeing around Dublin.

This is the most affordable option, but also the more physically demanding! Reviews tend to be very positive -- but be sure to check the weather conditions beforehand! 

There is also at least one company offering guided kayaking tours in Dublin, and they also provide instruction on how to safely use a kayak.


City Kayaking

This company offers an excellent fully guided kayak tour on the river Liffey, including instructions on how to paddle and balance yourself. You'll also be given buoyancy aids and splash proof tops and bottoms.

The tour itself is around 90 minutes with 30 minutes of instruction on how to paddle. You'll see and learn about a lot of notable and important sites in Dublin.

Availability: Daily between 2 pm - 7:30 pm | April - November

Cost: €48/Adults | €44/Children (12 and under)

Purchase tickets or learn more.

This company also offers a kayak tour with live music performed on the water!

Reviews:

City Kayaking has an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 on Get Your Guide (read reviews here).

Most guests indicate that this outing is lots of fun and their guides are quite knowledgeable. Some visitors also report that their tour guides are very attentive, always ready to help if you should need any assistance.

One reviewer suggested that this is a great way to detach from the rest of the city and get closer to the natural beauty surrounding Dublin.


Irish National Sailing School

Check out the city, and get a little exercise by taking out a kayak or stand up paddle board on the Dun Laoghaire Harbor. Irish National doesn’t offer any tours just yet, but they offer two-hour rentals for kayaks and stand up paddle boards.

Availability: 

  • Hours: 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm, 6 pm (June - August)
  • April - May Dates: Saturday, Sunday
  • June - August Dates: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Duration: 2 hours

Cost: 

  • Kayak Rental: €30
  • Stand-Up Paddle Board Rental: €30

Learn more about Kayak and SUP Rentals.

Reviews: Irish National Sailing School doesn’t have any reviews so far on TripAdvisor, but they have received a review of 4.7 stars on Facebook, where they have never received a negative review.

Reviewers thought the location was perfect for paddling in Dublin and loved getting out on the water in the summer. Facebook Rating: 4.5 stars.


DUCK TOURS

Duck tours are popular with tourist looking for something a bit out of the ordinary.

Typically, guests board a WWII style amphibious landing vehicle that drives them around the city before magically converting in a boat as it enters the water.

This is an especially popular tour with families that are hoping to entertain the kids while the parents do a bit of sightseeing.

Viking Splash Tours is the only company in Dublin that offers this type of experience. 


Viking Splash Tours - Dublin Viking Duck Tour

Viking offers a typical duck tour of the city—half on land and half in the water. Get the best of both worlds in this dynamic tour.

They promise that "you will experience an unanticipated, enjoyable and informative experience that appeals to young and old alike."

Roughly half the tour is spent on the roads, while the rest is in the water. 

Availability: Every 1.5 hours, Daily

Cost:

Reviews: 99% of the reviews on TA mentioned how hilarious the drivers and guides were. Even some of the “negative” reviews mentioned that the funny guides saved the tour for them.

Most reviewers liked the overview of the city and the ability to get their bearings. They thought the history and information offered by the guide was just right the right amount. 

Some reviewers complained that they couldn’t get a refund on tickets for rainy weather, so make sure to check the weather report before you book your tour. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars. 


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: April 29th, 2022
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