I’m an Irish rugby fan living abroad. I often travel to Ireland and Leinster matches in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Here is my best advice on how to get there, where to stay, and where to have a good time!
I also have a detailed guide to the stadium.
Leinster’s Other Ground
Ireland’s home international matches are in the Aviva Stadium. However, if you’re traveling to see your club team play Leinster, then double-check that you’ll be in the Aviva.
Most of Leinster’s matches are in a nearby smaller stadium. We have a separate travel guide for rugby at the RDS.
Where To Stay
The stadium is in south Dublin and the pubs around the area provide a great atmosphere on match weekends. However, the travel sections in this guide show that it’s easy to get to the stadium from the city centre.
So, I’ll split the accommodation guide into two parts.
Near the Aviva
There are some great choices of hotels near the Aviva Stadium. As this is an affluent area, they can get a little pricey if you are booking at short notice.
However, they are a high standard and their pubs and lounges will show other rugby matches over the weekend.
You have more of a choice of restaurants, shopping, and sight-seeing if you are based in central Dublin.
You can find some good budget accommodation choices in the city centre.
Great Rugby Pubs In Dublin
Rugby is a fair bit behind Gaelic sports (GAA) and soccer in terms of popularity. If you want to see other rugby matches before or after your match, the smaller pubs in the centre may not show them.
However, the areas closer to the Aviva Stadium are rugby strongholds. There are some great choices of traditional rugby pubs that will show other international or club matches.
If you’re walking from the city centre, then there are several on Baggot Street. Searsons and The Waterloo are just two of several.
There are several cafes and eateries on Baggot Street too.
The stadium is in an area known as Ballsbridge, which also has some popular rugby pubs. The Bridge and the Horse Show House are just two great spots that are east of the Stadium.
Fan Guide To The Stadium
The Aviva was recently redeveloped as an all-seating stadium.
As a new build, most views around the grounds are excellent.
There are also two “large” screens at the north and south stands. They aren’t actually very large! See for yourself (I took this on my phone so the quality isn’t perfect)
All areas are covered (with some exceptions)
All the stands are covered. However, the cover doesn’t extend past the front rows around the edge of the pitch.
So, if you’re seated right at the front, be sure to bring rainwear (depending on the forecast).
My advice is that if you are buying tickets in the lowest tier, try to get seats further back from the front.
Upper tiers are high and steep
Three of the stands have four tiers. Be warned that the upper tier of the east and west stands is very high.
Although there are lifts to get to the lower rows of the top tier, it’s a steep climb to get to the back.
Here’s a photo I took from the east stand. I’ve marked one set of lifts. As you can see, it’s still a hike to the top rows (this is your Everest, boys!).
I wouldn’t bring elderly people or anyone with mobility issues to the back rows.
Aside from the climb, I experienced some vertigo the one time I bought a ticket in the top tier. I’ve avoided those tiers since then.
But if you’ve got no fear of heights, it’s a fantastic view at lower price levels.
The toilet facilities are excellent in this stadium. There are plenty in each stand and I’ve never experienced a queue.
My female friends say the same. They assure me this isn’t the case in all stadiums.
Although there are several bar areas at each level in the east and west stands, you may experience queues.
Here’s a tip: look for the official beer hawkers standing along the corridors between the bar areas.
Visiting fans often mentionthat the biggest let-down at the Aviva is the catering. There are food areas at each level, but there is no variety. Your choice is between pricey burgers and hotdogs.
If you need a quick bite before a match, you’ll probably get quicker service at burger vans outside the stadium.
The Aviva also went cashless in recent years. At least once a year, their payment system breaks down. That usually leads to long queues as the staff try to fix the problem.
Stiles and lifts
Most entrances to the stadium are ridiculously narrow turnstiles with an automated ticket scanner.
Turn sideways, suck in your tummy, and squeeze in!
If you’ve got a small backpack (make sure it’s small or you may be stopped), that just makes shuffling in more awkward.
However, each stand has several normal doors with a steward manually checking tickets.
These entrances usually also are where the lifts are to the upper tiers.
If you have older people in your group or anyone with trouble walking up steps, head for these entrances.
One-way walking system around the stadium
One thing that catches newcomers unawares is that there is a one-way walking system around the outskirts of the stadium.
This is enforced by stewards and cordons.
So, you may have arrived at a point that is a five-minute walk from the entrance stile marked on your ticket (they are lettered).
But the walking system may mean that you have to walk nearly all the way around the stadium to get to it from the other side.
The stewards will point you in the right direction (while you’re pointing at a stile that is literally meters away!).
If you have elderly people or someone with a stick or crutch, they’ll probably make an exception. But there is no obligation on the stewards to do so.
If you’re not sure about the stadium layout, my advice is to allow for twenty minutes from the point of arrival to getting to your entrance stile.
Getting To The Aviva Stadium
The Aviva Stadium is on the south side of Dublin. But it’s central enough to be a 40-minute walk from O’Connell Street, the main street of the city.
If you’re already in the south-central area of Dublin, it’s more like a twenty-minute walk.
You’ll be walking through some of the more affluent suburbs of the city.
Local train (DART)
There is a train station at Lansdowne Road which is right beside the stadium. This is particularly handy if your tickets are in the South or East Stand.
The local Dublin train line is known as the DART. If you are in the city centre, you can catch the DART going south from Connolly Station or Tara Street.
Here’s my tip for Connolly Station: the platform is a solid six-minute walk from entering the front of the station.
You can buy a return ticket with cash or card to Lansdowne Road at any DART station.
The problem for visitors is that local city buses don’t take cash. You need to purchase a pre-paid card known as a LEAP card.
If you’re arriving at Dublin Airport, then buying a 1-day or 3-day Visitor LEAP card should be cost effective. I’ll put more detail in the “Air” section below.
If you have a travel card, then the best buses are numbers 4 or 7 from O’Connell Street (the main street).
There are taxi ranks on O’Connell Street.
Taxis in Dublin also use a free app service called “Free Now”. If you install that on your phone, you can enter your location and you should get picked up within ten minutes.
The roads around the Aviva Stadium are closed off during matches. Drivers will drop you off as near as they can get, but you could still have a ten minute walk to get to the stadium.
Driving to the stadium
The city authorities don’t want you to drive to the stadium. There are no public car parks nearby and many of the roads are closed off near match time.
However, the local rugby clubs (and the cricket club) welcome the extra bit of cash that they get by providing parking spaces for about €10.
My two tips are Wanderers RFC and the Cricket Club on Anglesea Road. You’ll have a twenty-minute walk from there to the Aviva stadium (you’ll arrive at the West side).
Getting To Dublin By Air
Dublin is served by one large airport on the north side of the city.
Dublin Airport is on the opposite side of town from the stadium. Be sure you factor this into your travel times.
There is no train from the airport. But it is well-served by coaches and city buses.
The coaches are more expensive (up to €10). There are several that will drop you on or near O’Connell Street in the city centre.
One company, Aircoach, operates a service from the airport to Ballsbridge. You will be a ten-minute walk from the stadium.
Personally, I prefer to take a city bus into the city centre. This is much cheaper. From there, I get the DART train from Connolly Station.
There are several kiosks where you can get the visitor LEAP travel card that is valid on local buses, trains, and trams. It’s not valid on the private coaches.
If you’re arriving into Terminal 1, there is a travel desk that sells them.
In Terminal 2, you can pick them up at the WH Smith newsagent or the Spar shop.
Of course, you can also get a taxi from the airport. But as the stadium is on the other side of town, this is an expensive option.