Travel to Ireland
Flying to Ireland
The national airline is Aer Lingus (EI) (www.aerlingus.com) but many of the lowcost airlines including Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) fly to Ireland. As with many European destinations, flights to Ireland are generally at their most expensive during the peak holiday months (particularly high summer) and at festive periods. Due to the number of low-cost flights into Ireland from the UK and elsewhere in Europe, it’s worth searching as far in advance as possible for a cheap fare. It can be common for the taxes added onto a flight to exceed the base fare.
There is a fee of €10 at Ireland West Airport Knock and Galway Airport, payable by everyone over 12 years.
Travel by rail
Rail links serve Ireland from key ferry ports, as well as from Northern Ireland. It usually takes just over two hours to travel from Belfast to Dublin by rail.
If travelling from the UK to Ireland or vice versa, it is possible to buy a SailRail ticket which combines the price of the train and ferry journey from any station in Britain to any in Ireland. Prices are fixed and dependent on specific routes but can be good value for money at around £40 -£50 each way. See www.seat61.com/ireland for details.
A ‘BritRail Pass + Ireland’ (www.britrail.com) is available to non-residents of the UK and can be used in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland. The pass offers unlimited travel on either five or ten days within one month of the first date of travel (which must be within six months of purchase). There are discounts available for children.
The Eurail Ireland Pass (www.eurail.com) allows five days of rail travel within one month in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Discounts are available for children, youths (16 to 25 on first day of travel) and the over-60s. Eurail passes can only be used by non-European residents, and must be activated within six months of being purchased. Passes are available in either first or second class.
By road note:
Speed limit and distance signs are in kilometres in Ireland. The same signs are quoted in miles in Northern Ireland.
Getting to Ireland by boat
The main ports accessible by ferry are Dublin (www.dublinport.ie), Rosslare (www.rosslareeuroport.irishrail.ie), Galway (www.galwayharbour.com), Cork (www.portofcork.ie) and Dun Laoghaire (www.dlharbour.ie). In addition to conventional ferry crossings, many ferry companies now offer high-speed services as well as upgraded, state-of-the-art craft on many Irish sea routes. Fares will vary by season and promotional offers are available.
By water note:
The Swansea to Cork route, operated by Fastnet Line, was stopped in February 2012.
Various cruise itineraries incorporate Ireland, usually stopping at Dublin or Cork.
If travelling overland by car from the UK or mainland Europe, there are several ferry crossings available. Stena Line (tel: 0844 770 7070, in the UK; www.stenaline.co.uk) operate routes from Holyhead to Dublin and Fishguard to Rosslare.
Irish Ferries (tel: +353 (0)818 300 400 in the UK; www.irishferries.com) operate swift as well as standard speed ferries along the Holyhead to Dublin route. P&O Ferries (tel: 0871 664 2121, in the UK; www.poferries.com) operate a Liverpool to Dublin route. The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company operate routes from the Isle of Man to Dublin (tel: 08722 992 992 in the UK; www.steam-packet.com).
For ferry crossings from mainland Europe, Irish Ferries run direct services from Rosscoff and Cherbourg in Northern France, to Rosslare whilst Brittany Ferries (tel: 0871 244 0744 in the UK; www.brittany-ferries.co.uk) operate the Rosscoff to Cork route.