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The Best Ways to Travel Around Ireland

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Road through the Dark Hedges in Northern, Ireland

Road through the Dark Hedges in Northern, Ireland

Ireland is a small country, and quite easy to get around. 

Traveling around Ireland is a delight, especially when it takes you away from the main roads and into the quiet corners steeped in heritage. Visiting a new place can feel daunting when you don’t already know the travel logistics, but alongside a Zicasso travel specialist for Ireland, your plans are easily made. 

Use this guide to learn about the many options as you look to customize your own vacation.

Best for Long Distances: Trains & Flights

Train in County Londonderry with Mussenden Temple in the background.  Photo courtesy of Matthew Woodhouse / Tourism Ireland

Train in County Londonderry with Mussenden Temple in the background. Photo courtesy of Matthew Woodhouse / Tourism Ireland

Trains:

Trains in Ireland are a great way to travel to larger cities, especially if you are leaving from Dublin but trains are not the best if you are not using Dublin as a hub. A train gives you a great view of the passing countryside but you miss a lot of the local culture because most trains don’t stop in the villages, towns, and historical landmarks scattered across the landscape. However, trains are fast and efficient if you start your journey from Dublin making it easy to transfer to other larger cities like Kilkenny, Waterford, Galway, or Cork.

Flights:

Ireland is pretty compact, which makes domestic air travel unnecessary. The Republic of Ireland has three main airports with direct flights from North America, often arriving in or departing from Dublin and Shannon. When you consider high-speed trains, modern highways, and the time it takes to reach an airport and pass through security, it is much easier to travel domestically by car or train. It also saves you time in your travel schedule if you fly into one airport and out of another, as the main airports are on opposite sides of the country, so you don’t have to backtrack.

Best for Short Travel: Private Chauffeur, Cars, and Buses

Car driving through Black Valley in Killarney National Park, Ireland

Car driving through Black Valley in Killarney National Park, Ireland

Travel by Private Chauffeur:

A private driver is the best way to truly experience Ireland. A driver in Ireland often doubles as a guide who gives you deeper insight into local customs as a member of the community. Instead of searching for unmarked roads or getting lost when trying to find a secluded accommodation, a private driver helps you plunge into the culture, experience the legendary storytelling of the island, and can shift your perspective of the country as you learn more about the regional histories, famous folklore, and distinctive geography between the towns, cities, and counties with essential freedom of movement.

Car Rental:

Renting a car in Ireland is an excellent opportunity to explore with your timeline and ability to come and go. At first, driving in Ireland may seem intimidating as you navigate from the other side of the car, but once acclimated, the driving itself is a delightful adventure. The countryside opens up for remarkable scenery dotted with castles and ancient ruins, and charming villages and epic landscapes can make for a stunning drive.

Buses:

Buses are a great way to reach different corners of Ireland in a relaxing way. When traveling by bus, you don’t have to worry about maps or missed roads with plenty of chances to enjoy the countryside glide past the window. Plenty of private bus companies operate throughout the country, connecting visitors to the far and hidden corners of the island.

Best for Urban Travel: Taxis, Buses, and Ridesharing Apps

Luas light rail in Dublin, Ireland

Luas light rail in Dublin, Ireland

Taxis & Local Buses:

Taxis are easily accessible and available throughout Ireland, with the exception of the tiny towns set far from the main cities or transport centers. Taxis generally line up around airports, train or bus stations, and taxi ranks with noticeable signs crowning the top of the car. A Hackney carriage is another option, referring to a private hire vehicle that requires a pre-arranged pick-up time and place. Taxis are officially metered, but hackneys are not metered, so you should ask about the fare before you book one. Large cities like Dublin also have local bus lines.

Ridesharing Apps:

Ridesharing apps are not currently legal in Ireland. Taxis are heavily regulated in the country, and the city of Dublin has more official taxis than New York City, making it very easy and affordable to hail one. Apps in Ireland can connect you to taxis instead of private drivers while other apps work for public bikes or carpooling. The only time taxis are generally not available in Ireland is a tiny window in the predawn morning.

Best Alternative Travel: Boats and Bikes

Boat in County Tipperary, Ireland

Boat in County Tipperary, Ireland

Boat:

You can travel by boat in Ireland, with many of the islands lingering off the coastline reachable by ferries. Traveling by boat is a slow way to reach different destinations around the mainland but may offer the only way to travel between certain islands. Specific ferry routes and companies operate seasonally or have shorter hours outside of summer, but boats generally travel year-round on famous waterways like the Shannon River,  the Erne System, and the Royal Canal.

Bike:

Cycling is a very popular way to travel around Ireland throughout the year. With over 800 miles of a national cycle network that includes country roads and forest trails, a cycling excursion around Ireland is a brilliant way to discover the scenery and experience a different side of the culture. You can also follow the Great Western Greenway, the longest off-road cycling trail in the Republic of Ireland.

More Travel Information & Tips

Biking in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland.  Photo courtesy of Brian Morrison / Tourism Ireland

Biking in Biking in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. Photo courtesy of Brian Morrison / Tourism Ireland, Northern Ireland

Ireland has plenty of transportation options that can easily fit into your schedule and itinerary. The best times to visit Ireland may depend on your specific goals from wanting to visit robust castles or hike along the Wild Atlantic Way, linger in fishing villages, or wander through prehistoric ruins. Zicasso’s Ireland Travel Guide has great travel tips and information on how to plan your perfect vacation. For more tips, you can speak to an Ireland travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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