Comparable in size to the state of Indiana, Ireland is a wonderful country for a scenic road trip, but you can also traverse it using public transport. Dublin is a very walkable city, with many of the top attractions clustered close together – but out in the countryside you’ll need wheels to get around.
Since Ireland itself is two separate countries, public transportation can seem confusing. While the Republic of Ireland uses euros, Northern Ireland uses pounds.
The good news is, there’s no need to be overwhelmed — use the National Journey Planner to plan trips throughout the island. You can plot routes online or through the app. It’ll give you the most efficient routes from point A to point B — including instances where walking or cycling is more ideal than motor vehicles.
Still, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland each have their own transportation services. Here’s what you need to know:
Public transportation in The Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland uses a combination of trains, trams and buses to link the region — including the cities of Dublin and Cork. All modes of transport are above ground. Your options include:
Dublin Bus. 136 routes within the city of Dublin.
Luas. Tram/light rail system around and within Dublin.
Dublin Suburban Rail. Trains connecting outlying suburbs to the heart of Dublin.
Bus Éireann. Cross-country transport around The Republic of Ireland.
DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit). A commuter rail serving Dublin and the surrounding coastline.
The Leap Visitor Card.
Get unlimited access to Airlink, Dublin Bus, Go-Ahead Ireland routes (only in Dublin), Luas, DART and the Suburban Rail with a Leap Visitor Card. You can purchase one online (it’ll be mailed to your house), at the airport or from agents in Dublin. Rates are as follows:
1 day (24 hours) — €10.00
3 days (72 hours) — €19.50
7 days (168 hours) — €40.00
Northern Ireland, which is on the same island but technically part of the UK, is connected by Translink. A public corporation, Translink operates the following methods of mass transit:
Ulsterbus. 22 bus stations operating around Northern Ireland. Goldline buses are the inter-city coaches that connect cities and towns.
Belfast’s Metro bus. The bus company offering transport around Belfast.
Fare on Translink buses and trains is determined by the time of day and how many “zones” you move through. A single adult fare for a trip through just one zone costs $3; a ride through 3 zones costs $5.75. Budget travelers should visit the Translink website to calculate fares in advance, based on where you’re going.
iLink smart card.
Get unlimited access to Translink routes with an iLink card. Top it off at a station or at an eligible kiosk. iLink cards are most similar to NYC MetroCards in that they’re reloadable and make it easy and convenient to board buses and trains with just a swipe.
Getting to and from the airport
Dublin airport (DUB). The Dublin Bus has frequent routes between the city center and Dublin Airport on the 41 or 16. Buses pick up passengers outside the Terminal 1 exit and can be paid for using a Leap card or exact cash. Fare prices vary depending on where you board, but shouldn’t be more than €3.80 one way (about $4.20).
Cork International Airport (ORK). Catch the 226 bus in front of the terminal building to Parnell Place Bus Station in Cork City, which is where buses that travel throughout Ireland depart from. A single adult ticket costs €2.80 (about $3).
Belfast International Airport (BFS). The Airport Express 300 bus departs opposite the exit of the terminal. Tickets can be purchased from the driver or at the tourist information desk in the airport for £8 into Belfast (about $10).
Trains in Ireland
With Irish rail journeys across the country taking just a few hours in any direction from Dublin, most train journeys are short and sweet in Ireland.
Eurail offers an Ireland rail pass, which also gives you a 30% discount on Irish Ferries and Stena Line, which can get you to Wales.
Taxis and Uber in Ireland
Uber isn’t as prevalent in Ireland as it is in the US; in fact, you’ll only find it in Dublin and Belfast.
Since the transportation industry is heavily regulated by the government, private drivers aren’t allowed to drive with Uber. This means that when you order an Uber in Ireland, you’ll actually be catching a ride with a licensed taxi or limousine driver.
Among locals, hailing a taxi via an app is much more common than using Uber. You’ll likely have better luck getting picked up using either mytaxi or Lynk taxi service apps.
Ireland car rental companies
If you’re driving through the countryside or between regions, renting a car lends a front-row seat to seaside cliffs and mammoth limestone formations. The following rental companies set up shop at Ireland’s airports:
While Ireland isn’t exactly known for a super-efficient transportation system — especially since currency is split between north and south — navigating routes within the Emerald Isle is all part of the grand adventure. Cross-country trippers might consider renting a car for a leisurely drive in lieu of public transport.
Frequently asked questions
No, Lyft is not available in Ireland. Try using mytaxi or Lynk to hire a last-minute ride.
You can catch an UberX from the Dublin airport to Dublin for €41-€53 (about $46-$59).
Yes. Dublin’s bike share system — comparable to Citi Bike in the US — is called Just Eat. They’re distributed throughout the city and can be paid for using a Leap card or by paying with a credit card at the terminal next to the bike station.
You can buy a three-day Just Eat pass for €5 (about $5.60) or a year-long pass for €25 (about $28).
The first half hour is free to use with the swipe of a pass. But after 30 minutes, the following fee structure kicks in:
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for a range of travel publications including Thomas Cook Magazine and Showpo. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and has visited over 50 countries (and counting). She has a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge of travel and helping consumers stretch their travel cash while on holiday.
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