Transport options in Ireland

Ireland has an extensive public transport network for a small island. We are big fans of public transport as it is an excellent way to experience a country, and tends to be affordable, comfortable, and more environmentally friendly.

Where public transport is limited, car hire or private chauffeur are great options which we can book for you.

Be aware that there are no trains to/from Dublin or Belfast airports. You will need a bus, taxi, or private transfer to get to/from the airport from the central stations.

Public transport in Ireland

Rail

We simply adore train journeys, and, with scenery as beautiful as that found in Ireland, taking the train really is a wonderful way to see the countryside. Iarnród Éireann covers rail in the Republic of Ireland (with Dublin being the key hub), and Translink covers Northern Ireland (Belfast is the key hub).

Most intercity journeys take no more than 2 to 3 hours, and almost all trains have WiFi on board. Both first and standard class carriages are comfortable.

It is important to note that there are no trains to/from Dublin or Belfast airports. Trains go to/from the central stations only, from which you will need a private transfer, taxi, or bus. In addition, most rural areas are not connected by rail but they generally have excellent bus connections.

We can book your Irish rail point-to-point journeys and Irish rail passes so, if you’re planning on rail travel, get in touch at sales@britishtips.com.

Popular train journey times:

  • Dublin-Belfast: 2.5 hours direct
  • Dublin-Galway: 2.5 hours
  • Dublin-Cork: 2.5 hours
  • Limerick-Galway: 2.5 hours

Bus

Buses in Ireland are an affordable, efficient, and comfortable way to get around and, given the size of the island, most journeys won’t take more than a few hours. Many towns that aren’t served by trains in Ireland are still accessible by local bus – in fact, it is the main form of transport in rural Ireland.

We can book longer, intercity bus journeys in the RoI and Northern Ireland for you. Tickets for inner city journeys or local buses can easily be purchased on site in Ireland, often on the bus itself.

  • Bus Éireann commuter and intercity bus services throughout the Republic of Ireland, and covers Cork, Galway, Limerick, and Waterford city bus services.
  • Dublin Bus covers the Greater Dublin Area (including parts of County Wicklow and County Kildare), while Go-Ahead Ireland operates in the Outer Dublin Metropolitan Area.
  • Translink Ulsterbus covers Northern Ireland.
  • There are also many private operators that run smaller routes, including airport transport.

Planning on using the bus in Dublin? See below for details on the LEAP card.

If you’re going to be using the bus extensively in Northern Ireland, we recommend an iLink smartcard for metro, NI rail, and Ulsterbus. Find out more here: Translink.

Contact us for your bus enquiries at sales@britishtips.com.

LEAP Visitor Cards
If you plan to use buses and trains in Dublin, we recommend buying a LEAP Visitor Card. This is a prepaid pass specifically for visitors that allows you to travel on Dublin Bus, Airlink 747, Dublin’s Luas and DART buses and commuter rail. Find out how to purchase a LEAP card here: LEAP Visitor Card.  (Note that, although they do offer online purchases, you would need to get the card posted to you in South Africa. We do not advise this as passes go missing or do not get to people in time when sent via the SA Postal System. It is easier and safer to just purchase it in Dublin.)  

Ferries

Taking the ferry to and from Ireland, or between small islands, is a very popular way to travel. It’s a memorable way to travel and quite a novelty for South Africans as we don’t have ferries.

You can take ferries to/from England and Scotland, Mull, the Isle of Man, and even Spain and France, as well as to many of the smaller islands around Ireland.

London to Dublin or Belfast to Scotland via train and ferry are very popular routings and make for a lovely day of travel. However, they are not recommended for people who are short on time as they do take the whole day, with several changes. But, if you have the time, it is definitely worth doing at least once in your life!  

Bear in mind that some routes are limited to summer season, and that rough, stormy weather can lead to delays or cancellations. If you are travelling in deep winter, we recommend alternative transport.

Contact us for your ferry enquiries at sales@britishtips.com.

Taxis and hackneys

Most large cities in Ireland have many taxi or hackney companies. They’re excellent for getting you from point A to point B in comfort. In our experience, many taxi drivers are also an excellent source of information – and friendly too. Be aware that, while taxis in larger cities usually have credit card facilities, those in smaller towns and villages may only be able to accept cash.

They are very similar in that both are small public service vehicles (SPSVs) licensed to carry passengers by the The National Transport Authority (NTA). We strongly recommend that you not use unlicensed taxis, hackneys, or other transport. You can check if your SPSV driver and vehicle are licensed on the TFI Driver Check App.

Note that, although it isn’t a ‘must’ to tip taxi drivers, if you get great service, it’s a nice thing to do – 10 – 15% is recommended. 

If you are travelling with children and/or are not travelling light, or are a nervous traveller, we recommend a private transfer instead.

What’s the difference between taxis and hackneys?

Both taxis and hackneys must display the license number, vehicle registration number, and number of passengers permitted on the front and back windshields, and the driver ID on the dashboard. Both must be able to give you a receipt. They differ in a few ways:

Taxis

  • Maximum taxi fare rules are set by the NTA. Licensed taxi operators must adhere to these, display the info on how the fares are calculated in their vehicle, and have a working taximetre which displays and measures fares.
  • Must have a taxi roof sign displaying the vehicle license number.
  • Can be hailed and can wait in taxi ranks for passengers (you will usually find them at airports, train and bus stations).
  • Can be prebooked but are usually hailed as needed.

Hackneys

  • No maximum fare and no taxi metre
  • Must display the hackney license on the dashboard.
  • Price is agreed in advance and, once agreed upon, the driver cannot charge you more.
  • Prebooking only. They cannot be hailed, nor can they wait at taxi ranks EXCEPT for local area hackneys in rural areas which can use approved hackney stands.
  • Must display the license number, vehicle registration number, and number of passengers permitted on the front and back windshields.

Uber and similar

Although there is Uber in Ireland in urban areas, it is not widespread and only registered taxi drivers may offer it; private cars are not permitted.

Local taxis and public transport options are really good, very accessible, and affordable, so you won’t struggle to find the right option.


Private transport options

Chauffeured private transfer

With Ireland opening up for visitors, we have seen private transfers and chauffeur drive increasing in popularity. This is a fantastic way to travel in comfort and safety between airports, hotels, train stations, attractions and even cities – far from the crowds. They are immensely popular for people with lots of luggage, émigrées, and those travelling with children.

We use only trusted, reliable, quality suppliers with a proven safety track record.

Car hire

For those who plan to explore in more detail, self-drive holidays are an eternally popular choice as a hire car will get you just about everywhere – and you can use your South African driver’s license ‘as is’.

However, be aware that car hire in Ireland is very expensive and has become more so since Covid-19.  

Barging

This is an increasingly popular option for those wanting to explore the beautiful waterways of Ireland in comfort. You can skipper your own self-catering barge or choose skippered hotel barges – it really is travel with a difference.


Because each form of transport has so many options and rates vary widely depending on your routings and requirements, we are unable to post all the prices for everything here.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at sales@britishtips.com for your transport requirements in Ireland and abroad. We are looking forward to assisting you!

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