Getting around in Ireland

Ireland’s transport infrastructure is well developed, and allows the traveller to get around easily. Public transport is generally reliable, but more expensive than the European average.

By Road

Ireland’s road network is undergoing continuous improvement. For a long time, Northern Ireland had the best roads and the only motorways on the island. Since the 1990s, however, the Republic’s national road network has been the subject of massive development. Hundreds of kilometres of new motorways have been built, reducing travel times substantially as a result. While the Republic now has the more extensive motorway network, Northern Ireland still has the better quality non-motorway routes. Distances and speed limits on road signs in the Republic are displayed in metric, while Northern Ireland still uses the imperial system. On all Irish roads, drive on the left. If using an in-car satnav, upload the latest mapping to ensure that your device contains the most recent network data, including new motorways, bypasses, etc. Always keep a good road map or atlas in the car in case of technology failure. Recommended maps include the four-sheet series of 1:250,000 maps published jointly by OSi and OSNI. It is worth noting that some minor public roads in Ireland are not wide enough for two cars to pass each other. Drivers are advised to take extra care along these routes and bear in mind that it may be necessary to reverse to allow an oncoming car to pass. Always assess the stability of the verge before driving onto it.

By Bus

Ireland has extensive bus coverage. Most towns, and many villages, are served on a daily basis. The cities are the main network hubs, and are linked by express services. In the Republic of Ireland, the intercity and local services are provided by Bus Éireann, while Dublin Bus operates in the Greater Dublin area. In Northern Ireland, country services are provided by Ulsterbus. In Greater Belfast, the buses are operated by Metro. Aircoach also provides useful connections from Dublin Airport to cities and towns around Ireland. Cross-border services are operated by Bus Éireann and Ulsterbus. It is advisable to check at a bus station or on the internet for the latest timetable information.

By Train

In the Republic of Ireland, Iarnród Éireann operates a network of services mainly radiating out of Dublin. While most of the bigger towns and cities are served by the railways, some of the more remote areas have no coverage at all (e.g. County Donegal, the north Midlands, and much of the far west and south coasts). In Northern Ireland, services are operated by Northern Ireland Railways. A limited network radiates out of Belfast to Derry, Larne, Bangor, and Newry – linking many of the towns and villages in between. There is no network in Counties Tyrone and Fermanagh. The efficient, cross-border Enterprise service links the cities of Dublin and Belfast. This is operated jointly by Iarnród Éireann and Northern Ireland Railways. It is advisable to check at a railway station or on the internet for the latest timetable information

By Air

There are a number of scheduled internal flights between Irish airports, mainly operated by Aer Arann. Most of these internal routes radiate out of Dublin to Cork, Galway, Knock, Sligo, Donegal, and Derry. Some flights span the entire length of the island, making them a viable time-saving alternative to surface travel. Car hire is available at most airports in Ireland.

By Bike

Ireland is a popular destination for cycling tourists. Unfortunately, good weather is never guaranteed, not even during the summer months. Wet and windy conditions are not uncommon, especially in the western counties, and can make unpleasant conditions for cycling. Having said that, there is no better way to see Ireland – if conditions are right.