I make no apologies for the fact that this tip is lifted from another page of mine and edited slightly but I really do not see the point in re-writing a tip that took me a couple of hours to create the first time round. All the information is relevant for getting to Dublin from the UK mainland, specifically London although the attached websites give travel options from other destinations in England, Scotland and Wales.
When I began travelling in the 1970's the only realistic way to travel to and from Northern Ireland was by boat as air travel was hideously expensive. Travel to London without driving involved either an overnight bost to Liverpool, a train to Larne and over to Stranraer with an awfully long train / coach trip or the Dublin / Holyhead option going through the Republic of Ireland and train or coach from North Wales. Frankly, none of them were a lot of fun.
As the years went on, air travel became more affordable especially with the advent of low-cost carriers and just about everyone sdopted the aeroplane as their default mode of transport. I did the same myself but just recently I am becoming more and more disenchanted with air travel, especially within the British Isles. With the post 9/11 security regulations at airports, cost of travel to out of town airports, check-in hassles and now the appalling practice of having to pay through the nose for checked baggage I really am fed up with it. I recently worked out that is just about the same time for me to get door to door from my home in central London to the centre of Edinburgh without ever going near a 'plane. It is also immeasurably more comfortable and I do not have to produce my passport to travel within my own country which really does annoy me.
I do not often recommend other travel websites here but I am going to make an exception in this case for the excellent Man in Seat 61 website which is literally all the information you need for train travel you need anywhere in the world. It really is essential reading if you are going to ride the rails. I decided to check it out and found exactly the page you need for this journey. Reading it, I became more and more interested and decided to have a go at it. I like train travel and time is not a major concern for me. I must admit, perhaps somewhat sadly, that the idea of checking it out for writing on VT did enter into my thinking.
So what are the details? Well, for £49 each way I could get a combined train / ferry ticket from London to stations as far as Belfast. You don't actually buy a return, they only sell singles which are known as "Sail Rail" deals. You can book online which attracts a small fee but it is possible to purchase them at this price until 1800 the previous day from any major UK rail station. Other sample fares are Birmingham to Belfast £45 and Belfast to Manchester £44. Children under 16 are half price and under fives go free. It is interesting to note that you can book up until the previous evening. Normally, the earlier you book on UK trains the cheaper it is. If you book on the day, the price rises to £54 although even this represents good value. Whilst researching this tip I have just noticed that the cheapest single rail ticket I can buy for just the London to Holyhead portion of the journey two days from now is £68 and the train I got costs £143:50. This is without the ferry and the journey from Dublin to Northern Ireland. I really do not understand how that works, it is yet another example of the lunacy that is the British rail ticketing system.
I had opted to pay an extra £5 so I could use the fast ferry between Holyhead and Dublin, although this did not happen, of which more later. My journey started at London Euston at 0735 and involved two changes at Crewe and Chester. If you do not want so many changes there are trains with only one change and even a direct train at 0910 although this does not connect with the fast boat. I settled back with a coffee and a newspaper in my pre-reserved seat for the journey to the coast. Had I wished to use my laptop, there were powerpoints provided although you need to pay for wi-fi if you are not in first class.
The day had started OK but the weather degenerated the further North and West we went which was a shame. The change at Crewe was easy and a kind member of staff even allowed me to step outside for a cigarette even though you are technically not supposed to break your journey on these tickets. A smaller train took me to Chester and then the final change to another small train which was to take me to Holyhead. It was sad the weather was so foul as the little I could see indicated that there was some lovely scenery with the journey along the North Wales coast with it's numerous holiday destinations and caravan parks, crossing the Menai Straits and then accross Anglesey, or Ynys Mon as it is locally called. I do remember reafing that this was the last place there were considerable numbers of druids before the advance of Christianity obliterated them.
Here is the drill if you do take this route. The small railway station at Holyhead is actually the same building as the ferry terminal and is well signposted, you really shouldn't get lost. If you should, for whatever reason, need the left luggage office (it was closed when I was there!), it is on the left at the end of the platforms as you walk towards the ferries. There is a shop and refreshement facilities. The pick up area is to the right as you walk from the station to the ferryport and if you want to walk into town the entrance to the left over the modern new walkway will lead you there.
It was by now absolutely foul outside, blowing a gale with freezing rain coming in almost sideways. After nearly persishing from cold having the required cigarette outside I was glad I would soon be on the boat and on my way. Wrong. I was booked on the fast ferry which is operated by Stena Line. The route is shared between them and Irish Ferries and the good news is that your ticket is valid on either, which was just as well as the fast ferry, effectively a huge catamaran, had been cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions. Not a great situation but I made enquiry from the helpful staff there and was told I could travel on the next Irish Ferries boat in a couple of hours. Well, nothing to be done about it and I decided I wasn't going to sit about the station for about two hours so I braved the elements and wandered into town (tips to follow). Sadly again, I have to report that the idea of writing tips about a new place for VT was a small consideration in my decision, I really need to sort this VT addiction out!
Returning in good time for my next ferry, I noticed that a few things had changed since I had last been on the boats. My baggage was scanned as it would be in an airport although a whole lot quicker and I was given a baggage reclaim ticket. The message here is to remember to take out anything you may need for the journey. As a solo traveller, it suited me as I didn't need to constantly lug my bag about with me when I went up on deck or to the toilet or whatever. Depending on which ferry you are on, you may be taken on a short (free) bus journey to the outer harbour wall. It was OK as the bus actually drove all the way onto the cardeck thereby saving us from the elements.
The boat was a huge improvement on the cattleships of my distant memory with a lot of things to keep you amused. There are various eating and drinking options, large screen TV's, comfortable lounges and even a cinema (extra charge). I have to say that the price of food and drink is obscenely high onboard, probably something to do with the captive audience thing. Another problem is that the bureau de change closed over 40 minutes before the advertised time which left me with absolutely no Euros whatsoever as I had been relying on it. Basically, if you buy something in sterling, you get your change in sterling and the same with Euros although either are accepted. Well, just a small hurdle to overcome at the other end.
Arriving in Dublin, there was another hurdle to overcome. For many years there has been an arrangement between the UK and Republic of Ireland whereby travel documents (passports, travel permits etc.) are not required. Citizens of the Republic are free to come and go into and out of the UK freely and vice versa. Nothing I had read on any of the websites had advised me that photographic ID was required and I had not brought my passport. I do not have a driving licence so the passport is really the only photo ID I have. Picture the scene. I am standing in a queue with a uniformed official of some sort demanding photo ID from all disembarking passengers. I had visions of being put back onto the boat which was not a great prospect as I was going home for my Father's birthday that day. I politely explained to the official that the only photo ID I had was a Philippines Alien Registration card and a diving accreditation, neither of which I thought would be of use to him. With a fairly bad grace he let me proceed, telling me to bring my passport next time, which I still believe is not a requirement. I must make enquiry.
I have written too much so I shall finish the tip on a second part.
Dublin has two ferry ports (Dublin Port and Dun Laoghaire), which are both served from Holyhead in North Wales. The ferry companies Irish Ferries and Stena Line operate services on this route. The port of Dun Laoghaire is located about 7 miles (11 km) south of Dublin city in a beautiful suburban setting.
I had managed to write so much about the travel option of using train and ferry from mainland to Northern Ireland via Dublin I exceeded the 10,000 character limit, so I have had to split it into two. Not to worry, it is an opportunity for a few more images as well as the text. You really need to read the first part of the travelogue first for this to make sense. If you have, you will know that I had just cleared immigration in Dublin and needed to get into town to get the train home.
Next problem, where to get some Euros for the bus to the train station. This is not included in your ticket. I enquired at the desk if there was an ATM there and was told there was not but the young lady at the desk was prepared to exchange sterling for Euros on a 1 = 1 basis. This is a nice little sideline as the rate today is 1.22858 Euro to the pound. It all mounts up.
Outside to wait for the bus which eventually turned up and took us into the Centre. The fare is actually €3 not the €2:50 quoted on the website. The bus was extremely crowded and, as it was rush hour, it took us about 45 minutes to get to Connolly Station. there is a short walk from where you are dropped off but it is all pretty flat. Luckily there was a Belfast bound train fairly imminent and I jumped on. The Enterprise is a decent train although this Friday evening it was extremely crowded and I was lucky to get a seat. A comfortable hour and a half later, I was stepping off in my local station Portadown and stepping out nicely to my local (NI local) bar for a quick pint before getting the taxi home.
Just a brief note now about the return journey. I had not purchased a single from Portadown to London as I have mentioned because I was not sure what my return date would be. It is not quite so easy to get the Reail Sail ticket in Northern Ireland as it is only available from the travel centre in the main train / bus station in Great Victoria Street in Belfast. It is not available from other stations. That was not a problem for me as I was visiting Belfast anyway but it may be an issue for others. I visited on a midweek morning and was dealt with there promptly and politely. No problem and I did manage to get the fast boat which is excellent. Pleasant facilities and a much quicker journey aboard the aptly named Swift which had me back in UK much, much quicker than the traditional ferry. The attached website gives details of how to purchase tickets if you are going to and from Dublin or the rest of the Irish Republic and not travelling onward to Northern Ireland.
Even allowing for the weather delay on the outward leg, which is nobody's fault, it was a reasonable and comfortable way to travel. Longer certainly but factoring in airport waiting times, transport to and from and so on, not too bad and so so much less stressful. I really do recommend you look at this option if every minute doesn't matter to you. As a final note, you can get some lovely views which you don't get at 30'000 feet! Check it out.
Dublin Port is served by two ferry companies Irish Ferries and Stena Lines. both coming from Hollyhead in the UK. Take the number 53 or 53a from Alexander road into the city centre. The 53 departs from Beresford Place for the return journey. It will take you about 15 minutes from the terminal to reach the city centre.
Dun Laoghaire - This port is serviced by Stena Line. You can catch the DART into the centre from Dun Laoghaire around 15 to 20 minute journey. You can also catch the the following buses 46a 7 and 8 and they will drop you into the centre, longer journey.
If you are in no particular hurry, or want to take your car, Dublin is served by six ferry companies with up to sixteen sailings a day from Holyhead, Liverpool and Douglas. The city also has two ports - Dublin Port itself and Dun Laoghaire, which is about seven miles to the south.
Me, I actually was in a bit of a hurry and had intended to fly, but between Ryanair and Guinness there was a conspiracy to cause me to miss my flight. I arrived at Dublin Airport in plenty of time to catch my 8.30 pm flight, checked in, had a quick cigarette and duly went through security. So far, so good.
Boarding wasn't due to commence for about half-an-hour and so a pint of Guinness at one of the airside bars was a bit of a must-do - well it was a long taxi journey from the last pub in Malahide! A pleasant pint enjoyed and on checking the screens I find that my flight is delayed - oh well, another Guinness then ;(
Flight still delayed but screen shows "now boarding" and so I pop round to the gate (which is literally round the corner from the bar) to find that it's not boarding at all, there's a queue but it's going nowhere - ach, that'll be another pint of Guinness then!
Another glance round the corner - still a queue - yep, and another Guinness.
Another glance round the corner and OOOPS! There's no queue anymore and the sign says "Gate Closed". So I go up to the guy on the desk and enquire what's happening -"It's gone mate!"
"Well didn't you announce that it was now ready?"
"You should've been in the queue."
Oh well, that'll be another pint of Guinness then - FU Ryan bleedin' Air!
I hate Ryan Air - I've only booked with them twice and twice I've had bad experiences: never again!
It's now 10.30 in the evening and I've no hotel booked (well I do but it's in Bristol), no transport back to the UK and I've now had about a dozen Guinnesses over the course of the day (not forgetting the pint of Smethwicks with my lunch at O'Brien's Ferryman).
I am supposed to be back at work sometime the next day but have sortof booked it as a day off. A quick check on the internet reveals that I can get a flight first thing in the morning - flying Ryan O'Crapo Air - to hell with it: I'll take the ferry!
Back landside and a couple more pints :)
Still no hotel but have booked on the first ferry from Dublin Port in the morning. I take the bus into the city - it's now about 2 am on a Monday night/Tuesday morning and everything seems to be shut.
The Guinness count must be well into the teens by now and I don't care anymore and so head off on foot towards the port.
Fortunately, even though it's early March, it's a mild night, a little drizzly but I'm well wrapped up. The port is a fair old walk from the city centre - maybe about 3 miles, and add on another couple due to the double-digit Guinnesses!
Continued on next tip:
If travelling from the UK to Ireland or vice versa, an alternative to flying is to use the ferry. Ferries operated by Stena Line and Irish Ferries run throughout the day and tickets can be bought at the port or through the company websites.
I travelled to Dublin Port with Irish Ferries and absolutely recommend them. The crossing took a couple of hours. You can travel as a foot passenger or take your car.
One of the most frequently asked questions (it would appear) on the Dublin Bus website :
Is there a bus to the Port ?
Indeed there is, the number 53 from Busaras (the bus / coach station). There's currently no sign at Busaras, but it's bay 14 - or ask a bloke in a hi-viz jacket if you doubt me !
Fares are higher than normal. currently 3 euro adults and 1.50 for children one-way.
Departures are about every 30 minutes, but much less often on High days and Holidays. They will however connect with sailings.
The bus delivers you to right in front of the terminal 1 building. Make sure you get off earlier for terminal 3 (P & O)
Also make sure that you are not sialing from Dun Laoghaire. It is Six miles to the south, and easily reachable on the DART train.
After a good hour's walking (staggering!) I finally arrive at the ferry terminal. Dublin Port, being the largest in the country, takes almost half that time to get from the port entrance. The main terminal building is shut (it now being about 3 am) and my ferry doesn't leave until just after 8.
Fortunately there is a small waiting room specifically for early arrivals which is heated and has snack and hot drink vending machines. A coffee and a Mars serve for a very late supper and despite the seating being that extremely uncomfortable bucket-type chairs I do manage a couple of hours snooze - after 15 pints of Guinness and a 3 mile hike I can sleep anywhere!
Dawn breaks and the terminal building slowly comes to life. The advertised 6 am opening of the cafe is of course a total fantasy - this is Ireland! But by 6.30 (still an unheard of time here), a server appears (by her accent I assume she was from somewhere in Eastern Europe which may expain the early start - definitely not locally born!) and the double espresso is GOOD!
From Dublin to the UK there are 7 sailings a day to Holyhead, in Wales (Irish Ferries and Stena Line) and 5 to Liverpool (Norfolk Ferries and P&O). Going via Holyhead, Irish Ferries offers 4 saiilings - 2 fast, 2 slow, and having decided to write the day off I'm booked on the slow one the Ulysses.
The main passenger terminal is a nice modern building with a cafe, shop, an ATM and a couple of other bits and bobs. Check-in for the ferry is 30 mins and is effortless with a minimum of fuss and no queues. Boarding, too, is virtually queueless and the ferry itself modern and comfortable.
The Ulysses takes about 3 and a half hours to do the crossing and so I crashed for another couple of hours in one of the bars. This is quite an impressive ferry, the world's largest, and there's a choice of bars, restaurants and lounges and even with a capacity to carry almost 2,000 passengers and crew is spacious and well staffed.
After a couple of hours kip I reckoned it must be getting towards Guinness-time again!
This was a pleasant ferry journey and one which I would defintely do by choice rather than fly but unfortunately has a 10 hour train journey from where I live!
I recently travelled through Dublin Ferryport in both directions and it was a fairly unremarkable experience except for a few little things that I will highlight here to inform other travellers.
To do thing in the order I did I shall start with arriving at the ferryport from UK mainland.
For many years there has been an arrangement between the UK and Republic of Ireland whereby travel documents (passports, travel permits etc.) are not required. Citizens of the Republic are free to come and go into and out of the UK freely and vice versa. Nothing I had read on any of the websites had advised me that photographic ID was required and I had not brought my passport. I do not have a driving licence so the passport is really the only photo ID I have. Picture the scene. I am standing in a queue with a uniformed official of some sort demanding photo ID from all disembarking passengers. I had visions of being put back onto the boat which was not a great prospect as I was going home for my Father's birthday that day. I politely explained to the official that the only photo ID I had was a Philippines Alien Registration card and a diving accreditation, neither of which I thought would be of use to him. With a fairly bad grace he let me proceed, telling me to bring my passport next time, which I still believe is not a requirement. I must make enquiry.
I make no apology for the fact that the preceeding paragraph and other information in this tip is a direct lift from two tips I created about the entire train / ferry journey from London to Portadown.
Having negotiated the immigration officers, the next problem, where to get some Euros for the bus to the train station. This is not included in the combined rail / ferry ticket I travelled on. I enquired at the desk if there was an ATM there and was told there was not but the young lady at the desk was prepared to exchange sterling for Euros on a 1 = 1 basis. This is a nice little sideline as the rate today is 1.22858 Euro to the pound. It all mounts up.
If you are getting the bus into the centre of Dublin, go out the front door and the stop is slightly to your left.
Going in the opposite direction Ireland to UK), there are just a couple of things to look out for. Firstly, foot passengers will have their large baggage taken off them, security screened and stowed for them so don't forget to remove anything you might need for the journey. I mention this as it never used to be the case on ferries on the Irish Sea. The other small thing to look out for is the coffee shop. Apart from being extremely expensive, it is on the top floor. It was only after I had lugged my case up an awful lot of stairs that I discovered it is divided into two halves closed off from one another. The part I had gone to was on the "landside" i.e. the place for the public before you clear security. If you are travelling and fancy a coffee, my tip is to do security first and there is a lift up to the coffeeshop which is located beside the departure lounge.
Apart from the couple of little things noted above, Dublin Ferryport is clean, well staffed and pleasant enough to travel through.
Plane, Ferry from France or England
We took the ferry from Cherbourg to Rosslare, 17 hours on sea and on our way back even more due to a heavy winter storm... The sea can be very rough in winter.......Trip has been boring.....
In Dublins city center you can walk from sight to sight. Or take a bus......
Well, you can fly into Dublin, of course. However, I came in from Wales by ferry, which I highly reccommend. It's a very nice ferry, with shops, eateries, and even a few slots! It only takes 99 minutes to across, according to them, but it's more like 2 hours, at least when I crossed). We took Stena Line from Holyhead, Wales, but you can also take Irish Ferries, which boasts the 'World's Largest Ferry.' It's a lot of fun, but take some Dramamine if you're like to get seasick, like me.
Taxis work. So does the train/subway in Dublin; although it's a little cumbersome with luggage. Buses are around as well. I probably wouldn't drive, but I'm sure you could rent a car if you wanted. Ah, but once you're downtown around what you want to see, just walk.
Arriving at Dublin airport you have the option of taking a taxi to the city centre, getting a bus or taking the DART which is a train (for which you will have to jump on a shuttle bus at the airport).
Arriving per ferry at Dun Laoghaire puts you right on the Dun Laoghaire DART station from where you can take the train to any other spot along the east coast of Dublin.
I travelled each way as a foot passenger on the overnight freight ferry operated by Norse Merchant Ferries from Liverpool. Since my trip, Norse Merchant have moved their departure point to a much more foot passenger-friendly terminal in Birkenhead, on the other side of the Mersey.
Take the Stena Explorer Seacat from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire at a speed of 45 knots. I had never gone on a Seacat before so this was an experience I didn`t want to miss. It certainly made the journey go a lot faster than it would have if we used a normal ferry.
The worst way to get to Dublin:
We were still students back then with more time than money on our hands so we decided to go to Ireland the hard way:
- From Holland to France by bus;
- From France to England by boat;
- Crossing England by bus
- From England to Ireland by boat;
- To Dublin by bus.
It took us 24 hours, some assertiveness and a fight -to claim our seats on the bus - to get there.
Luckily we were still excited for what was to come.
On our way home being tired made the journey really seem endless.
Especially for one of us whose stomach isn't too fond of moving vehicles. On more than one occasion she nearly trew up.
Next time we'll fly!