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How To Get Around Ireland As A Tourist


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Arlina Lowder



Welcome to Ireland, a country known for its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and friendly locals. Whether you are planning a visit to the bustling streets of Dublin, exploring the rugged hills of Connemara, or immersing yourself in the rich history of Ancient East, getting around this enchanting country is a key aspect of your travel experience.


Ireland offers a variety of transportation options for tourists, allowing you to easily navigate the diverse landscapes and explore both well-known attractions and off-the-beaten-path gems. From efficient public transportation to picturesque road trips, there are plenty of ways to get around and make the most of your time in Ireland.


Before embarking on your adventure, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different transportation options and plan accordingly. This article will guide you through the various means of transportation available in Ireland, highlighting their pros and cons to help you choose the best option that suits your travel needs.


Whether you prefer the convenience of public transport, the freedom of renting a car, or the simplicity of walking or cycling, Ireland has something for everyone. So, let’s dive in and discover how to explore the Emerald Isle with ease!


Getting To Ireland

Before you can begin exploring the wonders of Ireland, you’ll first need to make your way to the country. Ireland is well-connected to major international destinations, with several airports serving as entry points. The two most popular airports are Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport, both of which offer numerous flights from various cities around the world.


Dublin Airport, located on the east coast of Ireland, is the busiest airport in the country and offers a wide range of international flights. From here, you can easily catch a connecting flight or continue your journey by other means of transportation. Shannon Airport, located on the west coast, is another popular choice for international travelers, providing easy access to western and southern parts of the country.


In addition to flying, you can also reach Ireland by ferry. There are several ferry routes connecting Ireland to the UK and mainland Europe. If you prefer a more leisurely and scenic journey, taking a ferry can be a great option. Dublin Port and Rosslare Harbour are the main ports for ferry arrivals, welcoming passengers from various European destinations.


Once you arrive in Ireland, whether it’s by plane or ferry, you’ll find efficient transportation networks that can take you to your desired destination within the country.


Key Points:

  • Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport are the main entry points to Ireland.
  • Ferry routes connect Ireland to the UK and mainland Europe.
  • Efficient transportation networks are available within Ireland.


Public Transportation

One of the most convenient and budget-friendly ways to get around Ireland is by using public transportation. The country has a well-developed network of buses and trains that can take you to various destinations, both within cities and between different parts of the country.


Bus Éireann is the national bus service in Ireland, offering routes to towns and cities across the country. Their buses are comfortable and equipped with amenities such as free Wi-Fi, making your journey enjoyable. Many popular tourist destinations, such as the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry, are accessible by bus, allowing you to sit back and relax while taking in the scenic views.


Iarnród Éireann, the national train service in Ireland, provides an efficient way to travel between major cities like Dublin, Cork, Galway, and Belfast. The train journeys offer comfortable seating, panoramic windows, and onboard facilities such as food and drink services. Trains are a popular choice for those looking to travel longer distances quickly and comfortably.


In addition to buses and trains, many cities in Ireland also have reliable and affordable local transportation systems, including trams and buses. For example, Dublin has the LUAS tram system and a comprehensive bus network operated by Dublin Bus. These services make it easy to travel within the city and explore its major attractions.


To make your public transportation experience even more convenient, consider getting a Leap Card. This reusable smart card can be used to pay for your bus, train, and tram rides. It offers discounted fares and eliminates the need for carrying cash.


Key Points:

  • Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann are the national bus and train services in Ireland.
  • Public transportation is a convenient and budget-friendly option for getting around.
  • Many cities have local transportation systems, including trams and buses.
  • Consider getting a Leap Card for discounted fares and convenience.


Renting a Car

If you prefer flexibility and independence in your travels, renting a car in Ireland can be an excellent choice. It gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace and venture off the beaten path to discover hidden gems.


There are several car rental companies operating in Ireland, both international and local. You can easily find a rental office at major airports, cities, and popular tourist locations. It is advisable to make a reservation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure the best rates and availability.


Driving in Ireland can be a unique experience, with picturesque landscapes, narrow country roads, and stunning coastal routes. However, it is important to familiarize yourself with Irish road rules and regulations before hitting the road. In Ireland, driving is on the left side of the road, and speed limits are signposted in kilometers per hour.


When renting a car, you have the option to choose from various vehicle types, including compact cars, SUVs, and even luxury vehicles. Consider factors such as the number of passengers, amount of luggage, and the type of terrain you plan to encounter during your journey.


One of the advantages of renting a car in Ireland is the ability to explore remote areas and off-the-beaten-path destinations that are not easily accessible by public transportation. You can take scenic drives along the Wild Atlantic Way, visit charming villages, and stop whenever you please to soak in the breathtaking views.


Keep in mind that some rental companies may require an international driving permit, so it is wise to check the requirements before your trip. Additionally, be aware of any additional fees such as insurance coverage, fuel policy, and mileage restrictions.


Key Points:

  • Renting a car offers flexibility and freedom to explore at your own pace.
  • Car rental companies are available at major airports, cities, and tourist locations.
  • Familiarize yourself with Irish road rules and regulations before driving.
  • Choose a vehicle that suits your travel needs and consider road conditions.
  • Take advantage of the ability to explore remote areas and off-the-beaten-path destinations.



Cycling is a popular means of transportation in Ireland, especially for those who enjoy an active and eco-friendly way of getting around. The country offers a variety of scenic cycling routes, both on-road and off-road, making it a great option for outdoor enthusiasts.


Ireland boasts a vast network of cycling paths and designated routes that cater to all levels of cyclists. From leisurely rides along coastal roads to challenging mountain routes, there is something for everyone. The Great Western Greenway in County Mayo, the Waterford Greenway, and the Ring of Kerry are just a few examples of iconic cycling routes that showcase Ireland’s natural beauty.


If you don’t have your own bike, don’t worry! Bicycle rental services are available in many towns and cities across Ireland. You can easily rent a bike for a day, a week, or even longer, allowing you to explore the countryside on two wheels at your own pace.


When cycling in Ireland, it’s important to follow road safety rules and wear appropriate safety gear, including helmets and reflective clothing. Stay alert and be respectful of other road users.


Cycling in Ireland not only offers a unique way to experience the country’s landscapes but also allows you to connect with locals and discover hidden gems that might be missed when traveling by other means of transportation. You can easily stop in quaint villages, visit local attractions, and enjoy a picnic amidst breathtaking views.


A key aspect of cycling in Ireland is the opportunity to engage in eco-tourism and sustainable travel. By choosing to explore Ireland on a bike, you contribute to reducing carbon emissions and leave a smaller environmental footprint.


Key Points:

  • Cycling is a popular and eco-friendly way to get around Ireland.
  • Ireland offers a variety of scenic cycling routes catering to all levels of cyclists.
  • Bicycle rental services are available in many towns and cities.
  • Follow road safety rules and wear appropriate safety gear.
  • Cycling allows for a more immersive travel experience and engagement with local communities.
  • Choose cycling as a sustainable travel option to reduce environmental impact.



If you enjoy a slower pace and want to immerse yourself in the beauty of Ireland, walking is an excellent mode of transportation to consider. With its breathtaking landscapes, scenic trails, and charming villages, Ireland is a paradise for walkers and hikers.


The country offers a vast network of walking trails, ranging from short coastal strolls to challenging mountain hikes. The most famous long-distance trail in Ireland is the 1,000-kilometer long Ireland’s Ancient East, which takes you through historic sites, quaint villages, and stunning natural landscapes.


One of the most iconic routes is the Wicklow Way, a 130-kilometer trail that winds through the stunning Wicklow Mountains. The Dingle Way in County Kerry and the Causeway Coast Way in Northern Ireland are also popular choices, offering breathtaking scenery and cultural landmarks along the way.


Walking in Ireland not only allows you to appreciate the natural beauty of the country but also provides opportunities for cultural immersion. You can stroll through traditional Irish villages, visit ancient ruins, and interact with friendly locals along the way.


It is important to note that some walking trails in Ireland can be challenging, especially those that involve steep ascents or rough terrain. It is recommended to be prepared with suitable footwear, clothing, and provisions for longer walks. Additionally, be sure to check the weather conditions and trail maps before setting off on your walk.


If you prefer a guided walking experience, there are numerous tour operators that offer organized walking tours in Ireland. These tours provide expert guides who can enhance your experience by sharing local knowledge, stories, and history.


Key Points:

  • Walking allows you to experience Ireland’s beauty at a slower pace.
  • Ireland offers a wide range of walking trails catering to different skill levels.
  • Famous trails include Ireland’s Ancient East, the Wicklow Way, and the Dingle Way.
  • Walking provides opportunities for cultural immersion and interaction with locals.
  • Be prepared with appropriate gear and check weather conditions before embarking on a walk.
  • Guided walking tours are available for those seeking a more organized experience.


Guided Tours

For those who prefer a hassle-free and informative way to explore Ireland, joining a guided tour can be a fantastic option. Guided tours allow you to sit back, relax, and let an experienced guide take care of all the logistics, while you fully immerse yourself in the sights and stories of the country.


There are a multitude of guided tours available in Ireland, catering to various interests and preferences. From cultural tours that focus on historical sites and landmarks to adventure tours that take you off the beaten path, there is something for every type of traveler.


Many guided tours cover popular tourist destinations such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Giant’s Causeway, and the Ring of Kerry. These tours typically include transportation, entry fees, and a knowledgeable guide who will share local insights and stories about the places you visit.


One of the advantages of joining a guided tour is the opportunity to meet fellow travelers and share experiences along the way. It can be a great way to make new friends and create lasting memories.


Guided tours come in various forms, including coach tours, walking tours, and even cycling tours. You can choose the tour that suits your preferences and desired level of activity.


When selecting a guided tour, be sure to consider the tour duration, itinerary, group size, and reviews from previous participants. It is also essential to check whether meals and accommodations are included or if you will need to arrange them separately.


If you have specific interests or would like a more customized experience, there are also private tour options available. These allow you to tailor the tour to your preferences and explore Ireland at your own pace.


Key Points:

  • Joining a guided tour provides a hassle-free and informative way to explore Ireland.
  • Tours are available for various interests, including cultural, adventure, and historical themes.
  • Tours often include transportation, entry fees, and a knowledgeable guide.
  • Meeting fellow travelers and making new friends is a bonus of guided tours.
  • Consider the tour type, duration, itinerary, group size, and reviews when selecting a tour.
  • Private tours offer a personalized and customized experience for individual preferences.


Ferries and Boat Trips

Exploring Ireland’s beautiful coastline and its offshore islands can be an unforgettable experience, and one of the best ways to do so is by taking a ferry or boat trip. Ireland is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea, offering opportunities for scenic cruises, island hopping, and wildlife spotting.


There are several ferry routes connecting various parts of Ireland to nearby islands, such as the Aran Islands, Skellig Islands, and Inishbofin Island. These ferry services provide a convenient and enjoyable way to visit these stunning destinations.


The Aran Islands, located off the coast of County Galway, are famous for their rugged landscapes, ancient stone forts, and traditional Irish culture. Ferries depart regularly from Rossaveal and Doolin, allowing visitors to experience these enchanting islands and discover their unique charm.


The Skellig Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are renowned for their dramatic scenery and ancient monastic settlement. Boat trips to Skellig Michael, the larger of the two islands, provide a glimpse into its fascinating history and breathtaking natural beauty.


In addition to island trips, there are also boat tours that offer scenic cruises along the Irish coastline. These cruises provide opportunities to admire stunning cliffs, sea caves, and wildlife, such as dolphins, seals, and seabirds.


Whether you choose a ferry ride to an island or a coastal cruise, make sure to check the ferry schedules in advance, particularly during peak tourist seasons. It’s also advisable to dress appropriately for the weather conditions and bring along any necessary essentials for your trip.


Embarking on a ferry or boat trip in Ireland allows you to experience the country’s maritime heritage, witness stunning coastal landscapes, and connect with the rich natural resources that surround the Emerald Isle.


Key Points:

  • Ferries and boat trips offer an exciting way to explore Ireland’s coastline and islands.
  • Ferry routes connect various parts of Ireland to islands like the Aran Islands and Skellig Islands.
  • Boat tours provide scenic cruises along the coast, showcasing cliffs, caves, and wildlife.
  • Check ferry schedules in advance and dress appropriately for the weather conditions.
  • Experience Ireland’s maritime heritage and marvel at the stunning coastal landscapes.


Air Travel within Ireland

If you’re looking to cover long distances quickly or want to explore more remote areas of Ireland, air travel within the country can be a convenient option. Although Ireland is relatively small, it has a number of regional airports that offer domestic flights to various destinations.


The main domestic airlines in Ireland are Aer Lingus Regional and Stobart Air. These airlines operate flights between major cities like Dublin, Cork, Galway, and Donegal, as well as smaller regional airports. Flying within Ireland allows you to save time and reach your destination efficiently, especially when traveling from one end of the country to the other.


When choosing to fly within Ireland, it’s important to consider factors such as flight schedules, availability, and cost. Domestic flights can be more expensive compared to other modes of transportation, especially during peak travel seasons.


In addition to the convenience of saving time, flying within Ireland also provides breathtaking aerial views of the countryside. You can enjoy stunning vistas of Ireland’s landscapes, from rolling green fields to rugged coastlines, as you soar through the sky.


It’s worth noting that regional airports in Ireland are generally smaller in size compared to international airports. This means that check-in and security procedures are often quicker and more streamlined, making your travel experience even more efficient.


While air travel may not be necessary for shorter distances within Ireland, it can be a great option for travelers with limited time or those looking to explore specific regions that are further apart.


Key Points:

  • Domestic flights in Ireland offer a convenient way to cover long distances quickly.
  • Aer Lingus Regional and Stobart Air operate flights between major cities and regional airports.
  • Flying allows you to save time and enjoy aerial views of Ireland’s landscapes.
  • Consider flight schedules, availability, and cost when choosing to fly within Ireland.
  • Regional airports offer streamlined check-in and security procedures.
  • Air travel is a great option for travelers with limited time or for exploring remote regions.


Recommended Itineraries

Planning your itinerary in Ireland can be exciting but also overwhelming, given the abundance of attractions and diverse landscapes. To help you make the most of your trip, here are some recommended itineraries that showcase the best of what Ireland has to offer:


1. Dublin and the East Coast: Start your journey in Dublin, Ireland’s vibrant capital city. Explore historic sites like Trinity College and Dublin Castle, and experience the lively atmosphere in Temple Bar. Take a day trip to the picturesque coastal towns of Howth and Dun Laoghaire. Then, venture further east to visit the ancient ruins of Newgrange or stroll along the stunning beaches of County Wicklow.


2. Wild Atlantic Way: Begin in Galway, known for its bohemian vibe and lively music scene. Drive along the scenic Wild Atlantic Way, stopping at iconic spots like the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and the charming villages of Doolin and Dingle. Continue to County Kerry to explore the Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park, and the Skellig Islands. End your journey in Cork, where you can visit the historic Blarney Castle and indulge in some delicious local cuisine.


3. Ancient East and Midlands: Start in Dublin and head east to explore the mysterious ancient sites of Ireland’s Ancient East, such as the ancient monastic settlement at Glendalough and the Hill of Tara. Journey through the scenic Boyne Valley, where you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Newgrange and the historic Trim Castle. Continue inland to the Midlands, where you can discover charming towns like Athlone and tour the imposing medieval fortress of Bunratty Castle.


4. Northern Wonders: Begin in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, and explore its rich history and culture. Take a scenic drive along the Causeway Coastal Route, stopping at the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and the stunning glens of Antrim. Head further west to explore the rugged beauty of Donegal, visit the breathtaking Slieve League Cliffs, and discover the charming village of Ardara.


Remember, these itineraries are just a starting point, and you can customize them based on your interests, preferences, and available time. Whether you’re interested in history, natural landscapes, or vibrant cities, Ireland has something for everyone.


Key Points:

  • Recommended itineraries include Dublin and the East Coast, the Wild Atlantic Way, the Ancient East and Midlands, and Northern Wonders.
  • Explore Dublin’s historic sites and nearby coastal towns.
  • Experience the beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way, including the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry.
  • Discover the mysterious ancient sites of Ireland’s Ancient East.
  • Explore the history and natural beauty of Northern Ireland.
  • Customize your itinerary based on your interests and available time.


Tips for Getting Around Ireland Safely

Exploring Ireland is an exciting adventure, and ensuring your safety during your travels is of utmost importance. Here are some essential tips to help you get around Ireland safely:


1. Follow traffic rules: If you choose to drive in Ireland or rent a car, familiarize yourself with Irish road laws. Drive on the left side of the road, obey speed limits, and be mindful of pedestrians and cyclists.


2. Plan your routes: Before setting off on your journey, plan your routes and check for any road or transportation updates. Use reliable navigation tools or GPS devices to help you navigate unfamiliar roads.


3. Check the weather: Ireland’s weather can be unpredictable, so check the forecast before heading out. Be prepared for changing conditions, especially if you plan to engage in outdoor activities like hiking or cycling.


4. Take breaks and stay hydrated: Long drives or walks can be tiring, so take regular breaks to rest and stretch your legs. Stay hydrated by carrying a water bottle with you, especially during warmer months.


5. Be cautious on narrow roads: Many rural roads in Ireland can be narrow and winding. Drive with caution, be aware of oncoming traffic, and pull over in designated passing places to allow vehicles to pass.


6. Stay visible at night: If walking or cycling at night, wear reflective clothing and use lights or reflective gear to increase your visibility to drivers. This is particularly important in rural areas with limited street lighting.


7. Be aware of wildlife: Ireland is home to beautiful wildlife, but animals can sometimes venture onto roads. Be cautious when driving, especially in rural areas, and pay attention to warning signs indicating the presence of animals like deer.


8. Secure your belongings: Keep your belongings secure at all times, whether you’re using public transportation, walking, or driving. Avoid leaving valuables visible in parked cars and be mindful of pickpockets in crowded areas.


9. Use designated crossings: When crossing busy roads, use designated pedestrian crossings or traffic lights. Look both ways and wait for a safe opportunity to cross, even if you have the right of way.


10. Trust your instincts: As with any travel destination, trust your instincts and be aware of your surroundings. If a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe, remove yourself from it and seek assistance if necessary.


By following these safety tips and exercising caution, you can enjoy exploring Ireland while prioritizing your well-being.


Key Points:

  • Familiarize yourself with Irish road laws if driving.
  • Plan your routes and check for road or transportation updates.
  • Stay aware of the weather conditions and prepare accordingly.
  • Take breaks, stay hydrated, and rest during long journeys.
  • Exercise caution on narrow roads and be visible at night.
  • Be mindful of wildlife and secure your belongings.
  • Use designated crossings and trust your instincts in unfamiliar situations.



Getting around Ireland as a tourist offers a multitude of options, allowing you to experience the country’s diverse landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality. Whether you choose to explore bustling cities, venture into the rugged countryside, or journey along the picturesque coastlines, there is a transportation method that suits every traveler’s preferences and needs.


From the convenience of public transportation and the freedom of renting a car to the active exploration of cycling and walking, each mode of transportation provides its own unique advantages. Public transportation, such as buses and trains, offers an affordable and eco-friendly way to navigate the country, while renting a car provides the flexibility to explore remote areas at your own pace.


Cycling allows you to immerse yourself in Ireland’s landscapes and connect with the environment on a more personal level, while walking offers a slower and more intimate experience, revealing hidden gems along the way. Guided tours provide a hassle-free way to discover the highlights of Ireland, with knowledgeable guides sharing insights and stories to enhance your journey. And for those looking to discover Ireland’s islands and coastlines, ferries and boat trips offer breathtaking views and access to remote destinations.


Remember to prioritize safety during your travels, whether it’s by following traffic rules, being mindful of weather conditions, or securing your belongings. Planning your routes, staying hydrated, and taking breaks are also key to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey around Ireland.


With these transportation options and safety in mind, you can embark on an unforgettable adventure, exploring Ireland’s bustling cities, tranquil countryside, majestic cliffs, and ancient ruins. So, whether you’re planning a short city escape or a grand tour of the country, grab a map, pack your bags, and get ready to experience the magic of Ireland as you journey from one captivating destination to another.