With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, many people will be flocking to Ireland to celebrate. To help you maximize your time in this beautiful country, I’m writing some helpful posts. After reading this, you’ll be getting around Ireland using public transportation much easier than before.

I had the pleasure of visiting during a solo trip back in June 2021. What led me to going during that time was a 16€ round trip flight on RyanAir. I found this flight by staying on top of deals provided by the airline. 

What I had not taken into consideration when booking the crazily cheap flight, was the price of literally everything else in Ireland. It is not a cheap country, like at all. When working up a budget for this country, make sure to factor in a large amount just for transportation. And I’m not talking about just moving around Dublin because that wasn’t too bad. I’m referring more to moving around the country. There were train rides I saw that cost about 80€ round trip, this left me speechless.

If you’re a student, make sure you bring your ID with you as it will help you save tremendously if you take public transportation. You’ll be grateful you brought it with you, as it will have you saving half, if not more on tickets. If you’re unsure if a service accepts your student card, always ask! Worst case scenario they say no, but even worse would be overpaying for something you shouldn’t be. 

Ireland is not a fairly large country, but transportation will make it feel like it’s much bigger than it really is. My personal experiences taking the train around were that it’s expensive, comfortable, but slow and a tad unreliable. There were a couple times where I had to transfer from one train to another or a bus and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it just because the train was going very slow. I also had the misfortune of the websites and time tables stating certain times for the trains or buses yet there was no sight of either during the mentioned time.

Getting Around Ireland Using Public Transportation
Irish countryside views on train. June 2021

Money and time saving tip!

When I looked at how much I spent only on getting around Ireland using public transportation, it would have made more financial sense to use day tours to see more and spend way less. Unfortunately, I visited during the pandemic and many tour companies were not yet operating. If when you visit the companies are up and running again, I do suggest taking a tour or two with them as it will save you money and time figuring out logistics. You also won’t have to worry about transfers and time tables like I did.

For my whole stay I had my accomodation in Dublin, which looking back I wish I hadn’t done that. I was only traveling with a backpack which gave me flexibility to explore other cities and regions. This really limited the time I had exploring other cities and dictated the time I had to head back to Dublin.

Now let’s get into the breakdown of the transportation costs for my trip. I took public transportation between Dublin and Cork/Blarney/Cobh, Dublin and Cliffs of Moher, and Dublin and Howth. The first two were the most challenging days with the day trip to Howth being much shorter and more relaxed. 

Let’s get into the money breakdown

Trains were my main point of transportation around the country. I used the Dublin Heuston station located in the western part of the city. My first stop out of Dublin was to the southern part of the country, Cork. The train cost me 36€ for a Student Open Return ticket.

Student Train Ticket Dublin to Cork

What is a Student Open Return ticket you may ask? It’s a ticket valid for one outward journey on the date of the ticket and one return journey in the opposite direction only within 30 days. This means I could have bought and left the day of purchase and returned any day within the next 30 days.

Keep in mind you CANNOT buy these online, but you can buy them at the ticket machines or ticket offices in the train station. For more information on if you’re eligible for a student ticket, click here. To purchase a ticket online, whether adult or student, go here.

Once in Cork I knew I wanted to visit Blarney Castle seeing as it was a 45ish minute bus ride away. I walked about 15 min from the train station to catch Bus 215 in the center of town. The bus costs 5,60€ round trip and you can only pay cash. It runs every half an hour each way so keep this in mind if you need to take the train back so you have enough time.

In addition to Blarney’s Castle, I’ve been wanting to visit Cobh, a picturesque seaside town, for what seems like forever. The train between these two cities cost 10€ round trip (student and regular adults vary by cents on this one). You can catch it at the same station that you arrive from Dublin. 

Originally I wanted to visit Cliffs of Moher with a tour but when I found out they were not operating, I knew I’d have to make it somehow there on my own. It was a journey, one that I do not suggest new travelers should undertake by themselves.

First leg of the trip consisted of the train from Dublin to Ennis which cost 26,50€ one way. I bought a one way ticket because I had planned to return from Galway. Then came the bus from Ennis to Cliffs of Moher which costs 10€ one way, pay with cash or leap card. The bus from the Cliffs to Galway would have arrived too late to catch the train to Dublin so I backtracked. A gentleman at a hotel helped me book a bus ticket which cost 15€ (student) from Ennis to Dublin. Had I known the buses were cheaper, I would have taken that both ways. You live and you learn, so learn from my mistakes!

The last trip I took from Dublin was a half day excursion to Howth, another seaside town but much closer to the city. You have to go to the Connolly Station on the east side of Dublin for this train. The round trip train cost 6,25€ and took about 30 minutes each way. This was the shortest and most hassle free transportation experience I had throughout my whole time in Ireland.

Student train ticket Dublin to Howth
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Reminders regarding Ireland’s public transportation

Takeaways if you are planning to move around Ireland on your own:

  • Plan for unreliable timetables
  • Budget for expensive transportation 
  • Start your days early to maximize your time
  • Don’t just book all your accommodation in Dublin
  • Bring cash or use an ATM! You’d be surprised how many places still only accept cash

This post has been jam packed with information. I hope you find it helpful to get around Ireland with public transportation now. If you’re looking to get around via bus or train during your time here, then check out this site, Bookaway, for dates and prices.

My next few posts will consist of more in depth activities for each location and costs for those experiences. Stay tuned to this page for Ireland updates! As always, let me know if there’s anything in particular about a destination I’ve visited that you need information about. I’ll help you as best I can.

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