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Travel by Bus in Ireland

Overview

 

Bus travel in Ireland penetrates to all corners of the island. It’s convenient, comfortable and really easy to use. It’s a great way to see the two countries. Plus you can sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery without having to navigate the country roads in your rental car.

 

I think the key word here is RELAX. Self-driving can be challenging - driving on the left, navigating the narrow country roads, trying to figure where you’re going. You get to your destination and you’re mentally tired. Taking the bus isn’t as convenient as having a rental car, but it’s definitely less stressful.

 

The key to a successful bus trip is to:

  1. Understand how the process works

  2. Finding your options

  3. Travel light

  4. Set your expectations.

 

If you’re wondering whether you can truly experience Ireland by taking the bus - the answer is YES.

Pros

  • More relaxing than renting a car - at least for the person who would be doing the driving. It’s also more relaxing for the passengers if they don’t have to be with a driver who gets frustrated easily.

  • You don’t have to drive, navigate the roads or figure out where you’re going - although you do need to ensure you take the right bus.

  • Everyone gets to sightsee - including the driver.

  • Great option if you are only visiting a couple of destinations.

  • You are easily able to supplement bus travel by taking a day tour or hiring a local driver/guide to experience the local area.

  • Should be cheaper than renting a car if you’re traveling solo or as a couple; maybe not if you’re traveling as a family.

Cons

  • You can usually travel where you want; however, due to fixed bus timetables, you're not always able to get there when you want.

  • It's difficult to stop and sightsee between your starting and ending bus stations.

  • You will have to manage your luggage and bags when you're traveling to and from the bus stops.

Important to know

  • Use the travel planning app TFI Journey Planner to consider your public transportation options including bus, train, taxi, ferries, etc. This is a great first step when planning your travel.

  • You can get on and off the bus anywhere on the bus’ route - as long as it’s safe for the bus to stop there. This is a nice benefit.

  • In most instances, purchasing tickets in advance is not necessary. Just hop on the bus and pay the driver.

  • If you have a ticket for a specific bus and you get there a little early (or even late) the previous (or next) bus will normally allow you to ride as long as there’s room.

 

Things to consider

  • The bus stops can be on the side of the road and are sometimes exposed to the weather. There’s not always a taxi available for you.

  • When traveling to remote areas, there might be just one bus per day. Or you might have to work around the bus' schedule which might not be the most convenient time for you to travel.

Is this a great way to see Ireland?

  • Yes, it is - as long as you’re not interested in stopping at many sites/attractions in between bus stations.

  • It’s also easy to take day trips, using the bus, to local towns when you’re staying at a nearby city or town. Or sightsee in the local region by taking a day tour or hiring a local driver/guide.

 

How does this impact my choice of lodging options?

  • Bus travel easily allows for overnighting in cities and towns; however, staying at a bed & breakfast in a rural location will be more challenging because food, beverage, shopping might not be nearby. A B&B might be near a town; however, the road might be narrow with no sidewalks. Note that most B&Bs provide daily breakfast but no other meals. If you’re interested in a rural location, check with the lodging operator before arrival. Many times, taxis are available or the operator themselves might be open to transporting you. 

 

Price perspective

  • Bus travel is a per person cost that is only charged when you use the service; whereas, car rental is charged every day you have the vehicle - whether you use the car or not. Taking the bus should be a cheaper option for solo travelers and possibly couples and larger groups if you're not taking the bus every day.

Ease of use

  • It’s very easy to use the bus network in Ireland - as long as you understand the process.

  • It's not easy to use when you want to go to many different locations or when the timetable, between the destinations you're interested in, is limited.

Are reservations suggested?

  • In general, reservations are really not needed for most bus trips in Ireland. This gives you more flexibility with your travel schedule.

  • We suggest making a reservation in advance when taking a long-distance bus to or from the airport or when traveling from city to city - situations when your agenda is fixed and you want a guaranteed seat.

How Book Ireland Travel can help you

  • We understand bus travel in Ireland. We’ll help you to understand how the process works (for long distances or short commutes), navigate the travel planning process and provide you with bus travel tips if you do decide to travel by bus.

  • We’ll provide our thoughts and suggestions about this form of transportation and help you evaluate the various options available to you.