How do I get to an Irish castle hotel?
A combination of public transportation—train, bus, and taxi—will get you to any castle and palace hotel in Ireland. If all-inclusive resorts are your destination, public transportation will be more than adequate, but if you really want to explore the backroads, unspoiled villages, and see Ireland at the ground level, you really need your own wheels (or legs!).
Traveling about Ireland can either be straight forward or irritatingly slow, no matter how you do it. Here’s a breakdown on transportation options:
Trains don’t reach every part of Ireland, especially in the north and west. Usually, trains are combined with buses to get you where you want to go. Most rail routes radiate out from Dublin. Fares can be on the pricey side, but all sorts of passes and concessions are available to lower the cost.
The Irish Rover Pass covers rail travel only in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The Explorer Rail Pass covers rail travel in the Republic of Ireland only.
These passes cover a set number of travel days within a specified time frame, usually fifteen days. A Eurailpass is not worth it unless you plan on traveling extensively on the continent, as well. The better passes include bus travel.
In the Republic of Ireland trains are operated by Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail).
For about half the price of a rail ticket and a bit more time, the bus (called a coach for longer routes) will get you there. A variety of passes are offered:
The Emerald Card includes rail and bus networks in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Irish Explorer rail and bus tickets cover rail and bus in the Republic only, while Irish Rambler passes are limited to bus only in the Republic.
Bus Éireann is the Republic of Ireland’s principal bus company, although private companies favorably compete.
A rental car is my preferred method of transportation. The freedom a car gives can’t be beat. A couple of points to keep in mind before renting a car in Ireland:
- Reserve a car rental before you arrive in Ireland to save money. Expect to pay a lot more for an automatic transmission.
- Consider leasing a car if you’ll be driving in Ireland for three weeks or more.
- Don’t bother driving in Dublin.
- You can drive your rental car into Northern Ireland, but if your travel plans include Britain, a separate car rental is preferable to paying large drop-off fees and the cost of ferry transport for the car.
- Accident statistics in Ireland are among the worst in Europe (after Portugal and Greece). Drive defensively.
- Allow yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. Although distances aren’t great, it can take forever at times to get from point A to point B.
Cycling is a wonderful way to see Ireland. Roads don’t have as much heavy traffic on them as the UK. If the weather is fine, consider renting a bicycle for a few days or a week. Buses will transport bicycles if there is enough room.