A great way to get around Ireland...

Trains are a pleasant and relaxing way to get around Ireland.  Modern air-conditioned intercity trains were introduced a few years ago as part of a massive investment programme, allowing frequencies to be increased.  This page will get you started...

  Where do the trains go?

  How to check train times & buy tickets

  Which station in Dublin?

  Dublin to Cork InterCity trains

  Dublin to Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny, Waterford, Tralee, Westport & Ballina by InterCity railcar

  Dublin to Belfast by Enterprise express

  Belfast to Londonderry by train

  Belfast to the Giant's Causeway by train

Where do the trains go Click for route map

As you'd expect, most rail lines radiate out of Dublin, see Irish Rail's map of the Irish rail network or you can buy an excellent printed Britain & Ireland rail map.

How to check train times & buy tickets www.irishrail.ie & www.translink.co.uk

To check train times & fares in the Republic of Ireland and from the Republic to Belfast, use the Irish Railways website www.irishrail.ie.

You can Irish rail enquiries are on (within Ireland) 01 836 6222 or (calling from outside Ireland) 00 353 1 836 6222.

If you are prepared to pay for a full-price ticket you can just buy at the station on the day, there's no need to book in advance.  Full-price tickets cannot sell out, they have a fixed price and unlimited availability.  Reservation is optional on Irish intercity trains and not possible at all on local & suburban trains, if you choose not to reserve a seat you just board the train and sit where you like, in any empty unreserved seat. just as on trains in Great Britain.

However, for longer journeys if you are prepared to book in advance and commit to a specific train with limited or no refunds or changes to travel plans allowed, you can save money by buying a cheap advance-purchase ticket at www.irishrail.ie.  You collect tickets at the self-service ticket machines at any main station.

To check train & bus times in Northern Ireland and from Belfast south to Dublin, use the journey planner at www.translink.co.uk.  Translink is the Northern Ireland transport organisation which includes Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) and Ulsterbus.

Which station in Dublin?

Dublin Heuston...

Heuston station is the terminus for trains heading west & southwest from Dublin to Cork, Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny, Waterford, Tralee, Westport & Ballina.  Opened in 1846 as Dublin Kingsbridge station, it was renamed Heuston in 1966 after Seán Heuston, a young railway worker who commanded a nearby post in the 1916 Easter Rising.  It's located 3km (2 miles) west of Dublin city centre so it's best to take the frequent Luas tram (www.luas.ie) which links Heuston station with the city centre and Connolly station every few minutes from early morning to late at night.  It has 9 platforms.  As it's a terminus, there is easy level access between tram stop/taxi rank/street, concourse and all platforms.  For more about the station's history see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heuston_railway_station.

Dublin Heuston station

Dublin Heuston station, showing the LUAS tram stop right in front of the station.

Inside Dublin Heuston station

Heuston station concourse, looking towards the platforms.

Dublin Connolly...

Ireland's busiest station, Dublin Connolly is the station for Belfast, Sligo, Wicklow, Wexford, Dun Laoghaire & Rosslare, sitting astride the north-south tracks which pass through Dublin on a viaduct.  Concourse and platforms are one floor up from street level.  Platforms are numbered from east to west, platforms 1-3 are north-facing terminus platforms (trains to Belfast use these), platforms 4-7 are through platforms (DART suburban trains and southbound trains to Wicklow, Wexford & Rosslare use these).  The station opened in 1844 as plain Dublin Station, later renamed Dublin Amiens Street.  It was renamed Dublin Connolly in 1966 after Irish revolutionary James Connolly.

LUAS tram stop, Dublin Connolly   Main entrance to Dublin Connolly

This is the LUAS tram terminus at street level below Connolly station to the south.  You go up that escalator to the main station entrance...

 

This is the main entrance to Connolly station, one floor up from street level, south of the concourse.  Most people enter here.

Inside Dublin Connolly   Dublin Connolly station - original facade

Inside the main entrance, looking back south, with the concourse behind the camera and the ticket office on the right.

 

The old station facade on the west side of the station.  You can also reach the concourse up the steps from the entrance in the centre of this building.

Dublin Connolly station concourse

Heuston station concourse, looking north towards the platforms with the main entrance behind the camera.

Dublin to Cork by InterCity train...

These smart modern trains link Dublin & Cork virtually every hour in 2h50, via Limerick Junction (for Tipperary) and Mallow (for the line to Tralee).  Change in Cork for the local train to Cobh.  These trains have 1st & standard class with a catering car and free WiFi.  The full Irish breakfast on morning trains from Dublin is as good a breakfast as you'll have on any train anywhere!  They were introduced in 2005-2006.

A Dublin to Cork express train boarding at Heuston station

InterCity to Cork:  An InterCity express train to Cork waits to leave Dublin Heuston...

Standard class seats on Dublin-Cork train   First class seats on Dublin-Cork train

Standard class seats, 2+2 across car width.  Larger photo.

 

First class seats, 1+2 across car width.  Larger photo...

Buffet counter on a Dublin-Cork train   Cooked breakfast on a Dublin to Cork train

Buffet counter...

 

Cooked breakfast!

Dublin to Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, Wexford & Rosslare by InterCity railcar...

These smart modern air-conditioned railcars are the new face of Irish Railways, built by Hyundai and introduced in 2008 onto all intercity routes from Dublin, other than the Dublin-Belfast and Dublin-Cork routes.  Trains run roughly every 2 hours from Dublin to Galway, Limerick, Sligo, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wicklow, Wexford & Rosslare.  Dublin to Galway takes 2h45, Dublin to Limerick 2h45.

InterCity railcar from Dublin arrived at Limerick

An InterCity railcar from Dublin arrived at Limerick...

Train travel inIreland:  New intercity railcar at Limerick   Standard class seating in an intercity railcar

Luggage goes on the racks.

 

Seats line up with the windows beautifully.  Larger photo...

Dublin to Belfast by Enterprise...

Fast, modern Enterprise trains link Belfast Lanyon Place (formerly known as Belfast Central) and Dublin Connolly in about 2 hours, with departures about every 2 hours.  The service is jointly run by NIR and Irish Railways.  You can buy cheap tickets from around €14.99 each way if you book online in advance, you should buy one-way or return tickets starting in Dublin at www.irishrail.ie and one-way or return tickets starting in Belfast at www.translink.co.uk/Services/NI-Railways.

Travel tip 1:  Belfast's Great Victoria Street station is often more convenient than Belfast Lanyon Place, as it's next to the main bus station and the excellent Europa Hotel, and just across the road from the equally excellent National Trust-owned Crown Bar.  If you hold a ticket for the Enterprise train between Belfast Lanyon Place & Dublin, you are entitled to a free transfer by regular local train between Belfast Lanyon Place and Belfast Great Victoria Street as no extra charge.

Travel tip 2:  On board the Enterprise, I recommend a seat on the left hand side going south to Dublin, right hand side going north to Belfast, for the sea views north of Dublin.

Belfast Central was named after the Belfast Central Railway, not because of its location!  It was renamed Belfast Lanyon Place in September 2018.

Enterprise train from Dublin to Belfast   Standard class seating on the Dublin to Belfast 'Enterprise'

An Enterprise train arrived at Belfast...

 

Standard class on the Enterprise.  Larger photo.

First class seats on the Dublin to Belfast 'Enterprise'...   Buffet car

First class on the Enterprise.  Larger photo.

 

Buffet car on the Enterprise.  Larger photo.

Enterprise train from Dublin arrived at Belfast

Arrived at Belfast.  Belfast Central has now been renamed Belfast Lanyon Place...

Video guide:  Dublin to Belfast on the Enterprise...

Belfast to Londonderry (Derry) & Giant's Causeway by train...

The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.  Travel there by train & ferry, no flight required!  

The famous Giant's Causeway on the Northern Irish coast.

 

New trains are revolutionising travel Northern Ireland Railways, with 60% more passengers.

Inside one of Northern Ireland Railways' new C3K trains   Belfast to Londonderry by train

New train interior:  Inside one of the smart new Northern Ireland Railways C3K trains which link Belfast with Londonderry, Coleraine & Portrush for the Giant's Causeway.

 

The scenic route...  One of the new C3K trains running alongside the estuary on the approaches to Londonderry, a very enjoyable ride.  Photo courtesy of NIR.

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Day trips from Dublin by train

  Railtours Irelands bus - day trips from Dublin

Railtours Ireland:  Intercity train from Dublin to Limerick, Cork, Galway or Belfast, then motorcoach to the sights...

  The Cliffs of Moher, western Ireland
 

The Cliffs of Moher, western Ireland...

 

Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, Ireland

Mrs 61 kisses the Blarney Stone, on the upper battlements at Blarney Castle, southern Ireland, supposedly giving you the gift of eloquence...

Railtours Ireland, www.railtoursireland.com

If you want to kiss the Blarney Stone, drive the Ring of Kerry or walk on the Giant's Causeway as a stress-free day trip from Dublin, Railtours Ireland deserves a special mention.  They run daily tours from Dublin using a unique train-based concept that makes the famous sights & scenery of remote western & northern Ireland accessible as a day trip.  They work closely with Iarnrod Eireann (Irish Railways).

They've been operating for over 10 years now, and get great reports.  I've used them myself on a couple of occasions, both very memorable.

You can book online at www.railtoursireland.com, or by phone.  Please mention seat61.com when booking.

Tip:  There's a full cooked breakfast available in the restaurant car of some of the Irish Rail intercity trains they use out of Dublin, costing around €17 (£14).  It's as good a cooked breakfast as you'll have on any regular scheduled train, so treat yourself!

Railtours Irelands bus - day trips from Dublin

Railtours Ireland:  Intercity train from Dublin to Limerick, Cork, Galway or Belfast, then motorcoach to the sights...

Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, Ireland

Mrs 61 kisses the Blarney Stone, on the upper battlements at Blarney Castle, southern Ireland, supposedly giving you the gift of eloquence...

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Guidebooks

To get the most from your visit, you should take a good guidebook.  For the independent traveller, I think this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both series are excellent.  Lonely Planet Dublin - Lonely Planet Ireland - Rough Guide Ireland.  Also consider Ecoescapes Ireland, which lists eco-friendly places to stay.

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk...

Lonely Planet Ireland - click to buy online at Amazon   Rough Guide to Ireland - click to buy online at Amazon   Lonely Planet Dublin - click to buy online at Amazon   Ecoescapes Ireland

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Hotels in Dublin, Belfast & Ireland

Hotels in Dublin, Cork, Galway or anywhere else in Ireland...

    

Favourite hotel search & price comparison: hotelscombined.com

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It's been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site in the World Travel Awards and I recommend it to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel for less.

Favourite hotel booking site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings in one place here. 

You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

The Gresham Hotel, Dublin...   Click here to check prices & book...

Perfectly located on Upper O'Connell Street in the heart of central Dublin, 10 minutes walk from Connolly Station, The Gresham is an iconic hotel, a Dublin landmark since 1817.  The impressive facade is matched by a marble-floored foyer and bar, and comfortable carpeted lounges.  Yet you can find rates from £90 for a double room, 4-star comfort at a remarkably good price.  To check room rates & availability click here.

Gresham Hotel, Dublin   Superior room at the Gresham Hotel, Dublin

The Europa Hotel, Belfast...   Click to check prices & book

For comfort and location, stay at the Europa.  Opened in 1971, Belfast's famous Europa Hotel has more history than many hotels three times its age.  It was the hotel used by journalists such as Trevor MacDonald, Kate Adie, John Simpson during the Troubles in the 1970s and 80s, when it earned the title of Most Bombed Hotel in Europe.  Indeed, it suffered so many bomb attacks and had so many windows boarded it up, it was also known as the Hardboard Hotel.  Yet it stayed open in spite of everything, a true survivor.  And today it's a fabulous place to stay, ideally located next to Great Victoria Street Station and across the road from the famous Crown Bar.  You'll find a book about the history of the hotel in your room for you to read, and a display case on the first floor near the piano with some hotel memorabilia.  There's also a railway connection, as it was built on the site of the Great Northern Railway terminus, the ancestor of today's Great Victoria Street station.

 

The Europa Hotel, Belfast...

 

The Moselle Suite, room 911.

Superior room at the Europa Hotel, Belfast   Glass cabinet on first floor of Europa Hotel   Europa Hotel, Belfast

Superior room, 915...

 

The history cabinet, first floor.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelworld.com...


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