Every week, I get emails from readers who are coming to Dublin and are looking for recommendations and tips for their trips. I get lots of questions about neighborhoods and restaurants. Answering those (and I do try to answer them all!) always leads me to tell people how to get from place to place. So today I thought I’d share some nuts and bolts about traveling once you get to Dublin. Not a totally riveting subject, but nonetheless important to know if you’re ever visiting Dublin.
If I were coming to Dublin on vacation, I wouldn’t rent a car. Even though I’ve been driving a car since I was fifteen, planned motorcades for a presidential campaign, and am a pretty good driver, driving in Dublin still baffles and frustrates me. Street signs are few and far between, there isn’t a “right turn on red” equivalent, and drivers can be quite aggressive. So unless you’re going to be traveling from one corner of the country to the other, I always suggest using public transportation.
There are a few different options if you’re traveling within Dublin or to different parts of the country. Here are the ins and outs to get you out and about!
When you’re hopping on a Dublin City bus, it’s common for visitors to ask the driver whether the bus will stop at the destination you’re trying to get to. There’s nothing worse than sitting on the bus for 20 minutes only to realize it’s not headed in the right direction! You can also ask how much the fare is to a certain destination. Many locals don’t even know how much it costs to go from one place to another, so you shouldn’t feel at all embarrassed about asking the fare.
On a Bus Eireann bus, you can board the bus at the main station called Busarus (pronounced bus-air-us, or at least close!) near Connolly train station or at a bunch of other stops around the city. You can buy a ticket at the station or online and take the bus all over the country, even to the most remote towns and villages.
One tip? When you get off the bus, say Cheers! to the bus driver. It’ll make you sound like a local!
Luas: The Luas (pronounced like the name Louis – as in Loo-iss, not Loo-ee!) is Dublin’s tram system. It runs from east to west on both sides of the River Liffey and stops at places you couldn’t get to on the train (which runs north to south). It’s fairly simple – buy your ticket from the little machine at whatever stop you choose, hop on, then hop off again when you reach your stop. Just make sure to keep an eye out for the Luas when you’re walking near their tracks. They share the road with cars and buses and can sneak up on you!
The Luas can be especially convenient if you are trying to get from the city centre out to the Kilmainham Jail. The Luas on the north side of the city runs along the river and you can just hop off once it crosses over to the other side.
Trains: Like the bus system, the train system in Dublin is similar. If you’re traveling through the city or out to the suburbs, you take the Dart. If you’re traveling from Dublin out around Ireland, you’ll take Irish Rail, although in the case of the trains, the two systems use the same website.
The Dart system runs north to south across the city centre of Dublin. You can go north all the way to Howth (I’d recommend!) or Malahide, or south to Greystones or Bray. A critical thing to remember is that most trains and trams within Dublin city are labeled by their destination. If you’re headed to Howth, don’t get on the train bound for Malahide!
You can take Irish Rail trains throughout the country from both Connolly Station and Heuston Station. From Connolly Station, you can take trains to the north, and from Heuston Station, you can take trains to the south and west.
Two tips: I’d recommend avoiding peak commuting times if you’re using the Dart system – avoid 8-9am and 5-6pm. Those are my trains when I’m heading to work and while I’d love to have you join me, I often feel like a sardine, packed in with all the other commuters. It’s not very pleasant! And the second tip is to buy a 3- or 7-day ticket if you know you’ll be using the Dart a lot. It makes it a little cheaper!
Alright, Dubliners, what do you think? Any tips you’d share with visitors to our lovely city?