Being quite compact makes Ireland easy to get around. Whether you’re thinking about your daily commute or making plans to explore the country on the weekends, here’s a guide to getting out and about in (and out of) the country.
Good for people and good for the environment, biking culture has been growing in Ireland, and especially in our cities. Dublin is the world’s 15th most bike-friendly city (The Copenhagenize Index, 2015) and along with Cork, Galway and Limerick, has introduced a successful public bikes system in recent years.
To encourage commuter cycling, the government has introduced a Bike To Work scheme. Participating employers agree to pay up front for an employee’s biking equipment (up to €1,000 for a bike, helmet, lock and other accessories), which the employee pays back over time through an agreed period of tax-free salary deductions.
Car-sharing is a convenient and affordable option for those who only need occasional car use, or are living in cities where parking can be hectic. In Dublin and Cork, GoCar allows members to use its cars on a per-hour or per-day basis by picking up a car at one of its many stations.
If you choose to buy a car in Ireland, you’ll find a large market of both new and used cars available. New cars are usually purchased directly from garages and dealers and used cars are can be found on Adverts.ie, and AutoTrader.ie
Drivers from the EEA states (EU states plus Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway): You may drive in Ireland with a valid licence issued from another EEA state.
Drivers from non-EEA Recognised States: You may drive in Ireland for up to 12 months with a valid license from your own country. To continue driving for more than 12 months (or should you take up residence in Ireland) you will need to exchange your license or apply for one in Ireland. This applies to drivers from Australia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the Canadian Provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Drivers from Other Countries: If you have a valid driver’s license from any country not mentioned above, you may drive in Ireland for up to 12 months. To continue driving after this period you will need to apply for an Irish driver’s license. This process involves passing a driver theory test, applying for a learner permit, completing an Essential Driver Training course and taking a driving test, before applying for a full Irish license.
You can also drive in Ireland with an International Driving Permit. In Ireland, only EEA citizens can apply for this permit. If you are from outside the EEA, you will need to apply from your home country before you move .
As well as a valid licence, to drive legally in Ireland you will also require motor tax, motor insurance, and the National Car Test (NCT) certification.
Distance and speed limits in Ireland are marked in kilometres. And remember, we drive on the left!
The capital’s public transport system is made up of buses, trains and trams making it the most comprehensive service in the country. On the road, Dublin Bus has an extensive network of buses which run frequently through the downtown area and out to the suburbs and the ‘Nitelink’ which provides travel as late as 4am on some routes.
Dublin does not have a subway. Instead, its metro is made up of the Dublin Area Rapid Transport (DART) and commuter trains which are a quick way to get in and out of the city. The DART runs along the coast, servicing both the downtown area and smaller beach towns north and south of the city while commuter trains serve towns further away in neighbouring counties.
The ‘Luas‘ is Dublin’s tram system which provides clean, accessible and traffic-free service to the city centre and suburbs. It currently has two separate lines which run east-west and north-south respectively and is in the process of being extended.
The Dublin Bikes bike-sharing scheme is a cheap and clean way to get around downtown with over 100 bike stations throughout the city. Annual membership fee currently costs €20.
Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford all have inner city bus services provided by Bus Éireann. Cork, Galway and Limerick all have public bike-sharing systems.
Taxis are usually easy to find in cities but may need to be pre-booked via phone in smaller towns. There has been a surge in popularity of apps such as Hailo and Uber. Hailo is most popular in Ireland and operates around the country, while Uber is based only in Dublin as yet. By registering a credit or debit card with the app, you can book and pay for cabs without taking out your wallet.
Irish Rail is the national rail system which runs a number of different rail services throughout the country. Intercity Trains provide fast, comfortable cross-country service and typically run hourly.
Public Transport Costs
Tickets for public transport can usually be purchased in cash. When paying for Dublin Bus fares, you must have the correct change and it must be in coins as notes are not accepted.
Irish Rail and cross-country bus tickets can often be booked online at discounted prices.
A Leap Card is a reusable smartcard which makes paying fares on the bus, Luas and the DART/commuter rail more convenient. The cards can be bought at most convenient stores and topped up in-store or online, allowing you to use public transport in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford without having to carry cash. Most fares are 20-24% discounted when using the card, making it economically worthwhile, too.
Having three international airports (Dublin, Cork, and Shannon), makes the rest of the world very accessible from Ireland. You can fly to Dublin directly from 170 airports in 38 countries, and it’s serviced by over 28 airlines including Aer Lingus, Emirates and Lufthansa. You can also take advantage of budget airline Ryanair which offers cheap flights to 25 countries throughout Europe, making it a great hub for taking weekend trips around Europe.
If you’re looking to take your car with you on your journey, ferry services are available to the UK and France from ports in Dublin, Wexford and Cork. Check Irish Ferries, Stena Line and Brittany Ferries for routes.