a train near a river using public transportation to see Ireland
A train in the Irish countryside. Photo: Bart Busschots, https://www.flickr.com/photos/bbusschots/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Using Public Transportation to See Ireland in 14 Days

Are you thinking of visiting Ireland in 2024?

Is the thought of renting a car in Ireland a bit intimidating? Or perhaps you are a senior and renting a car in Ireland as a tourist may be out of the question because of your age.

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While it may take a bit of extra planning, seeing Ireland’s most popular attractions is all quite doable by train and bus.

Explaining the Irish Rail and Bus System

Before using public transportation to see Ireland, it’s important that you figure out what cities are most accessible when using the country’s public transportation system.

It’s also important to know that Dublin is the main hub of Ireland’s rail system, which is operated by Irish Rail.


a train on the tracks using public transportation to see Ireland
The DART train arriving into Connolly Station in Dublin. Photo: William Murphy, https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

There are two main stations in Dublin.

They include Dublin Heuston and Dublin Connolly, both of which serve railway lines to numerous destinations across the country.

Heuston Station links the capital with the south, southwest and West of Ireland, and Connolly Station connects Dublin to parts of the east coast of Ireland as well as to Sligo, and to towns and cities in the south and west of the country.

Below is a map of the Irish rail system that will help in your planning.

a map of train lines using public transportation to see Ireland
A map of the Irish rail system. Courtesy of Iarnród Éireann.

While there are certainly many direct train routes from Dublin (primarily to bigger cities), getting to other destinations may require a transfer.

And going from one train station to other might also involve going back to Dublin again, which is obviously not very practical.

In that case, it is necessary to take a bus.

a line of buses using public transportation to see Ireland
A Bus Eireann bus parked at the company headquarters in Dublin. Photo: By D464-Darren Hall – Broadstone July 2008, coaches awaiting wash and fuel, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26498937

While there are several bus operators in Ireland, the country’s primary bus transportation provider is Bus Eireann, a state-owned bus and coach operator with services spanning the entire Republic of Ireland, with the exception of Dublin and the Greater Dublin area.

As Bus Eireann is the state-run bus service, it covers lots of small towns, so the journeys can take longer.

For example, booking a bus ride from Galway to Dingle requires two separate journeys and can take quite a bit of time to reach your destination. You'll need to book the first leg of the journey (Galway to Tralee) separately from the second leg, which is Tralee to Dingle.

colorful buildings in a town choosing accommodation in Ireland
Dingle, Co. Kerry. Photo: espiegle, Getty Images Signature.

A website like Getthere.ie is useful to look at as it shows all possible options for the various bus and train journeys that you might be planning to take in Ireland.

The website won't allow you to book tickets direct but it will give you times and fare information.

a yellow and blue bus using public transportation to see Ireland
Photo courtesy of citylinkireland Facebook.

Alternatively, you could book a ticket with Citylink, a private bus company that has affordable and direct routes between several of Ireland's main cities (you'll find toilets on them too!).

Other private bus companies that are useful to tourists include Aircoach, which provides a service from Dublin Airport to places around Dublin as well as Galway, Derry and Belfast, in addition to Dublin Coach, which has an extensive service to many places around Ireland.

Local and commuter bus service in Dublin is operated by Dublin Bus.

Where and When to Buy Train and Bus Tickets

While you can purchase rail tickets from a ticket machine, I suggest that you go to the Irish Rail website to make your purchase.

Irish Rail also operates a mobile app that you can use to purchase your tickets.

plush seats on a train using public transportation to see Ireland
First class seating on an Irish Rail train. Photo: Wilkimedia Commons.

It also offers a number of first-class/premier packages if you want to avail of them.

They include the CityGold package, which is available for passengers taking the Dublin-Cork line only.

Benefits include a complimentary newspaper, ergonomically adjustable seating, overhead and table lamp lighting, extendable tables, and much more.

The Enterprise Plus package is available to passengers taking the Dublin to Belfast Enterprise train.

The benefits of this package include spacious lumbar support and adjustable seating, extra legroom, in-seat audio and more.

a train arriving at a station using public transportation to see Ireland
Using public transportation to see Ireland is cheaper than renting a car. Here is a train arriving at the Kent Station in Cork. Photo: William Murphy, https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

The Premier Class package is available on the Dublin-Tralee direct lines and specific Dublin-Cork service times.

Benefits of this package include a dedicated premier coach, your name on an LED display above the seat if you book online, ambient table lighting, and much more.

You can purchase an e-book version of this post in the Ireland on a Budget Etsy store.

Tip: There is apparently a way to get a first class ticket on Irish Rail more cheaply. I haven't used it, but it's definitely worth a try if you're interested.

If you are traveling by bus, you can buy your tickets on Expressway.ie, Bus Eireann’s premium coach service or by using the TFI Go app.

Image courtesy of Transport for Ireland.

You can buy tickets for participating Transport for Ireland bus services (Bus Eireann, Go Ahead Ireland and some commercial bus operators) directly from your phone.

Simply activate your ticket before each journey and show the driver when you board the bus.

Image courtesy of Transport for Ireland.

The TFI Live app allows you to monitor times on buses and trains across Ireland, with realtime departure information and other updates.

Just so you know, public transport fares were reduced in 2022 by the Irish government, giving adults a 20% reduction in fares and students and children a 50% percent reduction. Those discounted fares are still valid in 2024.

a bus stopped on a street using public transportation to see Ireland
A Bus Eireann bus passing by The Shelbourne Hotel at St. Stephen's Green in Dublin. Photo: Failte Ireland.

Alternatively, you can purchase a ticket on the bus (you need exact change, however), but my experience is that bus drivers prefer if you do it online and show them the QR code on your mobile phone when getting on the bus.

If you are using public transportation to see Ireland during the busy tourist season, I suggest you book a few weeks ahead of time.

During other times of year, it won’t be as busy, but you should still make your reservations before you leave.

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Irish Rail Discounts

Trekker-Four Day Ticket

Irish Rail offers the Trekker Four-Day ticket for €88 that is valid for four consecutive days of unlimited travel on all train services in the Republic of Ireland from the date of issue on the ticket.

It is not available online or at ticket vending machines, but you can buy it at these rail stations from the attendant: Athlone, Balbriggan, Bray, Carlow, Cobh, Dublin Connolly, Cork, Drogheda, Dun Laoghaire, Dundalk, Galway, Greystones, Dublin Heuston, Howth, Kildare, Kilkenny, Killarney, Killester, Limerick, Limerick Junction, Malahide, Mallow, Maynooth, Mullingar, Newbridge, Dublin Pearse, Portarlington, Portlaoise, Sligo, Thurles, Tralee, Tullamore, Waterford, Westport, and Wexford.

Five-Day Explorer Ticket

You can get 5 days unlimited train travel during a 15-day consecutive period with the Explorer ticket. The cost for adults is €128 and for children, it is €64.

It is not available online or at ticket vending machines, but you can buy it at these rail stations from the attendant: Athlone, Balbriggan, Bray, Carlow, Cobh, Dublin Connolly, Cork, Drogheda, Dun Laoghaire, Dundalk, Galway, Greystones, Dublin Heuston, Howth, Kildare, Kilkenny, Killarney, Killester, Limerick, Limerick Junction, Malahide, Mallow, Maynooth, Mullingar, Newbridge, Dublin Pearse, Portarlington, Portlaoise, Sligo, Thurles, Tralee, Tullamore, Waterford, Westport, and Wexford.

Bus Eireann Discounts

Rather than buying individual tickets each time you want to take a bus ride, you can also purchase a 10-journey travel pass.

a red bus using public transportation to see Ireland
Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kk70088/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

The tickets can be booked on the Expressway.ie website by going to the Book Tickets tab at the top right-hand corner of the website page and, choosing the Seat Only Reservation option (the last one in the line of choices available) and then clicking on the “Use or Buy a 10 Journey Ticket.”

To get a 30% discount on single fares on buses in Ireland, you could alternatively use the TFI Leap Card (mentioned below).

Discounts for Travel on Dublin Public Transportation

While most attractions are walkable in Dublin, it's good to know that there is an additional way to save on public transportation in the city.

The Leap Card. Photo: , Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57515782

The prepaid Leap Visitor travel card is most useful on Dublin Bus since you ordinarily need exact cash to purchase a ticket on the buses.

The card can be used on Dublin Bus, Go-Ahead Ireland routes in Dublin, the Luas tram system, and on the DART and commuter rail system, which operates within a Short Hop Zone that includes all of Dublin city and county.

You can also use the Leap Card for travel from the airport to your hotel (but only on Dublin Bus Routes 16 and 41).

a double decker bus and a car on a city street using public transportation to see Ireland
A Dublin Bus vehicle on the streets of Dublin. Photo: Poerofforever, Getty Images Signature.

It is not valid on the city’s Hop On/Hop Off tour buses (unless you combine it with a Freedom Ticket, which can be purchased through DoDublin).

The Leap Visitor Card cannot be used on Bus Éireann transportation around the country unless you purchase a TFI Leap Card instead of the Leap Visitor Card. With that card, you will get the same benefits for Dublin travel as with the Leap Visitor Card.


How Much Does the Leap Visitor Card Cost?

The cost of the card for a day (24 hours) is €8, for 3 days (72 hours) it is €16, and for 7 days (168 hours) it is €32. There is a €5 initiation fee to get the card but that is refundable.

You can purchase it online or at specific locations around Dublin (see below). If you order online, the card is delivered by regular mail. You can also decide to have the card delivered to your accommodation in Ireland before you arrive.

Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport. Photo: Ardfern – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16222441

The card is available for purchase at Dublin Airport in the following locations – the Spar supermarket, T2 Arrivals; the WH Smith bookstore, T1 Arrivals; the Discover Ireland Tourist Information desks at T1 and T2; and the Dublin Airport Travel Information Desk at T1.

You can also purchase it at the Dublin Bus office at 59 Upper O’Connell Street; the Discover Ireland Centre at 14 Upper O’Connell Street and the Visit Dublin Centre at 25 Suffolk Street.

You can top up the card with an app for iPhone and Android phones.

Visitor Pass for Belfast Transportation

When in Belfast (remember, you can get from Dublin to Belfast on the Enterprise train), you might want to avail of that city's special visitor pass.

The card can be used on Dublin Bus, Go-Ahead Ireland routes in Dublin, the Luas tram system, and on the DART and commuter rail system, which operates within a Short Hop Zone that includes all of Dublin city and county.

open gates to a building courtyard using public transportation to see Ireland
The exterior of the renovated Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast, an attraction that you can see when using public transportation to see Ireland. Photo: Bill Abernethy for Crumlin Road Gaol.

You can explore Belfast by choosing between, 1, 2 or 3 consecutive days of travel within the city's specific Visitor Pass Zone.

The zone covers the Titanic Museum, Belfast Zoo, Crumlin Road Gaol, W5 Odyssey and many other top sites in the city.

You can also use the pass to avail of many offers and discounts in shops, restaurants, exhibitions and venues.


What to Know Before You Plan Your Itinerary

If you are traveling to Ireland from the United States, you can land in either Dublin or Shannon airports.

If you are coming from Europe, there are more choices available to you. You can find more information on how to get to the Emerald Isle by boat or by plane in this helpful blog post on getting to Ireland from anywhere.

bridge 7 tour companies in Ireland
Using public transportation to see Ireland often starts in Ireland's capital Dublin, where you'll find the Ha'Penny Bridge. Photo: Getty Images.

If you plan on using public transportation to see Ireland, flying into Dublin and starting your vacation from there is much easier for the reasons mentioned above.

To get to cities like Cork, Limerick, and Galway, for instance, Dublin is where you will want to start.

You can then decide where to go from those cities using the easiest and most dependable means of transport, be it another train or a bus.

Here are some of the main destinations in Ireland that are served from Dublin’s two main train stations.

Heuston Station Routes: Dublin-Cork; Dublin-Galway; Dublin-Limerick & Ennis; Dublin-Limerick via Nenagh; Dublin-Waterford; Dublin-Westport & Ballina; Dublin-Kildare-Portlaoise.

a large grey building using public transportation to see Ireland
The exterior of Heuston Station, formerly known as Kingsbridge Station. Photo: William Murphy, https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

You can find more details on the Heuston Station routes here.

Connolly Station Routes: Dublin-Belfast; Dublin-Rosslare; Dublin-Sligo; Dublin-Dundalk; Dublin-Maynooth, Longford & M3 Parkway; Dublin-Kildare-Portlaoise; DART & Dublin Commuter.

two trains at a station using public transportation to see Ireland
Trains parked in Dublin's Connolly Station. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

You can find more details on the Connolly Station routes here.

You can get buses from pretty much anywhere in Ireland so starting in Dublin is not a necessity.

an information board at a bus station using public transportation to see Ireland
The departure board at Busaras in Dublin. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

However, if you are looking to reach a destination that is not serviced by a train and you are in Dublin City, you should head to Busaras on Store Street.

This is the central bus station for Dublin’s intercity and the country’s regional bus services.

Do bring liquid refreshments and snacks with you. Even though food is available on most Irish trains, it tends to be more expensive. There is no food available on buses.

two people on a bus using public transportation to see Ireland
Photo: vadimguzhva for Getty Images Pro.

If are traveling by train with a bicycle, be sure to fold it up before you get on the train. There is no additional fee for bikes. However, if you are carrying a non-folding bicycle, you must book a regular bicycle space in advance as trains only have room for a maximum of two bikes.

If traveling by bus, you must also fold it up and put it in the luggage area of the bus. There may be an additional fee for your bike depending on its size. Make sure you check when buying your ticket.

What to Expect at Dublin’s Train Stations

Dublin’s Heuston Station – this station has nine platforms, with comfortable waiting rooms, bathrooms, a tourist information desk, ticket vending machines, ATMs, a phone charging kiosk, a water filling station, and free Wifi throughout.

Restaurants/Cafés/Eateries at Heuston Station: Butlers Chocolate Café, Insomnia (coffee), Brambles Café, Mullins Confectionary, Supermacs (fast food), the Galway Hooker Bar & Restaurant, Pulse Deli, Jump Juice, FRESH The Good Food Market, Off Beat Donuts, as well as Eason’s bookstore.

a store in a train station using public transportation to see Ireland
The Butler's Chocolate Cafe in Heuston Station, Dublin, one of the popular train stations you'll access when using public transportation to see Ireland. Photo courtesy of Butler's Chocolates.

Luggage Storage: Store luggage at the nearby Tipperary House.

Luggage Hero also operates in Dublin if you want to check out the locations that the company serves. The online app is only available in Ireland's capital at this time, however.

The ticket desk at Heuston Station is closed on Sundays.

How to Get to Heuston Station from Dublin Airport: Take the Dublin Express Bus 782 from Terminal 2 to Heuston Station. Ticket costs from €7. Book your bus ticket here.

Cups of coffee using public transportation to see Ireland
Take time for a Starbucks beverage at Dublin's Connolly Station. Photo courtesy of Starbucks Corporation.

Dublin’s Connolly Station – this station has seven platforms, with comfortable waiting rooms, bathrooms, ticket vending machines, a water filling station, ATMs, and free WI-FI throughout.

Restaurants/Cafés/Eateries at Connolly Station: O’Brien’s Coffee Shop & Deli, Madigan’s Bar & Restaurant, Starbucks, AMT Coffee, as well as Eason’s bookstore and Pharmacy Express.

The ticket desk at Connolly Station is also closed on Sundays.

a blue bus at an airport using public transportation to see Ireland
The Dublin Express bus service that brings passengers from Dublin Airport to various city center stops. Photo: Dublin Express Facebook.

How to Get to Connolly Station from Dublin Airport:  Take the 703 Dublin Express bus to 3 Arena, then take the Luas Red Line from The Point station to Connolly, about a 20-minute ride.

The ticket for the first leg of journey costs from €7; second leg: €1-€3. Book your bus ticket to 3 Arena here. You can buy a ticket for the Luas train at a vending machine.

Facilities include waiting rooms, bathrooms, a water filling station, free WI-FI throughout the station, ticket vending machines, ATMs, in addition to numerous eateries.

This map of Dublin Airport is courtesy of Do Dublin.

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What to Expect on Ireland’s Trains and Buses

Ireland’s trains are a great way to get around the country.

All are equipped with comfortable seating, free WI-FI and some have refreshment carriages.

Using public transportation to see Ireland can be done by bus or train. Photo: Failte Ireland.

Buses are also an excellent way to travel around Ireland. Expect comfortable seating and free WI-FI.

There are no toilets on Bus Eireann’s buses. However, on journeys that are longer than 3 hours, the bus driver will stop at a half-way point so that passengers can use the on-site bathroom facilities.

It goes without saying that you should arrive in plenty of time for your bus or train connections. This is especially true at busier stations like those in Dublin.

Your 14-Day Train and Bus Itinerary Starting in Dublin

For the purposes of this 14-day itinerary, you’ll begin in Dublin and I’m assuming you will want to spend Day 1 of your vacation in Ireland’s capital.

Day 1
Explore Dublin

With only one day to explore the city, it’s hard to see all its worthwhile attractions.

I usually suggest to visitors who are on a tight schedule to take a Hop On Hop Off tour of the city.

St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin at night. Photo: trabantos for Getty Images.

Like other similar tours, you can get off at the attractions that interest you most, including some of the city’s most popular ones like The Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College (Book of Kells), St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Marsh’s Library, Kilmainham Gaol, and more.

There are also numerous free museums and galleries in Dublin that you can visit if you have the time.

Where to Stay in Dublin: Staunton’s on the Green is a popular city center hotel for tourists.

With an increase in hotel prices this year, it has been difficult to find budget accommodation in the city. For the purposes of this itinerary, you will be staying in Dublin for two nights.

Day 2
Explore Brú na Bóinne from Dublin

The Boyne Valley, about an hour’s drive north of Dublin, is considered the ancient soul of Ireland and contains one of the country’s most important heritage sites.

Brú na Bóinne is an archaeological site that translates to “Palace of the Boyne” and contains the 5,000-year-old passage tomb called Newgrange, which is believed to be 500 years older than the Egyptian pyramids.

a passageway surrounded by rocks Newgrange Visitor Center
The passage tomb at Newgrange. Photo: Brian Morrison for Tourism Ireland.

Newgrange is popular all year round but attracts quite a lot of visitors during the Winter Solstice in late December when the beams from the rising sun align with the chamber’s narrow passage.

Day tours from Dublin are plentiful and include admission to the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre, a prerequisite to seeing Newgrange and the two other sacred burial grounds Knowth and Dowth that are part of the complex.

The Hill of Tara from above in Co. Meath. Photo courtesy of macmillan media.

Some tours also include a visit to the Hill of Tara, known to have been the political and religious center of pre-Christian Ireland.

It is where Ireland’s ancient kings were stationed and it was also where St. Patrick is said to have converted the pagans to Christianity.

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Day 3
Dublin to Belfast

You can easily get to Belfast from Dublin on the Enterprise train from Connolly Station, with one-way fares as little as €17/$18.33 per person.

You should leave early as you’ll want to make the most of your day exploring Belfast, which is the largest city in Northern Ireland.

Belfast City Center can be accessed easily by train from Dublin when using public transportation to see Ireland. Photo: Tony Pleavin, Tourism Ireland.

Belfast is a popular destination with tourists.

Some of the attractions you should plan to see in Belfast include Titanic Belfast, the new Titanic Distillers, which is close by, and if you have time, a black taxi tour of West Belfast to better understand the 30-year conflict known as The Troubles.

large white building with sign in front new titanic experience
The exterior of Titanic Belfast, the city's most popular tourist attraction, which is open year-round. Photo: Titanic Belfast.

Since this itinerary allows for only one day in Belfast, a better use of your time might be to take the Belfast Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off bus tour.

Where to Stay in Belfast: you’ll find an array of choices in Belfast, but you might want to check out these recommendations first. On this itinerary, you will be staying in Belfast for two nights.

Day 4:
Explore the Coastal Causeway from Belfast

Just because you’re traveling through Ireland by public transportation doesn’t mean you can’t see all of the island.

The Coastal Causeway on the island’s northern coast is spectacular and from Belfast, you can catch a glimpse of it on a variety of day tours from Belfast.

Stunning views from Dunluce Castle. Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland.

The Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Dunluce Castle are among the top 3 sites that most people want to see when this visit Northern Ireland.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site is an awesome attraction to see, with its myriad of hexagonal stones that were formed millions of years ago.

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Or was it the work of a Scottish giant and a mythological Irish hero?

The Giant's Causeway in County Antrim. Photo: Simon Quinn, Getty Images.

Whatever tale you believe in, know that the Giant’s Causeway is an attraction that you shouldn’t miss.

The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is nearby and worth experiencing provided you’re not scared of heights.

Farther along the coast, you’ll discover the haunting Dunluce Castle, used as a location for the popular Game of Thrones series.

Choose from a variety of different Coastal Causeway tours.

Day 5
Belfast to Derry

The train from Belfast’s Lanyon Place station to Derry is well worth the 2-hour journey, with lovely views throughout the entire trip, especially at the end as the train makes its away along the coast to Derry.

After you settle into your accommodation in Derry, you’ll find that there’s plenty to do in this friendly city.

a city at dusk City of Derry visitor pass
A view of Derry, also known as Londonderry. Northern Ireland's second-largest city can be accessed by taking a train from Belfast using public transportation to see Ireland. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

If you’re looking for a history lesson of Derry (but not a politically charged one), try David Douglas’ Derrie Danders tours.

I highlighted David a while back as an Ireland on a Budget Tourism Ambassador as he is a great example of the many small tourism businesses that promote the island of Ireland.

The Derry City walls. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

The highlights of any visit to Derry includes a walk around its famous city walls built in the early 1600s, as well as the Peace Bridge, the Bogside Murals and the Guildhall, among other attractions.

Before turning in for the night, be sure to stop at Danny O’Neill’s Bar on Ferguson Street, one of the city’s liveliest traditional bars.

Where to Stay in Derry: The Bishop’s Gate Hotel was voted the best hotel in Derry in 2020. Check out other Derry accommodation here.

Day 6
Derry to Sligo

The bus journey from Derry to Sligo will take about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Once you arrive in Sligo, there are plenty of choices for accommodation. A popular hotel in the center of town is the Glasshouse Hotel, which is close to shops, restaurants, and pubs.

bridge in town over river 5 things you should do before your trip to Ireland
The Garravogue River in Sligo town, with the cathedral in the distance. Photo: Colette Connolly.

You can find other Sligo accommodation on Booking.com. You will be staying in Sligo for two nights.

I’ve written plenty about County Sligo and the attractions you can expect to see there but without a car, it is more challenging.

To get acquainted with the town, I suggest you take a walk around it first but if you’re really into learning more about the history of Sligo, the Sligo Dark Tales Tour is absolutely worth taking.

The old Sligo Gaol that visitors are taken to on the Sligo Dark Tales Tour. Photo courtesy of Sligo Walk Tours Facebook.

Led by local historian Mel Ni Mhaolanfaidh, the 2-hour tour explores Sligo’s dark history, including the executions that took place at the now closed Sligo Gaol, which was built between 1815 and 1818.

The tour also includes stories of the awful cholera outbreak in the town in 1832 and its connection to Bram Stoker, the Irish-born author best known for the Gothic novel Dracula.

The Sligo Abbey. Photo: Getty Images.

Another notable attraction in Sligo town is its 13th-century Dominican abbey where you can take a guided tour. The abbey is open from March through November.

After dinner, enjoy trad sessions in some of Sligo’s most popular pubs, including Shoot the Crows, the Thomas Connolly bar, and McLynn’s Bar.

Other activities that I recommend you consider in Sligo is the town’s excellent food tour called Taste of Sligo led by chef and restaurateur Anthony Gray.

The 2.5-hour tours are offered Wednesday through Saturday at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Day 7
Explore Other Parts of Sligo

If you’re willing to spend a little more time exploring County Sligo, the tour group Sligo Tours offers a variety of local excursions that are perfect for someone who doesn’t have a rental car.

The view from the top of Benbulben in County Sligo. Photo: Gareth Wray Photography.

On Day 7, you could choose from a variety of its tours.

They include The Knocknarea Tour, The Lakes Tour, the Normal People Tour (which will take you to places where the popular series Normal People was filmed in Sligo); The Caves Tour; The Yeats Benbulben Tour; The Megalithic Tour, and The Lough Gill Tour.

All tours are provided by Sligo Tours owner Eugene McPartland and guests are picked up at their hotel.

Each tour is 7 hours long and costs €300 for 1-3 people or €400 for groups of between 4 and 8 people.

Contact Sligo Tours founder Eugene McPartland at [email protected] to book any of the tours above.

Day 8
Sligo to Galway

You can get a direct bus from Sligo to Galway that will take you close to 3 hours. There are 15 stops in between both cities.

Once you get to the center of Galway, you’ll no doubt want to go directly to your accommodation, where you will be staying for two nights.

The exterior of The Skeffington Hotel in Galway City. Photo: Lynn Gallagher, https://www.flickr.com/photos/87800208@N05/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

If you are on a budget, there are several hostels that are good value, in addition to several centrally located hotels.

Two of my favorites include the Skeffington Arms Hotel and The Imperial Hotel, both within easy walking distance of pubs, restaurants, and attractions.

Some of the signage that you'll see during a visit to the Hall of the Red Earl site in Galway city. Photo: Colette Connolly.

The main attractions in Galway include the 15th-century Lynch’s Castle, now a bank but once the home of the powerful Lynch family; the Hall of the Red Earl, which is really the foundation of a large hall built by Richard de Burgo, also known as the Red Earl but includes artifacts uncovered in 1997; the Spanish Arch, believed to be an extension of Galway’s original walls, as well as Eyre Square, where President John F. Kennedy spoke in 1963.

Enjoy a trad session at Taaffe's Bar in Galway, which can easily be accessing by train when you are using public transportation to see Ireland. Photo: Sonder Visuals for Failte Ireland.

You could take a Hop On Hop Off bus tour that will drop you off at these and other attractions, possibly saving you time from walking to each.

During your stay in Galway, you’ll want to visit its many traditional pubs and restaurants.

Tigh Neachtain is a popular one as is Taaffes Bar, The Crane Bar, An Púcán, and Monroe's.

Day 9
Explore the County Galway Region from Galway City

On Day 9, it’s time to explore beyond Galway City. You won’t be able to cover everything that County Galway has to offer, which means you’ll need to choose between a range of tours that are available from the city.

The Aran Island Ferry boats en route to the islands. Photo: Boyd Challenger for Failte Ireland.

Many tourists who visit the West of Ireland have two locations on their bucket list, the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher, which is actually in a section of County Clare called The Burren.

The Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher cruise is a popular one given that you can see both places on the one tour.

Connemara is equally popular, with the beautiful Kylemore Abbey and its Victorian Walled Garden the focus for many.

A tour bus takes visitors to the beautiful Killary Harbour in Co. Galway. Photo: Christian McLeod, Failte Ireland.

This tour includes a visit to the neo-Gothic beauty that sits on the shores of Lough Pollacapall, as well as stops in Leenane, Killary Harbour and Spiddal, among other attractions.

Information on more day tours from Galway can be found here.

Day 10
Galway to Killarney

No tour of Ireland is fully complete without seeing the Kerry region, known to natives as “The Kingdom.”

County Kerry’s main attractions include The Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula.

Getting to Kerry from Galway requires getting another bus.

The sign for Killarney train station. Photo: Sludge G, https://www.flickr.com/photos/sludgeulper/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

There are two legs to this journey, the first one being Galway to Limerick, with the next leg taking you directly from Limerick to Killarney.

The fare costs a total of €24.30 per adult on Expressway.ie.

A street in the center of Killarney, a town you can easily get to by train, one of the ways of using public transportation to see Ireland. Photo: No Limit Pictures, Getty Images Signature.

The bus station in Killarney is next to the train station and is within easy walking distance of hotels in the town.

However, if you don’t want to walk, there are taxis in the area, including Killarney Cabs (087-228-8822), Dave’s Taxis (087-679-8899, Euro Taxis (064-663-7676), and Allied Taxis Killarney (089-253-5777).

Killarney’s accommodation can be more expensive than other places in Ireland simply because it is very popular. I urge you to book your accommodation well in advance. You will be spending a total of 3 nights in Killarney on this itinerary.

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Day 11
Explore the Ring of Kerry

Without a rental car, you’ll have to rely on day tours from Killarney but no worries, there are plenty of choices. And if you need additional help, just drop into the tourist office in the center of town.

a country road Ireland's Tourism Ambassadors
Using public transportation to see Ireland can also include seeing destinations like the Gap of Dunloe in County Kerry. Photo: Leamus.

On your first full day in Kerry, I suggest that you devote it to a tour of the Ring of Kerry.

This tour includes stops in Cahersiveen, Moll’s Gap, and Ladies View, among other locations, while relaxing in a luxury coach as your driver takes you through some of County Kerry’s most dramatic scenery, including Killarney National Park.

There are many other tours of The Ring of Kerry online, so be sure to do additional research if you wish.

Ross Castle, which is located a short driving distance from the town of Killarney and is part of the Killarney National Park, is one of the locations where you can take a jaunting car/boat ride tour. Photo: Arthur Ward for Tourism Ireland.

There are some tours that combine the jaunting car ride along with a boat tour, but you may need to take a taxi to get you to the starting location as it is often outside of the town.

The jaunting cars were a common mode of transportation in Ireland before the advent of public transportation and cars.

Return to Killarney and enjoy a nice evening meal at Bricín, which serves up traditional Irish food, including its signature Bricín Boxty, an Irish potato pancake that is cooked on a griddle and served up with a mixed salad and your choice of chicken, Ratouiille, or Irish lamb.

The Bricín Boxty House in Killarney serves up its famous boxty. Photo: Bricín Restaurant and Craft Shop Facebook.

The restaurant offers an Early Bird special that includes €27 for 2 courses or €30 for 3 courses. Be sure to arrive between 6 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. to avail of this offer.

There is also a €42 set menu that includes a starter, main course, and dessert.

Pubs where you will find traditional music sessions include O’Connor’s Traditional Pub on High Street and The Killarney Grand on Main Street.

Day 12

On your second full day in Kerry, I suggest you explore the Dingle Peninsula.

the ocean and green fields exploring the Dingle Peninsula
Using public transportation to see Ireland can get you to places like Dingle in County Kerry. Photo: Mustang_79 for Getty Images Pro.

From your accommodation, a driver will pick you up and take you on a full-day tour of this beautiful region.

Expect to make stops in Dingle, the stone huts at the Gallarus Oratory, at Inch Beach, and Slea Head. 

Day 13
Killarney to Dublin

A train at the Killarney Train Station. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Head to the Killarney (McDonagh) Train Station for your direct train to Dublin’s Heuston Station. The fastest train will take about 3 hours, with the longest one taking about 4 hours.  You can purchase a ticket for as low as €9.99 on Irish Rail.ie.

Plan to stay overnight in Dublin, either in the city center or at an airport hotel.

Day 14
Dublin Airport

On the day of your departure, you could take a taxi to the airport, which could cost anywhere between €25 and €30 or even more depending on the time of day you are traveling to the airport.

A cheaper alternative is to take the Dublin Express 782 bus, which stops in various places in the city. The fare is around €7.

airport in Dublin transport from Ireland's airports
Dublin Airport. Photo: Ashley J. Wilson for Getty Images.

Alternatively, you could take the Dublin Bus Route 16 at any of the following city center stops: Aungier Street, George’s Street, Dame Street, O’Connell Street, and Parnell Square.

The bus terminates at Zone 15 at Dublin Airport.

You’ll need to know where your hotel is in relation to those stops. The best advice I have is to ask the concierge at your hotel in Dublin.

Are you planning on using public transportation to see Ireland? Let me know in the comments below if you are and what towns and cities you hope to see.


Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar for Anonymous

    This is a fantastic summary. Hard to find all of this information otherwise. love all your information. It’s the best resource on Ireland.
    Peter. Sydney. Australia

    1. Avatar for colette

      Thank you so much!

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