Ports of Arrival
There are three main ports of entry in Ireland: Belfast, Dublin and Rosslare. Choose your port of arrival based on your travel itinerary. County Derry, Portrush and its beaches and the Causeway Coastform are best reached through an arrival in Belfast. County Roscommon's lakes are nearest to Dublin, while Killarney National Park is in the south of country nearest to Rosslare.
Ports of Departure
Ferries regularly ply routes to Ireland from Britain and France. To reach Northern Ireland, depart from Stanraer. Ferries leave from Holyhead, not far from Liverpool, to go to Dublin. Ferries to Rosslare leave from Fishguard, England, and the two French cities of Cherbourg and Roscoff.
Most routes offer two different types of boats: "fast ferries" and regular ferries. Fast ferries take half the amount of time, but the tickets are generally more expensive. The crossing from Stanraer to Belfast normally takes three hours and 15 minutes, but it only takes one hour and 45 minutes by fast ferry.
Fares vary by route and ferry company. If you are on a budget, don't go for the long ferry crossings from France since the rates can get pricy. On Irish ferries, all routes from Britain to Ireland cost £25 (about $41) per adult foot passenger. Want to bring your bike along? Just add an extra £5 (about $8). If you plan on bringing your own vehicle, rates start at £69 (about $112). You can also bring caravans and motor homes if you plan on camping during your stay.
Not all ferry routes are operated daily. Some routes, in particular the routes from France to Rosslare, only operate from April to November. Check schedules at irishferries.com or brittany-ferries.com. A number of other ferry companies are listed below so that you can compare schedules and fares.
Article Written By Heather Carreiro
Heather Carreiro is a certified English teacher who has been writing since 2008. The editor of Matador Abroad, her work has appeared online at BootsnAll, Matador Network, GoNOMAD, Journey Beyond Travel and Expat Women. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is pursuing a Master of Arts in English at Bridgewater State University.