Ferries and cruises to Dublin, Ireland

Dublin… beautiful and green but with enough big town excitement to keep even the most urban of visitors happy, this is the largest city in Ireland, and it also happens to be the capital city.

The Vikings found it first, followed by the Normans, and anyone who is anyone since has tried to own it, fighting the locals and the not so locals for a chance to rule this one time kingdom.

At one time Dublin was the second largest city in the entire British Empire – no mean feat when you consider just how sprawling that empire was – but even as other places overtook it size-wise, it still remained a special place to be, with its own personality and its own sense of adventure.

From castles to rivers, from famous bars to famous breweries, from mountains to farmland and even beaches, Dublin is a little bit of everyone’s idea of home, in a new and interesting setting.

Getting to Dublin

Ferry Routes

Operator Route Services Travel Time Price
Holyhead Dublin 4 daily 2 hours See prices °
Holyhead Dublin 4 daily 3¼ hours See prices °
Liverpool Dublin 17 weekly 7½ hours See prices °

This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.

Taster Cruise Ship Itineraries

Cruise line Typical itinerary Prices
Southampton; Dover; Falmouth; Harwich; Liverpool; Newcastle; Tilbury; Rosyth; Greenock Ports such as Dublin See prices °
Tilbury; Newcastle; Greenock; Liverpool; Avonmouth; Hull; Portsmouth Ports such as Dublin See prices

This information is for reference purposes only. Information correct at the time of writing.

Top 3 Cruise & Ferry Deals

  1. Irish Ferries Ireland mini cruise from £38pp
  2. Day trip to Rosslare with Stena Line from £5.50pp
  3. Sail to Belfast with Stena Line from £10pp each way

Key attractions in Dublin

  • Enjoy a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour of Dublin to soak in lots of the key sights.
  • A visit to the Guinness Storehouse is a must (and it comes with a free pint too!).
  • Join a Dublin Musical pub crawl to find the most lively pubs in the city.

Sightseeing

For those who have never visited Dublin before, the capital city of the Emerald Isle is an eye opener. It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy history, architecture, music, sports, or anything else (including food and drink!), as it is all here for you to indulge in. Make the most of your time in Dublin and join in the fun.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle has never been out of use since 1204AD, making it one of the only occupied castles still flourishing in the world. Today it is used as a visitors’ centre, conference centre, and general tourist attraction that sees hordes of tourists through its mightily impressive doors every year.

Whether you choose to be shown the castle by a knowledgeable guide, or you opt for the do it yourself tour, you’ll find there are enough stories in this one building to keep even the most ardent history buff satisfied.

Whilst at Dublin Castle it is also possible to visit the State Apartments, the Undercroft, The Chapel Royal, The Chester Beatty Library, and even treat yourself to a meal in the restaurant and a present in the gift shop. It’s a full day out for the whole family to enjoy.

The Garda Museum

This massive (44 acre) site is home to two museums. The Garda Museum explains the many years of traditions within the Irish police forces (the Garda, the Irish Constabulary, the Royal Irish Constabulary, the Dublin Police, and the Dublin Metropolitan Police). The exhibition is full of photographs, uniforms, trivia, and police records, spanning over a century of law.

The Revenue Museum is all about the history and stories behind collecting taxes in Ireland. Although it may not sound as though it would be the most fascinating place to visit, it will surprise anyone who steps through the door as it is amusing and absorbing in equal measures, and includes an insight into counterfeit goods over the years (not all of them particularly impressive!).

Guinness Storehouse

The Guinness Storehouse in St James’s Gate is a little piece of Ireland’s fine heritage rolled up into a tasting tour and museum. Built within the famous Guinness brewery itself, this is seven floors of entertainment detailing everything from the humble origins of (arguably) Ireland’s most famous alcoholic beverage to today’s global success story.

Stand in the world’s largest pint glass, find out how barrels are made (and why), and discover what ingredients really go into a glass of Guinness. You can also explore the famous advertising posters and slogans that had made Guinness such a household name and, if you are feeling confident, you can even try your hand at pouring the perfect pint – don’t forget to let it rest!

With numerous bars and a restaurant too, a stop off at the Guinness Storehouse is well worth it.

Old Jameson Distillery

The Old Jameson Distillery pays homage to Ireland’s other most famous drink; Jameson’s whiskey. Open seven days a week and boasting a fine restaurant, visit the distillery and discover what goes into making a world renowned whiskey – it’s a painstaking process.

A real distillery has been lovingly recreated just for you, and the expert tour guides will talk you through exactly what everything means and what each strange looking tool and piece of equipment does. The ticket price includes a glass of Jameson whiskey, and you can even book yourself onto a whiskey tasting course – pass and you’ll receive a coveted Irish Whiskey Taster certificate!

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College has to be Dublin’s most famous (and certainly oldest) university. It’s where John Butler Yeats, Quentin Letts, Chris de Burgh, Veronica Guerin, Eoin Colfer, Bram Stoker, and Oscae Wilde went to learn their craft, as well as many other notable journalists, writers, artists, and politicians.

Trinity College is open to the public, and it’s possible to take a tour around the beautiful building and gardens. Depending on what time of the year you visit, the tours only operate on certain days, and in the winter you’ll have a fairly limited choice but don’t let that put you off – if you do choose to join a tour you’ll get to see the magnificent Trinity College library and the famous Book of Kells which is a sight to behold.

The tour guides are all current college students, and there are none better to let you in on all the secrets and trivia you may wish to hear. The library plays host to a number of different exhibitions throughout the year, and there will always be something interesting to see at Trinity College.

Glasnevin Cemetery Museum

Glasnevin Cemetery Museum may not sound like the most jolly of outings, but it is a fascinating and eye opening one nonetheless. There are three areas to visit within the museum; the City of the Dead, Prospect Gallery, and Milestone Gallery.

These interactive exhibition focus on burial practices, religion and the afterlife, and historical figures who have been interred in the cemetery itself. There is a wonderful view of Glasnevin Cemetery from the Prospect Gallery; it’s a breath taking example of how death can be beautiful.

The Glasnevin Trust can even trace your ancestors for you, and you can chat to the genealogists as they go about their research. What stories might unfold here? And will you be a part of any of them?

National Museum of Ireland

The National Museum of Ireland is a must see on your trip to Dublin. Admission is free, and there is so much to see and do once you have stepped through the doors of each of the buildings that this really is a full day out for everyone.

Whatever the focus of their ever changing exhibitions, there will be something to delight, entertain and inform. From animals to murder, from clothing to archaeology, there is a wealth of information between these walls.

The archaeology department is where any historical finds in Ireland are sent, and there are currently over two million artefacts house there. If that wasn’t enough, the decorative arts section has everything from weapons to glassware; if it’s beautiful and functional it can be seen here.

The country life exhibition is all about Dublin through the ages, focusing primarily on farming. And in the natural history area there are another two million exhibits to gaze at! The Museum of Dublin is spread out over four different buildings, so you can either visit all four in one day, or see them one at a time.

And there's more...

Just when you think you’ve seen everything Dublin has to offer, you turn a corner and there’s more waiting for you. So even if you’ve visited before, you can still find other great attractions to visit.

  • Croke Park Stadium has capacity for over 82,000 people, and it has been hosting sporting events for one hundred years. This famous and beloved stadium has been the venue for various games and even concerts during that time. During your trip to Dublin it is well worth stopping by the stadium for one of its enlightening tours – you’ll be able to brush up on your sporting knowledge and celebrity trivia in this interactive, access all areas tour. Stand where the legends stood, sit where the fans sat, and see it all from an insider’s perspective. There is also a fantastic museum with interactive sporting exhibits including hurling and Gaelic football; try your hand (or foot) at these and more, no matter what your age!
  • The National Botanic Gardens is located just outside of the city centre, but is worth travelling that little but farther out for (and public transport will get you there easily). This is a wonderful place for a leisurely stroll, or for learning as much as you can about different plant species and how to care for them. Whatever your interest, there will be someone on hand to answer your questions, and their enthusiasm for their beloved subject will definitely run off on you. With live demonstrations on all aspects or horticultural life, scientific exhibitions detailing where and when sub species were discovered and what makes plants tick, and an audio tour that will enhance your knowledge as you wander through the gardens and greenhouses, it’s a calm, relaxing, peaceful day out away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
  • There are a number of sculptures dotted around Dublin, and each is famous in its own right. Each one also has a nickname – some more polite than others! Simply by walking around the city you should be able to spot Oscar Wilde, Molly Malone (‘the tart with the cart’), Mr Screen, Phil Lynott, James Joyce, the Meeting Place Women, and Anna Livia (‘the floozy in the Jacuzzi’!)!
  • Dublin Zoo has been a major tourist attraction since it opened to the public in 1840 (it cost a penny and was open every Sunday). These days it costs a bit more than that, but it is open seven days a week, so you should always be able to fit it into your schedule. There are around 400 animals to learn about here, including birds, reptiles, and bugs. The aim of the zoo is to educate whilst conserving, and nothing is too much trouble when it comes to teaching you and your family of any age just how these magnificent creatures live. In the summer months there are daily talks and feeding sessions, and in the winter these are limited to weekends.
  • The James Joyce Cultural Centre aims to promote the works of James Joyce, arguably Ireland’s finest modern writer (although there are a number who could stake their claim to that title!). The most famous of Joyce’s works must be Ulysees, and there is a fascinating graphic novel depicting this in one of the exhibitions – perhaps the easiest way to make sense of the book itself... But the exhibitions in this museum and cultural centre don’t just focus on works such as Finnegan’s Wake and Dubliners; there is also an insight into the man himself, and the house in which the centre is set is a beautifully restored and magnificently decorated one.

Hotels

Dublin likes to welcome its visitors with open arms, so you’ll find that there are a number of fantastic hotels available to you. Whether it’s simple bed and board or a more luxurious place to rest your head, there is a wealth of choice.

Bargain hotels in Dublin

Value hotels are great in Dublin as there is so much to see and do that you won’t be in your room much at all (and when you are you’ll be exhausted and need a good rest!):

  • Although 15 minutes outside of Dublin, there is a frequent and reliable bus service to get you to and from the city centre, so you won’t miss out on any of the fun staying at the West County Hotel. There is a bed and breakfast option, but you can also choose to add dinner to your stay it you want to, making this a real value for money hotel.
  • The Dergvale Hotel is a family owned and run establishment in a great location in Dublin, giving you access to all the tourist attractions. It’s not too far from Temple Bar either, so you won’t (necessarily) need to find a taxi after your evening out. Breakfast can be anything from toast to a full Irish, and the staff are very accommodating.

Family-friendly hotels in Dublin

Dublin is a lovely place to take the family, and every age range is catered for, and this includes in the hotels:

  • There is a refreshing ‘can do’ attitude from the staff in this family friendly hotel, which really does make a difference when it comes to enjoying your stay at Ariel House. There are a number of family rooms, and they are big and airy, allowing for a large group to stay together. With complimentary coffee and cake in the lounge and a hearty breakfast available, this hotel is comfortable and cost effective.
  • A great hotel in terms of location and comfort, the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel also caters nicely to families. Order a cot or extra bed in advance and it will be there in your room ready for you on your arrival. Thanks to its central location, it is easy to keep the family happy and interested in your adventures!

Dublin's finest hotels

Luxury can be found on every corner of Dublin, so why not treat yourselves when it comes to your hotel?

  • With so many complimentary items available at the Merrion Hotel, you will have a very pleasurable stay here. Described as ‘classy’, ‘old world’, and as having the ‘it factor’, this is a beautiful hotel which manages to include history, elegance, and up to date conveniences for every traveller.
  • Nothing is too much for the staff at The Shelbourne, a Marriott Renaissance hotel. Whether it’s fresh flower arrangements, luxury toiletries, or a thick, plush carpet in your room, the very look (and feel) of this magnificent buildings shouts class. You can even enjoy afternoon tea with a vast array of cakes and pastries!

Restaurants

Food. It’s essential. But it’s also fun and enjoyable, so it’s a good idea to check out the restaurants near where you are staying before you set off on your trip. Here are some starters.

The budget conscious will love the choice they have when it comes to places to eat:

Neon is a fusion of different Asian foods, and everything is fresh and delicious. The difference between Neon and the plethora of other restaurants around is that it’s up to you whether you want to make the most of the ambience, or grab and go. The food is served in takeaway containers, and there are bowls on the long, shred tables should you wish to use them…

Bunsen is a burger bar, but the quality and the love that goes into each individual burger is breath taking. With a minimalist décor, it’s the food that is the focus here, and you can get a fabulous, filling meal for a very low price indeed.

Travelling with the kids?

Captain America’s is full to bursting with massive food - the kids will love this place as much as you do! There is a kids’ corner with competitions, clowns, and activities, as well as a children’s menu for a set price for two courses and a drink. On a Sunday the place is dedicated to the children, and you can be sure of a warm welcome.

The Gotham Café is laid back and friendly and will serve you breakfast, lunch, and (or) dinner – whatever the time of day there will be food for you here. The food (including the famous pizza, voted best in Ireland in 2011) is freshly made on site, and the ingredients are locally sourced.

Sometimes it’s worth spending that little extra on a restaurant to find something memorable and supremely special:

Chapter One is described as Irish food with a French twist and this fusion of flavours really will make your mouth water. A Michelin starred rating makes reservations essential, but once you are in you’ll be glad you made it – it’s classic, classy, and the food is divine.

Trocadero has been wowing the diners of Dublin for over 50 years, and it’s just as good today as it’s always been. Well placed to serve the theatre goers, the red and wood interior is cosy and comfortable, allowing for intimate meals. Speaking of meals, the food is fresh and vibrant, and, despite the age of the restaurant, has certainly moved with the times. Why not try the prawn and Sambuca risotto, the roast rack of Wicklow lamb, or the praline parfait?

Family travel

So you want to go on a family break away and you’re thinking of going to Dublin. Good choice. There is enough in this historic and lively city to keep the youngest in your party as happy as the eldest, and whether you opt for a long weekend in the city or you are just passing through on a tour of Ireland, you should be able to fit enough in to make some very happy memories.

The zoo, the castle, the shopping, the theatre, the street entertainers, the science, the history, the architecture, the general atmosphere of the place… It’s all exciting and unforgettable. Dublin is made for families, and is well worth a visit together.

When to visit Dublin

If you want the crowds then summer is the best time to visit. The weather is reasonable (although it can still rain, no matter what time of year), and there are lots of local street festivals on during the warmer months.

If you prefer your cities a little more natural and a little less full then wrap up and come over in the winter time – the majority of the tourist attractions are open all year round, but the ticket prices tend to drop when the weather gets colder so you could grab yourself a bargain holiday!

Handy information

Where you will dock

Dublin port is particularly industrial and is bordered by freight yards and chemical tanks but don't let that fool you. It's only a short distance from the city centre, around 4 miles (about 6 kilometres) by road. There are limited bus services that run to and from the port to coincide with the ferry schedules.

Nearest airports

Dublin Airport (DUB) lies to the north of the city and is around 8 miles (about 13 kilometres) from Dublin port. The international airport offers excellent flight connections to the UK, the USA and Europe.

Nearest railway stations

The Point tram station is the closest station to Dublin port but it is still a 2.5 miles (about 4 kilometres) walk from the terminal. If you are particularly keen on catching a train then Docklands train station (a 2.5 miles (about 4 kilometres) walk from the terminal) is one choice as is Connolly train station (a 3 miles (about 5 kilometres) walk from the terminal).

Currency

The currency used in Dublin is the Euro (€). 100 cents make up 1 Euro. Euro coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents coins. Euro bank notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 values.

The exchange rate is currently around £1 equals €0.00. The rate you get when exchanging currency online or on the high street may differ to this rate as this figure comes courtesy of the European Central Bank. The foreign exchange rate may differ from this so it pays to shop around to get the most currency for your money

Ferry Routes

Operator Route Services Travel Time Price
Holyhead Dublin 4 daily 2 hours See prices °
Holyhead Dublin 4 daily 3¼ hours See prices °
Liverpool Dublin 17 weekly 7½ hours See prices °

This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.

Taster Cruise Ship Itineraries

Cruise line Typical itinerary Prices
Southampton; Dover; Falmouth; Harwich; Liverpool; Newcastle; Tilbury; Rosyth; Greenock Ports such as Dublin See prices °
Tilbury; Newcastle; Greenock; Liverpool; Avonmouth; Hull; Portsmouth Ports such as Dublin See prices

This information is for reference purposes only. Information correct at the time of writing.

Top 3 Cruise & Ferry Deals

  1. Irish Ferries Ireland mini cruise from £38pp
  2. Day trip to Rosslare with Stena Line from £5.50pp
  3. Sail to Belfast with Stena Line from £10pp each way

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