Dublin airport to Northern Ireland

By Stephen O. Addison, Jr.
This item appears on page 13 of the August 2014 issue.
This is subscriber only post.
Get one year of online-only access — only $15!
Below is a sample of the article.
Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

If you would like to read an issue from the archives that is free to nonsubscribers click here.

Northern Ireland is experiencing increased tourism, with fans of “Game of Thrones” arriving to visit locations where much of this popular TV series is filmed. In addition, the new Titanic Belfast museum (1 Olympic Way, Queen’s Road, Belfast) is drawing visitors in numbers well above expectations.

Getting to Northern Ireland from the US isn’t as straightforward as one might imagine, though. United’s flight from Newark, New Jersey, is the only regularly scheduled major airline flight from the US to Belfast. However, it’s easy to get to Northern Ireland by flying into Dublin, Ireland’s, airport (DUB), with its fine US terminal.

Once at DUB, the next step is to get to Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital and public transit hub. Both of my Ireland guidebooks focused on the train that runs from Dublin’s Connolly station to Belfast Central station. The trains operate roughly every two hours, with a travel time of about 2¼ hours. That’s great if you’re starting in downtown Dublin, but it isn’t a good option from the airport.

It’s possible to take a taxi to the Malahide commuter rail station and then take a train to Drogheda station, where you can pick up the train to Belfast, but that’s complicated.

The best option is to take an express bus (or coach, as they refer to it in Europe) directly from the airport. These express coaches run between central Dublin and Belfast’s conveniently located Europa Buscentre, and their only stop along this route is the airport. Aircoach and Translink [in conjunction with Bus Éireann] operate on this route.

Both services typically operate hourly, with a travel time of about two hours. Tickets can be purchased in advance online (at a discount) or at the airport. As a bonus, both companies provide free WiFi on their coaches.

Aircoach worked best for my wife and me. Upon arrival at DUB (and following the instructions provided on the Aircoach website), we walked out of Terminal 2’s baggage hall, crossed a footbridge and went down an escalator on the left. 

There we purchased one-way tickets (16 or £13 [near $22] each, cash only) from an Aircoach representative at their kiosk. At this writing, these tickets could be purchased online for 10 or £8 ($14) each.

Minutes later, after a brief stop at Terminal 1, we were on a comfortable coach heading north to Belfast while taking advantage of the free WiFi. An hour and 50 minutes later, we exited the bus on Glengall Street, adjacent to the Europa Buscentre and a one-block walk from our hotel. 

We did not buy our tickets in advance, due to the usual uncertainty over when our flight would actually arrive at DUB. (Of course, on this occasion, we were on time.) Aircoach’s terms and conditions state, “When travelling from Dublin Airport only, and where there has been a flight delay, passengers may be allowed to travel on a later journey than the one booked.” So it may be safe to book in advance.

Tickets for the Translink/Bus Éireann are priced similarly to those of Aircoach but with a twist. The time of day you’re traveling will determine whether you’ll be using Bus Éreann or the nicer Goldline Express Services.

The Goldline Express trips are priced similarly to those of Aircoach. Bus Éireann’s coach trips are somewhat cheaper. Confusingly, routes X1 and X2 can refer to either service; both operate from zone 10 outside of Terminal 1. The timetable for the Goldline and Bus Éireann services shows a trip duration 15 minutes longer than that of Aircoach.

When planning a trip to the UK, consider adding Ireland and/or Northern Ireland to your itinerary. While arranging our May 2014 visit to Scotland, I discovered that we could save almost $500 each on our transatlantic airfare by flying nonstop into Dublin versus flying into Edinburgh, Glasgow or Manchester. We used that savings to cover the cost of a 2-day visit to Northern Ireland.

We connected to and from Scotland with short hops on European budget airlines, with each flight costing less than $100 per person.

STEPHEN O. ADDISON, Jr.

Charlotte, NC

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Northern Ireland is experiencing increased tourism, with fans of “Game of Thrones” arriving to visit locations where much of this popular TV series is filmed. In addition, the new Titanic Belfast museum (1 Olympic Way, Queen’s Road, Belfast) is drawing visitors in numbers well above expectations.

Getting to Northern Ireland from the US isn’t as straightforward as one might imagine, though. United’s flight from Newark, New Jersey, is the only regularly scheduled major airline flight from the US to Belfast. However, it’s easy to get to Northern Ireland by flying into Dublin, Ireland’s, airport (DUB), with its fine US terminal.

Once at DUB, the next step is to get to Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital and public transit hub. Both of my Ireland guidebooks focused on the train that runs from Dublin’s Connolly station to Belfast Central station. The trains operate roughly every two hours, with a travel time of about 2¼ hours. That’s great if you’re starting in downtown Dublin, but it isn’t a good option from the airport.

It’s possible to take a taxi to the Malahide commuter rail station and then take a train to Drogheda station, where you can pick up the train to Belfast, but that’s complicated.

The best option is to take an express bus (or coach, as they refer to it in Europe) directly from the airport. These express coaches run between central Dublin and Belfast’s conveniently located Europa Buscentre, and their only stop along this route is the airport. Aircoach and Translink [in conjunction with Bus Éireann] operate on this route.

Both services typically operate hourly, with a travel time of about two hours. Tickets can be purchased in advance online (at a discount) or at the airport. As a bonus, both companies provide free WiFi on their coaches.

Aircoach worked best for my wife and me. Upon arrival at DUB (and following the instructions provided on the Aircoach website), we walked out of Terminal 2’s baggage hall, crossed a footbridge and went down an escalator on the left. 

There we purchased one-way tickets (16 or £13 [near $22] each, cash only) from an Aircoach representative at their kiosk. At this writing, these tickets could be purchased online for 10 or £8 ($14) each.

Minutes later, after a brief stop at Terminal 1, we were on a comfortable coach heading north to Belfast while taking advantage of the free WiFi. An hour and 50 minutes later, we exited the bus on Glengall Street, adjacent to the Europa Buscentre and a one-block walk from our hotel. 

We did not buy our tickets in advance, due to the usual uncertainty over when our flight would actually arrive at DUB. (Of course, on this occasion, we were on time.) Aircoach’s terms and conditions state, “When travelling from Dublin Airport only, and where there has been a flight delay, passengers may be allowed to travel on a later journey than the one booked.” So it may be safe to book in advance.

Tickets for the Translink/Bus Éireann are priced similarly to those of Aircoach but with a twist. The time of day you’re traveling will determine whether you’ll be using Bus Éreann or the nicer Goldline Express Services.

The Goldline Express trips are priced similarly to those of Aircoach. Bus Éireann’s coach trips are somewhat cheaper. Confusingly, routes X1 and X2 can refer to either service; both operate from zone 10 outside of Terminal 1. The timetable for the Goldline and Bus Éireann services shows a trip duration 15 minutes longer than that of Aircoach.

When planning a trip to the UK, consider adding Ireland and/or Northern Ireland to your itinerary. While arranging our May 2014 visit to Scotland, I discovered that we could save almost $500 each on our transatlantic airfare by flying nonstop into Dublin versus flying into Edinburgh, Glasgow or Manchester. We used that savings to cover the cost of a 2-day visit to Northern Ireland.

We connected to and from Scotland with short hops on European budget airlines, with each flight costing less than $100 per person.

STEPHEN O. ADDISON, Jr.

Charlotte, NC