Ireland is one of the best European countries to explore on a vacation. Whether you're visiting the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, admiring the amazing architecture of Galway Cathedral and the Spanish Arch in Galway, or visiting the fascinating historic City Goal in Cork, there's lots to be seen and done all over Ireland, with countless magical memories just waiting to be made.
Ireland is well-known for its castles, its countryside, its friendly people, and its charming towns and cities. It's the sort of place where everyone is made to feel welcome, and a lot of travelers visiting Ireland tend to fly into Dublin, the country's capital, and spend the majority of their time in just the one city.
As well as the aforementioned Guinness Storehouse, where guests can learn all about one of the world's most iconic beer brands, Dublin also boasts its own castle, the beautiful green space of Phoenix Bar, superb live entertainment venues like Temple Bar, and many interesting museums and cultural locations like The National Museum of Ireland.
If you're planning a trip to Dublin and want to add something extra special onto your vacation and see even more of the island of Ireland, why not consider a day trip up north and over the border? It's perfectly possible to do a day trip from Dublin to the Northern Irish capital of Belfast, allowing you to see two amazing capitals in just one day. Here’s how to plan the perfect day trip to Belfast from Dublin.
Getting to Belfast from Dublin
There are only about 100 miles separating the cities of Dublin and Belfast, so the journey between these two locations isn't too long or tiring. This means that Belfast is one of the top day trip locations you can choose while staying in Dublin, both in terms of culture and convenience. There are a few different ways you can get from Dublin to Belfast, including car, bus, and train.
Getting to Belfast from Dublin by Car
If you choose to make the drive from Dublin to Belfast, you'll be able to enjoy quite a scenic and memorable journey all along the coast, over the border, and then up to the Northen Irish capital. The route runs for about 166 km (103 miles) and can be done in a little under two hours, following the M1 out of Dublin and then the A1 once you get over the border.
You may have to deal with some traffic along the way which could delay your arrival in Belfast, but in general, this is quite a simple drive. Plus, the added advantage of taking your own rental car is that you can choose when to set off, when to head home, when to stop along the way, and if you’d like to make any other little detours en route.
Getting to Belfast from Dublin by Bus
The bus is often a good option to choose when getting anywhere in Europe, with many different bus networks and companies running lots of routes between big cities. Several buses run from Dublin to Belfast, including a shuttle bus service which takes about two hours and 20 minutes.
Visitors can also choose to catch the 705 bus from The Gresham Hotel in Dublin direct to the Europa Bus Centre in Belfast. The journey will take a little over two hours on average. Buses are a good option for people traveling on a budget as the tickets are usually very affordable, especially when purchased in advance.
Getting to Belfast from Dublin by Train
The train is another option you might consider when planning a day trip to Belfast from Dublin. Trains can be quite speedy and reliable, and there are services that can take you to Belfast in around two and a half hours.
However, the train schedules can vary quite a lot and some will involve changing at different locations along the way. In general, this means that the bus or car are the better options for a Belfast day trip.
Important Information and Things to Do in Belfast
- Getting Around Belfast - Belfast is a large capital city, but it's still quite a walkable one. If you're only going to visit for a single day, you'll want to stick close to the city center and see most of the big sights, which you can do quite easily on foot. Walking is generally the best option, combined with maps or apps on your phone to assist you in getting around. If you do want to make use of public transport, Belfast has a good network of buses. You'll also see a lot of taxis around the city, or you could rent bikes, with dozens of different bike docking stations around Belfast to help people get around. If you choose to take a bike, the first 30 minutes of your journey are totally free.
- Best Time to Visit Belfast - Belfast has quite mild temperatures for large parts of the year. It can be quite a warm and sunny city at times, but in general, you may have to deal with a bit of rain and cloud. Those looking for the best weather should visit in July or August, while those who prefer to avoid the crowds of tourists should visit in spring or fall.If you'd like to visit at a special time of year, some of the top festivals and events in Belfast include the Belfast International Arts Festival, which is held in October and November, Belfast Film Festival, which is held in April, and the Summer Rose Fair, also known as Rose Week.
- Things to Do in Belfast - As the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast is a great city to visit if you'd like to learn about Northern Irish history and culture, as well as meeting the locals, eating the national cuisine, and buying souvenirs and items to share with your friends and family. Some of the top sites of interest to check out around the city include the Titanic Quarter, Belfast Castle, the Botanic Gardens, Belfast City Hall, and the Titanic slipways. Be sure to take a look at St Anne's Cathedral too and roam the surrounding cobblestone streets to find some good shops and bars. St George's Market is another fine place to do some shopping and enjoy some live music if you're visiting at the weekend.