Ferries to Ireland
Routes, Tickets & Timetables
It is said that anyone traveling to Ireland for the first time should arrive by boat. The sight is indescribable when Ireland's green coast rises out of the haze at dawn after a night cruise. Besides this "seabridge", however, the Emerald Isle can just as easily be reached via the "landbridge", which first crosses Great Britain and can also take place during the day.
To get from Central Europe to Ireland by ferry, there are basically two options:
- Seabridge: the direct route from mainland Europe or
- Landbridge: the route via Great Britain. The first part of the route (from the mainland to Great Britain) can be done either by Eurotunnel or by ferry to England.
For both options there are several routes and shipping companies, all of which we present to you on this page.
- From France to Ireland (Seabridge)
- From Great Britain to Ireland (Landbridge)
- Which landbridge route is best?
- Prices and tickets
- Other ferries to Ireland
From France to Ireland (Seabridge)
Direct ferry connections to Ireland are (for a journey from Germany) only available from France. From there, ships of different shipping companies leave from Cherbourg in Normandy or Roscoff in Brittany. Depending on the departure point in Germany, a journey of at least seven hours must be planned.
The biggest advantage of traveling via France is that the longest part of the journey can be made comfortably on the ship. The overnight trip saves time and an overnight stop.
All routes of the Seabridge at a glance:
The ferry Stena Horizon of the Swedish shipping company Stena Line connects Cherbourg with the Irish town of Rosslare at the southeast tip of Ireland. The ships depart from France in the evening and reach the Emerald Isle after a 16-hour journey. A crossing is available from €184 (including car and driver). As it is a night crossing, a cabin or chair must be booked.
The crossing to Rosslare is particularly suitable if the journey is to be continued along the south coast or if a further trip to the southwest is planned. The east coast of Ireland and the Wicklow Mountains can also be easily explored from the port city. Dublin can be reached after a good two-hour drive.
The Irish shipping company based in Dublin also offers a connection from Cherbourg, but only directly to the Irish capital Dublin. The Cherbourg – Rosslare route was discontinued in 2019.
Depending on the season, two ships of the shipping company connect the two cities up to four times a week. The crossing takes more than 19 hours and can be spent in a luxurious cabin with a private balcony or in a simple recliner. Offers are available from 79€ per person including a multi-bed interior cabin.
A trip to Dublin is most suitable for those who want to visit Ireland’s capital or explore Ireland’s east coast. With most highways running in a star shape from the city into the country, the west and northwest are also easily accessible from Dublin.
Roscoff – Cork and Roscoff – Rosslare
Those wishing to travel to Ireland via Brittany can do so from the Brittany port city of Roscoff. The French shipping company Brittany Ferries provides two options:
The Roscoff – Cork route, with 14 hours of travel time, is the fastest connection from France to Ireland. The crossing is possible once a week (on Fridays) and is particularly suitable for travelers who want to discover the former cultural capital Cork, the south or the southeast of the country.
Since spring 2020, the Roscoff – Rosslare connection replaces a weekly crossing from Roscoff to Cork. The Kerry takes its passengers to the southeast of Ireland every Tuesday within 13 to 16 hours.
From Great Britain to Ireland (Landbridge)
For travelers who are not afraid of a long car ride, who would like to visit the British Isle or who have a slight preference for a sea voyage, the Landbridge is a good alternative to the crossing by ship, which takes several hours. To do this, you first cross over to England by ferry from mainland Europe – from the Netherlands, Belgium or eastern France. Then it’s across Great Britain to the west of the British Isles. From there, a ferry takes travelers to the island of Ireland.
The advantage of traveling via Great Britain, apart from the short time on board a ship, is that England can be explored at the same time as Ireland. In addition, one saves the expensive cabin, which must be booked with a night journey in addition, since the journeys from the mainland on the British island and finally over to Ireland also take place during the day. However, an overnight stay on the British island should be planned instead, both in terms of time and cost.
The individual crossings can be booked separately with the respective shipping company. However, there are also so-called landbridge tickets. Irish Ferries, for example, cooperates with Brittany Ferries and P&O Ferries. P&O itself offers a so-called through ticket. From €173 (including car and driver), you can travel first from Hoek van Holland and then on one of the company’s ferries to Ireland.
The routes of the Landbridge at a glance:
Holyhead – Dublin
Both Irish Ferries and Stena Line offer a connection from Holyhead in North Wales to Dublin. The ships of both companies operate four times a day on this route and reach the Irish capital after a good 3-hour journey.
Irish Ferries operates the Ulysses, the largest ferry in the world in terms of car capacity, on this route. Stena Line offers a trip from 89€, Irish Ferries advertises a crossing from the British Isles to Ireland for the price from 93£ (a little more than 100€), but does not specify to which of the shipping company’s crossings this amount refers. Especially on this competitive route, the offers should be compared thoroughly depending on the departure, etc.
Pembroke – Rosslare
From southern Wales, Irish Ferries maintains another connection to Ireland. From Pembroke it goes twice a day within 4 hours to Rosslare. Departure is possible in the morning, at 8:45, and in the evening, at 20:45.
Stena Line also maintains another connection between Wales and Ireland. From 105€ it is possible to cross twice a day from Fishguard to Rosslare. Shortly after 13 o’clock it goes within well 3 hours over to the Green island. The crossing in the evening, at 23:45 takes a little more than 4 hours. There is no need to book a cabin for this night crossing.
Liverpool – Dublin
P&O offers day and night sailings from Liverpool to Dublin. These are available from €97 – but not for passengers without a vehicle. Pets also cannot currently (as of early July 2020) be transported on this route. The ships depart twice daily – at 9:30am and 9pm. The trip lasts 7.5 hours or 8.5 hours at night. Then, in addition, a cabin must be booked.
Liverpool – Belfast
The port of Belfast is served by Stena Line ships on two routes. On the one hand it goes twice daily (except on Mondays, then only once) from Liverpool to the Northern Irish city. The crossing is available from €122 as a day or night trip. The ships depart at 10:30 or at 22:20 and are on the way for 8 hours. A cabin must be booked for a night crossing.
Cairnryan – Belfast
If you are traveling in Scotland before your trip to Ireland, you can cross from Cairnryan in Scotland (from 115€ including car and driver). A trip is possible every four hours and takes a little more than 2 hours.
Due to the long journey to Cairnryan, a journey via Scotland is actually only worthwhile if the Ireland vacation is to be combined with a stay in Scotland.
Cairnryan – Larne
P&O also uses the Scottish port for a connection with Larne, located 30 minutes north of Belfast. The crossing takes 2 hours and is available from €114.
Which landbridge route is best?
Which route is chosen should depend mainly on what seems worth seeing on the British island. Those who have always wanted to visit Wales should set sail from one of the Welsh ports. Travelers who are more interested in urban Liverpool can start the crossing there. The destination can also be decisive:
A journey to Dublin is most suitable for travel to the Irish capital itself, the east coast, and for onward travel to the west.
Those who want to travel to the south or southwest of Ireland should cross over to Rosslare. A trip to Northern Ireland should also be started there for simplicity’s sake. Belfast and Larne are good starting points to discover the British part of the Irish island. County Donegal is also best reached via one of the Northern Irish ports. But also an onward journey from Dublin to Northern Ireland is possible within two hours. Likewise, a Northern Ireland city can be approached to reach Dublin or the west of the island.
With a travel time of 2.5 hours, the Hull – Liverpool connection is the shortest overland route. For all other routes, a journey of around five hours must be planned.
Prices and tickets
Ferry connections – especially with own vehicle and as night trip (then often a cabin must be booked additionally) – are not cheap. Prices vary depending on the time of booking, departure time, season and much more. This applies to both direct connections and routes across the British Isles.
Prices should therefore always be compared well. In most cases, the earlier you book, the cheaper the crossing. During the week it is usually cheaper to travel than at the weekend. If you are flexible with regard to the departure date and browse through various proposals, you can find a good offer, especially before the start of the season.
Other ferries to Ireland
Even if this route is out of the question for most tourists to Ireland, it is still worth mentioning: the ferry connection from Ireland to Spain. With a travel time of over a day, it is almost a small cruise: