Rotterdam to Dublin by bus, train and ferry

Rotterdam to Dublin by bus, train and ferry

How to get to an island like Ireland without flying? Easy! Take one of the several ferries that run between Ireland and the UK. I travelled from The Netherlands to Dublin via London by bus, train and ferry, which I quite enjoyed. It’s possible to cram the entire jourey into one day when travelling by train, but this leaves zero room for delays. By bus, it’s more doable to get to Dublin within 24 hours from Rotterdam. I went for more ‘slow travel’ with a stop in Wales. That turned out to be a good decision, because I had a great few days exploring hiking trailes on the north coast of Wales. But back to the main topic: getting to Dublin without flying. You can find the route I took below. And important to note is that you can save a lot of money by looking for Sail & Rail deals.

Day 1 – Rotterdam > London

I departed from Rotterdam on a Thursday evening, travelling by Flixbus. For me, that’s the cheapest option to travel between The Netherlands and the UK. The Eurostar is a lost faster and more comfortable, but the bus is also fine. It’s a night bus that has a few stops in Belgium before you have to get off at Calais to go through passport control and board the ferry. Sometimes, you get a full English breakfast on the ferry at 3 am for free! And the best part is that there’s also a vegan option. At Dover, you get back on the bus for the last few hours to London. Because you’ll need to board the ferry in the middle of the night, don’t expect a good night’s sleep when opting for the Flixbus.

Day 2 – London > Holyhead

With the early arrival of the night bus in London, it’s possible to make your way to Dublin that same day. When taking the earliest Eurostar from Rotterdam, you’ll be short of time, as said in the introduction. As I was meeting a friend in Holyhead who did come by train instead of bus, we spend a night in Wales and went for a stunning sunset hike. Slow travel for the win!

Day 3 – Holyhead > Dublin

The ferry terminal in Holyhead is right next to the train station, which is ideal if you’re not making a pitstop in Wales like I did. The arrival time on the ferry ticket did not line up with our actual time of arrival in Dublin, but was about an hour later somehow. Still, we had a good part of the afternoon and evening left to explore the city. Getting from the ferry port in Dublin to the city centre was a piece of cake. There was a bus waiting for us outside the arrival hall. We did not need to book this bus in advance, so we could simply hop on.

Day 4-7 – Dublin

To read more about how to get around in Dublin by public transport, click here. I didn’t find Dublin to be the most exciting city, so it’s worth going into the country instead of staying in the capital. The accommodation in Dublin was also terribly expensive. I’d love to come back to Ireland for a good cycle trip, though.

Day 8 – Dublin > Holyhead > Penmaenmawr

After a rainly morning in Dublin, my friend and I took a ferry back to Wales in the early afternoon. As said, getting on the train after arriving in Holyhead by ferry is super convenient. As you exit the ferry terminal, you walk straight onto the train platform. The train to Penmaenmawr was a tiny local one with merely two coaches. I even had to request the driver to stop at Penmaenmawr, as the train doesn’t normally stop at all the villages it passes. A train crew member walked through the coach with a clipboard to ask if anyone wants to request a stop, so this was easy to arrange.

Day 9-10 – Penmaenmawr

The B&B I stayed at was lovely, and right on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. One of the hiking trails literally started outside the door of the B&B. Penmaenmawr turned out to be the perfect location not only for access to Snowdonia, but also the North Wales Coast Path.

Day 11 – Penmaenmawr > London > Rotterdam

The way back way quite relaxed. The first train left at 10:18 followed by two transfers in Chester and Crewe. In London, there was some time to go into the National Library next to St. Pancras International Station and work for a few hours. The Eurostar brought me back to Rotterdam, were I arrived with a 5 minute delay a little after 22:30. All in all, I had a great trip and would 100% recommend going to Dublin by bus, train and ferry, especially with when you have time to stop in Wales for a few days.

Most important tips

  • Find a Sail & Rail deal for cheap travel.
  • An overnight bus allows you to get to Dublin within 24 hours (from The Netherlands, Belgium or France).
  • When taking the Eurostar, you probably need to book accommodation in England or Wales for a night on the way to Dublin. The way back can be done within a day.

* This post includes an affiliate link. Booking your train ticket through this link helps maintain The Sustainable Travel Guide, as I receive a small commission. I only use affiliate links for brands I personally use and support.

EN - 970x250

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *