Wales is known for its natural beauty, distinct culture and a long history. Part of the UK, it’s got a unique character which attracts travelers from all over the world. Wales is filled with picturesque cities to visit and listing them is absolutely impossible. Some of the most notable are: Cardiff – the capital of Wales -, Aberystwyth – coastal town -,Wrexham – largest town in North Wales , home to a superb church and castle – and Caernarfon – home to Caernarfon Castle , one of the country’s largest and best preserved castles.
Ireland is an island in Europe, comprising both Northern Ireland (belonging to the UK) and the Republic of Ireland. Those visiting the UK often add Ireland to their itinerary (or the other way around) because it’s fast, easy and affordable to travel between Wales and Ireland.
For the purpose of this article, I talked about getting from Cardiff – the capital of Wales – to Dublin and Belfast. It is slightly cheaper to travel by bus from Cardiff to Dublin (£31* one way) than to fly (£36 one way), but the bus ride also includes a ferry crossing and takes about 12 hours. The flight time is 1h 10 min. You also need to account for the time and money to get to/from the airport. When traveling from Cardiff to Belfast , flying is the cheapest and fastest option (£40 one way).
Flights from Wales to Ireland
There are six airports in Wales, but most of them only handle charter flights , helicopters and private flights or a home to flying schools. The main airport serving Wales is Cardiff International Airport (CWL), which is an international airport , located about 12 miles from Cardiff city center. It is base for Manx2, Thomson Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines. Flybe is the largest carrier at the airport.
The Republic of Ireland is served by four major airports, but flights from Cardiff only land on Dublin Airport (DUB), which is the busiest airport in the country. It is hub for Aer Lingus, Aer Lingus Regional, CityJet, Europe Airpost, Ryanair and Thomson Airways. Flights to/from Cardiff are run by Aer Lingus . The flight time is 1h 10 min.
Northern Ireland is also served by three major airports, but flights from Cardiff only land on George Best Belfast City Airport (BHD). It is located just 2 miles from the city center and serves mainly flights within the UK. The flights to/from Cardiff are run by Flybe . The flight time is 1h 15 min.
Regardless of when you travel, the flights from Cardiff to Dublin start at £36 one way on Aer Lingus. Also, regardless of when you plan to fly, the flights from Cardiff to Belfast City start at £40 one way on Flybe.
>> read more about Airfare to Dublin Airport
Buses from Wales to Ireland
Coach National Express , part of Eurolines , offers a daily bus between Cardiff and Dublin and includes the Rosslare ferry crossing. The total travel time is almost 12 hours and includes the ferry crossing. The bus leaves Cardiff at 11:15 p.m. The single ticket is £31 and also includes the ferry ticket.
The same company also offers a daily bus from Cardiff to Belfast , with a stop in Birmingham. The bus departs Cardiff at 7:35 a.m. and the travel time is about 16 hours. The singe ticket is £47 and includes the ferry ticket.
Trains ferry from Wales to Ireland
There is a fully-integrated train (bus) and ferry service from London to Dublin, which also goes through Cardiff. The train departs Cardiff at 10:54 a.m. and 10:26 p.m. from Monday to Friday, at 10:54 a.m. and 10:12 p.m. on Saturday, at 11:18 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Sunday. It includes the Fishguard to Rosslare ferry crossing but from Rosslare you need to take a bus to Dublin, if you use the morning train. If you prefer the night train, there are train connections from Rosslare to Dublin. The total travel time is about 11 hours.
Should you need to get elsewhere in Ireland, note that Rosslare is also linked by train (bus) to Wexford and Wicklow. .
If you head to Cork or Limerick, you are better off traveling via Holyhead – Dublin ferry route. The train leaves Cardiff at 7:21 a.m. and the ferry arrives at Dublin Ferryport at 5:25 a.m. There’s another departure at 11:21 a.m. from Cardiff. The cheapest off peak fare is £33.00 one way for the entire length of the journey.
If you want to travel from Cardiff to Belfast, you need to transfer from Dublin Ferryport to Dublin Connolly to catch the train to Belfast. There are four trains departing from Cardiff each day at 5:10 a.m. 7:21 a.m., 11:21 a.m. and 7:34 p.m. The cheapest off peak fare is £44.00 one way for the entire length of the journey. The travel time is between 11 ½ h and 14 h, depending on the connections you choose.
Driving from Wales to Ireland
You can rent a car in Wales in drive to Ireland but make sure to ask whether you can take the rental car across the border if you plan to visit the Republic of Ireland.
Should you plan to drive from Cardiff to Dublin, there are two possible routes:
- on N11 and use the Fishguard – Rosslare ferry; the route is 273 miles and takes about 7 hours (including the ferry crossing)
- on A470 and use the Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire ferry; the route is 263 miles and takes about 7 ¼ hours (including the ferry crossing)
Should you plan to drive from Cardiff to Belfast, there are three possible routes and all go via the Dublin – Holyhead ferry crossing. The shortest route (381 miles) is via A470 but the travel time is similar for all routes (about 8h 30 min, including the ferry crossing).
Note:* at the time the article was written