We are hoping (perhaps optimistically) to spend several weeks in Ireland in the fall. In checking airline schedules, it looks as though we would arrive at the airport in Dublin at 5:30 AM, which would leave us wandering the streets waiting for things to open or sitting in a hotel lobby for hours, exhausted after an overnight flight. Both Belfast and Dublin are omg our itinerary. What do you think of our taking the bus directly from the airport and heading right to Belfast? I think we would arrive mid morning and have a better. chance of getting into a hotel or being able to do things once we arrive.. Many thanks!!
If your return flight is from Dublin, then yes, that is what I would do. My nephew and friends were supposed to go this month and that is what we had worked out together. The first day is usually a wash anyway so you might as well use it to do your train traveling. You will definitely get some sleep on the train to Belfast to help get over some jet lag. Then you can check into your hotel, walk around, have an early dinner, go to sleep early and hopefully wake up the next day well rested.
You'll have a better chance of getting into a hotel earlier if you contact the hotel directly and ask to be assigned a room that is ready vs just showing up and hoping. We did that once in Amsterdam and the hotel initially said there would be a charge to guarantee the room would be ready. We opted not to but upon arrival mid morning were given a room right away.
Worst case the hotel should offer to store your luggage, give you a time when your room will be ready then you can go sightseeing. Just be ready with your gear sorted so you know what you want with you and the rest locked up - daypack, passport, cash/cards, water bottle, jacket, etc.
Not a bad idea to head to Belfast first given your very early arrival hour.
Thank you to you both! Planning a trip is always fun, but especially now - when we need to think of the future...
There is another way to assure early check in, pay for the night before and let the hotel know you will be arriving in the am. Your room is guaranteed ready and you can pop right into that shower! I did this once after a red eye flight from Rwanda to Amsterdam. Nine hour overnight flight in the same time zone. Worth every penny! The hotel treated me very well. They respected that I did this. I arrived, took a shower, took a two hour nap and then set off to explore the city refreshed. I passed a crowded waiting area in the lobby of exhausted travelers and their luggage hopefully waiting for a room to open up.
I like the Premier Inn Titanic Quarter as my Belfast hotel. Great prices, great location On river near Titanic Experience. No charm, but it is more likely you’ll be out finding the charm in the city itself. It is a very nice walk to downtown along the river or catch the public bus in front of the hotel.
The drawback of the train is that is requires you to first get to central Dublin from the airport. Personally i'd take the direct bus from the airport to Belfast. https://www.aircoach.ie
Paying for the previous night would definitely do the job, but may cost more than just the fee for early checkin. The hotel in Amsterdam that I mentioned would have only charged about a quarter of one nights lodging for early check in. I'd ask for early check in hoping it would be free, then if they mention a charge see if that's less than 1 nights stay.
You said you were taking the bus, not the train, correct? Are you thinking of the Aircoach buses? They’re really nice.
I would vote for the bus from the airport to Belfast too. Are you going back to see Dublin? If so, the train goes from Belfast to Dublin several times a day, as does the bus.
Everyone has been so helpful I thought to share our evolving plan. We are interested in the history, less so nature/natural wonders (our knees can't hike any more). Suggestions or comments?
Take the hourly Aircoach bus from Dublin Airport to Belfast (2 hours) and then get a taxi to a hotel (we'rev looking at the Europa and Fitzwilliam but no decision yet. We love Premier Inns but thought we'd splurge a bit). The prices in Belfast are so much less than in Dublin, we may make reservations for the night before to be certain that we can get in and take a shower before heading out.
Day 1 - Belfast Arrive, taxi tour w/Peace Walls and Titanic Quarter.
Would you recommend Irish, Black or Cab Tours? Ww would love a good, historical tour.
Day 2. Belfast Walking tour, Crumloin Rd Gaol, St Malachys church, pub dinner at Crown Liquor Salloon.
Would you recommend -- Coiste Irish Political Tours and/or Sandy Row Walking Tours or About DC Tours A History of Terror
Day 3 Train or bus to Derry. Which would you recommend?
Martin McCrossan walking tour of the city, Tower Museum
Day 4. Derry Bogside history tours, Museum of Free Derry Museum, Tower Museum, Derry-Coleraine Railway
Day 5 Train to Dublin
Yes you can take the Bus from Dublin airport to Belfast, getting the train requires you to go into the city centre and there is NO train station at the airport, remember you will require UK pounds for Northern Ireland as it is part of the United Kingdom and you will be crossing the border from Ireland into the UK on your bus journey there are no passport controls at the border so dont be worrying about that, Translink is the public transport company in Northern Ireland and they operate in conjunction with their counterparts in Ireland a joint cross border bus service from Dublin city centre Via Dublin airport to Belfast the bus company in Ireland is called Bus Eireann, the Bus company in Northern Ireland is called Ulsterbus which is part of the Translink group they operate a joint cross border service (X1 and X2) service to and from Belfast and Dublin (via the airport ) your best bet is to book with them if you book on www.translink.co.uk your tickets will be priced in Pounds, if you book at www.buseireann.ie your ticket will be priced in euro, for example you might book your ticket on bus eireann but it would be a Translink Ulsterbus vehicle you board or vice versa doesnt matter as long as the service number is X1 or X2, there is as someone has mentioned a private company who operate to and from Belfast called aircoach the main difference between them and the other 2 is that the other to drop you off at the official bus stations were air coach drops you off on a main street etc, in Belfast air coach drops you off yards away from the main bus station anyways (as they are not allowed to use the main bus station as Translink is owned by the UK government in Northern Ireland and the premises are private property) you can book tickets online hope with both translink (by going to www.translink.co.co.uk) or www.buseireann.ie buses are hourly you will get dropped off at Europa bus station in Belfast on Great Victoria street there is a Jurys Inn ten mins walk away from the Bus station if that helps, air coach drops you off in Glengall street down the side of the bus station again ten mins walk from Jurys Inn
also yeah you can do Derry/Londonderry in a day by train (I actually live in Coleraine)
if you go to www.translink.co.uk you can find train timetables a return ticket to Londonderry/derry is £13.00 after 9.30am there is no prebooking required just turn up buy your ticket and get on board
Many thanks - hugely helpful!!!
Take the hourly Aircoach bus from Dublin Airport to Belfast (2 hours)
and then get a taxi to a hotel (we'rev looking at the Europa and
Fitzwilliam but no decision yet.
I would not bother with a taxi to the hotel. The bus will drop you off around 100 m from Europa and 150 m from Fitzwilliam.
I didn't know!! Thank you!!
also on sundays in Northern Ireland on trains you can buy a day ticket which enables you to hop on and off the trains all day at leisure on the same ticket this ticket is called a day tracker and costs £8.00 so for example you could go from Belfast to Derry by train then go to Portrush for lunch (and its beside the sea with 2 nice beaches) then go back to Belfast on the train all on the same ticket
aircoach drops you off in Glengall street which is right beside the europa no need for a taxi and the fitzwilliam is like a 2 minute walk away down the street
here is a map so you can have a look :https://goo.gl/maps/bvAVoRbvB32s2jJN9
Several comments lead me to think that Derry would not warrant 2 days. Is this true???
nah a day is enough in Derry its small and compact you could take the train up in the morning spend all day there and get the last train back to Belfast at night (last train monday to friday is at 9.38pm ) have dinner in derry and come back on the last train getting you back in for 1130pm or so trains are hourly to Belfast