One of more romantic ways to see the great Emerald Isle is rail travel. While train travel in Ireland is certainly not as automated as train travel in Austria or Germany, visitors will be happy to discover the clean cars, great schedules, and reasonable prices of Ireland trains.
The trains in Ireland run from Dublin to all major Irish cities. Keep in mind that service to more remote, provincial towns is often round-about and sometimes more expensive. For travel to these smaller cities, many travelers find that it is more convenient, but much less comfortable, to travel by bus.
For safe travels on the Ireland railway, remember to keep your belongings with you. Some travelers find it is a good idea to hide valuables (money, passport, jewelry) in their clothes, especially during night train rides. Thieves will sometimes rob sleeping train travelers, and the luckless victims will wake up at the next station penniless. Not to worry though: in terms of safe rail travel Ireland is among the safer countries, with fewer robberies reported than other comparable regions in Europe.
Like most European trains, the trains in Ireland offer first and second class compartments. Most mainline trains tend to have one standard class. In general, it is cheaper to buy round-trip tickets instead of one-way tickets.
Northern Ireland Railways has three main rail routes, which all operate out of Belfast’s Central Station. Consequently, it is often easier to begin a trip through Northern Ireland from Belfast. The train routes run to Derry via Ballymena and Coleraine, to Bangor along the shores of Belfast Lough, and to Dublin.
While many European countries do honor the Eurailpass, take note that Northern Ireland does not. The rest of Ireland does honor the pass, which provides unlimited first-class rail travel for the duration of the pass. Ireland train travel is a lot cheaper and more convenient with a rail pass. For moderate train travel in Ireland, look into the Europass, which is less expensive than a Eurailpass, but provides less travel time. If you don’t plan to do a lot of train travel in Ireland, it is easier to be individual tickets for trains in Ireland. For tourists interested in purchasing a pass, please remember that you must purchase the pass before you leave for Europe.
For rail travel Ireland travel companies also offer rail passes. The Irish Explorer Rail & Bus Pass covers all the state-fun and federal railways and bus lines throughout the republic. It cannot be used in Northern Ireland or for inner-city transportation. The Emerald Isle Card offers unlimited bus and train travel in Ireland, including Northern Ireland. For Northern Ireland rail passes, look into the Rail Runabout Pass, which provides seven days of unlimited travel on scheduled Ireland trains.
All in all, the Ireland train experience is wonderful. From the windows of a romantic train, you can see rolling meadows, beautiful vistas, and sparkling coastlines. With rail travel Ireland seems to open up in front of you. It is an old-world way to see an old-world part of the world.
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