Dublin has an extensive bus network but only a few rail and tram lines.  The buses can be slow and unreliable due to the city’s traffic but for many destinations outside the city centre (including the airport) they are the only public transport option. 

Buses 

The majority of buses are operated by Dublin Bus with some smaller companies operating other routes, most usefully an express service to Dublin Airport operated by Aircoach.

On most city buses the fare depends on the distance you travel.  If you are paying in cash, you tell the driver your destination, s/he tells you the fare, you drop the required coins in the farebox and s/he prints off your ticket.  On most services the driver cannot give change or take banknotes: if you don't have the exact coins the driver will issue a printed change receipt which can only be redeemed at the Dublin Bus Head Office. 

If you plan to use buses more than a few times in Dublin, it's well worth getting some type of prepaid ticket or pass, many of which are also valid on rail and/or tram services, such as the Leap Card. This will probably save money and certainly avoids having to carry a pocketful of coins!  See the Section "Leap Card and other Transport Passes" below.

The Dublin Bus fleet comprises mainly of modern double-deck vehicles which offer a great view from the top deck.  Most buses now have free WiFi and many have electronic signs and announcements which tell you the name of the next stop.  

The busier stops have Real Time Passenger Information displays which use GPS tracking to tell you when the bus will arrive.  

 

You can also get this information on a moble phone app.

Bus users should be aware that even if the bus has two or more doors (everywhere else in the world the front door is normally entrance and the rear one the exit) it is the custom in Dublin that drivers do not open the rear door for passengers to exit. If you want to leave the bus ring the bell and move to the front door for exiting.

Trains 

While the rail service is not extensive, a nice way to see Dublin Bay is to take a trip on the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) suburban train and to travel from the city centre as far as Bray.  It's not particularly expensive and you get to see some spectacular views of Dublin Bay.  Heading south on the DART, you can stop off at some beautiful villages along the way.  For example, Dun Laoire has a beautiful harbour and pier, Killiney has a nice stoney beach and is home to many of Dublin's rich and famous celebrities, Dalkey has a wonderful castle and a gentle village atmosphere, and Bray is a seaside holiday haunt for many generations of Irish families.  To the north of the city, the DART terminates at Howth, a quiet fishing village, with some nice cliff walks, and if you're feeling energetic, you can go all the way to the Summit of Howth Head for a spectacular view.  As DART is used by the plain people of Dublin, you may also get an entertaining insight into the cosmopolitan mix of the city's populace, from the varied and colourful atire of the commuters to the equally colourful and myriad accents: and that's just the Dubliners!  Trains run roughly every 15 minutes - for exact times, check the Iarnrod Eireann (Irish Rail) website. 

Trams

The modern, sleek, almost silent LUAS trams commenced service in Dublin in 2004.  (Until 1959, trams were a popular mode of transport right across Dublin, and it took almost 50 years for their rebirth.) There are two lines (unfortunately, there's a 15 minute walk from the Green Line city terminus to the Red Line). The route of most interest to the tourist is the Red Line which connects the two main railway stations of Heuston and Connolly. On the way it passes the Four Courts, the rejuvenated Smithfield area, and the National Museum at Collins Barracks; the Green Line runs from St Stephen's Green to the foothills of the Dublin Mountains.  

Leap Card and other Transport Passes

There's a confusing array of prepaid tickets and passes available but possibly the simplest to use is the Leap Card.  This is similar to the Oyster card in London: you can either load it with Travel Credit to pay-as-you-go for each journey or you can load a period pass offering unlimited travel on one or more modes.  In the latter category, the Leap Visitor Card offers tourists 72 hours of unlimited travel on Luas, DART, Iarnród Éireann’s short-hop zone and Dublin Bus – including the return trip between the airport and the city centre on the Airlink Bus –  for €19.50.  There's lots more information on the Leap card page on TA and the Leap card website.  

Another useful ticket is the Freedom Pass which give 3 days (72hrs) unlimited travel on Dublin Bus including Airlink and the Sightseeing Tour. The Adult Freedom Pass is €30.00 and the Child version €14.00: this is pretty good value since the Dublin Bus Hop on Hop off Sightseeing Tour costs €19 and the Airlink costs €6 each way.   

Information on some of the other tourist type tickets can be found on the Dublin Bus website

Transport Information

Information on all transport options is now available on Google maps or the National Journey Planner.    

 

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