We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos

Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
72 posts
29 reviews
Save Topic
Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos


We are planning 1+ week trip to Ireland, but wanted to do a quickie weekend in London. We'll have our pretty well traveled 5 & 7 year old with us. Our thought at the moment (and you can feel free to chime in with opinions here....) is to arrive into Dublin (from Texas) in the morning and immediately depart for London. We'd prefer not to rent a car in London but stay close to the Tube to get around.

Initially I thought we'd just fly DUB->GAT since we'd be at the airport already anyone. However, someone suggested I look into taking the ferry over as he said it was very cost effective and would take 3h there, 1h back on the faster one? First, is this accurate? And secondly, where are the ferry ports in both Ireland & London? Is the Irish one close/easily accessible from the airport with 2 kids + luggage? Is the British one close to the Tube?

While we'd like to keep this budget friendly, we'd also like to balance this out with convenience since we will likely all be tired from our trip over, and balance with time since we will only have a weekend in London. Thoughts please to help us decide!

Many thanks!

Dingle, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Dingle
Level Contributor
8,888 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos

Yes, the ferry takes three hours, but it goes to Holyhead in North Wales,(have a look at a map) not London, there are two ferries a day, roughly 9am and 9pm, you then have a long train journey to London, If you are at the airport already, I would fly.

Guernsey, United...
Level Contributor
5,199 posts
137 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos

I think the family would be exhausted taking a transatlantic flight, then catching ferry to Wales and train (3.5-4hrs) to London. If you're determined to have time in London, then take a flight - much easier on all of you. If you're flying into Gatwick, it's a train journey into London - about 30-40 minutes depending on which route/train company you travel with:



You definitely don't want/need a car in London (or Dublin): nightmare driving in either city! Both cities offer great sight-seeing tours on bus.

What are your plans for Ireland??

Destination Expert
for Limerick, Killarney
Level Contributor
25,252 posts
82 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos

You need to take a look at a map of the UK and Ireland. London is inland and on the East Coast of the UK.

Flying is by far and away the most efficient way to get to London.

If you were to get the ferry it would be as follows:

1. Manage to sort of synchronise a ferry that leaves an hour after you get to the ferryport - meaning you would need to allow enough time to disembark from the plane, collect your luggage, wait for a cab, get a cab, negotiate Dublin traffic and get to the ferry port.

2. Ferry: the swift ferries take about 120 minutes or so, the cruise ferries about 3h30 minutes. Then you will have time disembarking. Remember the swift ferries don't sail if its rough - and the Irish Sea can get rough.

3. Travel down through the UK to London - we've done this many times in the car with kids. It takes about 6 hours in the car. If we are going from France to Ireland via the UK, we allow a minimum of 2 days, usually 3 just to break it up.

The alternative is a quick 1 hour flight :o)

Level Contributor
1,258 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos

If you want to see London and Ireland, fly directly into London and out of Ireland, or vice versa.

It makes no sense, when there are multiple direct flights between Texas airports and London, to travel via Dublin to London.

Arriving in Dublin, you will already be exhausted from the transatlantic flight and 6-hour time difference. Immediately flying on to London will only compound your exhaustion.

Dublin, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Sligo, Dublin
Level Contributor
7,088 posts
204 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos

Hi hailbuzzy

Def fly. Why don't you see if you can get your airline tickets to London return with a stop over for a few days in Dublin on your return.

Not sure if your kids have done a transatlantic flight yet, but I always find my children suffer with jet lag much worse after the journey from the US to Europe rather than in the other direction. It can take about 3-4 days before they adjust - you should take that into consideration when you are planning our trip.

Cork, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Cork
Level Contributor
2,769 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos

The only real advantage of the ferry is price, but it really eats into the time for a trip.

My sister lives in London and when she's bringing her family back, she only uses the ferry when the trip is for over 10 days. It would really kill a weekend.

Allow that there are 6 airports in London, so by looking around, you should get a decent price. In fact, you can even use Birmingham or Southampton as they have direct rail links into London, so if the train arrives near where you are staying, it can work out easier than trying to make connections across London.

If you are going to London, consider flying back to an airport in Ireland other than Dublin. Depending on where is on your itinerary, Cork, Kerry, Shannon, or Knock might get you there more easily. All have flights to London. Then make your way back to Dublin for your return flight.

Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
72 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos

Thank you ALL for responding so quickly. I obviously did not think this through very well (very much in beginning planning stages) and it hadn't even occurred to me to do a multi-city flight (slapping forehead as we speak!). Turns out it will cost us < $400 more in total to fly into London, to Dublin and from there back to the US. As many of you said - WELL worth the money and time savings, not to mention the travel fatigue! So no ferries for this family! Thanks for helping decide.

Sarnia G, I'll likely post more questions when we have our itinerary more set in stone. For now, I'm thinking 3d London, 2d Dublin, 2d Clifden (for Kylemore & Moher as we drive south), 3d Killarney (Nat'l Park & Muckross and base for some beach time either at ROK, where we've not been, or if it's too overrun by tourists, going back to Dingle which we love). If you have any initial thoughts, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks everyone again!

Whitney, Texas
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
11,601 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos

hailbuzzy, be sure to check luggage allowance on the smaller airlines as the rules are very strict and anything over their allowance is very expensive......you probably know that already but just in case you didn't I wanted to mention it......

Western Ireland...
Destination Expert
for Loughrea, Southport, Clifden, Connemara
Level Contributor
17,700 posts
53 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos

Have you considered flying London to Knock if you are starting in Clifden and leave Dublin to the end. Not sure I get the concept of leaving a touristy Killarney for a Touristy Dingle? consider dropping down to Kenmare you might find seeing new places that you find somewhere else to love.

…activeboard.com/t50055177/n59-galway-route/ & http://goo.gl/maps/L5ihu might help for Clifden,

Destination Expert
for County Cavan
Level Contributor
4,449 posts
57 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Ferry or fly to London w/ 2 kiddos

My preference would be to fly direct from the US into London Gatwick and spend a couple of days in London to get over the jet-lag before traveling onward to Dublin.

How you travel between London and Dublin is up to you, giving consideration to the amount of time it takes by rail and ferry. Rail is the best way to see the English countryside and the ferry will be remembered as part of the holiday, whereas with flying you will see very little and spend hours waiting at airports (not much fun). The ferry ports in the UK are at Fishguard and Holyhead, whereas the latter is best for travel into Dublin port.

Edited: 10 January 2014, 11:53