Ireland holiday by train

“An eight day holiday around Ireland, travelling without a car, but taking in Belfast, Dublin and Galway, as well as the magnificent Aran Islands.”


Dublin | Guinness Storehouse | Walking tour Dublin | Galway | Inis Mór | Belfast | Cathedral Quarter | Titanic Quarter

Description of Ireland holiday by train

A nine day Ireland holiday, by train plus one ferry journey, following our carefully crafted itinerary, that enables you to sit back, relax and enjoy three of Ireland’s finest cities as well as its world famous Aran Islands. Train travel in Ireland is very straightforward, and this holiday starts in Dublin, where you will stay in the heart of the fine Georgian city. Enjoy a guided walk around Dublin, taking in some of its most famous sites including Trinity College University, which is also home to the ancient Book of Kells. The Guinness Storehouse is one of the city’s most popular sites where not only will you get fantastic views of the city, but also sample Ireland’s most popular export. The walking tour will take in many of the city’s historic sites, such as the General Post Office, where there is now a museum to commemorate the 1916 Rising which took place on this site.

From Dublin to Galway

Take a direct train to Galway, where you will stay in a boutique hotel in the lively city centre. Because Galway is a city to enjoy the famous Irish ‘craic’, with traditional music emanating from every bar, fine seafood in cafes and restaurants (Galway is famous for its oysters, and the Oyster Festival in September is wonderful time to be here), as well as galleries, markets and boutique shops to enjoy. Make the most of the city’s waterfront walks, cycling routes or even river kayaking if you like. Stay in this hotel for three nights.

Heading out to the Aran Islands

From Galway take a ferry out to the island of Inis Mór for a day trip to the Aran Island that is famous for the magnificent ancient Dún Aonghasa, a semi-circular stone fort located on 90m high cliffs, but also for its Gaeltacht, which refers to its Irish speaking culture and traditions. Walk or cycle around this island that is covered with myriad stone walls, tiny rural homesteads and ancient hedgerow lined lanes. It is a very special place and one that you will vow to come back to for longer. After returning to the mainland, you will be transported to the Cliffs of Moher, where you will have time at leisurely to soak up the remarkable scenery.

Discover Galway

On your final full day in Galway, you will enjoy a real treat – a guided walk, boat trip around the bay and a deliciously fresh seafood lunch, all in the company of a hand-selected expert local guide.

From Galway to Belfast

Taking a train to Dublin and then changing trains to Belfast, you will stay in a locally owned bed and breakfast just ten minutes’ walk from the centre of Northern Ireland’s capital. A welcoming and easily accessible city to wander around, highlights that we recommend include the historic Cathedral Quarter, with St Anne's Cathedral at its heart. This was, traditionally, the wealthy merchants’ hub of the city and, in contrast sits the Titanic Quarter, so called because the shipyards where the notorious ship was built, have now been restored to a state of the art visitor centre. We have included entry to the first-class Titanic Visitor Experience in this holiday, so you can discover the history of this most tragic voyage.

One more important cultural experience in Belfast is the Black Taxi tour, which we include as part of your itinerary. Led by taxi drivers who lived through the years of conflict in this city, your expert guide will share stories of these dark times, a moving and enlightening way to get to grips with Northern Ireland’s recent history.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel flight free

Travelling to Ireland flight-free has never been easier, thanks to the number of ferry routes existing between the Emerald Isle and mainland Britain. The most convenient route for this rail tour would be from Holyhead in North Wales, to Dublin. Holyhead is well-connected by the mainline rail network. There is also an overnight service from Liverpool, or you can travel from Cainryan in Southwest Scotland to Belfast and from there connect by express train to Dublin. 


Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

We are continually increasing our range of public transport holidays for those who actively choose low-carbon transport. "Explore Ireland by Train" is a unique touring holiday for car-free visitors. We grapple with the timetables of connecting trains, and add in walking and taxi tours and day trips to make sure you get the most from your visit. Not having a car in tow can transform your experience, both of cities and especially on an island – exploring on foot helps you to properly engage with the environment and experience the place at a more appropriate, slower pace. There are few vehicles on the Aran Islands in any case, and no car ferries! The Aran islands themselves are a very unusual environment, due to isolation from the mainland over many years. This is still officially a "Gaeltacht" or Irish-speaking area.

We design our public transport holidays by imaginatively joining together the routes and options so that you can still experience the highlights of the country whilst respecting the environment.

We carefully choose business partners who match our values, preferring to work with smaller, family-run businesses committed to the long term sustainability of the environment and the local economy.

The Impacts of this Trip

For us, true sustainability means promoting and helping to maintain a way of life, where the economic benefit from tourism can make a genuine difference. That’s why we work almost exclusively with local, family-run businesses, not with large corporate organisations. We build close and lasting relationships with our business partners, based on mutual trust and an unerring commitment to customer satisfaction. We carefully select these partners to ensure that they share our values of sustainable and responsible travel.

When we decided to add Ireland to the company's range of holidays, we set out to take an "all Ireland" approach, offering both North and South and encouraging visitors to explore the whole island, regardless of the border. One of the company founders, Robert Kidd, grew up in Belfast during "the troubles". As part of this particular holiday, we encourage you to get to know Robert's city as it is today, without overlooking the past. Belfast has changed dramatically in recent years, and welcomes travellers from all over the world with open arms. We include a black taxi tour to enable you to see the further-flung corners and gain insight into the history, culture and politics directly from a local. Tourism is vital in providing economic stability and ensuring that peace prevails throughout the local community.

All of our holiday packs include "Robert's Recommendations", our specific tips on places to visit, places to eat and places to shop locally, all of which have been researched by us, and many of which are off-the-beaten track.


3 Reviews of Ireland holiday by train

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 31 Jul 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

We enjoyed the walking tour of Dublin and the black taxi tour of Belfast because we learned so much from the knowledgeable guides.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Walk rather than take taxis when you can because you see so much of the cities and sites when you walk.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I guess it reduced environmental impact by having us ride public transportation rather than renting a car.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We were very happy with the holiday. The accommodations were quite nice and the tours that were arranged were excellent and all ran on time and as expected. The app the tour company provides is helpful in providing all documents and other travel information online.

Reviewed on 27 Apr 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The overwhelming beauty of grassy green hills blocked into rectangles by stone walls capturing white fluffy sheep! [I am quite the romantic.] Next to that, the stunning quantity of stone works: walls, round lookout towers, castles and forts with craftsmanship to make my head spin. Fortunately the wet weather chased but didn't catch me until the last night in Dublin ... I took a wrong turning coming out of a pub, it started raining, harder and harder but I was stubborn and wouldn't look at my phone until I was drenched. Lucky that I did as I was walking at a fast clip directly away from Ariel House. I need to work in here that the accommodations provided, mostly B&Bs, where utterly magnificent, from poster beds to giant bear-clawed bathtubs ... hugely romantic.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be ready to hit the ground running on your free days/times as one day isn't enough anywhere. Do the research, know what you want to do, don't hesitate to jump on the Hop-on/Hop-off buses. And bring layers with rain gear so nothing can get in your way. Be ready for some sore muscles and wonderful dining! :-)

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Everywhere it is clear that Ireland is a tourist destination particularly for Americans. The hospitality industry in Ireland is first class and everyone just wants you to have a terribly good time. We all benefit.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I am both a McCann and a Mayo and this was a grand visit to the 'Mother Country'. My only complaint is that my girlfriend was in Greece and Italy rather than with me ... long story but she planned/paid for her trip before we were together.

Reviewed on 28 Aug 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Traveling by bike on Inis Mór. No real plans on the island. We just biked around and stopped at anything we found interesting. Great relaxing day.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go to some of the local pubs, like Garavn's in Galway. Sit at the bar, and have a chat with some of the locals. Much of Ireland has rapidly changed in the lest 10-
15 years, and a great way to understand that is to hear how from the locals.

Belfast has some of the best restaurants I've ever been to at such a reasonable price. Both the Barking Dog and the Ginger house do not disappoint.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Where we went was heavily depends on tourism as it's industry. By going to independent tours in Belfast) or visiting local shops (like the sweater market on Inis Mór) we were supporting the people of the area.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


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