Ireland by Ferry A Guide to Everything You Need to Know

Ireland by Ferry: A Guide to Everything You Need to Know

Are you looking for a ferry to Ireland? You have plenty of options!

Whether you want to explore the scenic coastline, the vibrant cities, or the rich culture of Ireland, taking a ferry is a convenient and affordable way to travel.

Below you’ll find useful information for anyone who wants to travel by ferry, as well as some of the most thrilling routes across the island.

Is it possible to ride a ferry to Ireland?

Sailing to Ireland via ferry is possible from the UK, the Isle of Man, France, and Spain. Depending on your nationality and route, you may need a valid passport or a photo ID and other necessary documents.

What are the ferry operators serving routes to and from Ireland?

Five ferry companies provide transportation to and from Ireland, connecting various locations in the UK, the Isle of Man, France, and Spain.

Stena Line

Stena Line
Image from Stena Line


Stena Line is one of the world’s largest ferry companies, operating ferry services not only throughout the UK and Ireland, but also in much of Northern Europe, as well as throughout Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea.


  • To travel between the UK and Ireland, UK and Irish citizens generally require no passport, but it is advised to carry proof of identity. Non-UK/Irish citizens, on the other hand, need a valid passport and may also require a visa.
  • Traveling between France and Ireland requires UK citizens to have a valid passport matching the booking. EU citizens can use a European ID Card or valid passport with MRZ code, also matching the booking.
  • For other passport holders traveling between France and Ireland, it’s important to check with the embassy for specific passport and visa requirements.

Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries
Image from Irish Ferries


Irish Ferries is Ireland’s leading ferry company, operating ferry services between Ireland, the UK and France while catering for passengers, vehicles and freight units.


  • For Irish and British citizens traveling between the two countries, a passport isn’t strictly necessary but photo ID is needed. Other nationalities require a valid passport and should check for visa requirements with their embassies.
  • When traveling between Ireland and France, all passengers, including babies, need a valid passport or recognized EU ID card; some cases may require a visa. 

P&O Ferries

P&O Ferries
Image from P&O Ferries


P&O Ferries is one of the UK’s largest ferry operators, offering a range of services across the Irish Sea, the English Channel and the North Sea.


  • When going to and from Ireland, make sure your passport is valid for your European travel.
  • Bring photo ID for trips within the Irish Sea, and consider it for Northern Ireland routes.
  • Use a valid passport or ID card on other journeys. Non-EU travelers need a valid passport.
  • Remember, UK identity cards aren’t valid, and most EU travelers need a passport for the UK starting October 1, 2021.

Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries
Image from Brittany Ferries


Brittany Ferries is a French company that offers a wide selection of ferry routes to Western France and Northern Spain as well as a ferry service between France and Ireland.


  • To travel with Brittany Ferries, you need a passport or a French ID card and visas for your destinations.
  • Children need passports too and you will be denied travel without the right documents.

Steam Packet

Steam Packet
Image from Steam Packet


Steam Packet is the Isle of Man ferry company that provides freight, passenger and vehicle services between the port of Douglas, Isle of Man with England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.


  • You don’t need a passport to go to the Isle of Man, but you should bring some ID with you. A utility bill, citizenship card or driving licence are sometimes acceptable.

What are the available ferry routes to/from Ireland?

What are the available ferry routes tofrom Ireland
Image by Ryan from Pexels

Ireland can be reached by ferry from various locations, including the UK (Wales, Scotland, and England), the Isle of Man, France, and Spain on mainland Europe. The accessible ports are situated in eastern Ireland:

  • Republic of Ireland: Dublin, Rosslare, and Cork
  • Northern Ireland: Belfast and Larne

If you’re planning to travel to Ireland by ferry, the following information outlines the different ferry routes.

Wales – Ireland (vice versa)

Image by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

These routes provide a direct connection between the two countries. You can enjoy the scenic views of the Irish Sea and the Welsh coast.

Exploring attractions in Wales and Ireland is also possible, including castles, national parks, pubs, and cultural heritage sites.

RoutePractical Information
Holyhead ⇄ DublinNumber of Crossings: 10 times per day

Duration of Journey: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Operators & Ticket Price:

• Stena Line (starts at €36)

• Irish Ferries (starts at €36)

Fishguard ⇄ RosslareNumber of Crossings: 2 times per day

Duration of Journey: 3 hours and 30 minutes

Operators & Ticket Price: Stena Line (starts at €40)

Pembroke ⇄ RosslareNumber of Crossings: 2 times per day

Duration of Journey: 4 hours

Operators & Ticket Price: Irish Ferries (starts at €45)

England – Ireland (vice versa)

Image by Sergey Konstantinov on Unsplash

Ferry travel from England to Ireland is available year-round, starting from Liverpool. From this port in England, you can sail across the Irish Sea to either Dublin or Belfast, which are both in Northern Ireland.

Vibrant cities like Liverpool, Dublin, and Belfast, as well as the countryside and coastlines of both countries, can be discovered.

RoutePractical Information
Liverpool ⇄ DublinNumber of Crossings: 1 or 2 crossings every day

Travel Schedule:

Duration of Journey: 8 to 9 hours

Operators & Ticket Prices: P&O Ferries (€113)


• This route is exclusively for vehicles (cars, motorcycles, caravans, etc.) and not available for foot passengers.

• If you prefer to travel as a foot passenger, consider the Cairnryan - Larne ferry route instead.

Liverpool ⇄ BelfastNumber of Crossings: up to 2 daily crossings

Travel Schedule:

Duration of Journey: 8 hours

Operators & Ticket Prices: Stena Line (€38)

Scotland – Ireland (vice versa)

Image by Elena Jiang on Unsplash

If your travel plans involve journeying from Scotland in the UK to Ireland, you have the option of taking a ferry to Northern Ireland from Cairnryan, a village located in Wigtownshire County.

Throughout the entire year, P&O Ferries and Stena Line are the two ferry operators facilitating crossings between Cairnryan and Ireland.

RoutePractical Information
Cairnryan ⇄ BelfastNumber of Crossings: up to 6 times daily

Duration of Journey: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Operators & Ticket Prices: Stena Line (starts from €30)

Cairnryan ⇄ LarneNumber of Crossings: 3-4 daily crossings

Duration of Journey: 2 hours

Operators & Ticket Prices: P&O Ferries (single ticket price of about €29)

Isle of Man – Ireland (vice versa)

Isle of Man
Image by James Qualtrough 🇮🇲 on Unsplash

Positioned in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland, the Isle of Man serves as a convenient gateway. From its capital, Douglas, you can easily access two major Irish ports: Dublin and Belfast.

You can admire the Isle of Man’s beauty and its Viking history, along with exploring the Irish capital and its famous Guinness Storehouse. The Titanic Belfast museum is also a place to visit to learn about the ship’s tragic story.

RoutePractical Information
Douglas ⇄ DublinNumber of Crossings: 2 crossings per week

Duration of Journey: 3 hours

Operators & Ticket Prices: Steam Packet (starting at €26)

Douglas ⇄ BelfastNumber of Crossings: up to twice a week

Duration of Journey: 3 to 5 hours

Operators & Ticket Prices: Steam Packet (starting at €26)

France – Ireland (vice versa)

Image by Franck Barske from Pixabay

There is a well-established sea connection between Northern France and Ireland. You can sail to three Irish ports: Dublin, Rosslare, and Cork, from Cherbourg and Le Havre in Normandy, or from Roscoff in Brittany, in France.

Experiencing the cultures, cuisines, and landscapes of both France and Ireland is one of the highlights, including attractions like Normandy beaches, the Brittany coast, Cork harbor, and Dublin castle.

RoutePractical Information
Cherbourg ⇄ DublinNumber of Crossings: up to 4 to 5 times a week

Duration of Journey: 19 hours

Operators & Ticket Prices: Irish Ferries (starts around €66)

Cherbourg ⇄ RosslareNumber of Crossings: up to 4 weekly crossings

Duration of Journey: 16 to 19 hours

Operators & Ticket Prices:

• Brittany Ferries

• Stena Line

Le Havre ⇄ RosslareNumber of Crossings: single weekly ferry crossing

Duration of Journey: 20.5 hours

Operators & Ticket Prices: Brittany Ferries (one-way ticket costs around €75 )

Roscoff ⇄ CorkNumber of Crossings: twice a week

Duration of Journey: 13 hours

Operators & Ticket Prices: Brittany Ferries (€89)

Spain – Ireland (vice versa)

Photo by Alex wolf mx from Pexels

Sailing from Bilbao in northern Spain to Rosslare in Ireland with Brittany Ferries is a possible and pleasant way to travel between the two countries.

Comfortable accommodations and entertainment options are available onboard. Exploring the cities and regions of Spain and Ireland, such as the Basque Country, Cantabria, Munster, and Leinster, is also a great opportunity.

RoutePractical Information
Bilbao ⇄ RosslareNumber of Crossings: twice a week (generally on Thursdays and Sundays)

Duration of Journey: 28 hours

Operators & Ticket Prices: Brittany Ferries (starts at €129)

What are the ferry trips within Ireland?


Image from Tripadvisor

Route: Belfast to Dublin

  • June: Daily – 10 AM to 7 PM
  • July & August: Daily – 9 AM to 8 PM 
  • September: Daily – 10 AM to 5 PM
  • October: Saturday & Sunday – 10 AM to 5 PM

Journey Duration: 15 minutes
Operator & Ticket Price: Carlingford Lough Ferry (starts at €5)

If you’re travelling between the two cities, you can take a scenic detour along Carlingford Lough and hop on the ferry that connects Greencastle on the Mourne Peninsula with Greenore on the Cooley Peninsula.

Both areas are rich in natural beauty and cultural heritage, with plenty of walking trails and outdoor activities to enjoy. You can also discover the legends and history of these lands, such as the story of Cú Chulainn and the Táin Bó Cúailnge.

Depending on the tide, you may spot oyster and mussel farms along the shores, and you can taste these delicacies in Carlingford’s restaurants.


Image by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Route: Belfast to Dublin
Journey Duration: 8 minutes
Operator & Ticket Price: Strangford Ferry (starts at €1)
Mode of Payment: Only card payments accepted in the terminal

As you make your way to the Mourne Coastal Route, you can take a break at Strangford Lough and catch the ferry that has been running for over 400 years, crossing the inlet at its narrowest point.

The lough is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with more than 2,000 marine species, and it offers a range of activities to try before you board the ferry.

You can go canoeing, sailing, kayaking, bird-watching, or visit the Exploris Aquarium to learn more about the wildlife.


Image by Jacob Capener on Unsplash

Route: Tralee to Galway
Schedule: Monday to Saturday – 7 AM to 9 PM
Journey Duration: 20 minutes
Operator & Ticket Price: Shannon Ferries (starts at €6)

If you’re following the Wild Atlantic Way, you can save some time by taking this ferry from Kerry to Clare across the Shannon Estuary.

The ferry route takes you from Kerry with its charming towns, such as Listowel, Ballybunion and Tralee.

It can also take you from Limerick with its foodie heritage and the origin of the Irish coffee at Foynes, over to Clare with its stunning landscapes, such as the Burren and the Kilkee cliffs.

Keep an eye out for the bottlenose dolphins that often join the crossing.

Magilligan Point-Greencastle

Magilligan Point-Greencastle
Image by Steven Hanna on Unsplash

Route: Donegal to Belfast
Schedule: Sailing April to September between 9 AM to 8:15 PM
Journey Duration: 15 minutes
Operator & Ticket Price: Scenic Lough Foyle Ferry (starts at €5)
Mode of Payment: Payment is by cash only (euro or sterling)

Travel from the foothills of Binevenagh mountain in Northern Ireland to Greencastle in County Donegal on the Wild Atlantic Way.

This short ferry trip combines two spectacular journeys (the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route) in one 15-minute crossing.

Once in Greencastle, you can head for Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head, a Star Wars filming location.

On Magilligan side, you’re just an hour’s drive from the walled city of Derry~Londonderry, with its lively pubs, delicious food scene and collection of fascinating museums.

Trory Jetty to Devenish Island

Trory Jetty to Devenish Island
Image by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Route: Derry~Londonderry to Enniskillen

  • April: Saturday & Sunday – 2:15 PM
  • May & September: Tuesday, Saturday, & Sunday – 2:15 PM
  • June: Daily – 2:15 PM & 4:15 PM
  • July & August: Daily – 10 AM to 4:15 PM

Operator & Ticket Price: Erne Tours (starts at €12)
Journey Duration: 2 minutes

One of the many islands on the River Erne, Devenish Island’s monastic site was founded by St Molaise in the 6th century. The island is only accessible by boat but it’s very close to tiny Trory Jetty.

The monastery was attacked by Vikings, burned and rebuilt over time and what remains is well worth a visit – the old monastery, two churches, an oratory, and the iconic round tower.

The island offers you the opportunity to admire untouched landscapes, beautiful wildlife and learn the rich folklore, with an amazing view wherever you sit.

Knightstown to Reenard Point

Knightstown to Reenard Point
Image by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Route: Valentia Island to Ring of Kerry

  • Monday to Saturday – 7:30 AM to 8:55 PM
  • Sunday – 9 AM to 8:55 PM

Operator & Ticket Price: Valentia Island Ferry (starts at €2)
Journey Duration: 10 minutes

Enjoy stunning views from Bray Head to the Skellig Islands – a key filming location for Star Wars – on this short trip that takes you from Valentia Island to the mainland.

Here, you can follow the incredible fossilised amphibian footprints along the 350-million-year-old Tetrapod Trackway; stop off at the lighthouse at Cromwell Fort; or take a guided hike up the stunning Geokaun Mountain.

On the island, you can try out a range of watersports, including diving and kayaking or just indulge in some Valentia Island Farmhouse ice cream and local seafood. Well worth the short ferry journey, even though there is an alternative landbridge, too!

Rathlin island to Ballycastle

Rathlin island to Ballycastle

Route: Derry~Londonderry to Belfast
Schedule: Monday to Friday – 8 AM to 6:30 PM
Operator & Ticket Price: Rathlin Ferry (starts at €8)
Journey Duration: 

  • 25 minutes via the Rathlin Express fast ferry
  • 40 minutes via the Spirit of Rathlin vehicle ferry

A great way to extend your Causeway Coastal Route experience is to take the ferry from the lovely harbour town of Ballycastle and head over to Rathlin Island for the day or even overnight.

The island is a delight. Take a guided walking tour, then head to the Seabird Centre where Northern Ireland’s largest colony of seabirds, including puffins, gather in their thousands.

Explore Rathlin’s unique “upside down” lighthouse and learn about the island’s history, people and mythology at the Boathouse Visitor Centre at the harbour, where you can examine artifacts and photographs from Rathlin’s past.