Want to travel like a local and save a few quid? Here is how you can go to the number 1 tourist attraction in Northern Ireland by public transport. Although possible, it is quite a lot of hassles.
Option 1: Bus/ Train from Dublin to Belfast –> Direct Bus from Belfast to Giant’s Causeway
Option 2: Bus/ Train from Dublin to Belfast –> Bus / Train from Belfast to Coleraine –> Bus from Coleraine to Giant’s Causeway
Step 1 – From Dublin to Belfast
a) Train –
Checked on Irish Rail‘s site. It is €38 for adult single and €40 for a day return.
b) Bus –
(i) You can take Bus Eireann. Depends on what time you are leaving, it ranges from €12.95 to €17.58. I can’t find any day return specials. A return trip is also costing the same – €12.95 to €17.58.
(ii) Aircoach seems to be a cheaper option. Single ticket is €15.00 / £12.00. Return ticket is costing €23.00 / £18.40.
(iii) Translink has £8.50 one-way ticket from Belfast to Dublin if you buy online in advance. Bus X1 or Bus X2. You can’t buy it the other way round though (from Dublin to Belfast) as it is a Northern Ireland’s company. You also can’t get this price if you buy from the station/ on the bus.
Step 2 – From Belfast to Giant’s Causeway
a) Direct bus –
Bus 221. Once everyday leaving at 09:30am; Once everyday coming back from the Causeway at 02:00pm. Only available between May and September. £9.00 return*.
b) Change in Coleraine –
*£9.00 return – It is actually the fare for the Bus Rambler Ticket (only available between May and September) which provides unlimited Ulsterbus & Metro Day Travel after 9:15am. All the buses listed above are Ulsterbus.
So, the cheapest way: Aircoach Dublin to Belfast (€23.00) –> Bus 218 Belfast to Coleraine (£9.00) –> Bus 172/402/252 to Causeway (£0; part of Bus Rambler ticket) –> Bus 218 Causeway to Belfast (£0; part of Bus Ramble ticket) –> Translink bus Belfast to Dublin (£8.50)
That’s around £37.50 / €44 for the day. Sounds good. So what time do I have to start the day?
0730-0950 Dublin to Belfast
1045-1230 Belfast to Coleraine
1240-1310 Coleraine to Giant’s Causeway
Four hours at Giant’s Causeway
1707-1738 Giant’s Causeway to Coleraine
1800-1945 Coleraine to Belfast
2000-2225 Belfast to Dublin
An alternative that costs the same would be:
0630-0850 Dublin to Belfast
0935-1105 Belfast to Giant’s Causeway
Three hours at Giant’s Causeway
1400-1533 Giant’s Causeway to Belfast
1600-1825 Belfast to Dublin
You can take your Bus Rambler Ticket (£9.00) and hop-on to a bus when you are done with the Causeway. They have stops at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, White Park Bay, Dunluce Castle, Bushmills, Portrush etc. However, keep in mind there are only around 6 buses a day between 11am and 5pm. Deducting the time you actually have to spend at the attraction, you can only see 3 to 4 attractions at most. Saturdays and Sundays are worse as there are only 3 – 4 buses for the whole day. Also Bus Rambler is only available between May and September.
P.S. All the information above is based on my checks on their websites on 16 Aug 2016.