The greatest advantage to taking the ferry to Ireland? Arriving in your own car and having the open road just waiting for you. Pack what you want, travel at your own pace and plan your own route.
Ferry travel is independent travel and you are the master of your own holiday.
Visitors Marion and Robert know this first-hand from their car touring holiday around Ireland: “We were able to drive through places that otherwise a tourist would never get to see and experience this green miracle of an island.”, says Marion.
Step 1: Your port
First things first: where will you sail to?
Fancy an east coast odyssey? Set sail across the Irish Sea to Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Rosslare, Belfast, or Larne. You may well have heard about a certain ‘Giant’s Causeway’ and a swinging wooden rope bridge on Antrim’s coast. Ballycastle is the quickest way there.
Cork port is your doorway to the west and a direct line to the culinary capital that is Cork city. Think of the city’s English Market as a refuge for hungry travellers.
Step 2: Road trip
Once your ferry has deposited you and your chariot on the open road, you’ll get that tingle of excitement as you wonder what’s out there. Here are a few suggestions.
Arriving in Cork, you can travel along the Wild Atlantic Way all the way up to Donegal, returning home via Larne in County Antrim. The Wild Atlantic Way morphs into the equally recommended Causeway Coastal Route. So if you’re not in a rush home, this last detour before you catch your return ferry from Belfast is a definite must-do.
Arriving in Wexford or Dublin, perhaps? Skip west across to the lunar landscape of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. Or even start your trip just outside Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ports by heading south to the Sally Gap and Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland.
Marion and Robert certainly appreciated the views: “The scenery is ravishing. Ranging from small hills and the highest sea cliffs in Europe to lush green pastures, ancient gnarled trees and moss-grown stones that could have come straight from the Shire in Lord of the Rings.
“Given this landscape, it’s no wonder so many stories, legends and myths abound across this island. Oh, and don’t forget you can stop to admire the view any time you like…"
Step 3: Where the road takes you
Even the most independent of travellers need tips on where to go and what to see. When you stay at a B&B you don’t just get a bed: your host is a tour guide in disguise. B&Bs are everywhere in Ireland. Small towns, big cities, isolated countryside: you’re bound to come across one on your journey. Specialist B&Bs can help everyone from walkers, anglers and golfers to ancestry tracers to get the most out of their trips. And yes, the rumours you’ve heard are true: the B&B breakfast is as huge as it is delicious.
When hunger does strike, keep your eyes out for roadside farmers’ markets. Here you can assemble an artisan picnic of local cheeses, meats, pressed juices and freshly baked bread. If you find yourself at the seaside, ask for the catch of the day in any café or restaurant. Alternatively, grab a steaming bag of salty fish and chips and devour them while looking out to sea and thinking how Marion got it right when she said:
“If you want to relax, unwind and experience a different world, I can only recommend this wonderful island.”