I’ve been in Dublin a while (okay, three months!), and as a result, I’ve been familiarising myself with the local transportation. (Forgive my British/Irish English spellings if you’re not used to it, I just don’t want to be THAT American when writing, you know?) It’s good to be able to navigate a city when you love it, or you’re just learning to. Here are a couple tips I would have for getting around Dublin – not just from UCD!
One of the first things I noticed that took me by surprise was the English and Gaelic around. After looking more into it, it’s only the west coast of Ireland that really uses Gaelic, but Gaelic is still one of the official languages of the Republic of Ireland. Don’t worry, this won’t be a history lesson! (Personally, I think it makes a pretty cool one. #historybuff ) As a result, you’ll be seeing street signs and bus stops with both the Gaelic and English name.
Arriving to Dublin, and getting to UCD, I took the AirCoach bus, which was super helpful. Comfortable seats, clean bathroom, storage for your luggage – it’s a long trip, but I really can’t complain. There are a few stops the bus makes along the way, but it’s a good way to get out from the airport for sure. (Cost is 10 euro round-trip.)
3. The Dublin Bus
I could go on about the buses around Dublin (there are several, many of them touristy or horse-and-carriage), but the Dublin Bus is the main, best way to get around. It might be a tad confusing, but it’s easier when look up the timetables/schedules online beforehand. They also have an app! Fortunately for me (worst sense of direction here!), many of the bus stops have the bus number and destination on a screen, and the amount of time expected on little screens at many of the stations. Without a Leap Card (London equivalent to Oyster card), one bus ride to anywhere costs 2.70 euro. However, 3-day visitor Leap cards are available! See the link above for details.
4. Maps, etc.
Knowing the city is very helpful. Newfangled inventions like Google Maps help for sure, but it’s also good to know what you’re getting into ahead of time. My sense of direction is very bad, so I need to know where I’m going and the general direction of where I’m headed. Or I take a more directionally-gifted friend with me, that always helps! The city centre is not too difficult to navigate, since it’s not a huge city (compared to NYC or Madrid), and you can walk almost everywhere. While there are some small roads that change names (very confusing!), having a map in hand, plus an Irish person nearby is all you need! For me, Irish people are SUPER warm and welcoming, always ready to help out if you need directions. You can ask anyone on the street – even Dublin Bus drivers are willing to help!
In other words… just go to Ireland! If your time is limited, I would highly encourage you to take a guided day trip tour outside Dublin (usually three locations for about 50 euro, available through several tour companies), even if you’re only around for two or three days. As much as I love Dublin, I feel that you only really sense Ireland once you go outside the city. It’s a BEAUTIFUL country and I don’t think you will regret it. I’ve been here three months, and I certainly don’t!