Last updated on November 24, 2023
I have planned a motorbike trip in Ireland – but what is the best way to get there? What routes are there to Ireland?
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From Germany, the following options are possible for the motorbike trip to Ireland:
- the direct ferry from France to Ireland with the motorbike or on the trailer.
- via the “land bridge”, i.e. via England or Scotland to Ireland – with motorbike or trailer.
- by plane to Dublin – in combination with a motorbike rental on site.
Which of the options is best for your upcoming trip depends on:
A) Where you start from,
B) How many kilometres of motorway you want to travel,
C) Whether an overnight stay on the ferry is an option for you,
D) how much time you have,
E) and how much the journey may cost.
During the summer months we run a motorbike rental service in Ireland (www.easycruiser.tours). We also offer accommodation in nice guest rooms (www.the-view-accommodation.ie). I have used all the travel options myself several times and therefore know them very well.
Travelling via France and taking the overnight ferry to Ireland
If you live in southern Germany or come from the Alpine region, you can travel to Ireland via France.
Cherbourg Octeville is a small ferry port in Normandy. From there you can travel to Rosslare with Stena-Line or Brittany, or to Dublin with Irish Ferries. Alternatively, you can take Brittany from Roscoff in Brittany to Cork.
The sat nav may suggest a route via Paris. However, unless you are planning to visit Paris, I would advise against it, as Paris has the less charming traffic of a large metropolis.
We ourselves have often used the route via Metz-Reims-Amiens-LeHavre to Cherbourg and can recommend it with a clear conscience. The motorways in northern France are usually easy to drive, with traffic that is not too heavy.
However, you can quickly cover 1000 kilometres on the motorway – which you can share with two drivers, or you can spend the night somewhere along the route. In France, the motorway toll costs about 50 euros for a motorbike (one way) and about 80-90 euros for a trailer. This is no problem, neither with a trailer nor with a motorbike, but it is very tedious.
The ferries usually leave in the afternoon or early evening, travel for about 18-20 hours overnight and then land in the morning. By the time you get off the ferry and through customs, it’s quickly noon or early afternoon again.
If the weather is nice, the ferry ride can be a great experience. You can eat and drink in the on-board restaurant and take your coffee on deck and enjoy the sea.
If you have a sensitive stomach (like me), however, the fun will soon come to an end in rough seas. By the way, the Irish sea can get very rough. Even large ships can get quite a bit of movement. Eating is then out of the question for the time being, and possibly not sleeping either… So it’s up to you whether this is a good route for you.
This variant takes about 2-2.5 days until you arrive in Ireland – and the same again on the way back.
Travelling to Ireland via the “land bridge” (England or Scotland)
If travelling over the land bridge, you can cross the Channel into southern England, drive to Wales and take a ferry from Holyhead to Dublin, or from Fishguard or Pembroke to Rosslare.
On this route, the Eurotunnel can also be an interesting alternative to ferry travel. It takes little more than half an hour and you don’t have to worry about the weather at sea. However, the ferry ride from Wales to Ireland takes about 4-4.5 hours, and the sea can be quite “choppy” there.
Alternatively, you can take an overnight ferry from Rotterdam or Bruges to Hull in north-east England. This is a good option if you are coming from the west or north-west of Germany. From there, you can drive across the north of England to Fishguard in North Wales to cross over to Dublin.
A little-known but also very interesting alternative is to travel via southern Scotland. From Hull you go to Cairnryan and then take the P&O to Larne, or the Stena to Belfast. This is the shortest sea crossing between the two islands and the ferry journey to Larne takes just over two hours, including loading and unloading.
In the middle of the journey, you can see Scotland behind you from the deck and Northern Ireland ahead of you. If you’re planning a tour of the island of Ireland, you might as well start in Northern Ireland!
You will have to stay overnight at least once en route, either in England or on the overnight ferry. This means that the journey will take two full days – and back again.
Travelling by plane and renting a motorbike locally
Maybe you have a good airport near you with a good direct connection to Ireland? The flight takes about 2 hours, or a little bit more and then you are in Dublin. We like to fly Ryanair or Aerlingus and book well in advance and then we pay about 60-100 euros per flight.
There are three motorbike rental companies near Dublin, all located a bit outside the city: www.lemonrockbiketours.com, www.celticrider.ie (= motorental.ie) and www.easycruiser.tours.
Easycruiser.tours is our own motorbike rental company, but in order not to be self-promotional, I will also mention the competitors – you have the choice.
From Dublin airport, depending on the option and connection (taxi, long-distance bus or train), you have to calculate another 2.5-3 hours until you reach us. If you go to the airport early in the morning in Germany, you’ll be on your motorbike in Ireland in the afternoon – or you can stay overnight before you set off.
Of course, this costs you the motorbike rental, which you don’t pay with your own motorbike. But calculate alternatively 1000km or more overland, one or two overnight stays on the way, an overnight ferry or two short ferries, tolls in France, refuelling, tyres, …..
And then compare that with flying and renting – for me, I come to the conclusion that the flying option is cheaper until about 7-9 days of motorbike travel in Ireland, then it turns around. For a 14-day tour of Ireland, it’s cheaper to rent your own motorbike. But you don’t have to take my word for it, just work it out for your alternatives.
The second question is: How long will it take to get there and back? If I plan 10 days and subtract 2 times 2.5 = 5 days for arrival and departure, then there are only 5 days left for Ireland – that’s very tight!!!!
When should I book my ferry or flight to Ireland?
In spring and autumn it’s not so critical. You can book your ferry, flight and accommodation at relatively short notice.
If you want to go to Ireland in the summer months from the beginning of May to mid-September, I would recommend booking well in advance – the flight and ferry in any case, and the accommodation as well. Otherwise it can be full at short notice and unnecessarily expensive.
So, now I have listed a few nice alternatives for you to travel to your motorbike trip in Ireland.
I wish you happy thinking and planning and a fantastic trip!