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Last updated : Nov 2009
Northern Ireland Getting There - International Travel
Northern Ireland International Travel - TravelPuppy.com

There are direct flights to Belfast from London’s Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted airports as well as other major regional UK airports.

Airlines that serve Northern Ireland from the UK include British Midland, British Airways, EasyJet and RyanAir.

From North America, Aer Lingus flys from Boston and New York to Shannon and Dublin. Other airlines operate services from the USA and Canada to Belfast via London, Glasgow and Manchester. There are also charter flights from Toronto to Belfast.

Belfast International Airport (BFS): Located 29km or 18 miles northwest of Belfast city centre. Airport information: telephone: (028) 9448 4848.

Departure tax: None


The facilities include ATMs, bureau de change, duty-free and general shops, a variety of catering facilities including an food court, bar and coffee shop, nursing mothers’ room, facilities for the disabled, children’s play area, and medical services.

There is also an executive lounge at the airport, which costs £6-12, depending on your carrier.



There is no direct rail link to Belfast International Airport, but trains run from Londonderry (Derry), Coleraine, Portrush, Ballymoney, Ballymena and Belfast to Antrim (10km or 6 miles away) from where a taxi can be hired, or a shuttle bus can be taken to the airport. There are eight services running daily from Monday to Friday. Trains to and from Dublin travel via Belfast Central Station, which has an Airbus stop. A rail timetable display is at the main exit from the terminal.


Airbus (Ulsterbus) runs to the city centre Monday-Saturday every 40 minutes and Sunday every 30-60 minutes (telephone: (028) 9066 6630). Airporter Derrydirect coaches (telephone: (028) 7126 9996) travel to the airport from Londonderry (Derry). Taxi: Travel time to city centre – about 25 minutes.


Taxis are available outside the main airport building. Fares are displayed at the exit from the terminal or available from the information desk.

Car hire

Avis, Budget, Europcar, Cosmo Thrifty, Dan Dooley, Hertz and National Car Rental can be found at the airport.

Private car

The M1 provides the link with Fermanagh and the west of the Province whilst forming part of the journey to and from Dublin and the east coast of Ireland. The M2 is the airport’s link with the centre of Belfast and to Londonderry (Derry), 116km or 72 miles to the northwest.

Car Parking

There is car parking for short and long stays. Access is from the M1 and M2 or by train to Antrim and then taxi.

The small Belfast City Airport (BHD) (telephone: (028) 9093 9093; web site: www.belfastcityairport.com) at Belfast Harbour is good for flights to most regional airports. Train and bus services run to the city centre.


In addition to ferry crossings, many ferry companies now offer high-speed services as well as state-of-the-art craft on many Irish Sea routes. Fares will vary by season and promotional offers are available.

Routes from Britain and France include:

From England:

Liverpool - Belfast (Northern Ireland, travel time 7 hours 30 minutes) Norse Merchant Ferries telephone: (028) 9077 9090).

Fleetwood–Larne (Northern Ireland, 8 hours) P&O Irish Sea

From the Isle of Man:

Douglas–Belfast (Northern Ireland, 2 hours 45 minutes)

Heysham - Belfast (4 hours) by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s Seacat.

From Scotland:

Cairnryan–Larne (Northern Ireland, 1 hour on fast ferries and 1 hour 45 minutes on conventional ferries)

Troon–Belfast (Northern Ireland, 2 hours 35 minutes)

Troon and Larne (4 hours)

Stranraer–Belfast (1 hour 45 minutes on fast ferries and 3 hours 15 minutes on conventional ferries)

From Wales:

Fishguard–Rosslare (1 hour 39 minutes on fast ferries and 3 hours 30 minutes on conventional ferries)

Pembroke–Rosslare (3 hours 45 minutes).

From France:

Irish Ferries operate at four direct ferry crossings a day between France and Ireland. The routes are:

Cherbourg–Rosslare (19 hours)

Roscoff–Rosslare (18 hours)


Northern Ireland’s only inhabited island is Rathlin, only a few kilometres off the north coast. There are passenger boats between Ballycastle and the island. At holiday times a sailing/regulation ticket is needed as well as a travel ticket. It is advisable to book a return journey before leaving home.


There are 4 main rail routes from Belfast Central Station:

North to Londonderry via Ballymena and Coleraine
Northeast to the port of Larne
East to Bangor along the shores of Belfast Lough
South to Dublin, in the Irish Republic, via Newry.

The Belfast– Dublin non-stop express takes about 2 hours. There are eight daily trains in both directions but only five on Sundays. The busiest times are holiday weekends and the first and last trains on Friday and Sunday, when it is best to reserve.


Freedom of Northern Ireland passes for unlimited travel on trains and buses (cost £12 for 1 day; £30 for 3 days and £45 for 7 days, to be used within eight days of purchase) and are available from the main Northern Ireland railway stations. For information on timetables, contact Translink for Northern Ireland Railways Information Centre, Central Station, East Bridge Street, Belfast BT1 3PB (telephone: (028) 9066 6630).



Northern Ireland has an excellent bus network and there are good bus links between those towns which are not served by rail. Translink operates both Citylink, with services in Belfast, and Ulsterbus, and is responsible for all other services in Northern Ireland.

Belfast has three main bus stations: Great Victoria Street, Laganside and Newtonabbey. Centrelink buses (service 100) offers links between Belfast’s principal rail and bus stations as well as the main shopping centres and the Waterfront Hall. Citybus operates over 60 different routes in and around the capital, and two express services between Glengormley and Newtonabbey and the centre, and eight nightlink services that depart from Donegal Square West, Friday - Saturday 01:00-02:00.

Ulsterbus operates a network of services across the rest of the country including some scenic routes as the Antrim Coaster (Belfast–Antrim Coast–Portrush–Coleraine), the Lakeland Express (Enniskillen–Belfast) and the Orchard Express (Belfast–Portadown–Armagh). For more information on any of these services, timetables or prices contact Translink (telephone: (028) 9066 6630).

Traffic regulations

Traffic drives on the left. The speed limit is 30mph or 48kph in towns and cities unless signs show 40mph or 64kph or 50mph or 80kph. On country roads the limit is 60mph or 96kph; on dual carriageways, trunk roads and motorways 70mph or 112kph unless signs show otherwise.


If the car is a rental, contact the rental company. Members of the continental equivalent of the Automobile Association (AA) (telephone: (0800) 887 766) can contact their 24-hour breakdown service. The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) (telephone: (0800) 828 282) provides a similar service. They can be contacted from their roadside phones or from any call box. Non-members should check the Yellow Pages for breakdown services.


Parking is allowed where there is a blue ‘P’ sign, which indicates a car park in towns or a lay-by at roadside outside towns. Drivers can park elsewhere on the street except when there is a single yellow line, when parking is allowed only at the times shown on the yellow signs nearby; or when there is a double yellow line which prohibits all parking. Control Zones, which are in town centres, are indicated by yellow signs ‘Control Zone. No Unattended Parking’. An unattended car in a Control Zone is treated as a security risk. Never park on zigzag markings close to pedestrian crossings. In some towns the centre may be sealed off at certain times, usually overnight. Alternative routes will be signposted.


At main stations, ports and Belfast Airport and can also be hired by telephone in larger towns and cities.

Car hire

The main firms – Hertza, Avis and Europcar - all operate in Northern Ireland and have desks at Belfast International Airport. There is also many smaller firms.
Useful travel links
AA route planner directions and maps within Northern Ireland