I’ve covered the different ways of getting between Irish cities in previous blogs, but what about getting around Irish cities once you get there? It is definitely a different cultural experience.
Unlike most of the USA, the primary mode of transportation is walking, mass transit and taxis.
When I say walking; I mean walking!!! On some tour days I will walk close to 20K steps; a lot of steps for almost anyone (this is why we recommend that you bring comfortable and sturdy walking shoes), but you can probably get away with less, especially if you use mass transit and taxis. The graphic shows a typical tour week for me.
Of course when walking one needs to know where one is going. Depending on your destination and the size of the city, a free tourist map and some quick directions from the hotel or B&B are usually sufficient. For the more obscure, but still walkable destinations, Google maps is great! (Just remember to download the maps for the cities you will be visiting before leaving home or wifi.)
In towns and cities of any size you’ll find a “walking mall”. These are shops and restaurants that are even harder to reach by car, since cars are not allowed on the streets of the pedestrian malls. (For the handicapped, taxis will many times take a “handicapped” person to a restaurant or store on the pedestrian malls, but I have not seen private cars do this.)
Walking is the way to take in the Irish cities (and helps you “earn your pint”) but isn’t always practical depending on distance and weather. Fortunately there are a few options: taxis and mass transit. The public bus system is pretty good in Ireland and is available in cities of almost any size from a large city like Dublin to Galway with a population of only 80K. Dublin also has a light rail system called LUAS. (I’ve been told this means “speed” in Irish. 😉) Google maps will also give you bus and train options and the major stops have electronic posting of the next bus arrivals.
There are a few things to know when using buses. For instance exact change is required and electronic payment is available. You don’t need exact payment for each person in your party, just the total for your party; a little easier. If you are in Ireland for an extended stay, consider a LEAP Card to make electronic payments.
The buses are fairly priced (~€2.40 in Galway), but if there are 3 or more in your party, or a bus isn’t available, a taxi is a great option. Taxis are pervasive in the larger Irish cities, especially in the city center or tourist areas. The prices are reasonable. Remember you’re probably not going that far, so €8-15 is usually the price range for an inner city ride. It is definitely worth €10 not to walk 10 minutes in a pouring rain.
We use the MyTaxi app to hail a taxi when we don’t see any nearby, or when we want to pay by credit card. I’ve been told that Uber works in Ireland, but the drivers and cars are all taxis and have equivalent charges.
If you are going a longer distance in a taxi and mass transit doesn’t work, then a taxi livery fare may be available. I do this regularly when returning to Athenry from Galway (about 25km), the “metered fare” is between €40 and €50. When I go into the taxi office and ask for the livery fare, it’s a fixed €30. There’s a livery fare for most popular long distance destinations like Shannon airport from Galway. You can also ask a driver for a livery fare before you get in ... he may not take a livery fare, but it’s worth a try for the longer rides.
Some people have not had good experiences with taxis in other countries. I can say that I have only had good experiences in Ireland. Most of the time, the taxi driver rounds the fare down to the next Euro; a little different from the US. Additionally, taxi drivers do not expect tips, although I will usually round up from the meter when the driver has rounded down. I’ve only felt that a taxi took a longer route to increase the fare a few times, but each time it was debatable if it was necessary due to traffic. On the other hand, I have had taxis take a wrong turn or misunderstand our destination and just turn the meter off and charge a fair price. Customers first!
If you are in a more rural area, your Bed & Breakfast host can assist with finding a taxi, and many times when a taxi is not available, and the distance is relatively short, they will just give you a lift. This is especially true when you arrive by public transit into a small town and they will transfer you and your luggage to their B&B.
When choosing between walking/mass transit and driving to a local destination, keep in mind the local drink-driving laws. At 220 pounds, in the US I could have around 3 drinks over a two-hour period, and still be legal to drive. In Ireland, it appears that I can only have a glass of beer (1/2 pint).
As you can see, in Ireland there is a definite preference for walking and mass transit versus driving a personal car, especially in the city centers. Remember to pack a couple of pairs of comfortable shoes and maybe your trip to Ireland is the reason to (re-)start your walking program!!
See You in the Pub!!!
Jet Lag Jack