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How To Travel Between Ireland and Scotland

Updated on April 18, 2012

Travel Between Scotland and Ireland

Ireland and Scotland are separated by a narrow channel of water known as the Irish sea. People have been making the journey between these two Celtic nations for hundreds of years. In fact the Scotii tribe from whom Scotland derives its name, originally came from Ireland.

Early travellers between the two countries traversed the narrow sea in traditional wooden boats with animal skins stretched across their frames. These boats, known as currachs, may not be practical these days but making the crossing from Ireland to Scotland by sea is still a popular means of travel.


Crossing Time
2 hours 15 minutes
1 hour
2 hours

Travel by Ferry

A great option for traveling from Ireland to Scotland or vice versa is to take one of the ferries which make regular sailings across the Irish Sea. The ferries have a range of facilities to keep passengers occupied during the crossings but when the weather is pleasant there's nothing better than standing on deck and admiring the view. Occasionally, porpoises and whales are spotted in the Irish Sea and it's well worth keeping an eye out for them.

The ferry terminals for sailing from Ireland to Scotland are located in Northern Ireland and you may have to travel a considerable distance to get there. You can make the trip to the ferry terminals either by rail or by road. Depending on your starting point, this may add several hours to your traveling time, but it does provide you with a great opportunity to see more of the beautiful Irish countryside. It is possible to buy combined travel tickets for bus and ferry or to obtain a rail and sail deal which makes travel even more convenient and cost effective.

The Scottish ferry terminals are both located in the south-west of the country. One is at Troon in Ayrshire and the other at Cairnryan in Dumfries and Galloway. Both of these ports have rail links to Glasgow which allow for onward travel throughout Scotland.

If you want to take your own car, it is easy to do so by ferry. All you need to do is buy your ticket, arrive in good time and drive on board. Then, when you reach your destination, you're all set to go. You can also hire a car from some of the leading rental companies to take from one country to the other, but there are significant additional costs for doing so. A better option would be to fly-drive and hire a car when you reach your destination.

Remember - within Ireland and the UK driving is on the left.

show route and directions
A markerbelfast -
Belfast, UK
get directions

B markerlarne -
Larne, UK
get directions

C markerTroon -
Troon, South Ayrshire, UK
get directions

D markercairnryan -
Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, UK
get directions

On Board the HSS Stena between Scotland and Ireland

Flying Between Ireland and Scotland

Certainly the fastest way to travel between Ireland and Scotland is by air, with flight times averaging 45 minutes. There are several daily flights between the two countries, with different departure and arrival airports to choose from. Low cost airlines offer some competitive deals but remember with the no-frill services you may have to pay additional costs for luggage, seat booking etc.

Flights connect Glasgow with Belfast or Derry in Northern Ireland or with Dublin and Shannon. There are also flights between Ediburgh and Belfast or Dublin. The airports are all well served by transport links and allow for easy onward travel.

Passport Requirements

If you are from the UK or Ireland, you can travel freely between the two countries under the common travel agreement made in 1921 when the Republic of Ireland gained independence. Nevertheless, it is advisable to carry some form of identification. Airlines will insist upon seeing either a passport or photographic driver's licence and you may be asked to produce identification at the ferry terminals.

Travelers from outside of the UK should be sure to carry their passport with them to avoid any problems.


Submit a Comment

  • alliemacb profile image

    alliemacb 6 years ago from Scotland

    Hi Horatio

    Thanks for the comments. The ferry crossing is pretty short. The trick is to get from the ferry terminals to where you want to go. Long drives to any major city, but fantastic scenery so worth it.

  • Horatio Plot profile image

    Horatio Plot 6 years ago from Bedfordshire, England.

    Interesting, useful Hub. Full of facts. I never knew the ferry crossing was so short.

  • profile image

    buddhaanalysis 6 years ago

    i like Ireland and UK.I suppose Ireland is still classic and UK have moved away from it's classic nature.I am not sure but i am talking about cultures of these two nations.

  • poowool5 profile image

    poowool5 6 years ago from here in my house

    Hi allmecb...great hub!! I am from England now living in US, so probably unlikely I will ever travel this route, but now I find that I would really like to, mainly to glimpse porpoises and whales, but also cos traveling by currach sounds awesome!

    Thanks for clearly explaining all the options. Well-written and explained. Voted up!

  • TFScientist profile image

    Rhys Baker 6 years ago from Peterborough, UK

    I never knew that a passport was not required to visit Ireland! Easy to read hub with good use of video. Voted up and useful.


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