Public transport tips in Northern Ireland

Metro is responsible for bus services in the Belfast area while Ulsterbus provides bus and coach services throughout the rest of the province.

Public transport tips in Northern Ireland

Tourists visiting Belfast should download a copy of the brochure ‘See Belfast by Metro’ from the Translink website. This contains information on how to use the system to visit the city’s main tourist attractions.

Metro’s Main Arterial Services are Most Frequent

The most frequent Metro services are Metros 1 to 12 which run along Belfast’s main arterial corridors. Metro also operates a network of other services in Belfast with varying frequencies as well as ‘City Express’ which links the city centre with suburban areas of Newtownabbey via the M2 motorway.

Belfast Metro Bus System Divided into Three Fare Zones

The system is divided into three zones. These are inner zone, city zone and extended zone. At present the cash fare from the city centre to anywhere in the inner zone is £1.20, city zone £1.50 and extended zone £1.80.

Anyone intending to make a number of Metro journeys while visiting Belfast should purchase a smartlink multi-journey ticket. These look like credit cards and can be loaded with pre-paid journeys in many newsagents and other shops across the city.

The cost of a city zone journey when using a smartlink ticket is £1.10 as opposed to the cash price of £1.50.

Metro Service 600 links Belfast City Centre with George Best Belfast City Airport at Sydenham. The high frequency service departs from Europa Bus Centre and serves other bus stops in the vicinity of the City Hall.

Metro Timetables And Information Available From Kiosk in Donegal Square West

Metro timetables are available from the Metro kiosk in Donegal Square West. Bus inspectors are also present in this area which is the city centre departure point for a number of services.

Ulsterbus links Belfast with other towns and cities across Northern Ireland. These services depart from Europa Buscentre in Great Victoria Street and Laganside Buscentre at Donegal Quay. Citystopper suburban services to Lisburn depart from Upper Queen Street.

Ulsterbus’s high frequency Service 300 from the Europa Bus Centre links Belfast with Belfast International Airport at Aldergrove.

Ulsterbus also provides the hourly 109A service which links Belfast International Airport with Antrim and Lisburn.

Ulsterbus Goldline Services Connect Belfast With Towns and Cities Across Northern Ireland

Many Ulsterbus routes from Belfast are operated by its Goldline coaches. These services connect the city with many of Northern Ireland’s main tourist destinations such as Derry, Armagh, the Fermanagh Lakelands and the scenic North Coast.

Tourists wishing to visit the Ulster American Folk Park at Omagh can use Goldline to travel to the County Tyrone town.

Northern Ireland Railways Network Made Up of Three Lines

The NIR network is made up of three lines

Bangor to Portadown which serves suburban stations in North Down and South Belfast as well as Lisburn, Moira and Lurgan.
Belfast to Larne. These trains run northwards along the shores of Belfast Lough to Carrickfergus and Whitehead.
Belfast to Derry. This runs to the north west via Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine and Castlerock.
The Bangor to Portadown line is an ideal way to reach the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra. Passengers should alight at Cultra Halt.

Public transport tips

These trains all call at Belfast Central and Great Victoria Street Stations. The station at Great Victoria Street adjoins the Europa Buscentre. At peak times some services on the Bangor to Portadown line extend to Newry.

Some trains from Belfast to Larne extend to Larne Harbour which is the departure point for P and O Irish Sea ferry services to Cairnryan in Scotland.

A number of local trains on the Belfast to Derry line terminate at Ballymena. The line is also used by trains travelling from Belfast to the popular north coast resort of Portrush which leave the main line at Coleraine.

The Translink website includes a journey planner which allows people to find the most efficient way of reaching their destination using a combination of Metro, Ulsterbus and Northern Ireland Railways services.

Car Ferry Services to Northern Ireland

These operate from the south west of Scotland and north west of England to the ports of Larne and Belfast.

The routes are

Cairnryan to Larne operated by P and O Irish Sea
Fleetwood to Larne operated by Stena Line
Stranraer to Belfast operated by Stena Line
Liverpool to Belfast operated by Norfolk Line

In addition P and O Irish Sea operates a spring and summer service to Larne from Troon on the Firth of Clyde.

Ferries From Scotland to Northern Ireland Offer Shortest Crossing Times

Timetables show the Cairnryan to Larne, Troon to Larne and Stranraer to Belfast services offer the shortest crossing times.

The Cairnryan to Larne route is operated by the vessels ‘European Causeway’ and ‘European Highlander’ which take two hours to sail between the two ports.

Between March and October they are joined by the fast ferry ‘P and O Express’ which crosses from Troon to Larne in 110 minutes and from Cairnryan to Larne in 50 minutes.

Stena Line’s High Speed Ship (HSS) ‘Stena Voyager’ sails Stranraer to Belfast in 120 minutes while the conventional ferry ‘Stena Caledonia’ completes the crossing in 170 minutes.

Norfolk Line sails from Liverpool to Belfast

Public transport

Norfolk Line’s ships ‘Lagan Viking’ and ‘Mersey Viking’ take eight hours to travel between Liverpool and Belfast. Passengers can choose to make the crossing either during the day or overnight.

The Stena vessels ‘Pioneer’, ‘Leader’ and ‘Seafarer’ also take eight hours to travel between Fleetwood and Larne and offer passengers a choice of day and night sailings.

Online brochures show facilities on board all the ships include restaurants, lounges and bars.

In addition Stena offers the opportunity to upgrade to ‘Stena Plus’ on both the ‘HSS Voyager’ and ‘Stena Caledonia’.

This allows passengers to access a dedicated lounge where they can enjoy complimentary drinks and snacks.

Cabins Available on ferries Between Fleetwood and Larne and Liverpool and Belfast

Cabins are available on the Liverpool to Belfast and Fleetwood to Larne routes. It is compulsory to occupy a cabin on some Stena night sailings between Fleetwood and Larne.

Motorists can drive into Belfast from Larne in 30 minutes and the port is ideally situated for tourists planning to spend time on Northern Ireland’s scenic north coast as it lies at the start of the famous ‘Antrim Coast Road’.

The Stena and Norfolk Line terminals in Belfast are located at Fortwilliam on the north foreshore of Belfast Lough.

Disembarking passengers can join the southbound M2 motorway to travel into the city centre or the northbound lanes to travel towards Templepatrick and Antrim.

Motorists taking their cars to Northern Ireland can use the English motorway system to access ferry services from Liverpool and Fleetwood.

Ferries to Larne and Belfast Offer Motorists Shorter Crossings but Longer Drives

However, Cairnryan and Stranraer which are just six miles apart on the shores of Lough Ryan are approximately 120 miles from the northern end of the M6 at Carlisle.

They are also approximately 90 miles from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Motorists taking their cars to Belfast and looking for somewhere to stay can click here to read about one of the latest hotels to open in the city.

Travelers who would rather fly to Northern Ireland can click here for a detailed guide to airlines and the routes they operate to George Best Belfast City and Belfast International Airports.

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