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Traveling from Donegal to Belfast with no car

Traveling from Donegal to Belfast with no car

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Hello all!

I am a college student traveling to Ireland for spring break in just about a month!

Since I am too young to rent a car I am trying to plan other ways to travel.
The route from Dublin to Donegal seems pretty easy and straightforward, however, the route from Donegal to the Belfast area seems long and complicated with a lot of transfers.

I was wondering if someone could recommend the best way to get from the Donegal area to Belfast for someone who gets a bit anxious about so many bus transfers?

Thank you! I am so excited :)
Posted Thu 6 Feb 2020 3:49 PM
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Hi Anna, 

It's so exciting you'll be here for spring break so soon! I'd love to help you find an easy way to travel by bus between Donegal and Belfast. :)

Where in Donegal will you be travelling from? If you are in Letterkenny for example, you can take Bus Éireann line 32 from the bus station there towards Busáras, and you'll only have to switch services once at Ballygawley Park and Ride. There you can hop on Goldline Express bus 261a to Belfast Europa bus station, which will be your last stop.

If you are planning on travelling from somewhere else in Donegal, please let me know and I'll help you find the best route from there! :) 

What else do you have planned for your time here on the island? Are you thinking of going in a circle from Dublin to Galway, then to Donegal to Belfast and then travel back to Dublin? 
Posted Fri 7 Feb 2020 11:38 AM
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Melin,

Thank you so much for your help! I will look at those routes- 2 buses sounds much simpler than the ones I was seeing.

Still a bit unfamiliar with how locations work there, but according to Google maps we will be staying closer to Drimark and Cloghfin (near river Eske)? From there the place we are staying in Belfast is nearish the Titanic Museum actually~

As far as the rest of the trip, we land in Dublin and go straight to Donegal, then from there we go to Belfast for a few days, and then from there we will spend the last leg of the trip in Dublin!

Thank you again so much for your help :)
Posted Fri 7 Feb 2020 4:20 PM
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Hi Anna, 

From looking at the area you are in, my advice would be to start the journey in Donegal town. 

You can catch a bus from outside the Donegal Abbey Hotel, the bus you are looking for would be the 64 480 
That will bring you into Derry Londonderry Foyle Buscentre
from there catch the 212 or x212 ( The x is express so much faster ) 
This will bring you into the Europa bus station.
 It is possible to walk from here to the side of town where your accommodation is, but it is a good dander so if you have luggage you may want to hop on 1 last bus to take you to the Laganside Buscentre. 
There are loads of buses that link these stops, just look on the departure board in Europa to see when the next one is or ask at the kiosk.
From there it should be about a 5-10 minutes walk from your accommodation.

I do believe this is your most direct route and should take roughly 4hours 30 mins.

If you need anything else just let me know,
G.

Posted Sat 8 Feb 2020 10:53 AM
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Hi Anna,
I am so glad you are getting excited about your trip to Ireland.  You are most welcome!  Melin has told you about the Goldline Express bus to Belfast– the 261a.  However, I wonder if you have considered travelling by train. 

It would mean first going to Derry/Londonderry – famous as a walled city.  From there, trains run every hour to Belfast.  The stretch of line between Derry and Coleraine is particularly beautiful - hugging the coast, going through a tunnel under the iconic Mussenden Temple perched on the edge of the cliff, and then along the estuary of the River Bann to Coleraine.  From there the train goes inland to Belfast. 

However, if you had time on your trip.  It would be very easy in Coleraine to transfer to a 402 bus, which goes along the stunningly beautiful Causeway Coast (named after the famous Giant’s Causeway – worth seeing) to Ballycastle.  https://www.translink.co.uk/timetables  From there you could get a 131/217 bus to Ballymena, where you could pick up a train again to Belfast.

You needn’t worry about transferring between buses and trains because stops and stations are in the same place, and anyway, local people are always very happy to help.  I suppose it depends on how much luggage you intend to bring and on how much time you have available to spend in getting to Belfast.  So now you have another option to consider. :) 

I hope your plans come together easily and that you have a great trip.

Kind regards,

Mary.
Posted Sat 8 Feb 2020 11:22 AM
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Melin, Gordon, and others!

Thank you so much for your help! This information has been really insightful and I am feeling a bit better about the buses now.

My last question is related to bus fares. I have been on the Transportation For Ireland (TFI) website but am getting a bit confused by all of the ticket and card options. 
I was considering getting one of those visitor transportation leap cards (https://about.leapcard.ie/leap-visitor-card) but then it says it only works for cities in Dublin etc. 

So I was just curious what you all thought the best method was for fares- if it would be to get a fare care ahead of time or if it would be best to just purchase bus fare as needed? And if the later is better, is it fairly easy to purchase bus fare on the go?

Again, thank you all so much! I really appreciate you all :)
Posted Thu 13 Feb 2020 5:45 PM
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Hey Anna! 

Thank you for coming back! :) We're happy those details can help you!

The Leap Card is a good way to travel around and can be used on Bus Éireann roads. As you're also going to Dublin, you can definitely take it since it can also be used on DART and Luas. :) If you want, you can have info on Bus Fares on TFI Website.

Translink also gives you great details about Tickets and Travel Cards. You will find there a lot of info about travel cards! For example, if you are between 16 and 23 years old, you can apply for the yLink Card and enjoy 1/3 off on all buses and train roads inside Northern Ireland. Take a look and see which one of those cards would be best for your situation! 

It is easy to get tickets on the go for sure. You can buy tickets on the bus or at the stop! As for the Leap Card, you can get delivered to your home address in advance, or get it at the Dublin Airport when you arrive. It's totally up to you. For the Translink's cards, it takes usually 5 working days to arrive at your door. As you're coming in a month, there shouldn't be too many travellers on your road, so you may be able to take your tickets on the go. However, I would advise to take them in advance so you can avoid last-minute stress! :D 

Posted Fri 14 Feb 2020 4:02 AM
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