After years of travelling back and forth between Ireland, the UK and France, I’ve tried out many booking websites to find the best travel deals. I’ve travelled with the national airlines and train companies, crossed the sea on the regional ferries and hit the road with the local bus companies.
So here is a collection of trusted websites that I’ve used and keep going back to when planning my next adventures.
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- Skyscanner: When it comes to comparison sites, Skyscanner is probably the best one to dig out flight deals. What I like the most about this search engine is the option to look for flights landing in nearby airports you would not have thought about in the first place. It is very handy when you want to go to destinations which are more complicated to get to.
- Aer Lingus: When I fly in or out of Ireland, Aer Lingus is always my first choice. The former national Irish airline, now completely privatised, has never let me down. You can fly to Ireland with Aer Lingus from several cities in the US and most European capitals. Aer Lingus offers affordable fares (if you buy early) and great customer service.
- EasyJet: Because they can be unpredictable and their customer service is sometimes non existent, low-cost airlines aren’t my favourite means of transportation. I did travel with EasyJet in the past though, and I have to say, I couldn’t complain about anything. Serving several Scottish cities, the low-cost airline is worth considering if you’re planning a trip to the Highlands.
- Irish Rail: If you decide to travel by train around Ireland, you have no other option but to go with Irish Rail. They are the national train company and tickets are only available to buy from them, either on their website or at the train station. Pro tip: buy early and online, you’ll get the best deal as tickets can be double the online price if you decide to get your ticket at the last minute at the station.
- SNCF: If you are travelling to France, and especially to Brittany, the national train company here is called SNCF. Don’t buy your train ticket from anyone else. Buying early here again can save you quite a bit of money as travelling by train in France is getting more and more expensive every year. It is however the most convenient and comfortable way to reach the Breton region from Paris, with plenty of departures scheduled during the day.
- Rail Europe: The UK has a pretty good and quite dense railway network, a great way to travel around the country if you don’t feel like driving. You can buy your ticket at the train station but also online with Rail Europe. It is a handy website where you can buy tickets from all the different train companies operating in the country. Rail Europe also offers flexible travel passes that could help you save money on transportation.
- Brittany Ferries: Travelling by ferry is always an adventure, especially if the journey takes the entire night. Brittany Ferries has night crossings scheduled between Cork in South-west Ireland and Roscoff in Brittany, an option worth considering if you are thinking of taking your car with you. You can also get from Cherbourg in France to Rosslare in Southeast Ireland with Brittany Ferries.
- Irish Ferries: You can reach Dublin from Cherbourg with Irish Ferries. The company also operates 2 routes between Ireland and Wales. Travelling between Dublin and Holyhead, you can then catch a train to continue your journey with special sail & rail fares available on their website.
- Stena Lines: Stena Lines also operates between Cherbourg and Rosslare and between Dublin and Holyhead. More interestingly, the company has a ferry operating between Belfast and Cairnryan, a handy option for those planning a road trip across Ireland and Scotland.
- Bus Éireann: In Ireland, Bus Éireann is the national bus company. It has the densest network of bus routes and therefore its website should be your first port of call when looking to travel around Ireland by bus. But keep in mind that other smaller bus companies also serve the main cities and they can be cheaper. So compare prices when you can.
- Dublin Coach: This lesser known bus company in Ireland is exactly what I was talking about just above. For instance, Dublin Coach offers cheaper fares and a shorter journey time from Dublin to Belfast than Bus Éireann. Check their website for other available destinations, it might be worth it.
- AirCoach: The travel company is well known in Dubin for its reliable shuttle bus service to the airport. But AirCoach also conveniently connects Dublin airport to Cork, Galway and Belfast so you don’t have to switch between buses if you are heading in those directions.
- Argus Car Hire: there are so many car rental companies out there that I like to start my search with a good comparison website like this one. It helps weed out the dodgy companies and the overly expensive ones.
- Avis: Not necessarily the cheaper car rental on the market, Avis is however a trusted name in the field. Going on a road trip to Brittany, I rented my car with them and everything went like a breeze from collecting the car to returning it.
- Booking.com: This is my go-to website for booking accommodation. Booking.com offers a flexible cancellation policy but also has a wide range of accommodation from youth hostels to five-star hotels. If you are planning to head off the beaten path, some remote B&Bs might not be available anywhere else but on booking.com.
- Hostelworld: Remember, youth hostels are not just for broke teenagers on a backpacking trip. Hostelworld offers a great selection of cheap accommodations (sometimes in unique locations) for people travelling on a budget in France, UK and Ireland. Bring your earplugs, just in case.
- Hotels.com: I routinely find great deals on Hotels.com. And because of their loyalty program, I like to go back and earn free nights for my next trip. I am definitely a fan.
- Plum Guide: If you are looking for the most remarkable homestays, you might want to give Plum Guide a try. Their website only features curated homes that have been meticulously vetted by the people at Plum.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link, I earn a little money at no extra cost to you.