THERE’S something special about travelling on a ferry, sitting back as you glide through the waves (when the weather’s good) has to be one of the most relaxing ways to travel.

I packed my car and headed north and made an overnight stop in Gwynedd to visit friends. It was just the start of fun-filled days visiting Dublin.

My trip began at Holyhead port. I made the journey to Dublin by car with Irish Ferries and returned with Stena Line.

I am a seasoned foot passenger, but when you take your car then you have the added advantage of not having to compromise when packing, which is especially handy when travelling with children.

Dogs, with a pet passport, are also welcome on both Irish Ferries and Stena Line ships, and lots of Irish hotels offer a warm welcome to four-legged friends.

While there is a decent choice of seating areas on Irish Ferries’ Ulysses ship, our party opted for the affordable luxury of Club Class where you can enjoy free refreshments or have a delicious meal with views of the sea. Stena Line also offer services along the same route, and have the same luxury in their Stena Plus lounge.

Travelling by ferry is certainly less chaotic than flying, with a sailing time from Holyhead to Dublin of three hours and 15mins, and there is also plenty to offer children as well as quiet corners where you can curl up with a book.

Both companies have comfortable cabins which are just what’s needed after a long drive. They also offer free wifi, which is ideal for the business traveller.

Once you see the unmistakable view of the Poolbeg Stacks, the red and white chimneys of a power station, you know you are almost at the emerald isle. A view treasured by Dubliners, they were once in danger, but following a public outcry they were saved.

You arrive in the heart of the city and drive past some of its famous views including O’Connell Bridge, the Samuel Beckett Bridge as you follow the River Liffey.

Having lived in Dublin for a number of years I could write a book about all its charm and hidden gems that are often missed by tourists.

Away the hustle and bustle of Dublin’s city centre you’ll find plenty of things to keep the family busy.

There are miles and miles of coastline to explore, and beautiful coastal villages like Howth and Malahide in the north of the city and Blackrock and Dún Laoghaire to the south.

Leaving the city, the town of Malahide has a castle that’s the perfect place to take in some history and do some exploring. Enjoy some tranquillity in the 22 acres that surround the garden, and children will love following the woodland fairy trail.

You can stop for coffee and some of the best cake in Ireland (even the locals say this) at the Avoca coffee shop.

The main attraction has to be the castle which was home to the Talbot family for more than 800 years. You can take a step back in time with a tour of the lavish family home and see the four main reception rooms and bedrooms.

Another stop by the sea is the fishing village of Howth, which has wonderful markets at the weekend and lots of places to eat – many serving freshly caught fish.

One of the best ways to discover Howth is on a walking tour. I enjoyed the entertaining tour by Shane’s Howth Hikes.

There is lots of hidden and surprising stories to find, from battles to myths, and Shane shares them in his own charismatic way.

If you get hungry then the historic Abbey Tavern in Howth is the perfect place to visit. It’s quintessentially Irish and you might even get to hear some live music or comedy from some of the country’s best acts.

I would recommend that you try the chowder - made with fish caught in the harbour.

Of course you have to take a trip into Dublin city and you are spoilt when it comes to eating options.

There are taste sensations to be found at Cleaver East by Oliver Dunne, and definitely opt for desserts and cocktails. Then there is food bursting with flavour at The Pig’s Ear. Both located in the heart of the city, I have already booked a return trip for dinner.

If you decide to bring your car to Dublin then you can opt to stay in one of the hotels outside the centre, many of which are located off the motorways and mean you can avoid the one way streets and bus lanes of the city centre.

However, there are some excellent options in the heart of the city like the Trinity City Hotel, who will park your car for you, alleviating you of that city driving stress. The sumptuous surroundings are just what you need after a day of exploring, and you are just a short walk away from the tourist hotspots of Temple Bar, O’Connell Street and Trinity College.

When visiting Dublin it’s worth looking for the less known attractions and finding some of the local spots. There you will still find that famous Irish welcome and plenty of the world-famous craic.

Find out more about ferry travel at or if you are planning a trip to Ireland and want more ideas visit

Find out more about the Trinity City Hotel at