The romanticized Irish road trip feels like something you should do when you visit Ireland, right? You want to wander around the Ring of Kerry. Driving the Wild Atlantic Way up to the Cliffs of Moher, seeing Ireland on your own terms sounds like a great idea.
Making this happen requires you to rent a car in Ireland though. This is unlike most experiences you might have had in Europe renting a car in the past.
Table of Contents
- 1 Car Rental in Ireland can be Tricky
- 2 Booking A Rental Car In Ireland
- 2.1 Rental Car Options
- 2.2 Rental Car Agreements
- 2.3 What Size Car Do You Rent In Ireland
- 2.4 Where will you pick up your car?
- 2.5 Diesel or Gasoline?
- 2.6 Extra Car Insurance When Renting A Car In Ireland
- 2.7 Get a GPS to drive in Ireland
- 3 Rules of driving in Ireland
- 4 Ireland (Dublin) Destination Guide
- 5 Don’t want to get a rental car?
- 6 Pin it and Start Planning Your Ireland Trip!
Car Rental in Ireland can be Tricky
Renting a car sounds easy enough. Book a rental car online at your favorite rental car company in Ireland and you’re done, right? Wrong.
Unlike most European nations, there is so much more to think about when booking a car through a rental company in Ireland, from international drivers license, car rental insurance and even the best car rental locations. .
Booking A Rental Car In Ireland
If you plan to drive, all trips to Ireland start with the Irish car rental search. First, you visit a site like TripAdvisor or RentalCars.com, and you are given a number of options through a variety of car rental companies, like Hertz, Enterprise, Europcar, Sixt, Avis and more.
Rental Car Options
- Manual or automatic
- Unlimited Miles
- Air conditioning
- GPS Navigation systems
- Baby seats
Rental Car Agreements
You find the car you think you want, grab the best price and start clicking through pages of agreements. Read those agreements very carefully. Additional fees and car insurance rules are in there.
The fine print is worth reading when you rent a car in Ireland.
Read the FAQs for the company you are getting your rental car, check for surcharges, make sure you are paying in USD (or your preferred currency) when you look at the price.
More Rental Agreement Questions
- Do they accept debit card payments or only credit cards?
- Are there any cancellation fees or a date you have to cancel by for a full refund?
- How much does it cost to add additional drivers?
- Do you need an international drivers license?
- What happens if you break down on the motorways in Ireland?
What Size Car Do You Rent In Ireland
This is a very important question to ask before you even book with rental agencies.
The size of the roads in Ireland are small, especially those tiny (gorgeous) ones you want to take across the Emerald Isle.
While we would all love a big SUV or even a van rental or luxury car, to comfortably road trip around Ireland, The Ring of Kerry is not a three-lane highway. You will be passing tour buses.
I was in a standard car (4-doors with a trunk) and I barely squeaked by some cars without having to pull in the side mirrors or pull off the side of the road.
In Ireland, bigger is not better when you are on a self-drive road trip through Ireland. Rent the smallest car you can safety fit into so you are comfortable driving on the roads.
Where will you pick up your car?
While the majority of people fly into Dublin or Shannon, you may want to book a car hire for part of your trip (someone else drives you), and then pick up a car in Cork, Dooley, Donegal, Galway or even up in Belfast.
If you are driving all over Ireland and don’t want to have to worry about getting back to the same airport you flew out of, think about pick up location and drop off location before you book. Also make sure your Ireland car rental company allows you to pick up and drop off in different locations.
Diesel or Gasoline?
While many Americans are familiar with gasoline for their cars, a lot of Europe runs on diesel because it is cheaper. Check out the price of fuel before you book a car to save a little money. Most rental cars are diesel, but some are gasoline.
And when you go to the pump, triple check what you are filling your car with- gas or diesel. I almost filled my diesel car with gasoline at a teeny tiny gas station somewhere in the middle or Ireland.
Thank goodness the gal at the register ran out to tell me I was using the wrong pump before I started. That would have been a hefty fine from the rental car agency.
Extra Car Insurance When Renting A Car In Ireland
Yes, buy the extra insurance when renting a car in Ireland. In fact, you have to have it. No rental car company in Ireland will let you take a car without additional coverage, usually requiring full coverage with a collision damage waiver (CDW).
Car Insurance through Your Credit Card
Call your credit card company. Chances are, they will not cover your rental in Ireland. Your personal auto insurance won’t either.
The Republic of Ireland is one of the few countries in the world that most credit cards and personal auto companies just won’t cover. Your travel insurance may not cover you either.
Car Insurance at the Airport
Do not wait until you get to the Dublin airport or Shannon Airport to buy insurance. This could cost you up to an additional 700 dollars (US).
3rd party Rental Car Insurance
However, call the insurance company BEFORE you buy to make sure they cover the Republic of Ireland. Not all insurance being offered will cover you in Ireland.
Triple Check Your Coverage
I bought insurance through the Irish rental car company and still called them when in Dublin just to double check I was covered. It never occurred to me that a company would sell me a policy that wouldn’t work in the destination I visiting.
If you find yourself in this situation, make sure to ask the insurance company for refund.
Get a GPS to drive in Ireland
We all love our Google Maps, but in Ireland, it isn’t always the best option. First of all, you will kill your data plan.
Save it for all of your social media uploads, and invest in a portable GPS for your trip.
Why get a GPS in Ireland?
The little lady in your GPS navigation system may even bring you down some tiny roads Google never would have shown you. I swear we went down more tractor roads than even the locals knew about because our GPS decided it was the fastest route.
Check for the best rental car prices on RentalCars.com
Rules of driving in Ireland
Every country has its own quirks when it comes to the rules of the road. Renting a car in Ireland and driving down the highways and local village roads is no different.
To confuse you even more, Northern Ireland has its own set of rules too.
- Drive on the left.
- Mind the speed limit!
- The left lane is the “slow lane” on the highway (pass on the right).
- There are roundabouts on the highways.
- Tour buses get the right of way. Always. If it is bigger than you, figure out how to pull over safely and just stay put until you can pass.
- Drive during the day; it’s dark out there!
- A tight white dashed line means it is a two way traffic street.
- Sheep have the right of way… especially when they are blocking the road. Have patience.
- Traffic cameras are everywhere. If your GPS tells you one is coming up, do not ignore it.
- Toll roads do exist. Have small change on hand whenever possible.
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Ireland (Dublin) Destination Guide
- Dublin Skylon Hotel: A family run hotel situated near many Dublin landmarks. Hotel features free Wi-Fi, paid parking, and a bar/lounge.
- The Mayson: Beautiful hotel with pool, free Wi-Fi, and bar/lounge.
- The Croke Park: An unforgettable experience. The Croke Park is nestled close to Dublin center and features conference facilities, free parking, and Wi-Fi.
Looking for more? Search for the best Dublin hotel on Booking.com.
Dublin Airbnbs and VRBO Rentals
- Superb 3 Bedroom: Sleeps 8 in 3 bedroom + 3 bath.
- City Centre Apartment: Sleeps 5 in 2 bedroom + 1 bath.
- Stunning Penthouse in the Heart of Dublin: Sleeps 4 in 2 bedroom + 2 bath.
Don’t want to get a rental car?
You can easily book day trips out of Dublin to see most of the highlights across the county. And heck, you may even meet a few friends. While we love a good road trip, sometimes you are short on time and a day tour is your best option to get the most out of your trip.