Many people who visit Ireland opt for renting a car instead of relying on public transportation for the simple reason that having your own set of wheels will afford you much more flexibility and freedom. So many of Ireland’s most beautiful sights and charming towns are off the beaten path that being able to go exactly where you want, when you want to go, can make your holiday in Ireland that much more personal and enjoyable.
While renting a car in Ireland is not cheap, it is very easy to do. Most airports will have car rental (called “car hire” in Ireland) agencies located right in the terminal, which is certainly the ultimate in convenience if you plan to use a rental car for the duration of your stay in the country. The rental prices may be a bit higher if you are renting right at the airport, so if you have the time to shop around a bit you might want to look into whether there is a price difference if you pick up your car in the city after you arrive.
You will recognize many of the names of the car rental companies, some of which are known worldwide, but some may be new to you. In addition to the agencies you may be familiar with, also look for companies like Dan Dooley, Malone, Europcar and Irish Car Rentals. There are also companies from which you can rent a campervan for your trip to Ireland, if you plan to do any camping during your holiday.
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One important note for those of us who shrug off the insurance that rental agencies always try to sell us, because we know our credit cards will cover all of that – many car rental companies in Ireland will not accept the insurance your credit card offers you. So you might not want to be so cavalier about refusing the additional insurance – especially since you will be driving on the left-hand side of the road!
Here are some things to note when contemplating renting a car in Ireland:
- You must be between the ages of 25 and 75 (younger drivers will pay much more) and have a valid driver’s license to present at the time of rental.
- You will only need an International Driver’s License if the license from your home country is not already in English.
- If not returning the car to the point where you picked it up, you will pay a one-way fee (variable).
- Gas (called “petrol” in Ireland) is extremely expensive – the prices you will see listed are per liter, not gallon.
- Driving drunk is a bad idea – and you are considered legally drunk in Ireland after only one pint. So it is a better choice to walk to and from the pub.
- Consult a guidebook with good information about road signs and parking information, as both can be confusing – especially when you are already concentrating on driving on the left.
If you can afford the extra splurge, getting a car with a GPS navigation system built into it can be a really good idea. It will give you even more freedom to take turns down roads just because they look interesting, and without worrying how you will get back. Once you are done exploring, just plug in the address of your Ireland hotel and you are on your way! If you do not opt for GPS, be sure to get yourself a good driving map – either a new Michelin map (new because roads change!) or an Ordnance Survey Irish road atlas (spiral-bound, so it does not need to be folded) – and have an idea of where you are going before you start the car. Many Irish roads are small and twisty, making journeys incredibly picturesque but much slower than you might think based on the mileage covered.
Great rates on car rentals in Ireland