Driving in Ireland is simple and easy and it’s the best way to get around. We travelled to Ireland for a 4-day road trip and can’t wait to get back and do it again. But if you haven’t driven in Ireland before, then you’ll need to continue to read these tips on driving in Ireland for the first time.
We break it down, by answering the many questions that you may have, but also provide you with useful tips on how-to drive-in Ireland for the first time.
As you know, Ireland is split between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland, is part of the United Kingdom (UK), while the Republic of Ireland is an independent country within Europe. We will be providing tips on driving in the Republic of Ireland. If you are planning a trip to Northern Ireland, you can read our tips on driving in the UK.
What side of the road do they drive on in Ireland?
Vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road. If you are travelling on a dual carriage way or motor way with more than one lane, always stay in the left-hand lane, unless overtaking.
From our experience, most Irish drivers are patient, this will put you at ease and will make you feel more comfortable to drive.
Can you hire a vehicle or bring your own vehicle?
If possible, you could bring your own vehicle, there are ferry services from the UK to Dublin in Ireland and there’s no specified procedure to be carried out before you arrive. We would only recommend you take some proof that you own the vehicle, such as the vehicle registration document.
Alternatively, you can hire a vehicle for the period of time you are in Ireland. It will be more expensive compared to driving your own vehicle. It will cost you about €250.00 a week just for a small hire vehicle.
The main hire companies in Ireland are:
We hired our vehicle from Sixt, which we would recommend and would consider using again. They were the cheapest company to use and provided us with a good service. You can read our review on Sixt Car Hire.
Check each company’s terms and conditions, as some may have an age restriction on them, such as, you can only be aged between 23-74 to hire a vehicle.
Can Tourist drive in Ireland
This may seem a bit of a silly question, but it has been asked. The simple answer is, yes tourists can drive in Ireland, providing they have a valid driving licence and follow the terms and conditions of the hire, especially check for any age restrictions.
Driving rule in Ireland
There’re road rules in Ireland that you should adhere too. These are to keep you and other road user’s safe. If you do not adhere to the rules, you could face a fine or penalty points on your licence. You can get details of the road rules from the local tourist office, but here are just some of the fundamental rules:
- As mentioned above, you must drive on the left. When overtaking, pass on the right-hand side.
- Seatbelts must be worn at all times by the driver and passengers.
- Children under the age of 12 aren’t allowed in the front seats.
- You must give way to the right on a roundabout and follow the roundabout in a clockwise direction
- Unless signposted otherwise, the speed limits in a built-up area such as a small village, town, or large city 50km/h, on local or regional roads 80km/h, national roads 100km/h and motorways 120km/h
Can you take your rental car from Ireland to Northern Ireland and vice versa?
If you are considering the option of a road trip from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland and returning, always check with the hire company if this is possible. It might just be a case of purchasing additional car insurance to cross the border.
Make sure you check before you book your holiday. If you don’t and it’s not possible to take the hire vehicle, then you’ll need to plan a new road trip or a different hire company.
If you are driving your own vehicle, make sure you have the right level of cover on your insurance policy.
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Do I need an international driver permit?
An EU (European Union) driving licence, will cover you to drive in Ireland. Non-EU licences, will require International Driver Permit. These can be obtained from your Automobile Association in your own country.
Want to know more about getting an International Driver Permit? Then check out our post on How to get an International Driver Permit.
Are vehicles manual or automatic?
You can hire both manual and automatic vehicles. However, the majority of vehicle’s are manual.
Automatic vehicles are usually more expensive to hire and to buy in Ireland. But if you have not driven a manual vehicle before, or your licence is an automatic licence, then you must hire an automatic vehicle.
Tips on driving in Ireland
So, we have covered some of the most common questions that get asked when it comes to driving in Ireland, but we have some valuable tips on driving in Ireland for the first time.
Checks to carry out on your vehicle
Bring your own vehicle, or hiring a vehicle? Before any long journey, you should always carry out some minor checks on your vehicle before you set out.
It’s a good idea to carry out the checks on your vehicle a couple of days before your trip, this gives you the chance to top it up, or any problems that you identify can be resolved prior to the journey.
By carrying out the relevant checks, it will keep your vehicle or the hire vehicle in a good condition.
Checks you should carry out and resolve.
- Radiator water
- Windscreen water
- Engine Oil
- All lights work including indicator lights
- Tyre tread
- Tyre pressure
If you notice any of these are low, top it up and keep an eye on it. If you notice over the days before your trip, you keep losing fluid or pressure, then take it to a garage to get it resolved.
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Taking your time while driving is not a crime, especially if you’re not familiar with the roads. We found that other drivers in Ireland were very patient and gave us the space which is unlike driving in the UK and some other countries.
In many of the large cities such as Dublin, parking could be limited and very expensive.
Park on the outskirts of the city and catch public transport.
When researching the parking facilities in Dublin, we became aware that it would be easier and more convenient to use the park and ride service, that takes us straight to the city centre via tram. Not only was the parking safe, but cheap. And we didn’t have to navigate the city streets, or spend hours looking for parking.
Don’t leave any of your valuable items on display in your vehicle. Whilst Ireland is a safe country to visit, thieves could target vehicles with valuables or belongings within a vehicle. To prevent this from happening, leave anything locked away in the boot of the car or glove compartment where it can’t be seen.
You must always factor in the cost of petrol and how often you’ll require to fill the tank up with fuel.
Most hire companies’ terms and conditions stipulate that the vehicle must be returned with a full tank. But some companies may offer you, for an additional premium to return the car without a full tank. It will come down to estimation, but you must factor in the refuelling of the vehicle and if it will be beneficial to pay the additional cost to return the vehicle with a full tank or not.
If you are not using half as much fuel, or it won’t cost that much to refuel it compared to the additional premium then don’t add it.
In our experience, we hired a Renault Clio for a 4-day road trip and we didn’t even use half a tank. The additional premium to return the vehicle back to the hire company without a full tank cost €70.00. So, in this case, it wouldn’t be worth the additional, as refuelling would have cost half the price.
Research is key!
Take into account how much it will cost to hire a vehicle and include this into your budget. Shop around for the best deal and what options are best suited to your needs before you make any purchasing and is it within your budget.
Be as flexible as you can with your travel dates to pick up the cheapest hire deal.
It’s a legal requirement that a vehicle is insured on the road.
All hire companies will offer you insurance with the hire, but if you are taking your own vehicle, you will need to make sure it has the basic level of cover, or international insurance.
Most insurance companies will offer European cover, which covers the vehicle at the lowest and legal level.
Check with your insurance provider before travelling, to ensure it is already on there, or to pay an additional premium to include it.
Maps and Satnavs
We would highly recommend having a Satnav in your vehicle or hire vehicle. It will help you to navigate the unfamiliar Irish roads. But you must have a road map as a backup.
If the Satnav battery dies, or loses signal in the middle of nowhere, you can use the map to help you navigate to your next destination until the Satnav can be charged or gets signal.
You’ll now have a good understanding of how-to drive-in Ireland with these helpful tips and hacks. We hope that you find driving in Ireland easy and without an issue just as we did. We can’t wait to get back to Ireland for another road trip, where we will definitely hire a vehicle again.
Have you driven in Ireland? How was your experience? Would you drive in Ireland again? Let us know, with a comment below.
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