Car hire in Ireland
Hiring a car in Ireland
From unspoiled natural landscapes to the buzz of vibrant cities, Ireland has it all and everything in between. Visitors easily can flit between trendy bars and restaurants to exploring thousands of years of enchanting history and culture.
The country has many arrows in its quiver, boasting a rich tapestry of arts and culture, an impressive pedigree of literary giants and a passion music that is palpable. There are castles to see, miles and miles of coastline to enjoy and culinary mastery to savour.
Hiring a car will mean you can make the most of your trip to Ireland and will allow you to experience some of the best scenic drives in the world, including the Sally Gap in County Wicklow and the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in Cork.
What you need to know
When it comes to hiring a car in Ireland, you will be spoilt for choice. There are many quality companies - such as Hertz, Alamo, Avis and Budget - that can provide you with the right vehicle, and there are plenty of places you can choose to pick up your hire car.
You can choose to arrange your hire car once you reach Ireland or you can book in advance to get a better deal. Our booking tool can make things very simple for you by allowing you to input your travel dates and select the type of car you’re after.
There are no nasty surprises, like hidden fees or credit card charges, and we offer a free cancellation policy. There will always be someone on hand in case you run into any issues, as we have a 24/7 customer service line.
Where to pick up your car
There are four international airports in the Republic of Ireland - including Dublin Airport (DUB), Cork Airport (ORK), Shannon Airport (SNN), Knock Airport (NOC) - and five smaller domestic ones. You should have no problems picking your car up from the larger hubs, particularly if you’ve booked in advance. If you’re flying to one of the smaller airports, such as Kerry Airport (KIR) or Sligo (SXL), you may not have as much choice but will still be able to find a suitable car via our booking tool. The car rental desks are often in the arrivals hall and if not, they should be clearly signposted.
You also have the option of collecting your hire car from a train station if that is more convenient for you. Hire car companies offer services in several stations, including Dublin-Heuston, Killarney and Kilkenny. A representative meets you at the station or you take a short ride on a free shuttle bus, depending on the firm you choose.
“The pick-up was easy, it took 5 minutes from arriving at the desk to driving out the car, and the return took even less time.”
Where to go
Where you go once you arrive will largely depend on what type of holiday you’re after. If you’re looking for a city break, head to Dublin where you’ll find lively bars, delicious food, museums and galleries to peruse at your leisure. You can even tour the Guinness Storehouse and the Old Jameson Distillery and find out how the famoust stout is made.
If you’re looking to escape into the countryside and take in the spectacular views Ireland is littered with, why not drive to the Cliffs of Moher? This is one of the country’s most iconic sights, and when you’re standing on them looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, it’ll become clear why.
Want to relax? Head to one of the country's many beautiful beaches, like Mullaghmore Beach in Sligo or Dog’s Bay in Connemara. You can soak up the sun, swim in the sea or build sandcastles with the kids.
Whatever you choose to do during your stay in Ireland, hiring a car means you are free to make your trip your own.
Driving in Ireland
The speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour in built-up areas, 80 kilometres per hour on regional and local roads, 100 kilometres per hour on national roads, and 120 kilometers per hour on motorways. If you’re using satnav that shows you where any fixed speed cameras are you must deactivate this function, as using it is against the law.
Keep some change in your purse or wallet, as you have to pay a toll on some motorways and most do not accept credit or debit card.
Children under 12 years old, or less than 1.5 metres tall, must be in a suitable baby or booster seat.
Ireland is the perfect setting for long scenic drives on coastal roads, over lush green hills and alongside spectacular mountains. If you’re staying in Galway, you could make the journey through Clifden to Westport, which would take you through the rugged Connemara region. On your way, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the coast and the stunning Doolough Valley.
The Inishowen 100 - named after the number of miles you’ll cover - takes you around the coast of Ireland’s most northern point. Starting in Muff in County Donegal, you follow the coast to Moville before heading further north to the Malin Head. From here, you loop back down and finish your drive in the quaint village of Burnfoot. Your drive will be against a stunning backdrop and there are plenty of places you can stop at on the way for a bit to eat or to take photos.
Looking for something longer? The 179 kilometre Ring of Kerry might be the drive you’re looking for. You’ll pass a spectacular landscape that is steeped in local history and awash with beauty. There are several notable stops you can make along the way, like the historic Muckross House and gardens or Kenmare town, where you learn about traditional lace making.
Top attractions in Ireland
Ireland is an enchanting mix of legend, folklore and the buzz of urban life. It is brimming with things to see and do - hiring a car will mean you’re free to see everything that piques your interest.
The Dingle Peninsula
The Dingle Peninsula is full of perfect sandy beaches and crystal clear stretches of ocean. The village itself is full of charm and friendly welcomes. You can make your way down the winding streets, past a jumble of colourful shops and cafes, before hitting a local restaurant to tuck into the catch of the day.
RMS Titanic - built in Belfast in 1911 - stopped in Cobh before setting off to New York. The town has helped keep the history of the doomed ship alive by offering guided tours that reveal locations and incidents connected to the liner. The tour marries together the history of sailing ships, departing emigrants and military fleets, leaving a lasting impression on the visitors.
Crag Cave, which is one of the longest cave systems in Ireland, covers around 3.8 kilometres and is a wonderland of stalagmites and stalactites. Visitors can follow a path deep underground, passing cavernous chambers, as well as tiny caves. You will learn about the origins of the cave and the story of its discovery, before coming to the Kingdom Falconry. Here you can get up close and personal with a variety of birds of prey, including hawks, falcons and owls.