Ireland Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving In Ireland

Ireland drives on the left of the road in right hand drive cars, like UK. Roads are in good condition throughout Ireland, and the standard of cars and driving is generally good. Some minor roads may be in worse condition but 4WD should rarely be necessary. Some motorways are toll roads which don’t take credit cards so make sure you carry cash. Tolls are payable at two points in the Dublin area – M50 Ring Road between the N4 and N3 interchanges only and on the R131 East Link Bridge. In each case the toll is approximately 1 euro for cars, and more for larger vehicles. There are plans to extend tolls to other motorways in Ireland.

Police sometimes set up road blocks to check for drink drivers and penalties are severe so limit your intake of ‘the black stuff’! Parking can be difficult in towns and the length of time you can stay is often denoted by lines on the roads. Its worth spending time to locate a sign detailing parking rules or ask a local shopkeeper to avoid a ticket.

Many visitors from the USA drive in Ireland .The main concern is likely to be driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road if you’re from USA or Mainland Europe. The Irish drive on the left and the steering wheel is on the right of the car. The gear stick will be on your left. (If you prefer an automatic car, you’ll need to specify that when renting as the majority of cars in Ireland have manual transmission/ stick shift). As with Brits and Irish people driving abroad, you’ll find that you adapt pretty quickly. The main difference you’ll notice is that at roundabouts, you’ll give way to the right. Also at a red light, in the USA you can turn right at a red light. No similar rule exists in Ireland. Also on a multi lane road, you should only overtake to the right of the vehicle you’re passing. Generally once you’re out of City Centres, the driving should be fine. If you’re concerned about navigating out of the centre of Dublin ,Cork or Belfast, arrange to pick up the car on the outskirts, or failing that ask a cab driver if you can follow him to the edge of town. Most will oblige and you just pay them the appropriate fare. Driving times and distances within Ireland and Northern Ireland are as follows-

Belfast –Dublin ,170 km, estimated travel time 2 hrs

Belfast – Limerick ,365km , estimated travel time 4 hrs

Cork- Belfast , 422 km, estimated travel time 4.5 hrs

Dublin- Cork 255 km , estimated travel time 3 hrs

Dublin – Galway 210 km , estimated travel time 2.5 hrs

Rosslare – Cork 190km, estimated travel time 2.5 hrs

Sligo- Rosslare 360 km, estimated travel time 4hrs 15

Ireland Car Rental –
Sixt, Hertz, Europcar, Alamo, National, Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise , have branches in Ireland.Also usually features on Car rental broker sites such as Argus Car Hire and Web discount sites such as

This is a local company with branches across Ireland and Northern Ireland

This company in Southern Ireland seems to get good reviews on travel forums –

There are also numerous Irish broker sites dealing with all the big companies

This company rent campervans from both Belfast and Dublin


These companies are both based in Belfast –

Ireland Self Driving Rules –
All companies should allow cars to be driven in Northern Ireland and most will allow cars to be driven into mainland UK but one way rentals to UK are unlikely. You should tell the rental company if you intend to go to mainland UK as you may need to pay additional insurance cover.You can drive using an EU Photo licence but will need an International Driving Permit if your licence is from outside the EU.

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