Hiring a Car in Ireland: Top Tips for a Smooth Ride on the Emerald Isle

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Ireland, the Emerald Isle, beckons with its lush landscapes, charming towns, and friendly locals. And what better way to experience this captivating country than by hiring a car or van and exploring at your own pace? While driving around the land of a hundred thousand welcomes may seem daunting, fear not! Our comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know, from choosing the right rental company to understanding insurance and finding the perfect vehicle for your Irish adventure.

Key Takeaways

  • Research and select a reliable car rental provider from highly-rated companies.

  • Consider pricing, location, and reputation when selecting a company for your journey in Ireland.

  • Understand the cost associated with renting a car in Ireland before deciding to explore at your own pace.

Navigating Car Rental Options in Ireland

Car rental options in Ireland

The first step to an enjoyable journey on the Emerald Isle is selecting the right rental company. With many options available, you need to choose a reliable provider. Highly-rated companies such as:

Various car rental companies, including many well-known international companies, offer a range of rental cars in Ireland. They are available at all of the main airports and cities.

Navigating the car rental landscape can be tricky, so it’s crucial to understand rental rates and choose the best option for your budget and needs.

Choosing a Trusted Rental Company

Selecting one of the best car rental companies is vital for an effortless journey on the Emerald Isle. Top-rated providers include:

  • Auto Europe

  • Sixt

  • Hertz

  • Europcar

  • Dan Dooley Car Rental (now part of Enterprise)

Studying your options will contribute to a hassle-free and enjoyable Irish car rental experience.

Understanding Rental Rates

Car rental rates in Ireland are influenced by factors such as:

  • The type of car

  • Rental duration

  • Season

  • Pick-up and drop-off locations

  • Additional products or services included in the rental

The taxation rate for car rentals in Ireland is 13.6%, and the average price ranges from €25 – €40 per day. When reserving economic rentals, be mindful of necessary supplements and older vehicles.

Knowledge of rental rates and fees will help you prevent unexpected costs and make the most out of your Ireland car rental budget.

Locations for Picking Up Your Rental Car

dublin, airport, terminal 2
Photo by CiaraCarroll on Pixabay

Picking up your rental car at major airports or transportation hubs offers convenience and easy access to many vehicles. The airport collection fee at Dublin Airport is €22, so plan accordingly when choosing your pick-up location. When deciding between airport or city pick-up/drop-off, consider parking fees and car rental facility availability. You might also think about how you will get there if this is not your main entry point ie airports are generally not in the centre of cities lol.

Careful planning lets you secure the best pick-up location for your Irish adventure.

Essential Requirements for Renting a Car

Before setting out on your journey, it is fundamental to understand the requirements for renting a car in Ireland. A valid driver’s license and meeting age restrictions are essential, as is understanding the role of credit cards in rentals.

Valid Driver’s License and Age Considerations

To rent a car in Ireland, you must possess:

  • A valid driver’s license from your home country, which should be complete, legitimate and bearing your photograph and signature

  • Drivers must be at least 21 years of age, although in some companies, this may be 25, and have held a valid driver’s license for 12 months or more

  • If your driver’s license is not in English, arrange for an authorised translation or obtain an international driver’s license.

Meeting these requirements will set the stage for a seamless rental experience.

The Role of Credit Cards in Rentals

Credit cards play a significant role in car rentals in Ireland, as they can be used to cover rental costs and provide additional insurance coverage and security deposits. Most companies won’t let you hire a car without one. The customary security deposit for car rentals in Ireland when using a credit card is up to €500; this is typically taken as a pre-approval from your card at pick up. It’s essential to check with your credit card provider to understand the precise terms and conditions of the coverage they offer for car rentals in Ireland.

Understanding the role of credit cards in rentals will help you prevent unforeseen expenses and guarantee a smooth rental process.

Understanding Car Rental Insurance in Ireland

Car rental insurance in Ireland can be confusing, but it’s essential to understand the different types of insurance available, including the mandatory Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and supplementary options.

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) Essentials

Most companies state that CDW insurance is mandatory when renting a car in Ireland, but this isn’t true. CDW generally covers your liability for damage to the rental car excess. CDW insurance encompasses approximately €1,000 – €3,000 worth of damage, but be aware that damage to tyres, the undercarriage, or the windshield may not be included.

Knowing the coverage provided by CDW insurance will ease the rental agreement process and allow for worry-free driving. YOu can also buy your own CDW, usually at a much-reduced cost, by searching for Collision damage waiver cover or Car rental insurance cover, which is what we recommend.

Supplementary Insurance Options

In addition to the “mandatory” CDW insurance, there are supplementary insurance options, such as:

  • Super CDW: an additional insurance option that further reduces your liability for rental car damage

  • Third-Party Liability Insurance: provides coverage for damage incurred to third-party property or persons in the event of an accident

  • Windscreen Protection Coverage: provides coverage for damage to the windscreen of the rental car

Investigating these additional insurance options can shield you from unforeseen costs and provide a stress-free driving experience in Ireland. However, again in our experience its worth looking at third parties for these additions.

Selecting the Right Vehicle for Irish Roads

road, countryside, winding road
Photo by hunt-er on Pixabay

Choosing the best vehicle for your Irish road trip will depend on factors such as transmission type and size. Opting for a compact car with a manual transmission can make navigating the narrow roads of Ireland a breeze while providing better fuel efficiency.

Manual vs. Automatic Transmission

Deciding between manual and automatic transmission for your rental car is an important consideration, as it can impact your rental cost and enjoyment, in our experience, driving a manual for the first time on a holiday if you are used to an auto is not a way forward, although may provide some funny post-trip stories. While manual transmission cars tend to be less expensive to rent, automatic transmission cars are now readily accessible in Ireland.

If you’re more at ease driving an automatic, consider the benefit of added convenience and comfort.

Size Matters: Compact Cars and Fuel Efficiency

Selecting a compact car is advantageous for enhanced fuel efficiency and simpler manoeuvrability on Ireland’s slender roads. The Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, and Fiat Punto are among the most fuel-efficient compact cars available for rent in Ireland. Generally, manual compact cars offer better fuel efficiency than their automatic counterparts.

However, remember that a compact here in Ireland is not what a compact is in many other countries, particularly in the US. I’m 6ft 4, and I can tell you that driving an Irish or European compact around Ireland is not a fun prospect since I was much younger and flexible. If you are taller or taking more than 2 people, I’d recommend going for nothing smaller than a VW Golf, Opel/Vauxhall Astra or Ford Focus at a minimum. The extra cost will be worth it in chiropractor fees later.

Selecting a compact car will allow for simpler navigation, conserve money on fuel costs, and lessen your environmental impact during your Irish road trip. But if you can afford a bigger, potentially more comfortable car, then go for it, as you’ll be spending a lot of time in it.

Practical Advice for Your Irish Road Trip

Practical advice for Irish road trip

Planning for an Irish road trip demands preparation and helpful advice. We will provide tips on handling toll roads and speed cameras, as well as using technology for navigation.

Navigating Toll Roads and Speed Cameras

There are 11 toll roads in Ireland, and the cost for cars is €2. Be prepared as you can pay with cash (no change given) or the toll booths now do accept credit cards (Visa Debit or Mastercard only). Adhere to the local speed limits and road signs to avoid fines. You should also check with your rental company about toll fees for the M50, the only toll road where it isn’t required to stop. This toll uses a number plate recognition system to take note of your registration number as you drive along. You can also pay for your M50 journeys at designated Payzone outlets across the country, or you can pay online right here https://etoll.ie/

Staying alert and following traffic rules will guarantee a safe and pleasant driving experience in Ireland.

Using Technology to Stay on Course

GPS devices and smartphone apps, such as Google Maps, are dependable for navigation in Ireland. For offline use, consider downloading maps or using apps like Google Maps or Apple Maps apps.

Using technology for navigation, you can concentrate on the scenic beauty of the Emerald Isle for a relaxed driving experience.

Beware that many companies will “offer” GPS options for your trip, usually at extra cost. We don’t feel that this is necessary as most modern cars come with Sat Nav, and mobile phones also have apps like Google Maps.

Extra Charges and How to Avoid Them

Unexpected charges can ruin your Irish road trip. In this section, we’ll discuss potential extra charges, such as cross-border travel fees and accessory charges, and how to avoid them.

Cross Border Travel and Associated Fees

Driving your rental car into Northern Ireland may incur additional fees. To avoid unexpected charges, check with your rental company for their cross-border policies and fees.

Staying aware of potential extra costs will aid in trip planning and sidestep any unwelcome surprises.

Child Seats and Other Accessory Charges

Additional accessories like child seats and GPS devices can incur extra costs, starting at approximately €6 ($6.80) daily. To avoid unnecessary charges, consider bringing your child seat or GPS device, or explore rental companies that provide these items for free or at a reduced cost.

By planning and considering potential accessory costs, you can manage your rental expenses and concentrate on your Irish adventure.

Making the Most of Your Rental Experience

To guarantee a seamless rental experience, inspect your car thoroughly before driving off and adhere to efficient pick-up and drop-off practices.

Inspecting Your Rental Car

Before driving away with your rental car, carefully examine it for any signs of:

  • scratches

  • dents

  • bumps

  • general wear and tear

Check both inside and out. Be sure to photograph, or better video, the car as evidence of its condition before you leave the rental company’s parking lot. By thoroughly inspecting your rental car, you can avoid disputes with the rental company and drive confidently. Id also recommend taking a picture of the mileage and fuel gauge both at the start and end, we’ve had companies try and charge us a lot of money for fuel after the rental. ON one occasion, we were charged £64 for 36 miles as the fuel gauge wasn’t on full when we returned the car.

Efficient Pick-Up and Drop-Off Practices

Following best practices for picking up and dropping off your rental car will help you avoid delays and additional charges. Ensure you have all necessary documents, such as your driver’s license and credit card, and adhere to the rental company’s policies and requirements.

Preparation and efficiency will result in a smooth pick-up and drop-off experience so you can concentrate on your Irish road trip. Also, if you have bought your own CDW/excess cover, make the desk aware of this clearly, as they have been known to use somewhat questionable tactics to get you to buy their insurance.

Exploring Ireland by Car: Is It Worth It?

Exploring Ireland by car
AI image of a classic car exploring Ireland

Renting a car in Ireland allows you to explore the island at your leisure, but you must balance the expenses with the convenience. This section will discuss the joy of discovering Ireland by car and whether it’s worth the investment.

Weighing Costs vs. Convenience

While renting a car in Ireland can be costly, the convenience and freedom it offers for exploring the country are unparalleled. Having your own vehicle allows you to create a unique itinerary, visit off-the-beaten-path destinations, and drive through the stunning countryside at your leisure.

Careful evaluation of the costs and benefits of car rental will help you determine if it’s the optimal choice for your Irish adventure.

The Joy of Discovering Ireland at Your Own Pace

There’s something genuinely magical about exploring Ireland by car, whether it’s driving along the dramatic coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way or meandering through the rolling hills of the countryside. With a rental car, you can:

  • Create your own unique journey

  • Visit charming towns

  • Explore Irelands ancient ruins

  • Experience breathtaking natural wonders

  • Travel at your own pace

Why not grab the opportunity to witness the unforgettable beauty of Ireland from your rental car?


So to finish up, renting a car in Ireland offers a unique and unforgettable way to explore the Emerald Isle. By choosing a trusted rental company, understanding rental rates and insurance options, selecting the right vehicle, and following practical advice, you can embark on an incredible journey through the enchanting landscapes and charming towns of Ireland. So go ahead, take the wheel, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is car hire so expensive in Dublin?

Due to the small size of the Irish car market and a global microchip shortage, car hire in Dublin is more expensive than other places.

What is the best site to rent cars in Ireland?

For the best car rental experience in Ireland, book with the Best Ireland Car Rental Companies for reliable service and great prices.

Can I rent a car in Ireland with a US driver’s license?

Yes, you can rent a car in Ireland with a US driver’s license, just make sure to bring your passport, credit card and driver’s license when doing so.

What is the mandatory insurance for car rentals in Ireland?

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance is mandatory when renting a car in Ireland, so make sure to include it when making your rental arrangements.

Are there additional fees for driving a rental car into Northern Ireland?

Yes, there are additional fees for driving a rental car into Northern Ireland, as some car rental companies impose such a fee.

About the author

Originally from Scotland, Colin now resides near the beautiful seaside town of Portstewart on the Causeway Coastal Route. By day he works in IT and by day off he spends much of his time travelling around the Island with his young family, writing about his experiences for many sites both locally and nationally.