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To fully enjoy a relaxing holiday with your family in Ireland, you DO need a car. The easiest – and cheapest – way to do that is to rent a car.

In Ireland, buses and public transport are directed towards daily commuters rather than holiday-makers. And economical hotels are usually far from the city centres, which would make for a long walk to and from the bus stand – that can’t be easy or pleasant with a tired 5-year-old.

But how do you get a rental car in Ireland? 

Don’t worry; we will help you by breaking down the process and making it as easy as it gets.

This article will:

  • Give you an estimate of what it will cost you to rent a car
  • Break down all the steps for renting a car in Ireland
  • Make a list of all the things you would need before you can rent and drive your car
  • Give you a list of 5 incredible places you can visit on your rental car

Let’s get started!

Do you need a car in Ireland?

Do you need a car in Ireland?

If you don’t have a lot of time, you can book one of the bus tours in Ireland; it is not a bad way to quickly explore the country. However, having a car in Ireland gives you the liberty of being as imaginative as possible with your itinerary.

With a car, you wouldn’t have a timetable. You can go anywhere and stop anywhere at any time. 

You will truly see Ireland and experience the Irish culture.

How much does it cost to rent a car?

Below are the average car rental costs in Ireland in a nutshell.

DescriptionApprox. price ($ USD)
Rental price per day25 – 40
Gas per litre1.56
Administrative fee for your credit card insurance33.5
Credit card fee5.58
Tax rate on rental cars13.6%
TollsVaries from company to company ($1-3 if you pay by cash)
Additional featuresVaries by feature

Let’s explore these prices in detail.

Car rental price: Depending on your needs, renting a car would cost you somewhere between $25 – $40 per day. 

Four-door sedans are ideal for families and are usually around $30 a day.

It is recommended for families to get a car that has a trunk (not the tiny hatchbacks) so that they can keep the luggage in there and have more room.

Moreover, since your luggage is hidden away from thieves’ prying eyes, it can also save you from waking up to find your luggage missing.

Gas prices: Gas in Ireland costs €1.40 for a litre – that’s over $5.90 for each gallon. A gallon has over 3.78 litres.

Automatic cars are more expensive: Naturally, cars that come with an automatic transmission are a little more expensive than cars with a manual transmission.

You need to specify what kind of car you would need when you are booking your rental. However, if you haven’t driven a car with a manual transmission before, it probably wouldn’t be smart to start in Ireland.

Staying safe would be much more enjoyable for your experience than saving a few bucks only to end up hurting yourself in a road accident.

One-way rentals are more expensive: You will have to pay more if you pick up the car in one city and drop it off in a different city. It gives you the convenience of not having to spend a day or two returning the car to the place where you got it from.

This way, you can use all the days of your trip for one purpose: to explore Ireland in all its Irish glory.

But note that this additional fee varies from company to company. So, be sure to check different car rental websites before you make a reservation.

Tolls: Tolls paid by cash are usually $1-3 for passenger cars. Some car rental companies do not pay the M50 tolls, so you will have to pay them yourself IN CASH. 

The company will not reimburse the amount. Therefore, check with your rental agency to find out more about their toll payments policy.

Additional features (GPS & car safety seats): If you already own a device with GPS capabilities, it would be so much cheaper for you to bring the one you have and just get a SIM card in Ireland.

Child safety seats are available for children of different ages, but if the children are too big for them, they would be offered booster cushions instead.

Administrative fees: If you plan to use the insurance offered by your credit card, you will need to pay a one-time administrative fee of €30 (about $33.5).

Credit card fees: You will also be charged a fee of €5 for using your credit card. It is a cross-border handling fee that would be charged if you use a credit card registered in a bank outside of Ireland.

High tax on rentals: You will have to pay a tax on your rental car at a rate of 13.6%. This can be a little annoying, but it is just a small price to pay for freedom.

You will buy yourself freedom from timetables and schedules, and a stress-free vacation where you can explore Ireland the way you want to explore it!

What do you need to rent a car in Ireland?

What do you need to rent a car in Ireland?

Know where to rent a car 

There are several different websites you can visit for rental cars in Ireland. Some of them are:

Pick up your car 

The time taken to get your car varies from airport to airport. 

But if you are coming to Dublin or Shannon, you need to do the following:

  • Dublin Airport: book your car for 1 hour after you arrive. Then get to the airport around 4 hours before your departure. That’s because it will take some time to return your rental and get on the shuttle that takes you back to the airport.
  • Shannon Airport: book your car for almost 30 minutes after you arrive. Then reach the airport around 3 hours in advance of your return flight. That way, you can give the rental car back and catch the shuttle that will take you back to the international departures.

You don’t need an International Driver’s License

To rent and drive a car in Ireland; you only need to present your passport, your domestic driver’s license, and the credit card you used to make the reservation.

Reach the minimum age for renting a car 

While the youngest people allowed to drive in Ireland are 18-year-olds, rental car companies usually set their own rules that do not allow people younger than 21 to rent a car.

You may also need to pay an additional fee if you are under 24.

Get your rental car insurance 

It is wise to pre-book complete coverage for your car rental. It saves you money compared to paying for it on the spot. And it’ll keep you stress-free about getting into a minor accident.

Irish car rentals packages usually include Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). But this only entitles you to up to €1000 – 3000 in damages.

The amount mentioned above is blocked on your credit card until you return the car without any damage. 

However, the Collision Damage Waiver does not cover damage to the windshield, tries, or undercarriage damage.

Your credit card may cover your car rental’s road accidents, but you need to make sure that the coverage is valid in Ireland as well.

Know the speed limit on roads

Zone/RoadSpeed (kilometer/hour – km/h)
National Roads100 (62.1 miles/hour)
Regional Roads80 (49.7 miles/hour)
Urban Areas50 (31.1 miles/hour)
Special zones (schools etc.)30 (18.64 miles/hour)

Drive on the LEFT SIDE of the road 

You have to drive on the left side, while the driver’s seat is in the right of the car.

It might be advisable for you to adapt to the new environment by driving in a small town before you hit the highways. 

If you land in Dublin, there’s a town called “Swords” close to the Dublin Airport. Perhaps driving a little in Swords to get the hang of it would help acclimatise you to the new environment.

Know the emergency contact for accidents 

In Ireland, dial 112, the European Emergency Phone Number.

But if your car breaks down without hurting anyone, perhaps it would be better to call just your rental company’s emergency assistance number.

You can find this number in the details of the rental agreement.

That’s it for renting a car in Ireland!

Now that you know all you need to rent a car in Ireland, it’s time to plan your perfect vacation.

Let’s look at where to drive to.

5 incredible places to visit with a car in Ireland

5 incredible places to visit with a car in Ireland

Hit the road and explore the magical Irish vastness.

Drive through the single-track roads called boreens, reaching remote mountain passes, and take short, beautiful stops through gorgeous Irish villages.

We have got the best road trip destinations in Ireland just for you!

1. The Beara Peninsula

This is a great option for a summer trip. This 79-mile drive is short and takes around 3 hours, but you should set a whole day aside to really appreciate everything along the way.

You will pass through gorgeous villages, fairytale towns, coves, beaches, and the only cable car available in Ireland.

2. Ring of Kerry

This 112-mile-long trip is a tourist favourite. It offers stunning landscapes, cosy little villages, and bustling Irish towns.

You would need a couple of days to stop and take your time admiring the Irish culture and beauty. Find out where to stay in the Ring of Kerry right here

3. The Causeway Coast

Perhaps one of the most popular road trips for exploring Northern Ireland is the Causeway Coast. It stretches from Belfast to Derry and offers 130 miles of unparalleled Irish wonders.

If you decide to take this trip, you will need a couple of days to fully appreciate everything along the way, including the popular Giant’s Causeway.

4. Keem Bay to Leenane

This 70-mile road trip is best taken during summers because it has Ireland’s best beach: the Keem Bay!

Stretching from Keem Bay in Achill Island to the beautiful Leenane, this drive is filled with magical views guaranteed to fill your heart with awe and joy.

To make the fullest of this trip, make sure to set a day aside and spend time in Galway or Mayo (or both).

5. Gleencree to Sally Gap and then Glendalough

This last entry on our list is one of the most popular drives through Ireland. It starts in Bray, or even in Enniskerry, but regardless of the starting point, you will come across Wicklow’s Old Military Road, which would take you through the gorgeous Wicklow Mountains.   

Once you get to the Sally Gap crossroads, you can go either south, west, or east.

But whatever you choose, one thing’s for sure – the magnificence of the Irish pastures and mountains would leave you awestruck.

Wrapping up

You are now equipped with all things you need for a perfect holiday in Ireland: information on how to rent a car, what it will cost you, and the best spot you can go to with the car!

But to fully enjoy your vacation, you need to move around a lot. This would mean changing hotels often, which could be overwhelming and annoying.

Moreover, finding the right hotel for you can be very tricky. 

You would have to go through many reviews, and yet something could go wrong at the last minute. 

That’s why you need something more trustworthy than mainstream hotels to take care of you and your family after a long day.

Enter Relax Ireland, every traveler’s paradise.

Each of the 500 self-catering homes, in over 12 counties listed on Relax Ireland has been carefully vetted to set your mind at ease. There’s a dedicated support team based in Ireland to help resolve any problems or answer any queries that you might have.

You even get a personal advisor to help you figure out what places to visit and how to make the most of your stay.

When you book with Relax Ireland, you get something that no hotel can offer you: a home.

So, what are you waiting for? Rent yourself a car, book homes throughout Ireland with Relax Ireland, and set out on the adventure of a lifetime!