Car rental Cork
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Why rent a car in Cork?
A cozy city with a proud and hospitable spirit, Cork is a great place to explore. Whether you’re looking for history, Irish culture, or a fun night out, this place has something for everyone. The freedom of your own wheels will let you go on long trips to explore the rest of southern Ireland.
Top ways to enter Cork
- Cork Airport. Small, but growing, Cork Airport serves nearly 2.5 million travelers every year. The airport is served by 12 airlines, some of them low-cost carriers, and is located just south of the city center.
- Kerry Airport. Located in the nearby Count Kerry in Southwest Ireland, Kerry Airport is served by Aer Lingus which offers a domestic connection to the capital, Dublin. It is also served by Ryanair that has flights to and from London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Alicante, and Faro. Kerry Airport is about a 90 minute drive west of Cork.
- Shannon Airport. A cozy airport that serves both Limerick and Galway, two of the largest Irish cities, Shannon Airport offers a number of air connections. There are flights to large European capitals, resorts in Italy and Spain, and even a number of cities on the East Coast of the U.S. Shannon Airport is located less than a two hour drive north of Cork.
Useful city facts
Cork has an oceanic climate with cool summers and mild winters, with the air temperature rarely going below 0 °C (32 °F) or above 25 °C (77 °F). The precipitation is high between October and January and evenly spread out throughout the rest of the year.
With a population of about 125 thousand within the city limits and another 80 thousand inhabitants in its larger urban area, Cork is the second most populous city in the Republic of Ireland and the largest city in the Irish province of Munster
Top destinations and activities
- Elizabeth Fort. The 17th century fort was built to protect the original settlement of Cork. Nowadays it is one of the most famous landmarks of Cork, offering impressive views of the city below. If you visit it on Sunday, you’ll also have a chance to visit the Elizabeth Fort Market Festival, a joyful event with performances and local crafts and foodstuffs on sale.
- Lewis Glucksman Gallery. An art gallery of the University College Cork and a unique building, it houses three levels of display spaces. You’ll find both permanent and rotating exhibits and shows that provide a good insight of the fascinating contemporary art of Ireland.
- The Lough Park. A protected refuge since 1881, the Lough Park is one of the nicest green areas of Cork. Despite its close proximity to the city center, the area is home to many birds and animals, as well as to nice hiking paths, and picnic spots on the coast of the park’s lake.
Traffic and parking tips
- Driving takes place on the left side of the road in the Republic of Ireland.
- Unless specifically indicated otherwise, the speed limits are 120 km/h (75 mph) for motorways, 100 km/h (62 mph) for national roads without motorway status, 80 km/h (50 mph) for local and regional roads, and 50 km/h (31 mph) for urban zones and built-up areas. Unlike in neighboring Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, the speed limits are indicated in kilometers per hour, not miles per hour.
- Most road signs are displayed in both English and Irish. However, in some Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) areas, the roads signs are only in Irish. This is important to keep in mind because some Irish city names are different than their English names - for example, the Irish name of Cork is Corcaigh.
- Locals can often refer to a location in the city as “by the river.” However, that can lead to some confusion as there are two large rivers and a number of quays in Cork. Getting a vehicle with a good satellite navigation system is a good idea, both for driving in Cork and in the nearby countryside.
- The legal alcohol limit is 0.05% for experienced drivers and 0.02% for novice drivers. Exceeding the limit can lead to large fines, an EU-wide licence ban, or even imprisonment.
- The proof of insurance and car registration needs to be in the car whenever you’re driving.
- If you’re the driver, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
- The emergency number, like elsewhere in the EU, is 112.
There are 11 toll roads in the Republic of Ireland. There are also two toll tunnels and two tolle bridges. One of the toll bridges is the Suir Bridge on the Cork-Rosslare Highway.
The payment for using any of the toll roads, bridges, or tunnels can be made with cash at the toll gate. The toll fees for some roads are payable with a credit card. For driving on the M50 road you can pay online. Some rental cars are also equipped with an electronic toll tag that will make the toll payment automatically. Some car rental providers might charge an additional fee for this service. Ask your car rental provider about it in advance.
For more information about the toll roads in the Republic of Ireland and for the toll road map, visit the Republic of Ireland’s official toll road website.
Ideas for a day-trip
- Kinsale. Located just a half-an-hour’s drive south of Cork by car, Kinsale is the seafood capital of Southern Ireland. With a truly impressive amount of restaurants per capita, it is the best place to try many delicacies from the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Even if you don’t like seafood, visit Kinsale anyway as it’s a joy to walk along its beaches or explore its forts and castles.
- Killarney National Park. One of the nicest national parks in Ireland, Killarney has everything from woodlands and hills to pristine lakes. Red deer, golden eagles, and many other types of wildlife live in the area, and you may even be lucky enough to spot some of them. The national park is about an hour’s drive west of Cork.
- West Cork. The green hills and fields of West Cork is how many tourists imagine Ireland to be like. Go on to explore its rugged peninsulas, relax on its beaches, then visit the churches and the restaurants of cozy little places like Skibbereen or Clonakilty. Bandon, perhaps West Cork’s most famous town, is just half-an-hour’s drive southwest of Cork.
Most popular rental types and cars
The most popular rental car in Cork is the Toyota Corolla, which is closely followed by the Ford Fiesta and the Toyota Avensis. The most popular rental car types in Cork are intermediate, economy, and standard.
Dublin. With its museums, castles, and cathedrals, Ireland’s capital is a world-class travel destination. Unlike many other large and modern cities of Europe, it still retains much of its original character. From Cork, it can be reached by car in only three hours.
Galway. A university city, Galway is a place with a truly fun and vibrant atmosphere. A place of countless events, festivals, and cultural performances, it has been rewarded by being named the European Capital of Culture in 2020 (a title it will share with Rijeka in Croatia). Galway is also an important hub of Irish language, which is still spoken as a first language in many of Galway’s nearby villages. Galway is about 196 km (122 mi) from Cork and can be reached in about two and a half hours.
Waterford. Ireland’s oldest city, Waterford is a dream for everyone who wants to learn more about the old Celtic culture and way of life. Visit its many museums, participate in local sports matches and cultural activities, or drive to explore the nearby Comeragh Mountains. Waterford is less than a two hour drive northeast of Cork.
How can I save money on my rental car?
Try these tricks to land a great car rental deal in Cork:
- Compare the rates of different rental car providers
- Book your rental car well in advance
- Plan your route before you go
- Know your fuel and mileage requirements
- Visit during the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting Cork is the cheapest in September when renting a car is about 42% cheaper than the yearly average and a whopping 78% than renting a car in May. Come visit Southern Ireland in early autumn!
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