Car rental Dublin
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Why rent a car in Dublin?
Dublin is a great city to explore by car. Large and diverse, yet cozy at the same time, it offers everything from traditional Irish culture to many attractions that characterize a modern metropolis. The distances in Ireland are small and the roads are in good shape, so the capital city also serves as a great base for the exploration of the rest of the country.
Top ways to enter Dublin
- Dublin Airport. By far the largest airport in Ireland and one of the fastest-growing in Europe, Dublin Airport serves more than 30 million travelers every year. The airport is located north of the city center.
- Knock Airport. Located in County Mayo and also known as Ireland West Airport, the small Knock Airport is only served by four airlines. However, it offers a number of flights to the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Italy. The airport is about a two and a half hours drive northwest of Dublin.
- Cork Airport. Serving Ireland’s second city, Cork Airport is also the second-busiest in the country. It serves not only Cork, but the rest of Southern Ireland and is about three hours drive from Dublin.
- Belfast International Airport. Although located in the neighboring Northern Ireland and therefore a part of the United Kingdom, Belfast Airport is just a two hours drive north along the coast. This airport serves more than six million travelers every year.
- Belfast City Airport. Another smaller airport serving the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast City George Best Airport (named so after the famous football player) is served by five different airlines.
Useful city facts
Dublin has a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The average daily temperature in July, the warmest month, is around 16 °C (60 °F), while the average temperature in January and February is 5 °C (40 °F). The sunniest months of the year in Dublin are May, June, and July.
Although only 555,000 people live within the city proper, more than 1.9 million people call the Greater Dublin region their home, meaning that nearly every second inhabitant of the Republic of Ireland lives in or around its capital city.
Top destinations and activities
- Phoenix Park. One of the largest urban parks in Europe and home to the Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park is a great place for a day outdoors. A herd of wild fallow deer inhabit the park. If you’re not lucky enough to see any, you might catch a glimpse of the U.S. ambassador or the president of Ireland, both of whom have their residences inside the park.
- Dublinia & The Viking World Museum. A heritage center, Dublinia is dedicated to the times when Scandinavian Vikings ruled Ireland. There are many interesting artifacts to observe, such as old weapons and national costumes, but the number one attraction of the place are the scenes of the Viking times reenacted by actors. You can even join one if you would like!
- The National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology. The history of the human habitation of Ireland is older than the Vikings and the Celts. In this unique museum, you can learn about the hunter-gatherer tribes who settled the island just after the last Ice Age, see the golden collars and ritual objects of the Bronze Age, and learn about the very first Irish kings who ruled more than 2000 years ago. And yes, there are exhibitions about Vikings, too.
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 the neighboring Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, the speed limits are indicated in kilometers, not miles, per hour.
- Finding a parking spot in downtown Dublin can be quite difficult. Short-term paid parking is available, but be careful not to keep your car parked longer than allowed - your vehicle can be “clamped” by the companies in charge of the parking areas and “unclamping” it can be quite expensive. A better idea, perhaps, is to park for a longer term at one of the multi-level car parks.
- On the other hand, there are plenty of available parking spaces outside the center of Dublin. Dublin is not too large, so parking near downtown and walking the rest of the way can be a good idea.
- 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 Dublin is Baile Atha Cliath.
- 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 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 toll bridges. Some of the toll roads are near Dublin.
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. 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 driving on the M50 road that is close to Dublin, you can only pay online. Your vehicle’s registration plate will be photographed when passing through the toll gate. The toll must be paid by 20:00 the following day.
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
- Dublin Falconry. Home to hawks, owls, falcons, and buzzards, Dublin Falconry is a conservation project for birds of prey native to the island. You have to book your visit in advance, but the experience is well worth the effort. The falconry is located in Luttrellstown, a small settlement that’s just 14 km (9 mi) from Dublin.
- Howth. A small coastal town just northeast of Dublin, Howth is a great place for observing ships and fishermen, as well as for sampling the local seafood in one of its many restaurants. If you’re up for something more active, go on a walk along its impressive cliffs or drive to the nearby mountains that can be seen from almost anywhere in town.
- Ireland's Eye. Located near Howth where you can park your rental car, Ireland’s Eye is an uninhabited island that can be reached by tour boat. It is home to many unique bird species, including cormorants and a small number of puffins. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get to spot one of the grey seals that often come to rest on the coast. If you ever grow tired of the high tempo of Dublin, this island truly is the best place to unwind.
Most popular rental types and cars
The most popular rental car in Dublin is the Ford Ka, although travelers also like the VW Up and the Renault Clio. The most popular rental car types are mini, economy, and compact.
- Cork. The second largest city of Ireland is a cozy place that can feel more authentic than Dublin. Known for its impressive fort and many churches, as well as for keeping many Irish traditions alive, it also serves as a great base for exploring the rest of Southern Ireland. Cork is about a three hour drive south of Dublin.
- Galway. As famous for its history and culture as it is for its friendly locals and fun nightlife, Galway leaves noone disappointed. 2020 is an especially great time for planning your trip there, as Galway will be the European Capital of Culture for the year. The city is about a two-and-a-half hours drive from Dublin with 210 km (130 mi) to cover.
- Belfast. Located in the neighboring Northern Ireland, Belfast is quickly regaining its good name and becoming one of the most interesting cities in Europe. There’s already plenty of history, culture, and cuisine to enjoy there, and it is just a two hours drive north of Dublin. Do keep in mind, though, that you’ll be crossing a national border between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom (of which Northern Ireland is a part), so make sure in advance that your rental car provider permits it.
How can I save money on my rental car?
There are a number of things you can do to get a good rental car deal in Dublin. Start with:
- 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 Dublin is the cheapest in February when renting a car is about 57% cheaper than the yearly average and a whole 72% cheaper than renting a car in August.
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