Hiring a car can be a great way to explore a new country and get off the tourist trail. I've just returned from an amazing trip to Dublin and the Irish countryside. Car hire in Ireland was the most efficient way for us to make the most out of our five day trip. It meant we got to explore outside of Dublin and provided stress free travel to a countryside wedding.
Car hire in Ireland, and anywhere, can be intimidating for many travellers adding the prospect of driving on unfamiliar roads and planning ahead for parking and long journeys. But it can also give you the opportunity to explore off the beaten track and to really make the most of your travel time without relying on public transport or tours. I've hired cars all over the world including in Australia and Europe and have always had a seamless experience, so I was excited to hire a car in Ireland.
Should I hire a car in Ireland?
The answer is a resounding yes! It's the perfect way to explore the Emerald Isle and for anyone travelling form the UK, it's easy to drive over there as they're driving on the same side of the road. Even for those not used to driving on the opposite side of the road, the road systems around Dublin and out in the Irish countryside are easy to navigate. Just pop your phone on Apple Play and load Google Maps to guide you every step of the way.
One of the best things about hiring a car to explore Ireland is being able to walk and hike at your own pace. There are so many amazing places to visit in Ireland, but you'd struggle to access some of them without your own vehicle. The other amazing thing about car rental in Ireland is unlimited luggage space and not having to carry it everywhere you go!
Is car hire in Ireland expensive?
It's actually much more reasonable to rent a car in Ireland than you might imagine. We spent around £89.99 on hiring a car for five days, and then paid £27.37 for full coverage. You can save a lot of money on car hire by shopping around and using a car rental website like Discover Cars instead of booking direct, that way you can filter your search to ensure you're getting the best deal for you.
11 Top Tips for Car Rental in Ireland
1. Book your car hire in Ireland through Discover Cars
This was my first time using a booking website such as Discover Cars and not hiring my car direct from the company. I found it a really great way to compare across a number of different car hire companies to get the best price. It meant I could filter my best options by the different car rental suppliers, unlimited mileage and fuel policies to ensure that I wouldn't be stung by additional costs on collection or drop-off.
2. Bring your credit card, drivers license and pre-book insurance
Never show up to pick up a hire car in Ireland (or anywhere else!) without a credit card - it's also useful to have a second one as back-up if you're travelling with someone as not everywhere accepts all credit cards. You'll also need your driver's licence – always make sure it is within date before you book! When you're booking your hire car, always check to see what insurance is available to pre-book
3. Avoid unexpected fuel charges
When booking your hire car, always make sure to select Full-to-Full policies to avoid unexpectedly high fuel charges. It means you pick up the vehicle with a full tank and you return it that way. The cost of fuel is not based on your mileage or anything else. This can help you to avoid getting stung by unexpected charges when you return the car at the end of your trip.
4. Always select Unlimited Mileage for long journeys
This is one to watch out for when renting a car in Ireland (or anywhere else!). Always pay attention to the maximum allowed mileage to avoid getting stung by additional costs. If you're planning a long journey, it's best to choose unlimited mileage.
5. Remember additional costs for adding drivers
It's important to note that if you plan to have multiple drivers on a hire car, there is always an additional cost which can be around £10 or €10 per day. That can quickly add up if you're taking a longer trip so it's worth factoring in to the travel costs. Sometimes it can be a vital part of a trip to share the driving. However, it might take a car hire out of your budget, so it's worth knowing before you book. You can also have the option to just add a second driver on specific days, so if you know when you will need a second driver, this could be a way to cut back on extra costs.
6. Always take photos when you collect your vehicle
This one is super important as it helps to prove that the car is being returned in the same state you picked it up in. Before you leave the pick up location for your car rental in Ireland (or anywhere else) make sure to photograph the car from every angle. If there are any scratches or damage on the vehicle make sure you get evidence of these before you drive away. Then when you return the car to the depot, you'll have proof that the car was already like that. Car rental services can be ruthless when it comes to charges for the tiniest thing, so be sure to cover yourself and take precautions to avoid extra charges.
7. Book to pick up your car hire in Ireland at the airport terminal
This makes life so much easier when you're flying into Dublin Airport. Once you land, the last thing you want to do is be carted off to somewhere far away just to pick up your car hire in Ireland. So think ahead when you're booking and make sure you're booking to pick up your car rental from the airport terminal. Avoid shuttle buses if you can as they take longer. But if you're booking through Discover Cars look at Avis and other popular suppliers as many of these are located just a couple of minutes shuttle bus away.
8. Look for high-rated suppliers – 8.0 +
It's the same as anywhere – always check the ratings and reviews! This can save you a lot of hassle later on if you end up booking through an unreliable supplier. Research can take a few minutes and can completely transform your experience. Filter your search by the supplier ratings and it will provide you with the best options for car hire in Ireland.
9. Remember to book accommodation with parking
Don't forget to think beyond picking up your car! Where are you staying? Where do you plan on visiting during your stay? It's important to think ahead so you don't end up racking up parking charges. Look for accommodation with parking, especially if you're staying in Dublin for a night like we did as it will save you money and time looking for a parking space. Make sure you have coins and card for paying for parking during your trip, we experienced a mixture on our visit to Ireland.
10. Always allow extra time for car-drop off at the airport
One thing we noticed was that the traffic around Dublin and the airport was bad no matter what time we drove in/out. It's worth bearing in mind when planning your return to the airport to allow extra time for the car drop off at the depot, the shuttle bus and also fuelling up. We allowed extra time, but it still took longer than we expected and we arrived at the airport with just about enough time to spare.
11. Remember to fill up your fuel tank before dropping off a rental car
Super important! If you choose a "Full-To-Full" policy for your car hire in Ireland, be sure to fill up the tank on your way back to the airport. There's several petrol stations just minutes from the entrance to where you drop the cars off. Otherwise you could face additional charges to cover fuel costs.