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Car Rental & Driving in Ireland

Hello adventurers!

My husband and I will be traveling to Ireland for the 1st time in September 2023. We have never driven in a foreign country before. Considering our lack of experience and the vast difference driving in Ireland vs the States (where we live), my instinct is to limit our time driving ourselves. To have the experience we want, I feel it's necessary to rent a car for at least a few days.

My plan is to begin in Galway and drive to Dingle (Day 1), tour the Dingle Peninsula (Day 2), and return the car on Day 3. Please see my questions below:

  • How much time should I expect it to take when picking up the car? I will pre-book, we will need an automatic, and the plan is to
    pick up in Galway. My gut tells me I should schedule the car pick up for the day before we plan to set out for Dingle in case of

    • I'd like to return the car to the Kerry airport. Any reason I should re-consider returning the car to a different location? Should I account for the car drop-off taking longer than an hour?
    • We will take a train from here back to Dublin. I understand this may extend our travel time vs driving directly to Dublin, but I feel the train ride will offer us time to relax, etc. between cities and sights. Any reason I should reconsider this hybrid plan of self- driving and public transportation around Ireland?

I look forward to your responses and insights!

Posted by
6533 posts

Any reason I should reconsider this hybrid plan of self- driving and
public transportation around Ireland?

No, in my opinion a hybrid plan is often a very good idea.

Posted by
2872 posts

You can fly back to Dublin from Kerry airport on RyanAir- 2 flights per day fyi. Takes about an hour.

Posted by
1426 posts

Your plan looks good to me as does Robert's suggestion to fly. Really just depends on how much time you have and expense. And speaking of expense, the only reason not to return the car at Kerry Airport is whether there will be a significant drop off fee. But again, you need to weigh that against the time and expense of either returning it to the original location or somewhere else. Allowing an hour for pick up and drop off sounds like enough time.

Posted by
644 posts

I tried to create a plan similar to yours, but in the end, decided to drive back to Dublin from Dingle due to mostly the awkward flight times from Kerry (10:25am and 6pm). We could leave Dingle at a saner hour and be in Dublin hours before the afternoon flight. We'll break our drive up with a Cafe stop and the Rock of Dunamuse, and return the car to DUB (since the in-town checkin locations close early) and taxi into town. The dropoff fee was also non-trivial.

An alternative would be to turn in the car in Tralee and take the train. I think Enterprise might be your only car option for a Tralee dropoff. We couldn't go that way because they are closed on weekends.

As far as driving, I think your first hour/day is the hardest. Sitting on the wrong side of the car constantly reminds you of the need to do things differently. Also, the drive back to Dublin is mostly highways, which are the easiest part of driving in Ireland. You can probably even use Google's driving times without adjustment. Driving into Dublin city center might be something to avoid after only a few days of on-the-job training.

Posted by
2872 posts

I might suggest that you take a look at the Street View feature on Google Maps for the routes you'll be driving. It always helps me to have seen the sight picture from the driver's perspective before setting out for the day, and I find it especially helpful to have seen roundabouts, signage, etc. before tackling them at speed.