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Surviving Driving in Ireland

I was reading "Surviving Driving in Ireland" by Rick Steves and I noticed that he wrote "When you're traveling with three or more, as we did in south Ireland, renting a car is the best way to experience Ireland's far-flung rural charms. " My husband and I (just the two of us) were hoping to experience Ireland far-flung rural charms, should we not rent a car? Are there other options?

Posted by
1894 posts

Public transportation is not as good in Ireland as in other European countries, especially as you want to see the far-flung charms. We always rent a car and have had great experiences getting off the beaten track. If you do this, recommend automatic versus stick though.

Posted by
9363 posts

I have rented a car on four trips now to Ireland, and I wouldn't do it any other way. Gail is right, though, if you are not currently a manual driver, getting an automatic will relieve one level of stress. You can then concentrate on "other side of the road" issues without adding shifting, too. By his "three or more" comment, I think RS was referring to the cost of transportation, nothing else. I have driven solo in Ireland twice with no problems.

Posted by
635 posts

Renting a car in Ireland is a no brainer, in my humble opinion.

Posted by
2639 posts

Yes, rent a car. It will be the best way to travel around Ireland.

Posted by
8700 posts

Ditto. Rent a car. One person drives and the other person navigates. If you're comfortable driving a car with manual transmission, you'll have no trouble doing so in Ireland. You'll have to operate the stick with your left hand, but the shifting pattern is the same as in the US.

Posted by
11798 posts

Driving would be my first choice for Ireland (bus would be my second choice).

Posted by
28 posts

Absolutely, rent a car! Highly recommend a manual if the driver is used to one--they are cheaper and more readily available. Also, I wouldn't do without a GPS. While getting lost can be a fun adventure, a GPS can be a real frustration preventer. Have fun!

Posted by
69 posts

I just returned from Ireland and found that driving there was much easier that I had expected. Yes, some of the back roads are very narrow, but we managed fine in our mini-van. The highways are very well marked (better than in the US) and easy to get back on course if you go the wrong way. I also agree that a GPS is a must. Our GPS was a major help.

Posted by
27 posts

We just returned from Ireland and highly recommend renting a car for traveling the country side. I drive a manual at home, so had no trouble driving one there. It doesn't take long to get used to driving on the other side of the road - just remember that like here, the driver is always in the middle of the road. Tourists seem to have the most trouble with traffic circles (there are a lot of them), but I think that's just because they aren't used to them at home either. I live in a town (DC) with lots of traffic circles, so had no trouble negotiating them in Ireland. The country roads are narrow, but much improved and wider than when I was there 30 years ago - actually wide enough to have a center line now! Due to cost, we did not rent a GPS for the trip, and never regreted it. We had no trouble at all navigating with just the map given to us by the rental company. If you plan to spend any time in Dublin, don't rent the car until you are leaving the city (or turn it in when you get there). Dublin is very walkable and also has good/easy public trans, so you wouldn't need the car there.

Posted by
4 posts

Get full insurance on your rental! If you have an ipad, the little blue ball will follow you everywhere, even if you are not hooked up to wifi. It works great!

Posted by
5 posts

Driving in Ireland is the best option but BEWARE. I come from a big city and driving across Ireland with a stick shift on the left hand side of the road was no simple task. It took me about 5 days to calm down and I wasn't even driving! It never feels safe. Just a tip, do not go over the Connor Pass into Dingle. The other route is safer and scenic and much preferred as we took it out of Dingle. When we crossed through the pass, it was raining, completely foggy and there were parts of it that were one lane only. We had to back up to allow another car to make its way around the steepest corner on the pass (keep in mind you're on very narrow roads up in the mountains). Driving seems to be the only good option, but I never, ever felt safe and we were in a mid sized car.

Posted by
934 posts

I have to disagree with Heather.I live in small town america and had never driven on the left side. I rented a stick shift and after the first hour had no problems whatsoever. Ireland is one place best visited by auto.
Also i thought the Connor pass was a very scenic drive and not particularly difficult.

Posted by
1894 posts

We drove over Conner Pass on the day we arrived in Shannon.We made the mistake of having manual transmission to save money. Next time we got automatic and it was much easier. That said we had no problem driving over the pass but we had a beautiful day, sun shining the whole time. It was a beautiful sight. You will always get different opinions here and everywhere, do what you think is best for you.

Posted by
175 posts

Hi Ann, I have lots of miles driving on the "wrong Side" of the road in Ireland. No dents so I guess it's not really that difficult. I would suggest that you purchase a green learners "L" placard that you place in the rear window of you vehicle to let the other drivers know that you are new to driving in Ireland. The country roads can be very narrow and other drivers that actually know the local roads can be impatient. Simply pull over when possible to allow them to pass. The folks give you some slack if you have the "L". Enjoy your trip. Susan

Posted by
9363 posts

Don't use a learner driver window cling or placard if you are planning to use the motorways. It's illegal for learner drivers to drive on the motorway.

Posted by
504 posts

Take a GPS, by all means, but have paper maps and know where you're going. Our GPS lead us astray more than once. Also, be aware that you may not be able to charge your GPS from the cigarette lighter. It's no fun to have the battery die somewhere on a back road.

Posted by
9110 posts

Why couldn't you use the lighter socket for the gps????

Posted by
9363 posts

I have never had a rental car that didn't have a regular 12v "cigarette ligher" socket in it. You should be able to charge a GPS just like you do at home.