Learn from my massive list of mistakes I made, as well as my list of triumphs from renting a car in Ireland.
You will want to rent a car
While it is not mandatory, a car rental in Ireland gives you the most flexibility to do and see Ireland intimately. You can just get up and go compared to spending all your time waiting on a bus that stops every 2 minutes. You can add spontaneity and adventure to your trip by allowing you to stop anywhere you wish. For me, this was only made available by having access to a rental car.
Under 25? Book with Dan-Dooley
I learned the hard way from this one… Rental agencies don’t rent to people under the age of 25 in Ireland. Except one: Dan-Dooley Car Rentals. As long as you’ve had a license for 2 years and are over age 21, they will rent you a car!
Buy All the Insurance
This one is a pretty good idea because dings and scratches happen frequently. The roads are super tiny and there are a lot of branches literally lining the road. Sometimes to avoid hitting one car you have to be scraping branches and bushes. Even if you’re super careful some jerk might just side swipe your car at the Cliffs of Moher and leave a huge scratch down the side. Also, they will dip out because they are jerks. I know this one from experience. It’s not fun, but it’s even less fun if you have to pay for it.
Do not book your car rental with RyanAir
RyanAir and I have a love/hate relationship. I love their cheap flights but I HATE their service. I especially hate their car hire service. For my recent trip, I booked my car hire service through RyanAir. I input my birthday (twice) and prepaid for my car. I even went as far as to read the small print on the page. You’d think you’d be good to go to pick up a car, right? Wrong. I arrived there pretty late and night and they refused to rent me a car due to my age. Even though I input my birthday twice. There was nothing they could or would do. I was out the money.
The roads are extremely narrow and curvy
If you’ve driven in England on the back roads you’ll know they are extremely narrow. Ireland is even worse. These roads barely have room for two cars to fit, much less barrel towards each other going close to the speed limit. These things are SO NARROW. I reiterate, get insurance!
Pick Up/ Drop off within an hour of each other
If you can time it right, do this! Pick your car up at 8pm and drop it off at 7 pm and not incur any ‘Additional Days’ or ‘Partial Days’ fees for having your car an extra half day.
If you’re under 21, you cannot rent a car at all.
Sorry guys, not even Dan-Dooley will be able to help you here 🙁
Automatics cost far more
If you don’t know how to drive manual, it’s probably a good idea to learn prior to going to Ireland. You can increase the price by hundreds of dollars by getting an automatic car. Most Europeans drive manual so automatics are more few and far between.
Car rentals will place a ‘hold’ on your credit card
Car rentals have to know they’ll get money from you if you wreck their precious car somehow, so they put a $3000 hold on your credit card through the whole trip. When you come to rent your car, the credit card MUST be in the name of the driver. No, you can’t use a debit card, check, or any other kind of payment method.
Cars are super small
If you’re planning on bringing 4 suitcases for yourself, think again. Irish cars are pretty small. If you get a Kia or something similar you can maybe fit one big suitcase in the back if all the seats are filled. You may want to upgrade to a SUV or something similar. Since the roads are so small, the cars also have to be.
I hope this helped you figure out everything you need to know for driving in Ireland! If you have any questions or feel the need to add something else, feel free to in the comments!