To really see a bit of the countryside, you may need to consider driving a rental car in Ireland, especially if you want to get out of the city. Most of the city centers have really good public transport so we have been able to get to most major cities all over Ireland via train or bus, and then we tend to walk a lot too, so we have only needed to rent a car here a few times. A lot of people living in Dublin don’t actually own cars, they prefer to rent as they need them. This has worked for us as well, as we only really find we need a car when we want to get to places in the countryside that are not serviced by public transport. We have recently moved out of the city though (more on this in another post!) and although we do plan to get a car in the long term, for the minute, we were able to move all our stuff over in a rental van that we rented for a weekend. Like I said, there are some places that are a little less easy to get to via public transport, and if you are wanting to really get that Irish countryside vibe, sometimes renting a car helps to get out and about on the roads less travelled. The secret to Irish beauty and wonder is really out in the countryside, so if you are making a special trip to the green isle, although there are some great things to do in Dublin and other city centers around Ireland, getting out on the road in a rental car in Ireland is also highly recommended. Here are some tips if you plan on driving a rental car whilst traveling in Ireland:
The weather can make it a bit hair-raising to hire a rental car in Ireland. It rains a fair bit, not to mention that Irish country roads are narrow – together with wet weather – it can be less than ideal driving conditions. Like most things, if you learn to slow down and take your time driving, it is totally safe to drive a rental car in Ireland. Another reason to drive slowly on Irish country roads is that you need to be aware that pedestrians might be out walking on country roads. Sometimes the roads can be narrow for two cars to pass, let alone with someone walking alongside the road. Another good tip for driving in Ireland, especially if you are not familiar with the roads or where you are going, rather stick to driving during the day and avoid driving at night. Things look a lot clearer when you are driving during the day and can see the road signs and landmarks clearly.
A note for my American readers, you will need to drive on the left here in Ireland. If you are not a confident driver at home, then trying to drive on the other side of the road might be a step too far. However, a good rule to remember (one my dad taught me when I had to drive in the USA as an au pair) – the driver side is always in the middle of the road, so if you ever find yourself as the driver, you should always be on the inside next to the line in the road. For South Africans, driving on the left should be no problem, as it is the same to back home. Another plus thing is that you are able to drive a rental car in Ireland using your South African driver’s license, which is super handy!
A key hurdle to renting a car in Ireland is that you will need a credit card as well as pay a deposit to secure a rental car in Ireland. After quite a bit of searching, the best rental car company in Ireland we have found has been enterprise.ie. This is not a sponsored post, I wasn’t paid to say that, we just have tried a few different rental companies and in terms of price and deposit required (EUR250), and they are the most affordable. They also have a few locations to pick up or drop off the rental car. This means that if you are planning on exploring the city center without a rental for the first few days, you can pick up the rental when you need it and in the city center without having to go back to the airport to collect it. If you want to do it the other way around (pick up the rental car as you arrive) then you can do it that way too, as there is a collection point at the airport too. Enterprise.ie also has a pay now offer (which is usually cheaper) as well as a pay later option if you want to wait and pay closer to the time you are renting. We have found that their cars are well maintained and like I said, affordable which is really what we tend to look for in a rental car.
With all rental cars it is important that you do a thorough check before you leave the parking lot, and note any scratches or dents before you drive away on your trip. We have had a rather unsavoury experience with a car rental we picked up in Cape Town one year. We were in a hurry to start our holiday, and didn’t do a thorough pre-check of the rental car. On our return to drop off the car, it was found to have a small dent on the driver’s door and we were made to pay a large sum for damages that we know we never caused. To this day, whenever we are renting a car, Rob does such a thorough check it becomes really awkward! We are just so paranoid that it will happen again! In some cases, it might be worth taking the extra insurance, but Rob and I rarely take extra insurance, it is a high risk, one that we have had to pay dearly once before but I really don’t feel like the extra insurance is warranted if you are only renting the car for a short time. Perhaps not the wisest of advice, and perhaps if we were renting the car for a long time, we might consider extra insurance, but for now, we would rather save the extra cash for other travel-related things.
Renting a car in Ireland might at first be intimidating, but really, we have found Irish to be very helpful when you are driving and looking for directions. Also thanks to google maps, it is fairly easy to around, just a note that streets in Ireland are not often named or well-marked – you really just have to trust google maps when it says to turn right or left. And besides, if you do end up taking a wrong turn, it makes for better memories and more adventures. It really is safe to drive a rental car in Ireland, and it is the best way to get the full Irish experience, in tiny Irish country villages.
HAVE YOU RENTED A CAR IN IRELAND? ANY TIPS OR EXPERIENCES YOU HAVE HAD DRIVING HERE?
Live Simply & Travel Slow,
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