Feel confident traveling through Ireland with this guide that answers all your Dublin Airport car rental questions!
The Dublin Airport is the most convenient place to get a Dublin rental car. But make sure to book in advance to score the best deal! I share insights into the most reliable rental sites, along with info on costs and necessary paperwork.
I also overview key tips that will make your travels through the Emerald Isle stress-free. Discover what to expect on the roads, how to best avoid crowds and poor weather, and more safety tips.
Table of Contents
- Best Dublin Airport Car Rental Sites to Compare
- Do You Need a Rental Car from the Dublin Airport?
- Rental Car Requirements for The Dublin Airport
- How Much Do Rental Cars Cost at the Dublin Airport?
- 20 Tips & Things to Know Before Renting at the Dublin Airport
- Picking Your Car up from Dublin Airport Terminal 1
- Picking Your Car up from Dublin Airport Terminal 2
- Right-Handed Driving
- Manual Shift is Default
- Gas is Per Liter
- Ireland Uses the Metric System
- Know Ireland’s Road Signs
- Traveling to Northern Ireland from the Dublin Airport
- Getting from the Dublin Airport to County Connaught
- Getting from the Dublin Airport to County Munster
- Local Roads Get Narrow!
- Getting around Dublin
- Get Ready to Share the Road
- Don’t Keep Valuables in the Car in Dublin (or in General)
- Book Your Car Rental in Advance
- Keep an Eye on the Weather
- Cell Phone Use Restriction
- Inspect The Vehicle Upon Pick Up and Before Drop Off
- Consider Travel Insurance
- Credit Card Insurance Coverage
- FAQs About Dublin Airport Car Rental
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Best Dublin Airport Car Rental Sites to Compare
Simplify travel and secure the best rate by booking a car rental from Dublin Airport in advance. Refer to these recommended sites for the greatest savings, selection, and customer service:
Do You Need a Rental Car from the Dublin Airport?
Renting a car at the airport is one of the best ways to expand your Ireland itinerary beyond Dublin. Having your own set of wheels allows you to follow your own schedule and explore more of the country, especially scenic backroads. The Dublin Airport is the most natural place to pick up and drop off car rentals.
The easiest option for most visitors will be to rent a car from the arrivals hall at the Dublin Airport. It saves you both the time and money involved in getting from the airport to the off-airport location. Rental prices are often lower at the Dublin Airport than elsewhere in town.
At the same time, Dublin, and Ireland in general, have an extensive public transportation system. Dublin has buses and three different rail lines servicing its various neighborhoods. Buses and trains also run throughout the country and make for some great sightseeing without having to keep your own eyes on the road.
Rental Car Requirements for The Dublin Airport
🧑 A Valid Driver’s License – Citizens of the UK, the USA, Australia, and Canada don’t need an international driving permit. Only those staying in Ireland for a year or more will need to obtain an Irish driver’s license. Visitors from other countries will need an international driving permit before renting a car at the Dublin Airport.
Note that places like hotels will not accept a driver’s license as a valid ID, even though it’s necessary for driving.
📝 Collision Damage Insurance (CDW) – Irish law requires rental insurance for all vehicles.
Basic insurance (Third Party Liability) is included, but car rental companies charge a separate fee for CDW and other coverages. The vast majority of American and Canadian credit card companies offering insurance don’t cover Ireland (more on that below).
🔞 Driver is of Age – In general, 25 is the minimum age but some companies allow drives as young as 21 with additional fees. Some companies at the Dublin Airport may also not rent a car to those over 75. Others may raise the minimum fee-free age to 30 or lower the maximum to 65.
The same general limits apply to van rentals, but some agencies may lower the maximum driver age. Be sure to read your company’s policies in detail.
💳 Credit Card – Dublin Airport car rental agencies will place a significant hold on your credit card during your rental period. Sometimes, this can be up to $3000! Do not use a debit card for renting a car at the Dublin Airport — or anywhere, for that matter.
✈️ Passport – Visitors from the US, Canada, and Australia need a valid passport to clear customs at Dublin Airport. Citizens of the UK are not required to have a passport when traveling to Ireland.
How Much Do Rental Cars Cost at the Dublin Airport?
Several factors influence how much rental cars cost at the Dublin Airport. The kind of car you’re renting is one determining factor. The smaller the car, the less it will cost. An economy-class car, such as a Ford Fiesta, will often cost around $32 per day. Prices for midsize cars can be around $65 per day.
Another factor to consider is time of year. The summer peak season (June-August) sees the highest rental rates due to higher demand. Car rentals at the Dublin Airport tend to be cheaper in the off-season months when fewer tourists are visiting Ireland.
Car rental rates at the Dublin Airport also tend to be higher than in other countries. Gas prices are the main reason for higher costs. Ireland’s economy has also experienced overall inflation, leading to higher costs in most categories.
👉 Compare Dublin Airport rental car prices for your dates by searching these sites:
📚 Related Reading: Check out my article on the best time to visit Dublin!
20 Tips & Things to Know Before Renting at the Dublin Airport
Picking Your Car up from Dublin Airport Terminal 1
Dublin Airport has two terminals: Terminal 1 for (mostly) shorter flights and Terminal 2 for longer ones. Both Dublin Airport terminals have a car rental center. In Terminal 1, car rental desks are located in the Dublin Airport arrivals hall.
You’ll likely land at Terminal 1 if you’re arriving from the United States. Once you exit customs, you’ll be in the arrivals hall and see the baggage claim area and the various car rental desks. The agent will then direct you to their company’s section of the car park area.
Picking Your Car up from Dublin Airport Terminal 2
Passengers arriving at Dublin Airport Terminal 2 will find the service desk in the multi-story car park instead of the arrivals hall. Follow the signs in the terminal directing you to the car rental center in the car park.
👉 Pro Tip: You can save a little money if you make Dublin your last stop. Pick up your car at the Dublin Airport and drop it off at an in-town location. Dublin is easy to get around on foot and via public transportation.
This is the first thing many visitors from the US and Canada will notice upon picking up their rentals at the Dublin Airport. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car and driving is on the left-hand side of the road. It may take a little getting used to at first, but most people adjust quickly to the change.
Manual Shift is Default
Manual transmissions are default in Ireland, and the same applies to rental vehicles. Request automatic transmission when reserving your car if you’re not confident with driving stick. You won’t want to try this while also learning to drive on the “opposite” side of the road.
Gas is Per Liter
Gas, called petrol in Ireland, is counted in liters. The lower numbers may excite visitors from America at first. Unfortunately, the reality is that prices here are comparable to (or higher than) those back home.
There are 3.78 liters in a gallon, so factor that into the equation when counting the cost of gas. Consider renting a car with great gas mileage to help cut costs.
Ireland Uses the Metric System
American visitors will also have to adapt to the metric system when driving in Ireland. Expect speed limits and distances to be listed in kilometers rather than miles. The Irish Road Safety Association maintains a useful page with Ireland’s speed limits and driving tips for tourists.
Know Ireland’s Road Signs
Another thing you’ll notice upon leaving Dublin Airport is that Ireland has its own road signs. Freeway signs are marked by a blue “M” and national routes feature a green “N.” The national speed limit, 80 km/h, is indicated by a black circle with four diagonal black lines.
The Irish RSA’s page linked above has all the info you need to understand Ireland’s various traffic signs.
Traveling to Northern Ireland from the Dublin Airport
Follow the signs for the M1 if you plan to head to Northern Ireland from the airport. This is the most direct route. There are no customs at the border, but you will be crossing into another country.
Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, uses the imperial system. Nate’s article, “17 Ireland Travel Tips You Need to Know” has some great advice covering other issues related to travel between the two sides of Ireland.
Getting from the Dublin Airport to County Connaught
Some of Ireland’s most famous attractions are located along the west coast of the country. These include the Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, and Croagh Patrick. Galway is the largest city in this region and a great hub for exploring the area.
Get to Galway from Dublin Airport by following the M50 south until you see the N4 exit for Sligo/Westport/Galway. Continue following signs for Galway from then on.
Note that there are tolls and the M50 road has no toll booths. Toll fees may be included in your rental car price. But if not, speak with your rental agency as they can identify a payment method.
Getting from the Dublin Airport to County Munster
County Munster in the southwest of Ireland has many famous attractions as well. These include the stunning, solitary Skellig Michael and lush, verdant Killarney National Park. Cork is the major city of this area and a good place to start your County Munster meanderings.
Follow the M50 south to get there from Dublin Airport. Take the N7 exit at junction 9. Follow the signs for Cork, taking the M7 until you reach the exit for the M8.
Local Roads Get Narrow!
You may encounter narrow, winding roads when exploring Ireland’s countryside. A smaller vehicle can make navigation easier — and it’ll make travel more affordable!
Getting around Dublin
Dublin’s increasing popularity has led to surprisingly heavy traffic for a smaller city. Avoid rush hour when navigating Dublin, especially through its city center. You can bypass this congested area by driving The North Circular Road (M50), though note that toll fees apply.
Rural areas rely heavily on the agricultural industry. It’s likely that you’ll encounter flocks and herds when driving the backroads of Ireland! Be vigilant and patient in the case of traffic slow-downs.
Don’t Keep Valuables in the Car in Dublin (or in General)
Perhaps you’ve wondered, is Dublin safe to visit? Overall, it’s a destination with low crime rates. But petty crimes like robberies do occur, especially in the city center.
It’s best to avoid leaving valuables in the car. Rather, keep them on you or back at your hotel. Many places to stay in Dublin have security safes for extra peace of mind.
Book Your Car Rental in Advance
I recommend reserving your rental vehicle three to six months in advance. More than likely, this will allow you to score the best deal from car rental agencies at the Dublin Airport. Read the terms closely, as you may even be able to secure free cancellation up to a certain date.
Keep an Eye on the Weather
In short, the weather in Ireland is unpredictable. Rain, heavy fog, and strong winds are not uncommon. This especially applies to coastal areas and during the wintertime. You may be able to avoid some of these conditions if traveling during the best time to visit Ireland.
Cell Phone Use Restriction
It’s illegal to use your mobile device with your hands when driving in Ireland. Emergency calls to 112 and 999 are the sole exception. Hands-free cell phone use is allowed but frowned upon by local law enforcement. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road!
Inspect The Vehicle Upon Pick Up and Before Drop Off
Avoid false damage claims by taking photos of your rental car upon collection and before returning the vehicle. It’s rare, but scams happen and proof of the vehicle’s condition may be beneficial. Pay special attention to photographing any existing dents, scratches, or other concerns.
🚗 Heads Up: In early 2023, a local publication warned drivers of rental car company scams in Ireland. Always book with a reputable agency like DiscoverCars and the other companies that Travel Lemming recommends.
Consider Travel Insurance
Consider purchasing both car rental insurance and travel insurance well before arriving at the Dublin Airport.
Nate’s guide to Ireland travel insurance discusses this topic in great detail.
We like using VisitorsCoverage.com to compare quotes from various agencies.
Credit Card Insurance Coverage
As mentioned above, most US and Canadian credit cards offering rental insurance won’t cover a car rental in Ireland.
Chase Sapphire is one US credit card provider that reportedly does offer some limited CDW insurance in Ireland, but be sure to call the bank and confirm. Even if you have this card, you will need a signed copy of your coverage from the credit card company to meet car rental insurance demands in Ireland. And you’ll still need liability insurance anyway, so it’s never going to be 100% coverage.
FAQs About Dublin Airport Car Rental
Which car hire companies are onsite at Dublin Airport?
Car hire companies onsite at Dublin Airport include international brands like Alamo, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt, Thrifty, and more. There are also local companies such as Irish Car and My Irish Cousin. Many can be pre-booked via DiscoverCars.
Why is car hire so expensive at Dublin Airport?
Car hire is so expensive at Dublin Airport due to rising fuel costs and overall inflation in the Irish economy. You can save big by booking a car rental in advance, ideally 3-6 months prior to travel.
Do you need a car in Dublin as a tourist?
You do not need a car in Dublin as a tourist, as most major things to do in Dublin are walkable. The public transportation system also covers much of the city.
I hope I’ve helped answer your Dublin airport car rental questions. Read my Dublin itinerary next to make trip planning even more easy!
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