View of rental cars on the road in Dublin, Ireland

Dublin Car Rental (2023 Guide + Best Sites to Compare)

If you’re traveling to Ireland, this guide will answer all your Dublin car rental questions!

This posts outlines rental requirements, general costs, and helpful tips so you know what to expect on Dublin’s roads. You won’t want to miss my key safety advice and ways to avoid traffic!

Plus, I share rental car company recommendations which will ensure you get the best deal and customer service. You’re sure to be more confident renting a car in Dublin with these insights. 

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

Best Dublin Car Rental Sites to Compare

Making a reservation online helps you secure the best car rental deals and get one step of your travel plans done. Here are three of the best online car rental companies for booking a car rental in Dublin.

Our Top Choice
Discover Cars is an excellent car rental company. Detailed reviews of the different agencies is one of its best features. Its search filters also make finding the cheapest price on car rental deals easy! Prices reflect the total cost—no hidden fees. 

A Great Option
Kayak is one of the most well-known search engines for rental car companies. Search filters allow you to find the cheapest rental cars. Plus, you have the convenience of being able to book flights and hotels from here.

Do You Need a Rental Car in Dublin?

View of a metro train in Dublin
Dublin also has an extensive public transportation system

Dublin is a walkable city. But you will have more freedom to see what you want, when you want, if you rent a car. Adding more destinations to your Ireland itinerary is another advantage of having a rental vehicle. 

Traffic in Dublin has been an increasing issue in recent years, especially around rush hour. Traffic gets thicker in the city center, but you can skirt around the congestion by taking the North Circular Road (M50)

Dublin also has an extensive public transportation system. There is a bus or rail route not too far away no matter where you are in the city. Purchasing a Leap Visitor Card is one of the best ways to access this network. I often took the LUAS light rail (pictured above) to class when I lived in Dublin.

👉 Pro Tip: Want a little extra exercise? You can outpace the LUAS on foot if you’re a particularly fast walker. I did it myself a few times and enjoyed the “race.”

Rental Car Requirements for Dublin

Different kind of vehicles at downtown Dublin
Vehicles in downtown Dublin (photo: LMspencer / Shutterstock)

🧑 A Valid Driver’s License Citizens of the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Canada do not need an international driving permit. Only those planning to stay in Ireland for a year or more will need to apply for an Irish driver’s license. Visitors from other countries may need international driving permits in addition to a valid driver’s license from their own country.

📝 Collision Damage Insurance (CDW) – Irish law requires this of visitors who rent a car in Ireland. The vast majority of US and Canadian credit card companies offering auto coverage don’t apply in Ireland. In general, it costs less to add coverage online than in person at the car rental desks.

 📋 Compulsory Liability Insurance – Third Party Liability is, by law, included in the prices of all rentals in Ireland. Additional coverages (CDW and Theft Protection) may or may not be included in the basic price, so check with the company you are renting from.

🔞 Driver is of Age The minimum age to rent a car in Ireland varies from place to place. In general, 25 is the minimum age, but some companies lower it to 21. This concession may come with additional fees. Some companies may also not rent a car to people over the age of 75. The same limits apply to van rental, but some companies may lower the maximum age by a few years.

💳 Credit Card – A credit card will also be required for the booking. Rental agencies will put a large hold (sometimes up to $3000!) on your card during your rental period. This should not prevent further use of the card unless you are near your limit. This is also why you should not use a debit card for renting a car in Ireland. 

✈️ Passport – Visitors from the US, Canada, and Australia will need a valid passport to enter Ireland and it will be their primary form of identification while traveling. A driver’s license is required for driving, but it won’t be accepted for many other places such as hotels. UK citizens do not need a passport for traveling to Ireland. 

How Much Do Rental Cars Cost in Dublin?

People inquiring at the Budget car rental office in Dublin Airport
The Budget car rental office in Dublin Airport (photo: BeautifulBlossoms / Shutterstock)

On average, a midsize car rental in Dublin costs around $60 a day. An economy car rental (such as a Ford Fiesta) averages around $40. The price depends on factors such as time of year, car type and popularity, and how far in advance you book your car rental.

Other factors that make car rental more expensive in Dublin are high gas prices and the overall inflation of the Irish economy. Insurance can also add costs to your total. You will pay more for a car rental in Dublin than, say, America, but you still have good options for finding a relatively cheap car rental. 

👉 Compare rental car prices for your dates by searching these sites: 

📚 Bookmark This: Don’t miss my guides on things to do and where to stay in Dublin

16 Tips & Things to Know Before Renting in Dublin

Driving on the Left

This is the first and maybe biggest adjustment many visitors from the US and Canada will have to make when visiting Dublin. Rental cars will also have the steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle. It may take some getting used to, but most visitors adjust quickly to the new configuration. 

Stick Shift is Standard (Pun Intended)

Most cars in Ireland have manual transmissions. This also applies to rentals. Be sure that you select automatic transmission when booking your rental in Dublin if you’re not familiar with driving stick. It may not be the best time to learn, either—especially if you’re also having to adjust to driving on the opposite side of the road!

Gas Prices are Per Liter

The Circle K petrol station in Dublin, Ireland
Things aren’t always what they seem (photo: mark gusev / Shutterstock)

American visitors may, at first, get excited about the low numbers on display at the gas stations. However, Ireland calculates its fuel sales in liters. There are approximately 3.78 liters in a gallon, so multiply the displayed number by that to get the per-gallon price. Gas is also referred to more commonly as petrol in Ireland.

Ireland Uses the Metric System

Another adjustment for visitors from America to make is to switch over to the metric system. Speed and distances here are measured in kilometers instead of miles. Northern Ireland, however, is part of the United Kingdom and uses the imperial system.

Local Roads Can Get Narrow!

View of a narrow road on the countryside of Dublin
A narrow road in the Irish countryside

The scenic countryside is one of the greatest treasures of the Emerald Isle! Though, note that backroads may often be narrow. A small car may make navigating narrow turns easier if you encounter them. Plus, it costs less!

Get Ready to Share the Road

Another “obstacle” you may encounter on an Irish road trip are local flocks and herds. Agriculture forms a major part of the rural economy, so don’t be surprised if you see the road ahead occupied by four-legged foot traffic!

Plan Around Peak Traffic

Dublin is a growing city, and as such, has the “growing pains” of population vs. infrastructure. This leads to heavy traffic in the mornings and evenings. Factor this into your plans to avoid the frequent slow-downs if you’re driving in Dublin. Traffic tends to be worse in the Dublin city centre, but not as bad in the suburbs.

The North Circular Road (M50) is a great way to get around without going through the center. One caveat: there are tolls, and the road has no toll booths. Check to see if tolls are included in the rental price if renting a car. If not, the agency can help you set up a method of paying the fees.

Don’t Keep Valuables in the Car

A bag on the passenger seat inside a car
Don’t do this — take purses, electronics, and other valuables out of your vehicle!

Dublin is an overall safe place to visit, but it has the same problems you’d encounter in any major city. It’s best to not keep valuables in the car in Dublin. Keep them on you or leave them at your hotel. The Dublin city centre tends to see more petty crimes such as robberies. Read our article “Is Dublin Safe for Travel?” for more pointers on staying safe in Dublin. 

Book in Advance

Car rental companies usually offer the best deals if you book your rental car three to six months in advance. Some companies will also offer free cancellation up to a certain point if you change your mind. Ireland is on the more expensive side overall, so saving money for things like hotels, food, and gifts is always a plus.

Watch the Weather in Ireland

Overlooking view at Dublin during a gloomy weather
The photo was taken in January, but such weather can occur at any time of the year

The weather in Ireland often turns rainy, even at the height of summer. Coastal areas also see higher winds, especially in the winter months.

They won’t get strong enough to flip a car, but a gust can nudge your car a little too far, especially if the road is wet. Fog is another factor to be wary of, especially along the coasts.

👉 Budget Tip: Visit in the off-season! Some would argue that it’s the best time to visit Dublin given the lower prices and fewer crowds. 

Plan Ahead

There are other factors for consideration in addition to weather, such as how many others will be on the road. Expect more crowded roads (and higher rental prices) in summer. February is the cheapest month for car rentals. The otherwise quiet month of March sees massive crowds turn out for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Cell Phone Use Restriction

Using your cell phone with your hands is illegal when driving in Ireland. You may use a hands-free device to talk, but this is strongly discouraged by Irish law enforcement. Any other use of the phone is prohibited, even if using a hands-free device. The one exception is dialing emergency numbers, which are 112 and 999 in Ireland. 

Know Ireland’s Road Signs

Directional road sign at the Belfast M1 Toll in Dublin

Ireland has several road signs that visitors from abroad may not be familiar with at first. A blue “M” sign indicates a freeway. A green “N” marks national routes. A black circle with four diagonal black lines indicates “national speed limit,” 80 km/h. A red circle with a red X means “no stopping.

Mind the Speed Limit

Another thing that may stand out to foreign visitors is the noticeably lower speed limit in many places. The different limits you will encounter are as follows:

  • Motorways – 120 km/h (74 mph)
  • National Roads – 100 km/h (62 mph)
  • Regional Roads – 80 km/h (49 mph)
  • Urban Areas – 50 km/h (31 mph)
  • Special limits (school zones, etc.) – 30 km/h (18 mph)

Inspect the Car Before Drop Off

Like anywhere, companies can be exacting when it comes to maintaining the appearance of their rental cars. Some have even scammed visitors with bogus damage claims upon drop-off in the past. Be sure to note any scratches, dents, or other issues with your vehicle. Taking detailed photos of the car can also help in case a dispute arises.

🚗 Rental Car Warning: In recent months, online scammers purporting to represent a rental car company have put ads on social media. Stick with established rental companies such as the ones mentioned above to avoid these scams. 

Consider Travel Insurance

View of vehicles during a traffic in Downtown Dublin
Downtown Dublin traffic (photo: OLOS / Shutterstock)

It’s always a good idea to purchase insurance for other potential problems in addition to the above-mentioned car insurance. We recommend VisitorsCoverage as a great place to start comparison shopping travel insurance for Ireland. Our full article on Ireland travel insurance provides a few other great options as well.

Double Check Pick-Up and Drop-Off Locations

Pay attention to where the pick-up and drop-off locations are when searching for a car rental in Dublin. The two general areas to find a rental in Dublin are the city center and Dublin Airport. The Dublin Airport may be the most convenient for some travelers, but the city center is a good option if you want to walk around a little first.

👉 Pro Tip: Check out our article on Dublin Airport car rentals for a more in-depth look at car hire services at the Dublin Airport. 

FAQs About Dublin Car Rentals

Why are cars so expensive to rent in Dublin?

Cars are so expensive to rent in Dublin due to fuel costs and inflation in the Irish economy. However, you can score deals by booking in advance and referring to rental companies like Discover Cars

Is it better to rent a car in Dublin?

It is better to rent a car in Dublin if you want greater flexibility and the opportunity to see other Ireland destinations. However, visitors may encounter heavy traffic in the city center. Also, most things to do in Dublin are within walking distance, so it’s not necessary to rent one.

Is it better to rent a car or use public transportation in Ireland?

It is better to rent a car than use public transportation in Ireland, in my opinion. Renting a car allows you to explore much more of Ireland’s famous scenery and backroads. The intercity public transportation is extensive, but you’ll still miss out on many of the Emerald Isle’s hidden gems. 


I hope this helps answer your Dublin car rental questions! Check out Nate’s article “17 Ireland Travel Tips You Need to Know” for more great advice on visiting the Emerald Isle. 

(Featured Image Credit: Irene Fox / Shutterstock)

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate (you can leave feedback after clicking submit)

Help us help you travel better!

Your feedback really helps ...

What did you like about this post? Or how can we improve it to help you travel better?

Leave a Reply

All comments are moderated for compliance with our community guidelines. Most importantly be kind & be helpful!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.