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Advice from previous customers on renting a car at Dublin

A majority of Ireland’s visitors arrive in Dublin and hire a car there to explore the wonders of the Emerald Isle. Renting a vehicle can be a smooth and pleasant experience, and knowing a few “insider” tips can help assure that experience.

We asked several recent travelers to share their suggestions for hiring a car in Dublin.


Located in the arrivals hall, each car rental company hosts their own desk. Some firms may represent more than one company, so if you don’t see your rental company, ask at the information desk for assistance. Here’s what our travelers had to say:

  • Finding the desk was easy for us, I thought the signs in the terminal were sufficient to lead us from baggage claim to the rental car desk. -- Michael Brown

  • In 2009, just before the new terminal opened. We arrived at the airport and could not find our rental desk. An airport worker said we would need to check-in at the pick-up counter and the shuttle would take us there. The shuttle driver explained that the company we rented from was bought out over the weekend. We arrived at the pick-up counter and were promptly told to turn around and check-in at the new owner’s counter in the airport. Back on the shuttle we went. After getting all of our paperwork squared away, which was luckily not a problem, we were again waiting for the next shuttle to take us back to actually pick up the car this time. -- Stephanie Chastain

  • Triple check and even reconfirm by phone/email your car rental contract before you leave. Ask where their initial check in counter is located in the Arrivals Hall (e.g. located between the information booth and the men's restroom). -- Stephanie Chastain

  • The desk agent told us useful information about insurance options and the policy for using the toll roads around Dublin. -- Michael Brown

  • I have seen some really angry people at the rental desk, but it wasn't due to what the rental agency did, it was what the customer did "not" do.  They don't read the rental agreement which tells them what is and isn't included. The thing not included is the extra insurance. You are not forced to buy extra insurance, but if you don't buy it there is a €1,500-3,000 hold put on their card. When customers find this out, they take it out on the rental agent's employees and even when folks in line tell them they are not the ones to blame they still scream and curse to high heaven. – Elaine Lingenfelter


Once you get your paperwork sorted, you’ll need to pick up your car. Most cars are housed in a lot away from the main terminal. The desk agent will direct you to the shuttle that will deliver you to the proper lot. Here’s what our travelers shared:

  • Getting to the rental lot was fairly simple, they offered a bus from outside the airport to the rental area, which was about a five-minute drive away. -- George Shornack

  • A friend drove me to the airport and instead of going to the desk at the terminal, I went directly to the car rental lot. They wanted me to check in at the terminal first and then come over to the lot, but since I was already there they sorted it out. -- Jolene Hanson

  • The shuttles are located directly outside the airport Arrivals Hall. Follow the signs for your car rental company. Shuttles are usually every ten minutes, if not sooner. Some companies even have little shelters next to them so that you don't have to wait outside in the rain. Be sure to have your initial check-in information, luggage, and any bathroom stops done before you go out to shuttle. -- Stephanie Chastain


Before hitting the road, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the vehicle and acclimate yourself to driving in Ireland. Our travelers offered these tips:

  • Use whatever area is around inside the rental area to practice with the car before you exit the airport. Once you exit the rental area, you're on the actual road out of the airport. Get familiar with the controls, foot pedals, etc. -- George Shornack

  • I decided to drive around the parking lot for a few minutes to get used to driving on the other side of the car. I practiced backing up and parking so that when I hit the roads I would not be as nervous. -- Michael Brown

  • Make sure you understand were you are heading. We left the airport and had planned to skirt around Dublin. One wrong turn and we found ourselves in the city centre! We were using a map. I would definitely recommend a GPS. --Denise West

  • About twenty miles into the trip, the gas light alarm sounded. They had not filled the car prior to our rental, and we saved the receipt with the time printed on and got reimbursed when we returned the car. -- Joe Ellis

  • I can't speak for all of the car rental locations, but the one I use goes right onto the M50, so getting out into the traffic is much easier than it used to be. In the past, only five minutes from the airport you would find yourself in what you hahadve been dreading, those roundabouts. – Elaine Lingenfelter


Car rental companies offer customer a complimentary driving map of Ireland and will rent satellite navigation/GPS devices. Our travelers give advice for both:

  • The rental company gave us a cartoon-ish looking map of the immediate area and marked where our hotel was and the route to get there. It looked like a paper place mat you'd get at a tourist restaurant. My advice… buy a good street map. -- George Shornack

  • My wife and I met a couple at a B&B. They programmed their device to give them the shortest routes and found themselves driving onto a ferry to cross a harbor when they could have easily driven around the edge of the harbor and would have saved time and money. -- Charles Nakashima

  • I decided to go with a traditional map instead of paying extra for GPS. Next time, I will get GPS. I wasted a lot of time trying to decipher maps and making u-turns. While I did find a lot of cool stuff in the process, I was also often frustrated. Also, just because a sign points to Dublin doesn't mean the road actually leads there. -- Jolene Hanson

  • The rental process went pretty smoothly and the GPS was WELL WORTH the extra cost. -- Betty Kane


After spending their holidays behind the wheel, our travelers offered these tips for driving in Dublin:

  • Avoid long drives between destinations. Driving can be stressful, especially when you're driving in a new country. -- Charles Nakashima

  • Parking is a hassle, and spaces are limited. If you're staying in one hotel the entire trip, ask if they offer parking or if there's a car park (parking garage) nearby. This also means if you're on a time schedule to go see something, you need to allow extra time for finding parking. Get familiar with the local buses. Even though you have a car, it's sometimes easier/quicker/cheaper to hop on a local bus, and you'll still have your parking space when you get back. -- George Shornack

  • If you are going to be in Dublin city for a few days, do not bother renting a car. Take a bus into town and enjoy yourself. Then, when you're ready to explore the countryside, go back and get your rental. -- Jolene Hanson

  • We decided not to drive in Dublin, only the countryside, and I was happy with that choice. We just used public transportation while in the city. -- Michael Brown

  • On both trips where we flew into Dublin, and the counter reps informed us of the M50 toll road. Their rental cars were outfitted with an EZ Pass type of device to facilitate paying for the tolls after you return the vehicle. It’s not difficult to avoid the toll portion of the M50, so that's what we did. -- Travis Wingert

  • Pay the extra for an automatic as opposed to a stick shift! You are thrown into traffic immediately, and driving on the left and trying to shift with your left hand is way too complicated. By the end of the trip you could do it, but not at the beginning. -- Terrence Ritchie

  • The posted speed limit was often 100km on very windy, bendy roadways that in Canada would be posted at 60km. In fact, we were only comfortable driving at around 50-60km on such roads. -- Kate Moore

  • My husband grew up in Kentucky which has many narrow, winding roads, and he learned on a manual transmission. So for him there was about ten minutes of getting accustomed to driving on the opposite side and the rest was easy. -- Annette Vasickanin

  • One the hardest parts of driving for me was getting used to turning at four way intersections. Roundabouts were no problem, but for some reason, my instincts to shoot a wide left turn and hug the curb on a right took a few days to overcome. It helped when there were cars at the intersection to remind me which lane was mine. – Travis Wingert


After your holiday, you’ll be returning your lot – usually to the lot where you picked it up. Unless directed by the staff in the lot, you will not need to stop at the rental desk inside the airport. Here are some tips from our travelers:

  • Allow time for traffic, especially if you are returning when most people are heading to work. -- Denise West

  • Know the terms of your rental. When we returned our car at 10:30am, our rental company charged us for a whole day, which was frustrating. -- Michael Brown

  • I returned my car the night before our flight to eliminate this hassle on our departure day. After I returned the car, I took the car rental shuttle bus back to the terminal, then took the hotel shuttle bus back to my room. -- Charles Nakashima

  • When I flew into Dublin, the access road to the rental car return lot was under construction. The rep told us about it when we arrived and gave us a map with instructions on how to bypass the trouble area. However, the map was more of an informal drawing. As it was our first time to Dublin, knowing when to turn took a few attempts. -- Travis Wingert

  • We had an early flight, so we stayed at a B&B only about ten minutes away in Malahide. They tell travelers for international flights to be at the airport two hours prior to take-off, but we found that not enough time and recommend three hours, even if it means missing that last Irish breakfast. -- Joe Ellis

  • Add another hour-and-a-half to two hours to your planned airport arrival time. Remember, you're probably not the only one returning a car that day. Then, providing that goes smoothly, there's waiting for the shuttles back to the airport, then navigating the airport to the security check-in, grabbing a coffee, stopping by a souvenir shop, etc. -- George Shornack

  • Drive slowly and follow the signs, and I would ask at the airport before you leave where the car drop off point is.  -- Michael Brown

  • The Dublin Airport is large and it is easy to get turned around once you have your car and are ready to leave. Print out the map on the site http://www.dublinairport.com/flash-map/map.html  and be sure to have explicit directions for your destination. -- Stephanie Chastain