Read the rules of the road before you start your adventure
If you're planning to explore Ireland by car, it's best to learn the essentials before you start driving on Irish roads. Here's everything you need to know:
Driving on the left
In Ireland, similar to Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK, motorists drive on the left side of the road. Just remember to occasionally check your position in traffic, especially in the countryside where roads are often narrow and winding.
For travellers used to driving on the right, we recommend booking an automatic transmission car to make it easier.
Browse our best-selling Ireland tours to see the top sights of the Emerald Isle.
Whether you're visiting Ireland from the US, India or even Australia, you can rest assured that as long as your licence is valid and in date, you can drive in Ireland and in the UK. If you're visiting from the European Union, then you can drive any type of vehicle listed on your license.
Your rental car
Your self-drive adventure starts with picking up your rental car. Begin on an informed foot by carefully reviewing the rental contract and inspecting your vehicle for existing scratches and damage before leaving the lot. Also, familiarise yourself with the insurance options available and ask the rental agent any questions you may have.
Check out our Ireland self-drive tours.
There are many roundabouts used throughout Ireland. The rules for those are to give way to all vehicles coming from your right and always turn left on entering the roundabout.
Road safety & drink driving laws in Ireland
Here are a few other rules to keep in mind for a safe and happy road trip in Ireland:
- All passengers must wear safety belts.
- Children aged 3- 17 must use the correct child seat or booster cushion if they are shorter than 150cm (4 feet 9) and weighing less than 79.3lbs (36kg). If you need one, contact your travel consultant.
- Pull over to make any calls, as it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving, except with a headset, hands-free set, or in-car Bluetooth.
- Drinking and driving laws are strict, and the legal blood alcohol limit is 50 mg in 100 ml of blood. 80mg in Northern Ireland.
Common road hazards
Rural roads can be narrow and winding, particularly in the more remote areas. You may also encounter some bridges are only wide enough for one car at a time. For this situation, the car closest to the bridge gets the right of way for crossing.
In some parts of Ireland, such as the rural areas of Kerry, you might come across narrow roads without lane markings. For this reason, it is best to drive slowly in these areas, and stop in wider areas to let oncoming traffic pass.
Also, proceed with extra caution when approaching blind summits, hidden dips and blind corners as there may be oncoming traffic or animals on the road. Please familiarise yourself with road signs so you are aware of potential road hazards.
Repairs and breakdowns
If any problems arise, including a flat tire, contact the car rental agent for assistance right away. But please note you are responsible for changing flat tires.
In case of smaller problems, like if your windshield wipers stop working (possibly from insects or dirt), you can stop at a gas station and ask the service staff to clean them or assist you.
In case of a major breakdown, contact your rental agent immediately, but please notify Nordic Visitor as well. We operate a 24/7 helpline if you need support.
We highly recommend checking on the weather and road conditions prior to embarking on a long drive.
FAQs about driving in Ireland
In case you’re still wondering a few things about driving in Ireland, we answered some frequently asked questions below:
1. Are there tolls in Ireland?
There are 11 toll roads in Ireland, most of which operate with barriers where you can pay cash or electronically via tag. There is one on the M50 motorway, outside Dublin, that operates with eFlow.
2. Where to buy petrol (gas) in Ireland?
When you’re renting a car, make sure to check which type of fuel it requires (usually on the cover of the gas cap) before filling the tank.
While driving in rural areas you should keep a close eye on your fuel levels. There can be long distances between stations in the countryside.
In urban areas you will often find self-service stations open 24 hours. But be aware that they only accept credit cards with a PIN number.
If you do not have a card with a PIN, you might be able to pay inside at the service desk or buy a pre-paid gas card to use at the pump.
Discover the west coast and other natural highlights with a countryside tour of Ireland
3. Is car parking easy to find in Dublin?
Some hotels in central Dublin offer overnight parking for their guests. You will also find metered parking in many downtown areas. Meter fees typically range from €1-4 per hour and require coins. Most are free between 7 PM and 7 AM.
If you have a smartphone or tablet and don’t have loose change, you can pay for parking online. You must first register online with Parking Tag or by calling +353 (0) 818 300 161.
Please note that you will need internet access in order to purchase a session. Keep in mind that parking fines are high in the city centre.
4. What is the speed limit in Ireland?
In Ireland, speed limits are posted as kilometres per hours (km/h):
- Urban areas: general speed limit is 50 km/h (31 mph)
- Regional roads: 80 km/h (50 mph)
- National roads: 100 km/h (62 mph)
- Motorways: 120 km/h (75 mph)
In Northern Ireland, just as in the rest of the UK, speed limits are posted as miles per hour (mph):
- Urban areas: general speed limit is 30 mph (48 km/h)
- Single carriageways: 60 mph (97 km/h)
- National roads: 100 km/h (62 mph)
5. What are some top road trips in Ireland?
On an amazing Irish road trip, you could discover the:
- Ring of Kerry
- Dingle Peninsula Loop
- Slea Head Drive
- Wild Atlantic Way
- Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland
Did you know you could also take on a self-drive combination tour of Scotland and Ireland? That would make for one amazing Celtic road trip!