Everything You Should Know Before Going on a Road Trip in Ireland
Ireland may be small, but it’s packed with wonderful scenery and attractions you would want to take your time to savour. You may be dreaming of visiting it all in a week, cruising around the coastline, passing through charming little villages, but it’s best to shorten your itinerary.
From rugged rock to lush greenery, you’ll feast your eyes on some of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll probably see in your lifetime.
However, no matter where you come from, doing a road trip in Ireland comes with its peculiarities you should be aware of before you start.
Here’s everything you need to know before you go on a road trip in this marvellous country.
The Best Time to Go
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, Ireland is not extremely cold and rainy. Of course, that also depends on where you come from, but the temperatures are usually mild (neither too hot nor too cold), and there’s no rain/monsoon season. However, the weather is highly variable, so it may go from sunny to windy or rainy and back again in a few hours.
Weather-wise, the best time to visit and go on a road trip is summer, from May to August. It tends to be less rainy and the temperatures are quite pleasant.
If you want to avoid crowds and enjoy your visit in peace, it’s best to choose May or October. This way, you avoid the peak season (basically, summer) while enjoying nice weather.
If you’re not a fan of crowds, you should also avoid mid-March because of the St. Patrick’s Day craze.
Driving in Ireland
Many challenges await those who are not accustomed to driving in Ireland. For starters, if you’re not from one of the few countries where people drive on the left, you’ll have a scary time trying to adjust to that kind of arrangement.
The Left Side
The roads in Ireland look like mirror images of those in most other countries. The wheel is on the right, the gear stick to your left. The fast lane is on the right side. Right turns are tricky. Your brain will have a hard time adjusting, but don’t worry — you’ll get used to it soon.
Another challenge some drivers may fear is roundabouts. Depending on your home country, you may not be used to them, and they may scare you. However, they’re not difficult to understand at all. The safest way to enter them is to make sure the right side is absolutely clear before you get in, stick to the left lane, and signal to the left before you exit. That’s it!
Ireland doesn’t have many highways (i.e., motorways), and you’ll have to navigate many narrow country roads. This is one of the biggest challenges for those who are not used to such terrain. Some two-way streets are as narrow as the width of your car or just a bit wider. That means you’ll have to drive carefully and slowly so as to notice the approaching vehicles in time.
You’ll probably have to stop your car and bring it to the utmost left to let another vehicle pass many times.
What Kind of Vehicle to Choose
For starters, leasing a car is better than driving your own, especially because of the left-side rule. What’s more, this option is quite inexpensive in Ireland, and you can find many companies that offer it. However, beware that it’s much easier to find and less expensive to lease a manual transmission vehicle than an automatic one.
Considering you’ll have to squeeze through tiny one-lane roads, it’s best to go for a small car, such as a Fiat Panda or Nissan Micra.
You won’t have to worry about getting an international driver’s license since any valid license is accepted when you’re a visitor.
Planning Your Itinerary
Many foreigners fall into the trap of thinking Ireland is so small they can make a tour of the entire country in a few days. Others are dreaming of hitting the spectacular coastal Wild Atlantic Way, which goes along the entire west coast. However, this route alone can take three weeks.
The best way to decide on your route is to consider how much time you have, what you want to visit the most, as well as your budget.
You may start in Dublin, drive to the famous Galway, and continue to the captivating Connemara. You can take the Ring of Kerry drive, one of the best European road trips, and enjoy the stunning coastal landscape with rugged mountains.
If you’re not sure how to chart your itinerary, you can check out others’ road trip itinerary suggestions and simply pick one to follow.
Pro tip: If you’re planning to visit many attractions along the way, you may want to consider getting the Heritage Card, which buys you admission to numerous heritage sites across the country.
If you think all the details of your trip through, you’ll have a marvellous time on your road trip in Ireland.