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Is It Easy or Hard To Drive In Ireland?

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Driving in Ireland is not difficult  but it can be challenging especially for Americans who might not be used to driving on the left and with a stick shift. It might be worth it and more convenient to pay a bit more to rent an automatic car.

Photo by Elisabeth Arnold on Unsplash

Can tourists drive in Ireland?

When visiting as a tourist to Ireland you can drive on a driving license from any state outside the EU/EEA for up to one year provided the driving license is current and valid. 

Is driving in Dublin difficult?

Dublin is a great city to visit but it  isn’t designed well for driving and definitely not for parking. Signage, where it exists, is often of poor quality and route numbers are rarely marked out correctly. As such it can be very confusing for the visitor. A great tip is to avoid the rush hour traffic between 7:30 and 9 am and again between and 6:30 pm you can expect gridlock in many places especially  anywhere near the Liffey.

Do I need a car in Ireland?

You don’t need a car when visiting Ireland as you will be able to visit most of the country with the train, bus or some other combination of public transport.

The most convenient and cost effective way to travel in and aorund Ireland without renting a car, is using the bus. Bus services are available in Dublin and all over the country.

Can I drive in Ireland with a US license?

If you are a resident of the US, Canada or the European Union and you have a valid driver’s license, then you will be able to drive in Ireland. American licenses are automatically valid in Ireland so this one issue you have not to be concerned about when visiting Ireland.

Does Ireland drive on the same side as the USA?

In the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, drivers sit on the right side of the car and drive on the left side of the road. Most cars are also not automatic, so you should be comfortable driving a stick shift.

Why do Ireland drive on the left?

In the British Empire driving was on the left side of the road and to this very day countries like India, Australia, South Africa and other British colonies in Africa drive in the left siem Ireland was part of this group until 1922 and thus still drives on the left side of the road.

Is driving in Ireland difficult for Americans?

Americans often under-estimate the stressfulness of driving for the first time on the other side of the road. Driving with a stick shift can also be challenging. You will get a taste of this when you get into the driver’s seat and you end up on the passenger side. So  in the first 5 minutes of driving you might realize it’s going to be more challenging than they thought.

Another issue is that some of the country roads will be narrower than you’re used to. One of the more common accidents reported here is drivers scraping the side of the car on another vehicle, on stone walls, or other fixed objects.

However, most drivers adapt fairly quickly and there are very few things as pleasurable as the great Irish road trip.



Last updated May 29, 2023


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Kathie Kelling

Tuesday 28th of February 2023

Is there an age limit for renting a car in Ireland? I’m comfortable driving in z Ireland (I’ve been there 8 times) but I’ve heard that there might be an upper age limit for renting. Can you give me the current info on that please!


Friday 6th of January 2023

Is there an age cutoff to limit renting a car in Ireland? I am 75.


Saturday 16th of September 2023

@Janis, I’ve just read a letter to the editor of the travel section of our local newspaper in Australia, which said a man hiring a car in Ireland and aged 75 needed a letter from his doctor stating he was ok to drive a a letter from his insurance company saying he hadn’t had an accident in the past 5 years. He didn’t have these so couldn’t hire the car he had booked and he had difficulty getting a refund. I suggest you talk to the hire car company for clarification.

Norm Calvert

Thursday 17th of November 2022

It was not a problem for me (U.S. driver from Montana). I did start every trip saying to myself, “Think left, look right”. Think left is obvious. Look right…In the U.S. traffic in the closest lane is coming from the left. Therefore I always look left, then right, then left again since it will be the first lane I enter. I learned you have to reverse that process due to a close call entering a road from a drive way with a partially obstructed view. I checked the road to the left, checked the right and there was nothing in the far lane as far as I could see, gave another look to the left and started to pull onto the road. A car in the closest lane passed in front of me at highway speed. Looking right, left, right would have prevented a close call. And I love the rotaries!