Cork

Do you need a car in Cork?

Should you rent a car in Cork Ireland > Cork

It’s entirely natural to assume that because Cork is a relatively small city and because it is surrounded by so much open countryside, then a hire car would be essential.

James says - a few trip notes:


I briefly visited Cork in 2007, and picked up a hire car at Cork International airport. I drove west towards the Ring of Kerry.


Cork Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

A hire car in Cork is still extremely useful. However, if you are visiting Cork and you are unsure about whether or not to hire a car, it certainly worth having another think.

Why should you rent a car in Cork?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Cork?

Cork Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

40%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€60

 #26/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €270

186/300

 

Free parking score

Total 160 - of which 107 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

67%

#63/300

 
  • For any kind of road trip outside the city of Cork, a hire car will probably still be useful.
  • Outside Dublin, rail services are very limited in Ireland.
  • Local and regional buses serve most towns, but schedules and routes are still limited.

Why not? Visiting Cork without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Cork public transport quick facts

Train score

 

00%

Water travel score

40%

Overall public transport score

40%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

30%

Cork is well known further having so many great pubs, and staying within the city and walking around or using taxis and local buses might be more than enough.

  • Cork is a great weekend break city – no need to get out of town, and no need to drive in town.
  • When it comes to heading West and towards the Ring of Kerry, the natural inclination is that a hire car here is going to make more sense. For many visitors it undoubtedly will. However, it is also still perfectly possible to visit the Ring of Kerry and the Kerry National Park without a car. Head first to Killarney. The best way to get to Killarney without a car is by bus, although you can also do it by train with one change.
  • Another attraction in Cork which is unique in Ireland is the Fora Wildlife park, part of Fora Island. It’s also served by its own railway station. However, you might find it easier to doing excursion to the wildlife park by bus. Note that this park has to be visited on foot – it isn’t adrive-thru facility.
  • Another easy excursion by train is to take the commuter line to the port of Cobb.

Cycling in Cork

  • Cork also now has its own local bicycle hire system.
  • There are a number of cycling trails heading out of the city, including a short section of former railway along the coastline.

Ratings

Car rental in - Cork Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Cork?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Cork?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Cork?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Cork if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Cork if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Cork if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

5

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Do you need a car in Cork? For a short city break, a hire car is far from necessary. However, that should be obvious enough. If you want to stay here longer, or if you want to see beyond the city, then your options are limited if you are just using public transport. Although Cork is nothing like as “car focussed” as some visitors might expect, this is still a “car” destination.

Would you hire a car in Cork?

Have you driven in Cork? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Cork?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

 

 

Dublin

Is it worth hiring a car in Dublin?

Should you rent a car in Dublin Ireland > Dublin

Ireland’s capital is also the most popular arrivals point for people wanting to travel around the whole of Ireland. Naturally, anyone visiting Dublin on a short weekend break is unlikely to want to bother getting a hire car, but what about for longer stays?

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  • Value — of all the countries we surveyed, car hire in Ireland was the best value across the board. Although the cheapest places in Europe to pick up a hire car tend to be on the Mediterranean coast, the rates for car hire in Spain varied considerably from one city to the next, whereas car hire in Ireland was consistently good value. You should be able to pick up a hire car in Dublin for a week from around £80 or €100.
  • Go west — there is no doubt about it, Ireland has plenty of superb scenery, and Dublin is the natural arrivals point and base for this. Particularly famous places to visit include the Ring of Kerry (see also our Kerry or Cork car hire advice page) and Killary Harbour, which straddles Galway and Mayo counties. In Country Clare, the Cliffs of Moher are another top attraction.
  • Wicklow Mountains – much closer to Dublin is the Wicklow Mountains National Park.
  • Poor public transport— outside the major cities, public transport in Ireland is not well developed, and the standard of rail service is particularly poor, apart from on the express route between Dublin and Cork.Ireland as a whole is relatively sparsely populated, with most people living along the east coast, especially in the stretch between Belfast and Waterford, which includes Dublin. This means that the car is king, especially in the scenic rural areas.
  • Good roads — recent years have seen billions of euros invested in Ireland’s road network, and this has been focused on making it as easy to get to and from Dublin as possible. Given the relatively sparse population as mentioned above, you will rarely encountered traffic on Irish roads, once you are outside the Dublin ring road network.
  • Disjointed public transport – getting in and out of Dublin is not as easy as you might expect, although we have seen far worse. Plans for a metro to serve Dublin Airport have been put on indefinite hold in the current economic crisis, although there are regular buses into the city. Rail services are divided between two completely separate stations as Connolly and Heuston.
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  • City attractions — Dublin has plenty of historical sites to offer in the city centre, including the GPO, site of the Easter Rising on O’Connell Street, and the castle.
  • Nearby — there are also several places near Dublin which are well worth a visit, such as Malahide Castle, and these can be reached without too much problem using the DART suburban train service or buses. Malahide Castle can be reached directly from Malahide DART station (no need to walk around the perimeter).
  • Modern Dublin – Dublin has had no shortage of new office and residential development of late, making it perfect for a walking tour, or even a tour by bike, speaking of which:
  • Dublin Bikes – as with London (although Dublin was actually in on the act two years beforehand) and many other cities, Dublin has a city bikes scheme, enabling cheap and easy automatic bike hire around the central area.
  • Trams — within the city itself, it is easy to get around using the modern Luas trams. There are also numerous bus services, predominantly (but not entirely) operated by Dublin Bus.
  • Drinking attractions — Dublin naturally has a great deal to offer to anyone with an interest in drinking, including the world-famous St James’s Gate Guinness brewery, with its associated Storehouse visitor centre. This also offers superb panoramic views of the city in a giant rooftop bar, shaped to resemble the head of a pint of Guinness. Nearby you will also find that Jameson whiskey distillery.In the centre of Dublin is the Temple Bar entertainment quarter, where many great pubs and live venues can be found.Naturally, that which is attractive to the drinker is not suitable for the driver.
  • Concerts – Dublin is a great live venue for concerts large or small, from intimate pub venues up to the huge Croke Park.Of particular note is the natural amphitheatre at Slane Castle, which has hosted a wide range of big name acts, including U2, who also recorded the album “The Unforgettable Fire” there.
    When large scale events are on here, or at Malahide Castle, shuttle buses to and from Dublin are always widely available.
    Note that the image used on the album cover of The Unforgettable Fire is actually from Moydrum Castle on the edge of Athlone – to get there, you will need a car, although Athlone is also a key railway junction.
  • Cork and Belfast — although rail links in Ireland are generally poor, regular trains are available to the second city of Cork, which can be reached in just under three hours.Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s capital Belfast is just over two hours away, using the Enterprise express train service.You can easily combine a visit to Dublin with either of these two cities, and although there is a much wider choice of flights to Dublin, flights to Belfast are available from throughout the UK and from many places in Europe, whereas flights to Cork are also available from most major UK airports, and a selection of key European cities.
  • Scenic train trips— sit back and enjoy the ride, if you aren’t in a rush, there are a number of scenic rail trips which can be taken to the west and south of Dublin, although in many cases you will have two head out and back the way you came, as there are very few regional routes which aren’t feeding in or out of Dublin.
  • Coach trips and tours — coaches might be our least favourite form of transport, but they can certainly fill in the gaps where trains are either not available or are just too infrequent to be usable. There are also numerous options for taking scenic tours of Ireland from Dublin.

 

Is it worth hiring a car in Dublin? Conclusion — as is the case in most European cities, the longer you want to stay in or around Dublin, the more likely you are to want to get a car. Is it worth hiring a car in Dublin? Given that city break visitors to Dublin are highly likely to have already worked out what they want to see and do and are unlikely to consider getting a hire car anyway, our advice for anyone staying a bit longer is that a hire car is strongly recommended.

 Verdict — yes

Notes & Links:

 

Ratings

Car rental in - Dublin Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Dublin?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Dublin?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Dublin?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Dublin if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Dublin if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Dublin if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

7

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Would you hire a car in Dublin?

Have you driven in Dublin? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Dublin?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Knock

Do you need a car in Knock?

Should you rent a car in Knock Ireland > Knock

The huge runway at Knock airport was built to handle an influx of long haul visitors to the nearby Shrine of Knock, and although the expected numbers never quite materialised, the airport remains as an important gateway to north-west Ireland.

Knock Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

If you are just here to visit the shrine, or to embark on a local bus tour, then there is obviously no point in getting a rental car, because the airport is just a short bus or taxi journey away from the actual village of Knock.

If your plan is to carry on anywhere else other than the local towns and villages around the airport, then a hire car is almost certainly going to be essential.

Direct buses are however available from Knock airport to other regional destinations in north-west Ireland, but the nearest rail connections are some 20 miles away. It’s hardly surprising that given this is a very rural part of Ireland, public transport options only tend to be available on a very limited frequency basis, and they also will involve making many stops to serve local towns and villages.

Unless you plan to arrange a longer multi-day tour from Knock, or unless you plan to fly into Knock, and use intercity trains or buses to continue elsewhere, possibly onwards via Dublin or Shannon, then a hire car really is the best option here.

Why should you rent a car in Knock?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Knock?

Knock Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

30%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€60

 #30/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €270

187/300

 

Free parking score

Total 24 - of which 16 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

67%

#65/300

 

Why do you need a car in Knock?

  • Knock Airport is in a very rural location – public transport is extremely limited.
  • Nearest rail stations are 22km away (Ballyhaunis) or 31km away (Claremorris) – both on the Dublin to Westport railway.
  • Limited, infrequent local bus services.
  • There are some superb driving opportunities in amazingly open countryside to the northwest of Knock, especially around the edge of Ballycroy National Park and Glencullen.
  • Walking – the best way to appreciate the rugged Irish countryside is to go hiking, rather than just to stick to places you can reach in a rental car. However, you will still need a car to get to most of these places, as inter-city bus services are limited, and there are few placesto stay which are directly fronting on to the national parks and other scenic areas.

Why not? Visiting Knock without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Knock public transport quick facts

Train score

 

20%

Water travel score

00%

Overall public transport score

30%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

30%

  • A car is not needed just to visit Knock Shrine – use local taxis or shuttles instead.
  • Guided tours of local area are available by bus.
  • Potential for one way trips to other locations in Ireland, using combination of buses or trains. This will typically involve heading south first via Galway.
  • It’s easy enough to get to towns like Westport from Knock Airport – although scheduled are variable, and may range from a direct bus (just over one hour) to a combination of bus and train.
  • You can cycle the Great Western Greenway from Westport to Achil. The total trip is around 45km each way. Bike rental is available at various points from Clew Bay bike hire. However, you may still prefer to rent a car, and then get hold of bikes as needed for one or two days to do this route. A hire car is still going to be very useful for the rest of your trip, if you plan to do hiking or similar activities.

Verdict

Do you need a car in Knock? Well this one is about as clear as it gets. Unless you are just here for the shrine (in which case you won’t need to ask), then a hire car is all but essential in this part of Ireland. It’s not just that Knock is rural, it’s simply that the airport is nowhere near any major town, and it’s nowhere near a rail head.

[ratings2 num=”134″] [footer2 num=”134″]

Shannon

Should you rent a car in Shannon?

Should you rent a car in Shannon Ireland > Shannon

Shannon airport has always been a bit of a geographical anomaly. It’s a facility that has historically been in existence largely because of its strategic position as one of the last major refuelling stops before (or first after) the transatlantic crossing.

Shannon Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

With Ireland offering US immigration pre clearance, combined with the traditional requirement for the “Shannon stopover” has meant that the airport still has a surprising range of long haul transatlantic flights which would not otherwise be available from such a remote regional airport.

Yet this relative geographic isolation is also a great advantage to incoming visitors. You will find a huge range of spectacular scenic locations to visit, combined with attractive villages and lively towns, all offering that legendary Western Irish craic.

Why should you rent a car in Shannon?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Shannon?

Shannon Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

100%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€60

 #31/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €270

188/300

 

Free parking score

Total 82 - of which 9 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

11%

#274/300

 

Why should you rent a car in Shannon?

In terms of the more mundane practicalities, you will expect Shannon and car hire to be a glaringly obvious match. In truth, having a rental car here really does make a great deal of sense, unless you’re the sort of visitor who only hires a car when they really do have no other options available.

  • This region is sparsely populated. Western Ireland is rural, with few major towns or cities, and very limited public transport.
  • There is no rail link to Shannon airport. There is no direct bus link to the nearest station at Sixmilebridge.
  • Rail services are not well integrated with each other. The major junctions are not in the same locations as major towns. Limerick Junction is nowhere near Limerick. However, there is reasonable integration between trains and buses, as there is between bus services.
  • Renting a car makes sense for driving around the Ring of Kerry. However, this driving loop is closer to other airports such as Kerry or Cork.

Why not? Visiting Shannon without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Shannon public transport quick facts

Train score

 

70%

Water travel score

10%

Overall public transport score

60%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

70%

The town of Shannon itself is a fairly grim place. It’s a relatively rare example of a new town that was built around the airport, rather than the more traditional model of building an airport to serve the town! However, as an overnight base before heading elsewhere, Shannon town does at least have one or two places to stay. Shannon town is a very short bus or taxi ride from the terminal.

Limerick v Shannon

However, it’s far more likely that you’ll head straight to Limerick. This is a city which is a natural place to use as a base for exploring the area around it. Here you will find plenty of bus routes fanning out to various different points across western Ireland. These include express coach services running to destinations like Cork and Dublin.

Limerick also has a terminus on the Irish railway system. Services typically take 3 to 4 hours to reach Dublin. Much less frequent services are also available via Limerick Junction. More actively minded visitors will also find that there is a limited bicycle hire system within the city of Limerick. You could really push it and use one of these bikes to head out along the coast. For a more serious workout, we would recommend hiring a decent road bike in Limerick.

Beyond Shannon without a car

  • The nearest station is at Sixmilebridge, 14km away (no bus link).
  • Sixmilebridge is on the Limerick to Galway (via Ennis) line. Buses are available to Ennis for continuation to Galway, or direct to Limerick.
  • There is a bike sharing scheme in Limerick, which is ideal for getting around the town.
  • The Great Southern Trail is an impressive cycling path project, although it is only partially complete. You may be able to hire bikes in Newcastle West.  It’s easy enough to get here using buses running between Limerkick and Tralee, especially if you are already staying in Limerick in the first place. However, from anywhere else, it’s still easier to rent a car first, and then sort out renting the bikes.

Shannon car hire verdict

Should you rent a car in Shannon? Flying into Shannon, relying on public transport, and using Limerick as a base, is something that you can do, but it’s just not that workable. Any options to explore are always going to be much greater here if you have a hire car at your disposal.

Verdict – yes (strong yes)

Ratings

Car rental in - Shannon Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Shannon?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Shannon?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Shannon?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Shannon if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Shannon if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Shannon if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

9

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Would you hire a car in Shannon?

Have you driven in Shannon? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Shannon?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below: