By | 16th January 2018

Is it worth hiring a car in Dublin?

Do you need a car in Dublin > Should you rent a car in Dublin Ireland > Dublin ( DUB ) Do you need a car in Dublin? Is it worth hiring a car in Dublin? Should you rent a car in Dublin?

Dublin Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]


  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Dublin but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Dublin during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

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

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]



  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.

Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 434 - of which 117 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Dublin, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Dublin public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.


  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Dublin


  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.


  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Dublin good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Dublin because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Dublin. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.


  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Dublin, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Dublin Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Dublin", "is it worth hiring a car in Dublin", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Dublin?

Do you need a car in Dublin?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Dublin " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Dublin?

Is it worth hiring a car in Dublin?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Dublin" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Dublin?

Should you rent a car in Dublin?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Dublin, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Dublin compares with other destinations in  Ireland or  Europe.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Dublin?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.


Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.


  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

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

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Dublin for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Dublin for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Dublin if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Dublin if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

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

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Dublin, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

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

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Dublin if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Dublin if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Dublin, or are there good reasons not to?

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?

[top num=”79″] [why2 num=”79″]
  • 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.
[whynot2 num=”79″]
  • 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:



Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.


What is our final score for Dublin on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.


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}? Do you need a car in Dublin? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *