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.
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 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.
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
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)