Skip navigation guide to driving in Ireland

An S-bend sign in IrelandGetting started

You can see Ireland without a car – but not if you want to find the best bits. Cities like Dublin and Cork are fascinating but it’s only when you leave them and get out into the countryside that you unlock the timeless charm and pastoral beauty of Ireland.

Taking your own car is easy and cheap with much-improved ferry services and petrol prices around 20% lower than the UK.

Hit the road

One of the pleasures of driving in Ireland is in exploring remote villages on winding country lanes. But take care – many rural roads are narrow with stone walls on both sides that can be poorly maintained. Also, you’ll occasionally come across a junction without any road markings so keep a map handy.

Livestock presents a real danger. Suicidal sheep have a habit of leaping out in front of vehicles and it’s not uncommon to turn a blind corner and find a herd of animals on the road in front of you. Drive slowly – even where the locals don’t.

The drink-drive limit in Ireland was lowered in 2011. It is now 50mg for experienced drivers, and 20mg for other drivers - compared with 80mg in the UK. There is a system of graded penalties. For example, if an experienced driver is between 50mg and 80mg, they will get penalty points. But exceeding 80mg will result in a driving ban.

If you’re caught speeding you can expect to get an on-the-spot fine.

Star drive

The Ring of Kerry is a 110-mile circular route that takes you around the spectacular shoreline of the Iveragh Peninsular in Ireland’s wild west. The best way to go is anti-clockwise starting in Killarney and heading along the north coast of the peninsular looking out along the craggy windswept coast over Dingle Bay. Cross the bridge to Valentia Island, the most westerly harbour in Europe, then stop in the resort of Waterville, where you can take detours into the surrounding hills. All along the Ring you’ll find welcoming pubs, and spotless beaches with high dunes and foaming Atlantic surf.

Laws of the land

  • All car passengers must wear seatbelts if fitted
  • Children under 12 are not allowed to travel in the front seat without a suitable child restraint. In addition, passengers under 12 years of age or less than 1.5m tall must be seated in a suitable baby/child seat or booster chair that is appropriate to their height and weight
  • Dipped headlights should be used in poor daytime visibility
  • In an emergency dial 999 or 112
  • Motorcyclists must dip their headlights during the day and wear crash helmets (including passenger)

Irish speed limits

Road type

Speed limit

Urban areas

50 kmh

Outside urban areas

60 kmh to 100 kmh (check signage)


120 kmh


Local knowledge

The roads into major cities, particularly Dublin, get very congested during peak hours. Getting out of Dublin on a Friday afternoon can be a nightmare. The city also has a high level of car crime, so be careful where you park at night.

Motorway tolls have been introduced for many roads in Ireland. Go to this site for information on all tolls applicable.

Did you know?

You should not use your horn between the hours of 11.30pm and 7am.

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