Driving through Ireland is not as difficult as it sounds. Yes, there is a learning curve if you’ve never driven on the left before. Getting out of the airport can be tricky, but Dublin Airport is right off of a freeway so you don’t have to drive on city streets to get out of town. So much of Ireland is rural with little traffic, but in some places you really do need to watch out for livestock on the road.  If you want to tour Dublin without driving into the city, you can take a taxi which is expensive.  If you want a more economical way, find a hotel near the airport with a shuttle.  You can leave your luggage at the hotel, return to the airport and take the city bus into town.  It is much less expensive than a taxi if you don’t mind some back and forth trips to the airport.

There are two big things to remember as you are driving through Ireland.  First,  you go around traffic circles (and there a lot of them) clockwise. Americans automatically try to go counter clockwise. The other is that when you enter a parking lot, you also turn to the left.  You pickup driving on the roads quickly, but those two things are easy to forget. If you are a pedestrian crossing a street you look right, left and right again. In London they are good about writing that in big letters on the sidewalks at intersections, but they don’t do that in Ireland.  You don’t want to get wiped out by a bus or car so pay attention and be extra cautious at intersections.

If you are from the United Kingdom, the United of States, Canada, Australia or an EU member state you do not need to have an International Driving Permit to drive through Ireland. You can just use your regular drivers license.  If you are from other countries which require an International Driving Permits it must also be accompanied by the original domestic licence of the driver.  Your foreign auto insurance is not likely to be in effect in Ireland so you should purchase the insurance from the rental car company to protect yourself and the vehicle.

There are hundreds of bed and breakfast all over the county.  Now Airbnb has tons of options as well. You can stay in hotels, but you get a much richer immersion into Irish culture when you stay in people’s homes.  Every town or village also has a local pub where you can get dinner and people watch.  Use good judgement, but most are perfectly safe even for female solo travelers.  You can make reservations in some of the more touristy towns, but I  decided to be spontaneous and take my chances.  Each afternoon I would figure out where I wanted to stop for the night and called ahead to a B&B.  There are dozens of websites that list B&B’s and I never had any problem finding one.  I traveled in August.  

Give yourself at least a week. Two weeks would be better. Here is the itinerary I followed to see as much as possible.

Driving through Ireland is really the best way to see this beautiful country. It gives you the freedom to stop at the cute sweater shop or the unexpected castle on the side of the road.  Stay calm and take your time and you will have a safe and memorable visit to the Emerald Isle.

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