What are the best tips for driving in Dublin? This question recently came in from a reader, and here I'll try to answer it ... bearing in mind that many of these answers also fit for other cities in Ireland you might think of visiting with a car.
Can You Share Tips for Driving in Dublin?
Oh yes, I can, having driving into, through, and in Dublin more times than you had hot suppers (well, maybe not, but you get the point). And there is one huge tip I have to put first when the question of driving in Dublin comes up:
You really don't need to bring your own wheels into Dublin - you can reach Dublin by plane (plus a bus ride), by ferry (plus a bus ride), by train, or by bus. Not all may be easy and convenient, depending where you set off from, but you do not need to come by car. And as to getting around in the big smoke: Dublin has a fairly good public transport system with buses, trams, and trains. Add the (often surprisingly) small size of the actual city centre, and the wide variety of tours on offer, and you need no car to get around. Period.
But what if you DO need a car? Either because you cannot go on public transport (for instance because you or a co-traveller are mobility-impaired) or for other reasons (you are just travelling through, need to pick up goods, or passengers, need to return your rental ... or you are simply pig-headed)?
Here are the most valuable hints and tips I can think of, and they come from long experience:
- Avoid the rush hour, if you can - basically between 7:30 and 9 am and again between and 6:30 pm you can expect gridlock in many places. No more so than anywhere near the Liffey.
- When driving in Dublin, do not attempt to out-race the locals. You are always the weakest link here.
- If you can, stick to the main thoroughfares and avoid short-cuts you have not driven before - you are more than likely to end up in a rabbit warren of one-way and dead-end streets, in which many a tourist has aged visibly behind the steering wheel. Even experienced drivers are at times thrown into confusion by just another temporary or permanent re-routing Dublin City Council has thought up.
- Do not search for free parking spaces, you will not find any (and yes, I would have some secret locations where one might be lucky, but I won't plaster them all over the WWW). Instead, try to find a parking space in one of the many (signposted) multi-stories. Most have a competitive daily rate anyway.
- Always make a note where you are parked (or, easily done, snap a photo on your mobile phone). This goes for the exact parking space in a multi-storey, as well as for the address (and opening times) of the multi-storey itself. Trust me, you do not want to search for your silver compact in never-ending rows filled to 90% by silver compacts.
- And avoid metered on-street parking - it is expensive, and the dreaded clampers will pounce upon your car the second the metre runs out. Which will, as a rule, be at least three minutes before you reach your car.
- In addition, never park where it is forbidden - you'll be clamped, or even towed away, and a foreign registration will not save you from this either.
- Be sure to have enough petrol or diesel in your car - if you run out, you are in big trouble. Off the top of my head I know exactly one city-centre petrol station, and even that is quite a bit out of the way in an inconvenient location.
- It might be a good idea to keep your car doors locked when driving - crimes of opportunity like bag-snatching from rear seats, and even car-jackings, are not unknown.