Although Ireland is not a huge country—its population is just over 4 million—roughly 40%, or 1.6 million people live in the Greater Dublin Area, making it a congested, busy urban area. Dublin authorities are hurriedly building new roads, tunnels, and motorways throughout the area in an attempt to keep up with the city’s growth.
The M50 motorway, the busiest in Ireland, is a partial ring around the city beginning at Dublin Port and linking up to the M1 (to Belfast) and M11 (to Wexford) motorways. The M50 is the primary route for those seeking to go to Santry, Ballymun, Finglas, Blanchardstown, Palmerstown, Tallaght, Dundrum, and Sandyford. The M50 links up with many other Primary Routes serving other parts of the country such as: the N2 to Derry, the N3 to the Northwest, the N4/M4 to Galway/Sligo, and the N7/M7 to Cork and Limerick.
For those who wish to hire a car for their trip to Dublin, there are many exciting day trips outside of Dublin. The Boyne Valley is a full day trip offering some ancient and historic sites such as the Hill of Tara (the ancient seat of Ireland’s kings), Drogheda (one of the oldest towns in Ireland), Newgrange (sites of ancient tombs, artwork), and Monasterboice (a 6th century monastery, containing beautiful crosses and religious artwork).
People wishing to hire a car and visit the all of Dublin’s attractions should be aware that parking in the city is notoriously difficult to find, and can be expensive. The city is divided into zones, which have different hourly rates for parking on the street.
Zone 1: The heart of the city between Fitzwilliam Place and Parnell Street, including Merrion Square, Stephen’s Glen, Aungier Street, Abbey Street, and the Quays. Parking here costs 1.90 Euros per hour.
Zone 2: A bit outside of the center, but parking here is still difficult to find. Areas include: Mount Street, Baggot Street, Haddington Road, Harcourt Street, Christchurch, Dorset Street, and parts of Gardiner Street. Hourly rates here are 1.52 Euros per hour.
Zone 3: Ballsbridge, Ranelagh, Donnybrook, North Circular Road. Prices are 1.27 Euros per hour.
Remember: these are prices for parking on the street. Parking in secure lots can cost double or triple these prices, but you will know that your car is safe, and you will be able to leave it in the car park for more than three hours.
Some other rules to remember when driving in Dublin are that the maximum parking time on the street is 3 hours, from 7 AM-7PM, and after 8 PM, you may pay for 3 hours of parking for the next morning.
Tourists should also be aware that illegally parked cars will be clamped, or booted. Please take care when parking, especially in the center, as having to pay fines to unlock a clamped car is no way to spend a vacation! American visitors also should keep in mind that petrol (gasoline) prices are a bit more than double what they are in the U.S.