Things You Should Know Before Renting A Car & Driving In Ireland

Renting A Car In Ireland
Tips For Renting A Car In Ireland
Ireland Driving Guide

Renting a car in Ireland and driving around the country yourself is a wonderful way to experience the Emerald Isle. But here’s some advice about the best way to do it.

When my family and I were planning our genealogy trip to Ireland to learn more about our ancestors, we were initially hesitant about renting a car to explore the country by ourselves.

Ireland has a bit of a reputation for narrow and scary winding roads!

Plus of course, they drive on the other side of the road, so there’s that. But the more we researched, the more we realized renting a car in Ireland would allow us to make our itinerary as imaginative as possible.

I love the freedom of road trips and planning my own travel itineraries. Ireland is such a diverse country that it made sense to rent a car so we could stop anywhere to discover small villages, castles, and ancient ruins at our own pace.

Here are some important tips we learned from our experience renting a car in Ireland, to help you save money and stay safe while driving around the country!

How To Rent A Car In Ireland

Car Driving through Irish Landscape
Driving in Ireland for Tourists

Should You Rent A Car In Ireland?

Hey, if you love those big group bus tours, by all means, go book one. It’s a decent way to see Ireland if you don’t have a lot of time.

No planning, no driving, just sit back and let someone else do all the work!

But if you’re like me, you prefer the adventure of independent travel.

No set schedule or timetable — driving around Ireland with the freedom to stop anyplace cool you find along the way.

If that’s the kind of traveler you are, renting a car in Ireland is the way to go!

Just keep in mind that some of the backroads in Ireland can be very narrow, and often feel like a single lane (but they’re not). With some practice, you’ll gain confidence on them!

Another nice thing we enjoyed about having a car was the ability to store things in the trunk, stopping off in Irish towns with small daypacks rather than hauling luggage everywhere.

Family Driving Rental Car
Learning to Drive on the Opposite Side!

Where To Rent Your Car In Ireland

The best site to book your car is Discover Car Hire. They search both local and international car rental companies to help you find the best possible price. This is the easiest way to rent a car in Ireland.

We rented our car from Dublin Airport after spending a few days in the city. Our South West route brought us to Cork on the M8 before moving on to Killarney National Park and then Glengarriff, where my grandmother was born.

After tracking down our family history in this small coastal fishing village, we drove North on the Wild Atlantic Way up to Dingle and the famous Cliffs of Moher, then to Galway, and finally back to Dublin.

However there are many different road trip routes you can choose when driving in Ireland. Other major airports to consider picking up a car are Shannon in the Southwest and Cork in the Southeast.

The Gap of Dunloe
Crazy Irish Winding Roads!
Ireland Road Trip Highlights
The Amazing Cliffs of Moher

Car Rental Insurance In Ireland

Some of the rumors about driving in Ireland are true, and the roads are VERY narrow in areas. Especially the backroads outside Ireland’s smaller towns. Don’t worry, I’ll share some tips for dealing with them below.

This is why I highly recommend getting full insurance coverage.

Typically, rental cars in Ireland come with a basic Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), but this isn’t exactly insurance, and only covers the car for up to €1000-3000 EUROS worth of damage.

This is the amount they hold on your credit card until you return the car in one piece. CDW typically does not include tire, cracked windshield, or undercarriage damage either.

While you can often save money booking your car with a credit card that includes car rental insurance, you REALLY must read the fine print, because many people wrongly assume their card covers them in Ireland.

If you get in a wreck driving in Ireland, declined full coverage, and you suddenly learn your credit card doesn’t actually cover the damage — you’re screwed. I can’t tell you how many travel horror stories I’ve heard like this…

It’s why I usually pre-book full coverage online. It’s cheaper than at the counter — and then you won’t have to worry about accidents at all!

Irish Cathedral in Cobh
The Stunning Cobh Cathedral

How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Car In Ireland?

Renting a car in Ireland is going to cost you around $25-$40 USD a day, depending on the type of car you get. Our 4 door sedan was about $30 per day.

I recommend renting a car with an actual trunk (no hatchbacks) to hide your luggage from prying eyes. It helps to prevent break-ins if thieves can’t see your stuff.

Gas Prices

Gas (petrol) prices in Ireland might seem cheap to Americans, but remember that the rest of the world quotes gas in Liters, not Gallons (1 Gallon = 3.78 Liters). Currently, gas costs about $5.90 per gallon (€1.40 per liter) in Ireland. Diesel cars will often save you some money on gas.

Automatic vs Manual

Automatic cars are more expensive to rent than manual cars (but manuals are more common in Ireland), and you must specify what type you want when booking.

One-Way Rentals

There’s also an additional fee for one-way car rentals, which can vary by company. For example, if you want to drop off the car in a different city than you started from.

Admin Fee

If you opt to use your own credit card insurance, companies will charge you an “admin fee” of about €30 EURO.

Credit Card Fee

I was charged an extra €5 EURO just for using a credit card. Which is strange to me, but typical in Ireland.

Irish Taxes

Car rentals in Ireland have a very high tax rate of 13.6%. Ouch!

Age Requirements For Renting A Car

The minimum age for driving in Ireland is 18 years old, however most car rental companies enforce their own age limit of 21 years old to rent a car. They also charge an additional fee if you’re under 24 years old.

Driving in Killarney
Driving Through the Town of Killarney

Irish Driving Laws Tourists Should Know

The most confusing part of driving in Ireland for most tourists is driving on the left side of the road — with the driver’s seat on the right side of the car.

If you’ve never been to a country that drives on the left, it’s wise to practice a bit in a small town before you head onto the highways of Ireland.

For example, just North of Dublin Airport is the town of Swords. Maybe spend an hour or two getting the hang of driving there before you enter Dublin or onto the main highways.

While challenging at first, especially if driving a manual, you’ll get the hang of it quickly and will be ready to explore Ireland by car in no time!

The speed limit on local roads is generally around 80 km/h while on national highways it’s up to 100 km/h.

International Driver’s License

No, you do not need an international driver’s license to drive in Ireland or rent a car there. Just bring your passport, credit card, and your driver’s license from your home country.

Beautiful Irish Castle
Ross Castle at Sunrise

Helpful Tips For Driving In Ireland

Watch out for sheep! In many smaller towns, local shepherds move their sheep on the roads. You can easily round a sharp bend and find yourself stuck behind a huge flock walking down the road.

Narrow backroads in Ireland don’t have standard break-down lanes as we have in America. There’s often no room for error or pulling over.

Sometimes your side-view mirror will be inches away from stone walls or hedges while passing other cars! It can make driving here nerve-wracking.

Remember to carry some cash for road tolls on Ireland’s major highways. Irish tolls can cost between $1-$3 for a passenger car.

In the countryside, some roads are truly single lane, but with traffic in both directions. In these situations, there are pull-outs so one of you can pull over for the other to pass.

USEFUL TIP: Buy a cheap “learner” sticker (L) sold at gas stations so locals don’t get pissed off at your incompetence on their roads!
Driving Rental Car in Glengarriff Ireland
The Colorful Town of Glengarriff, Ireland

Advice For Renting A Car In Ireland

  • You don’t need a rental car for Dublin itself. Parking can be a pain and Dublin is very walkable with excellent public transportation too.
  • If you’re starting your trip in Dublin, maybe book a rental car when you’re ready to leave the city, for exploring the rest of the country.
  • Don’t book a car without reading the company reviews. You’ll find plenty of bad reviews for every company (people love to complain online), but try to pick one with the LEAST bad reviews.
  • You may not always get the make/model/type of car you booked. If they give you a smaller car, or a manual when you asked for an automatic, be pushy and ask for an upgrade.
  • Inspect your car thoroughly and record video on your smartphone pointing out damage before you leave. This is a backup if they attempt to charge you for damage that was already there.
  • Pay attention to if your car takes regular petrol or diesel fuel, so you fill up with the correct type at gas stations.
  • Use Google Maps on your smartphone for directions. Bring your own hands-free adapter and buy an Irish SIM card at the airport.

Enjoy Your Ireland Road Trip!

Exploring the small villages, ancient castles, green mountains, and coastal cliffs of Ireland in a rental car was definitely the right choice for us.

Self-drive road trips get off the beaten track to see things most people miss! ★

Travel Planning Resources For Ireland

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Find cheap flights on Skyscanner. This is my favorite search engine to find deals on airlines. Also make sure to read how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Car Hire is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal.

Book Accommodation

Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent apartments from locals on Airbnb. Read more about how I book cheap hotels online.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.

Enjoy This Post? Pin It!

Renting a car in Ireland isn't as scary as it sounds if you follow my tips for a successful road trip.

Any questions about driving or renting a car in Ireland? Are you planning a road trip there? Drop me a message in the comments below!

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Things You Should Know Before Renting A Car & Driving In Morocco

Renting A Car In Morocco
Tips For Renting A Car In Morocco
Morocco Driving Guide

Renting a car in Morocco and driving yourself is a great way to experience this beautiful country. But there are a few things you should know before you embark on a road trip.

When Anna and I were planning our first trip to Morocco together, we were initially hesitant about renting a car to explore the country by ourselves.

Morocco has a bit of a reputation for crazy driving (and drivers!).

But the more we researched, the more we realized renting a car in Morocco wouldn’t be as difficult as we thought, plus it would save us a lot of money.

We love the freedom of road trips and planning our own travel itineraries. Morocco is such a diverse country that it made sense to rent a car so we could stop anywhere exploring local villages, mountains, and deserts at our own pace.

Here are some important tips we learned from our experience renting a car in Morocco, to help you save money and stay safe while driving around the country!

What To Know Before Renting A Car In Morocco

Matt & Anna in Morocco
Driving in Morocco was Awesome!

Should You Rent A Car In Morocco?

Hey, if you’re a fan of bus tours, by all means, go book one. It’s a decent way to see Morocco if you don’t have a lot of time.

No planning, no driving, just sit back and let someone else do all the work!

But if you’re like me, you prefer the challenge of independent travel.

True adventure, with no set schedule or timetable. Driving around Morocco with the freedom to stop anywhere fun you happen to find along the way.

If that’s the kind of traveler you are, renting a car in Morocco is the way to go!

Just keep in mind that driving times in Morocco can be longer then Google tells you. It helps if you have someone else to split the driving with.

Another nice thing about having a car was the ability to store things in the trunk, so you can explore cities with small daypacks rather than lugging around a giant backpack or suitcase.

How to Rent A Car in Morocco
Starting our Road Trip in Marrakesh

Where To Rent Your Car In Morocco

The best site to book your car is Discover Car Hire. They search both local and international car rental companies to help you find the best possible price. This is the easiest way to rent a car in Morocco.

We rented our car from the popular city of Marrakech, taking a Southern road trip route towards Ouarzazate before heading on to Merzouga and the Sahara desert.

From the desert we drove North to the blue city of Chefchaouen for a few days, finally ending in Fez where we dropped off the car and flew out of the country. However there are many different types of routes you can take.

Camel Crossing Sign in Morocco
Why Did the Camel Cross the Road?

Car Rental Insurance In Morocco

Some of the rumors about driving in Morocco are true, and people can drive crazy here. That’s why I highly recommend getting full insurance coverage.

Typically, rental cars in Morocco come with a basic Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), but this isn’t exactly insurance, and only covers the car for up to 10,000 dirhams ($1000 USD) worth of damage.

While you can often save money if you book your car with a credit card that includes car rental insurance, you REALLY need to read the fine print, because many people wrongly assume their card covers everything, in any country.

If you get in a wreck driving in Morocco, decided to decline full insurance coverage, and you suddenly learn your credit card doesn’t actually cover the damage — you’re screwed.

This is why I usually pre-book full coverage through Discover Car Hire for about $9 a day. It’s cheaper than at the counter — and you won’t have to worry.

Moroccan Road Trip in a Rental Car
Driving through the Moroccan Desert

How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Car In Morocco?

Renting a car in Morocco is going to cost you around $25-$40 USD a day, depending on the type of car you get. Our 4 door sedan was about $30 per day.

I recommend renting a car with an actual trunk (no hatchbacks) to hide your luggage from prying eyes. It helps prevent break-ins if thieves can’t see your stuff.

Gas (petrol) prices in Morocco might seem cheap to Americans, but remember that the rest of the world quotes gas in Liters, not Gallons (1 Gallon = 3.78 Liters).

Currently, gas costs about $4 per gallon in Morocco. Remember that diesel cars are often cheaper in gas consumption than regular gasoline too.

Age Requirements For Renting A Car

The minimum age for driving in Morocco is 18 years old, however most car rental companies enforce their own age limit of 21 years old to rent a car.

Cliff Overlook on Morocco Road Trip
Stopping Anywhere is One of the Perks of Renting a Car

Moroccan Driving Laws Tourists Should Know

The speed limits in Morocco are generally 60 kph in urban areas and 120 kph on highways. Police speed traps are very common, so pay attention to your speed.

I was actually pulled over for speeding during our road trip outside Ouarzazate, but they let me go after paying a small “fine” (bribe?) of 150 dirhams (about $15 USD).

You might also encounter the occasional police roadblock, but often they just wave tourists through. Or they’ll simply ask you where you’re headed.

Moroccans drive on the right side of the road, just like in the United States. So you shouldn’t have any issues there (unless you’re British!).

International Driver’s License

No, you do not need an international driver’s license to drive in Morocco or rent a car there. Just bring your passport, credit card, and your driver’s license from your home country.

Winding Roads in Morocco
Switchbacks in the Atlas Mountains

Tips For Driving In Morocco

Learn how to navigate the roundabout! Morocco is full of roundabouts rather than stoplights, and if you’re new to them, you might piss off the locals or get in a fender-bender.

Road traffic in Morocco comes in all types, sizes, and species! Be prepared to dodge scooters, over-filled trucks, buses, bicycles, donkeys, sheep, camels, pedestrians, and more. It can be mayhem at times, especially in the cities.

Honking your horn in Morocco is a form of everyday communication. It means all sorts of things, not just “get out of my way!” Honk to thank people for letting you pass, or to encourage camels to cross the road. Don’t be afraid of your horn!

Avoid driving your rental car at night in Morocco. Street lighting is minimal, and road markings can be too. Not to mention people or animals suddenly appearing in the middle of the road.

Many Moroccans will use their turn signals to let you know when it’s safe to pass them. For example, a big slow moving truck going uphill. They’ll hit their blinkers when the road is clear ahead, so you don’t have to guess.

Car Rentals in Morocco
Driving in Morocco can be Hectic!

Advice For Renting A Car In Morocco

Don’t book a car without reading the company reviews. Obviously you’ll find plenty of bad reviews for every company (people love to complain online), but try to pick one with the LEAST bad reviews.

Remember that you may not always get the make/model/type of car you booked. If they give you a smaller car, or a manual when you asked for an automatic, be pushy and ask for an upgrade.

Beware of mysterious “cleaning fee” hidden charges. If it’s not in your contract, you don’t have to pay it.

English is not spoken widely. You’ll have an easier time if you speak some French or Arabic. Communication isn’t impossible, but be patient.

Inspect your car thoroughly and record video on your smartphone pointing out damage before you leave. This is a backup if they try to charge you for damage that was already there.

Pay special attention to the interior too. A common rental car scam is getting charged for “cigarette burns” on the seats — that they conveniently “forget” to mark on the original damage form.

Make sure your tank is full before you leave. Some car rental companies in Morocco will start you with an empty gas tank, forcing you to fill up immediately.

Enjoy Your Moroccan Road Trip!

Exploring the small villages, hidden canyons, colorful mountains, and vast deserts of Morocco in a rental car was definitely the right choice for us.

Road trips let you get off the beaten track to see things most people miss! ★

Travel Planning Resources For Morocco

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Find cheap flights on Skyscanner. This is my favorite search engine to find deals on airlines. Also make sure to read how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Car Hire is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal.

Book Accommodation

Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent apartments from locals on Airbnb. Read more about how I book cheap hotels online.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.

Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Morocco
Suggested Reading: In Arabian Nights

Enjoy This Post? Pin It!

Renting a car in Morocco isn't as scary as it sounds if you follow my tips for a successful road trip.

Any questions about driving or renting a car in Morocco? Are you planning a road trip there? Drop me a message in the comments below!

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Driving Dartmoor National Park With The Vauxhall Mokka X

Dartmoor National Park

Exploring Dartmoor in the Vauxhall Mokka X

United Kingdom

Petting a wild pony in Dartmoor National Park probably wasn’t the best idea. It lunged for my hand, attempting to bite. There’s a reason these furry ponies are called “wild!”

Dartmoor has sometimes been described as the ‘last wilderness’ of the United Kingdom. Its vast open landscape is home to a variety of unique features — wet peaty bogs, stunted oak forests, rocky outcroppings called “tors”, and icy mountain waterfalls.

If you’re looking to escape London for a while, Dartmoor National Park is an excellent place to relax and enjoy the serenity of nature. The park is only a 4-5 hour drive away from the hustle & bustle of the city.

My friends at Vauxhall loaned me their new Mokka X SUV for the trip, a fun city-friendly turbo diesel with 4×4 capability that can handle off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Dartmoor Ponies at Haytor

Wild Dartmoor Ponies

Sunset at Saddle Tor

Lone Hawthorne Tree at Sunset

Exploring Dartmoor In Autumn

Autumn in Dartmoor is a beautiful time to visit. Sure, it’s a bit colder then normal, but the ground and trees are rich in color. A mix of burnt reds, yellows, and greens. There are less people on the roads too.

The narrow lanes in Dartmoor are a lot of fun to drive, if not a bit scary.

Winding asphalt hugs the hills & valleys, passing through small villages from time to time. Some of the smaller roads are single lane, causing trouble when two people approach from opposite directions.

The area is covered with small stone bridges too. Some of them, called “clapper” bridges, date back to the 1300’s. You can’t drive on the clappers, but they’re a wonderful piece of British history.

Emsworthy Farm

Emsworthy Farm

Waterfalls in Dartmoor

Beautiful Venford Falls

Legends Of Dartmoor

Humans have been living on Dartmoor for at least 12,000 years, so there is a ton of history here. Which means there are plenty of legends and myths too. Here are some of my favorite…

Spectral Hounds: Roaming the misty mires and barren hills of Dartmoor at night, abnormally large and ghostly black dogs patrol the region, and you don’t want to be around to meet them…

Pixies: Small mythical creatures with pointed ears who live in caves, around stone circles, and cause mischief. Similar to fairies and sprites, but a different race.

Headless Horseman: Multiple tales of a headless horseman riding fast over narrow lanes after dark, sometimes accompanied by a pack of spectral hounds.

The Devil’s Visit: Back in 1638, the Devil visited St. Pancras Church in the village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Lightning struck its tower, killing 4 people inside during Sunday mass.

Vauxhall Apple Car Play

Apple Car Play is Great for Road Trips!

Vauxhall Destination Download

Destination Download with OnStar

The Vauxhall Mokka X

Traveling from London out to the wilds of Dartmoor, the Vauxhall Mokka X was a perfect road trip companion during my drive. It’s full of features that make long road trips through unfamiliar territory an absolute pleasure.

Apple Car Play

The ability to connect the car’s touchscreen to my phone, and control my apps is super handy. I listened to my Spotify playlists, loaded previously saved navigation routes, and could make calls with ease. You can even access the power of Siri by pressing a button on your steering wheel!

Destination Download

With OnStar activated in the Mokka X, you can press the OnStar button to call an operator and ask for directions, which will then be uploaded into your car’s navigation system automatically. So nice! It’s like having a personal assistant for your drive.

4×4 All Wheel Drive

The compact size of the Mokka X makes it great for city driving, but with good clearance and 4×4 electronic all wheel drive capability, you can easily navigate winter roads, steep rocky inclines, or muddy off-road tracks in the countryside when you need more traction.

Remote Unlock

Vauxhall has it’s own smartphone app, called My Vauxhall, which gives you all kinds of power over your Mokka X. For example, you can lock or unlock the vehicle from further away then your key fob allows, check tire pressure or fuel level, plus much more.

Haytor Rocks in Dartmoor

Haytor Rocks

Climbing in Dartmoor

Climbing the Granite at Haytor

Hiking Around Haytor

Dartmoor National Park is covered in “tors”, exposed granite rock outcrops sitting on the summit of hills in the region. There are hundreds of these, some of them are pretty impressive.

Many can be climbed, either by scrambling, or rock proper climbing with ropes. One of the most famous is called Haytor.

Hill walking through the moors is a popular activity in Dartmoor, and you can find short or long-distance trails all over the place.

Many take you from tor to tor, passing by old farms, ancient stone circles, or ruined Bronze-age villages along the way.

Mokka X Off Road

Exploring Off-Road with the Mokka X

Sheep in Dartmoor

So Many Sheep!

Dartmoor Ponies

Dartmoor has its own special breed of horses, called the Dartmoor Pony. These hardy ponies have been living on the moor for millennia — there’s evidence of them from 3,500 years ago.

They reminded me a lot of Icelandic ponies, with thick fur, long manes, and short powerful bodies. The harsh winter weather on Dartmoor can be similar to Iceland too.

While the Dartmoor ponies are collectively owned by locals, they roam free throughout the national park, and are not handled by humans. So be careful if you approach, there’s the possibility of getting bitten or kicked.

Yes these ponies are super cute, but they are still wild!

Dartmoor Pony Group

Herd of Dartmoor Ponies

Driving Dartmoor National Park

Driving Dartmoor National Park

Tips For Visiting Dartmoor

There are a handful of villages within the park with decent accommodation like Postbridge and Two Bridges. I spent 3 nights at the Two Bridges Hotel, a wonderful old building on the side of a river. They have an excellent restaurant too.

Some people decide to stay outside the park in the towns of Tavistock or Bovey Tracey. Summer is the most popular time to visit, but I had a great time enjoying the fall colors of early November.

You can embark on all kinds of different outdoor activities in Dartmoor — hiking tors, horseback riding, cycling, rock climbing, even whitewater kayaking is popular here. Wild camping is allowed in certain areas of the park, you can find a map here.

Driving to Dartmoor from London was a fun little weekend road trip getaway. It was nice to discover a slice of rural life in the United Kingdom that I hadn’t experienced before. ★

Tips for traveling to Dartmoor National Park
Tips for traveling to Dartmoor National Park

Watch Video: Dartmoor National Park

(Click to watch Driving Dartmoor – United Kingdom on YouTube)

READ NEXT: Should You Go To School Or Travel?

Have any questions about Dartmoor? Do you think the ponies are cute? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Road Tripping Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National Park

Exploring Dartmoor in the Vauxhall Mokka X

United Kingdom

Petting a wild pony in Dartmoor National Park probably wasn’t the best idea. It lunged for my hand, attempting to bite. There’s a reason these furry ponies are called “wild!”

Dartmoor has sometimes been described as the ‘last wilderness’ of the United Kingdom. Its vast open landscape is home to a variety of unique features — wet peaty bogs, stunted oak forests, rocky outcroppings called “tors”, and icy mountain waterfalls.

If you’re looking to escape London for a while, Dartmoor National Park is an excellent place to relax and enjoy the serenity of nature. The park is only a 4-5 hour drive away from the hustle & bustle of the city.

My friends at Vauxhall loaned me their new Mokka X SUV for the trip, a fun city-friendly turbo diesel with 4×4 capability that can handle off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Dartmoor Ponies at Haytor

Wild Dartmoor Ponies

Sunset at Saddle Tor

Lone Hawthorne Tree at Sunset

Exploring Dartmoor In Autumn

Autumn in Dartmoor is a beautiful time to visit. Sure, it’s a bit colder then normal, but the ground and trees are rich in color. A mix of burnt reds, yellows, and greens. There are less people on the roads too.

The narrow lanes in Dartmoor are a lot of fun to drive, if not a bit scary.

Winding asphalt hugs the hills & valleys, passing through small villages from time to time. Some of the smaller roads are single lane, causing trouble when two people approach from opposite directions.

The area is covered with small stone bridges too. Some of them, called “clapper” bridges, date back to the 1300’s. You can’t drive on the clappers, but they’re a wonderful piece of British history.

Emsworthy Farm

Emsworthy Farm

Waterfalls in Dartmoor

Beautiful Venford Falls

Legends Of Dartmoor

Humans have been living on Dartmoor for at least 12,000 years, so there is a ton of history here. Which means there are plenty of legends and myths too. Here are some of my favorite…

Spectral Hounds: Roaming the misty mires and barren hills of Dartmoor at night, abnormally large and ghostly black dogs patrol the region, and you don’t want to be around to meet them…

Pixies: Small mythical creatures with pointed ears who live in caves, around stone circles, and cause mischief. Similar to fairies and sprites, but a different race.

Headless Horseman: Multiple tales of a headless horseman riding fast over narrow lanes after dark, sometimes accompanied by a pack of spectral hounds.

The Devil’s Visit: Back in 1638, the Devil visited St. Pancras Church in the village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Lightning struck its tower, killing 4 people inside during Sunday mass.

Vauxhall Apple Car Play

Apple Car Play is Great for Road Trips!

Vauxhall Destination Download

Destination Download with OnStar

The Vauxhall Mokka X

Traveling from London out to the wilds of Dartmoor, the Vauxhall Mokka X was a perfect road trip companion during my drive. It’s full of features that make long road trips through unfamiliar territory an absolute pleasure.

Apple Car Play

The ability to connect the car’s touchscreen to my phone, and control my apps is super handy. I listened to my Spotify playlists, loaded previously saved navigation routes, and could make calls with ease. You can even access the power of Siri by pressing a button on your steering wheel!

Destination Download

With OnStar activated in the Mokka X, you can press the OnStar button to call an operator and ask for directions, which will then be uploaded into your car’s navigation system automatically. So nice! It’s like having a personal assistant for your drive.

4×4 All Wheel Drive

The compact size of the Mokka X makes it great for city driving, but with good clearance and 4×4 electronic all wheel drive capability, you can easily navigate winter roads, steep rocky inclines, or muddy off-road tracks in the countryside when you need more traction.

Remote Unlock

Vauxhall has it’s own smartphone app, called My Vauxhall, which gives you all kinds of power over your Mokka X. For example, you can lock or unlock the vehicle from further away then your key fob allows, check tire pressure or fuel level, plus much more.

Haytor Rocks in Dartmoor

Haytor Rocks

Climbing in Dartmoor

Climbing the Granite at Haytor

Hiking Around Haytor

Dartmoor National Park is covered in “tors”, exposed granite rock outcrops sitting on the summit of hills in the region. There are hundreds of these, some of them are pretty impressive.

Many can be climbed, either by scrambling, or rock proper climbing with ropes. One of the most famous is called Haytor.

Hill walking through the moors is a popular activity in Dartmoor, and you can find short or long-distance trails all over the place.

Many take you from tor to tor, passing by old farms, ancient stone circles, or ruined Bronze-age villages along the way.

Mokka X Off Road

Exploring Off-Road with the Mokka X

Sheep in Dartmoor

So Many Sheep!

Dartmoor Ponies

Dartmoor has its own special breed of horses, called the Dartmoor Pony. These hardy ponies have been living on the moor for millennia — there’s evidence of them from 3,500 years ago.

They reminded me a lot of Icelandic ponies, with thick fur, long manes, and short powerful bodies. The harsh winter weather on Dartmoor can be similar to Iceland too.

While the Dartmoor ponies are collectively owned by locals, they roam free throughout the national park, and are not handled by humans. So be careful if you approach, there’s the possibility of getting bitten or kicked.

Yes these ponies are super cute, but they are still wild!

Dartmoor Pony Group

Herd of Dartmoor Ponies

Driving Dartmoor National Park

Driving Dartmoor National Park

Tips For Visiting Dartmoor

There are a handful of villages within the park with decent accommodation like Postbridge and Two Bridges. I spent 3 nights at the Two Bridges Hotel, a wonderful old building on the side of a river. They have an excellent restaurant too.

Some people decide to stay outside the park in the towns of Tavistock or Bovey Tracey. Summer is the most popular time to visit, but I had a great time enjoying the fall colors of early November.

You can embark on all kinds of different outdoor activities in Dartmoor — hiking tors, horseback riding, cycling, rock climbing, even whitewater kayaking is popular here. Wild camping is allowed in certain areas of the park, you can find a map here.

Driving to Dartmoor from London was a fun little weekend road trip getaway. It was nice to discover a slice of rural life in the United Kingdom that I hadn’t experienced before. ★

Tips for traveling to Dartmoor National Park
Tips for traveling to Dartmoor National Park

Watch Video: Dartmoor National Park


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More Information

Location: Dartmoor National Park, United Kingdom
Official Website: Dartmoor National Park
Accommodation: Two Bridges Hotel
Car Details: Vauxhall Mokka X
Useful Notes: I spent 4 days and 3 nights in Dartmoor, basing myself in the town of Two Bridges. In the fall, there aren’t many shops or restaurants open in the park. So pack some extra supplies.
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Great Britain
Suggested Reading: Hound Of The Baskervilles

READ NEXT: Should You Go To School Or Travel?

Have any questions about Dartmoor? Do you think the ponies are cute? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Vauxhall

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Isle Of Skye Road Trip: Scotland’s Land Of Fairies

Isle of Skye Scotland

Isle of Skye Road Trip

Isle of Skye, Scotland

The Isle of Skye’s dramatic landscapes are some of the most scenic in Scotland. The best way to experience its epic mountains, waterfalls, and sea cliffs is on a road trip.

When most people think of visiting Scotland, Edinburgh and Loch Ness are the first spots that come to mind. While both are nice, I think a road trip up through the Highlands to the Isle of Skye is far better.

The scenery on Skye is rugged, breathtaking, and raw.

Free to explore at your own pace, you’ll be stopping around each bend of Skye’s notoriously narrow and winding country roads for one incredible photo opportunity after another!

I recently road-tripped around the Isle of Skye in Scotland to experience one of the United Kingdom’s most adventurous and scenic travel destinations for myself. It didn’t disappoint.

In this travel guide I’ll help you get the most from an Isle of Skye adventure.

Exploring The Isle Of Skye

If photography and exploring mountain landscapes is your thing, then you’ll love road tripping around the Isle of Skye. The area is steeped in myth and legend — a place where giants and fairies roam. Bloody clan battles were fought here, and ancient castles still stand.

You’ll feel like you’ve been transported into an epic fantasy novel.

The island is split up into a series of peninsulas. For the purposes of this guide, I’ll cover the Trotternish Peninsula in the East, the Waternish Peninsula to the West, and the Black Cuillin Hills region of the South.

Shimmering lochs (lakes) dominate the Waternish Peninsula, while jagged volcanic formations left over from landslides form the Trotternish Ridge. Wind-swept Red & Black Cuillin mountains rise to meet the clouds in the South.

Landscapes on Skye are some of the most impressive in all of Britain.

Isle of Skye Scotland

Sligachan Bridge

Planning Your Road Trip

How Long Does It Take?

You can drive around the island in half a day without stopping. But because there’s so much to see, I recommend spending at least 2 full days on the Isle of Skye. Plus you should schedule an additional half day to drive up from Fort William, and another half day to get back.

Combine your Skye road trip with a few days in the Highlands near Fort William, plus a full day in Edinburgh or Glasgow, and you’ve got yourself a wonderful week-long vacation in Scotland.

This is if you don’t plan on any really big hikes or other longer excursions.

When Should You Go?

You’re bound to get some rain whenever you go, but the best season for traveling to the Isle of Skye is summer. There’s a slightly better chance for dry weather between April and mid-June.

However summer is also high-season. The roads will be more crowded, and accommodation is more difficult to find.

Gas/Petrol

The island is small. You should be able to fit a 2 day road trip in on a single tank of gas starting from Fort William. However there are 4 different gas stations on the Isle of Skye just in case you need to fill up.

Food/Groceries

In the main towns you’ll find plenty of cozy pubs and cafes, with a few dedicated restaurants too. However most of the towns are spread out from each other. So make sure to stock up on sandwiches and snacks at a local grocery store each morning. Sausage rolls are a big deal in Scotland, and while not exactly healthy, they are perfect for road trips.

There is a wonderful pub & traditional Scottish restaurant at the Sligachan Hotel called Seumas Bar if you’re craving some neeps & tatties. Or my personal favorite, haggis! Mmmmm. Sheep guts…

Internet/Mobile Phone

Mobile internet on the Isle of Skye is pretty bad. In Broadford and Portree you’ll have 3G, but outside the major towns there’s a good chance you won’t have a signal at all. Vodafone and O2 seem to have the best coverage.

Isle of Skye Scotland

Eilean Donan Castle

Getting To Skye

The most common way to get to the Isle of Skye is to fly into Glasgow, rent a car, and drive up through the highlands from there. It takes 5-6 hours. I flew into Edinburgh, took a train to Glasgow, and then started driving. Fort William is a great place to stop for a night in the highlands to help break up the drive.

Mallaig Ferry

From Fort William, drive 1 hour West on route A830 to the small fishing town of Mallaig and catch the 30 minute long Skye Ferry to Armadale.

Skye Bridge

From Fort William, head North on routes A82 and A87 to the Skye Bridge, a trip that takes about 1.75 hours non-stop. But you will certainly want to stop with so much to see on the route. Like the incredible Eilean Donan Castle.

To mix it up a bit, I recommend trying them both. I started my road trip riding the Mallaig ferry over and finished it driving back on the Skye Bridge.

Car Rental

Cars are super reasonable, starting around $26 USD per day for an economy rental out of Glasgow Airport. The car we used for our Isle of Skye road trip was from Arnold Clark Rental.

Renting a car on the Isle of Skye itself is a bit more expensive with fewer choices, but possible through Skye Car Hire or HM Hire.

The big benefit to waiting to rent your car on Skye is that it allows you to take the famous Jacobite Steam Train (aka the Harry Potter train) from Fort William to Mallaig, voted the most scenic train ride in the world.

Isle of Skye Scotland

The Fairy Pools

Isle of Skye Scotland

Black Cuillin Moutnains

Southern Skye Highlights

Sligachan Bridge

Sligachan is a small village located at the base of the Black Cuillin mountains. It’s been a hub for climbers and travelers to Skye since 1830, forming a major crossroads to other parts of the island.

The old stone bridge at Sligachan is probably the most photographed spot on Skye. Legend has it the cold waters beneath the bridge grant eternal beauty to whoever dips their face in for 7 seconds…

Fairy Pools

The Fairy Pools are a long series of small waterfalls and beautiful crystal blue pools cascading down from the Black Cuillin range. Hiking from the car park takes 30-40 minutes depending on high up you decide to venture.

If you want to go for a swim, feel free to jump in! The icy cold water might just take your breath away — but so will the views.

Black Cuillins

A series of 36 imposing peaks huddled together at the southern end of Skye, the Black Cuillins have been a hiking and climbing mecca for 150 years. Dark rocky formations that seemingly rise straight out of the sea. A narrow 12km ridgeline scramble called the Black Cuillin Traverse can be tackled in 2 days with equipment.

We decided to take the Bella Jane Ferry from Elgol to the base of the mountains and spent a morning hiking around Loch Coruisk. When the weather is clear, you can hike to the summit of Sgurr na Stri for the best view in the United Kingdom.

Isle of Skye Scotland

The Quiraing

Isle of Skye Scotland

Old Man of Storr

Trotternish Highlights

Old Man Of Storr

You can’t visit the Isle of Skye without hiking up to the Old Man of Storr. Large pinnacles of rock that rise from the ground, this location has been used as a backdrop for many movies, including the sci-fi thriller Prometheus. Legends say the rocks are fingers of a dead giant.

A muddy trail leads up to the rocks and takes about 45 minutes (one way) from the parking area below. The Old Man is often covered in clouds, but it’s not too far from Portree, so you can always come back later in the day and try again when it’s clear.

The Quiraing

Definitely my favorite location on the Isle of Skye, the Quiraing is an other-worldly landscape where huge landslides have created a series of strange cliffs, jagged pinnacles, and plateaus. Trails criss-cross the area, and it’s a great spot for hiking.

A steep winding road leads up to the top of the plateau, with excellent views of the coast below. On a clear day, you’ll see the Islands of Raasay and Rona too. Take a stroll along the steep cliffs, but be careful, it’s a long way down!

Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls

Located off the A855 coastal road, there is a viewpoint on the edge of the cliffs here called Kilt Rock. The massive Kilt Rock Cliffs sort of resemble a Scottish kilt, hence the name. Mealt Falls is a long waterfall that cascades off the cliffs into the ocean below. You need to lean your head out to get a good photo (or bring a drone!).

Isle of Skye Scotland

Dunvegan Castle

Isle of Skye Scotland

Neist Point Lighthouse

Waternish Highlights

The Fairy Glen

A strange and magical place, the Fairy Glen is hidden away off the main road near the village of Uig. It’s a miniature green valley with odd, perfectly conical hills, gnarled dwarf forests and packs of grazing sheep. Whoever named this place couldn’t have picked a better one.

Hiking the maze of trails, you’ll find a new wonder around every bend. Like white stones arranged in concentric circles on the valley floor. A lone rock tower rises above it all, with excellent views of the enchanted landscape below. If fairies do exist, this is their kingdom for sure!

Neist Point Lighthouse

Located on the most Westerly point of Skye, Neist Point is a finger of land stretching out into the sea with a powerful 480,000 candlepower lighthouse on the tip. Massive cliffs ring the coast here, and it’s a wonderful photography spot, especially around sunset.

A walking path takes you all the way to the lighthouse if you want some exercise. It gets very windy on these cliffs, and there have been cases of tourists falling to their deaths. So be very careful near the edges.

Dunvegan Castle

A magnificent castle perched on the edge of a lock, Dunvegan has been the ancestral home to the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for over 800 years. Still owned by the MacLeods, it’s pretty cool that you can walk through their home, and it’s full of old heirlooms and paintings.

One of the treasures on display is the mystical Fairy Flag, a sacred banner with miraculous powers. Supposedly given to the clan by the queen of fairies, legend says when unfurled during battle, the MacLeods would always defeat their enemies.

Talisker Distillery

The Talisker Distillery has been on the island since 1831. Scotland is famous for its whisky around the world. The flavor of a whisky changes depending on where in Scotland it was distilled, and whiskies like Talisker brewed on the islands have a strong, peaty taste.

This is my personal favorite type of whisky, and it seems writer Robert Louis Stevenson agreed. In one of his poems, he says “The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay, or Glenlivet.”

Isle of Skye Scotland

Camping on the Isle of Skye

Accommodation

The Isle of Skye is a small island, so it doesn’t have a ton of accommodation options. During the summer high season, hotels and B&B’s can all be sold out. Skye is one travel destination where it’s very important to book your accommodation months in advance!

Hotels

Portree is the capital of Skye, and a perfect place to base yourself in the middle of the island. I stayed at a wonderful place called the Royal Hotel.

Bed & Breakfasts

If you prefer staying in B&B’s, there’s plenty of those too. here’s a list of great Bed & Breakfasts located around the Isle of Skye.

Backpacker Hostels

Portree SYHA
Broadford SYHA

Camping

Here is a good list of official campsites on the Isle of Skye. Wild camping is allowed, as long as you follow Scotland’s Outdoor Access Code. There are a few “bothys” too — wilderness cabins free for hikers to use.

We spent one night camping on the coast at Camas Malag, and another night at the Rubha Hunish bothy on the edge of a massive coastal cliff.

Isle of Skye Scotland

The Fairy Glen

Hiking & Cycling

Accompanying me on my road trip around the Isle of Skye was Scott from Wilderness Scotland. Working as a guide in the Highlands for years, he showed some of his favorite spots. If you’re looking for a bit of adventure during your trip, check out their Isle of Skye tours.

Hiking

Whether you’re into short walks or long-distance hikes, Skye has it all. The Skye Trail is a 128km route that covers incredible mountain & coastal scenery. It takes about 7 days to complete.

Cycling

Road cycling tours are very popular on Skye due to the island’s paved winding roads and amazing scenery. A support vehicle can take your gear to the next town where it’s waiting when you arrive to spend the night.

Waterfall Scotland

Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls

Isle Of Skye Driving Tips

Google driving times are not what they seem, due to all the scenic stops, it can take 2-3 times as long as you think. Remember to park frequently and explore areas on foot, you never know what you’ll find!

The weather changes quickly on the Isle of Skye. So just because the famous “Old Man Of Storr” happens to be covered in clouds at 9am doesn’t mean that will be the case an hour or two later.

For the same reason, it’s wise to keep some waterproof gear (jacket, pants) in a backpack with you at all times when you’re outside of the car.

The roads here are narrow, often without shoulders, and most backroads are single lane. If you’re not used to driving these, it can be nerve-wracking. We saw at least 2 rental cars off the road in a ditch.

The single lane tracks have special passing areas every 400 meters or so. Proper etiquette is the car closest to the turnoff pulls over and lets the oncoming vehicle(s) pass. ★

Watch Video: Scotland’s Isle Of Skye

(Click to watch The Land Of Fairies – Isle Of Skye on YouTube)

READ NEXT: Hanging From A Helicopter Over NYC

Have any questions about traveling the Isle of Skye? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!

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