When you think about driving in Dublin, does it send shivers up your spine? Unfortunately, yes it is true that traffic can be extremely heavy, and there are many one-way streets, making it frustrating to navigate around the city. Not only that, there are large numbers of bus lanes, which allow buses, taxis and pedal cyclists access to, and these are generally prohibited for car drivers to use. However, with a bit of forward planning, you can find your way through Dublin, and also get to Dublin quite easily from the main access roads to Ireland’s capital city. Driving around Dublin doesn’t have to be difficult and confusing. Read on for more…
If you’re a first timer to Ireland, the first thing to be aware of is you drive on the left hand side and the speed limit is in kilometres. Dublin’s rapid development over the past ten years has greatly increased traffic volume. So if you’re travelling by car to the city, allow lots of additional time to get into and around the centre of the city, especially on holiday weekends. We recommend that perhaps the best times to travel by car through the city are 10am to 2pm on weekdays and early morning or late evening at the weekends.
Once a medieval city, Dublin wasn’t designed to handle a large volume of traffic, and there has been a one-way system in operation for some time now. Traffic jams are unfortunately a regular occurrence, however the last few years have motivated an expansion of infrastructure, and parking areas, have increased. Blue-and-white signs with a P direct you to parking areas.
If you plan on parking in metered spaces anywhere in the city, be prepared with 50 cents and 1 euro coins, depending on the amount of time you wish to park. Do not illegally park, you will be clamped. This will result in a long wait, a heavy fine and major inconvenience to your city visit! You can also use one of the city’s parking garages, which charge varying rates starting at about 3 euros for an hour. However, take notice, many parking garages close before midnight.
Motorways Around Dublin – What to know…
In short, there are four main motorways around Dublin, and these are:
The M1 – from Whitehall suburb to Dublin Airport, and then to Belfast on the N1.
The M50 – basically it’s the Dublin city bypass or ring road, from the M1 junction through Ballymun, Blanchardstown, Clondalkin, Tallaght, Ballinteer to Shankill. The toll bridge after the Blanchardstown exit has a €1.80 fee. It can be extremely busy in the mornings and evenings with commuter and school traffic, so avoid this route at these times, if at all possible.
The M 11 – this travels from Shankill to part of County Wicklow, this route will then take you to County Wexford.
The M7 – this contains the Limerick/Cork/Waterford roads to Dublin. It stops just after the Dublin/Kildare border, and is renamed thereafter the N7 and N8 dual carriageway to Limerick and Cork.
Other roads going into Dublin are the N6 and N4 from Galway and the West of Ireland.
Approximate driving times to Dublin:
Belfast to Dublin – 2 hours 45 minutes
Galway to Dublin – 3 hours 30 minutes
Cork to Dublin – 4 hours 15 minutes
Limerick to Dublin – 3 hours.
The M50 is essentially a motorway and National Primary Route (N50) that runs for approximately 31km in a C-shaped ring circling the northern, north eastern, western and southern sides of Dublin City. The access to the motorway from the Northern Route is via the entrance to the Dublin Port Tunnel, which was officially opened in January 2007 to car traffic. In an anti-clockwise direction the road heads northwest through the tunnel and veers west at the M1 Motorway junction. The road traverses the double West Link toll bridges that cross the River Liffey to the extreme west of Dublin, and it forms a loop around the south east of Dublin, to join the M11 route (which runs south to Wexford) at the seaside town of Bray, in County Wicklow.
The initial idea regarding the M50 was that it was to keep away traffic travelling on National Primary Routes from the city, in essence a full bypass of Dublin. However it is now an artery road for Dublin city, as it connects all of the suburbs surrounding the city. You’ll see that all of the National Primary Routes that exit Dublin have junctions with the M50. The primary routes are the N2 to Derry, N3 to Navan/Cavan and the North West, N4 to Galway and the West of Ireland, N7/N8 to Cork, Limerick, Kerry and Waterford and the N11 to Wexford and the south east coast. There are also a number of extra junctions along the motorway that serve Dublin suburbs such as Tallaght, Ballymun, Cherrywood, Santry, Sandyford, Finglas, Blanchardstown and ending at Shankhill.
Its true to say that the majority of these interchanges suffer huge traffic conjestion. The busy roundabout junctions are signal controlled, and this leads to major traffic chaos at peak times. The Red Cow Roundabout is a junction for two of the busiest roads in Ireland!
You may have heard that the M50 motorway around Dublin is currently being upgraded to improve traffic flow. The €1 billion investment is being managed by the National Roads Authority and the Dublin Local Authorities and is being created through three separate phases. Phase 1 and Phase 3 are substantially completed, and phase 2 is due to be finished in 2010. When completed the 31Km M50 Upgrade will provide:
3 lanes in each direction from the Sandyford Junction to the M1 junction.
Free flow traffic at the M1, N3, N4 and N7 junctions.
Partial free-flow at six additional junctions
Additional fourth lanes linking successive junctions on the M30
Provision of barrier free tolling – this eas indroduced at midnight on he 31st August.
It’s important to monitor developments to the M50 motorway, and such updates are continuously provided.
Find out more about the M50.
Other roads around Dublin…
There are a number of other roads that link the Dublin Area, aside from the ones mentioned above, and they are as follows:
N2 – This road links Dublin to Derry.
N3 – Dublin to Cavan Road, and after Enniskillen (A46), when re-travelling across the border it reaches to County Donegal.
N31 – Connects Dublin to the sea-port of Dun Laoghaire and also joins the N11 to reach Wexford.
N32 – a short primary route that joins the Malahide Road from the M50 at the Dublin Airport Junction.
N4 – Runs from Dublin to the North West of Ireland and Sligo
N81 – Dublin to Carlow Road
N82 – This is actually the shortest national secondary road in Ireland. It runs between the N81 at Tallaght and Junction 3 at the City West Interchange of the N7.
There are a number of regional roads from Dublin to other regional locations in Ireland; amongst them are the R108, R103, R113, R115, R116, R117, R132, R135, R136, R148, and R156.
Essentially the greater Dublin area is a suburban sprawl which encompasses an area of several kilometres. The city centre stretches from Parnell Square to the north of the city, and the Saint Stephens’ Green to the south, with the River Liffey dividing it into Northside and Southside.
As always it’s advisable to book your accommodation well in advance. Check out our Dublin hotels page and book on line.