Navigating Ireland Map or GPS — which is better?

Ireland Map or GPS | Pic Image by tiramisustudio at
Image by tiramisustudio at

As someone who travels solo around Ireland by car, the question of whether to rely on an Ireland map or GPS (Sat-Nav) is one that I’ve had plenty of time to think about.

Let me own up at the outset that I wouldn’t leave home without my GPS — I find it takes a lot of the stress out of driving and I like how it gives you a constantly updated estimated time of arrival. That’s pretty reassuring when you’re driving around on your own.

Based on my experience of using a couple of different Garmin GPS, my considered opinion is that you get the best result when you use both. Here are three why:

Ireland does not use Post Codes

At the time of writing, Ireland still does not use post codes. This means that putting a destination into the GPS can be tricky — particularly if you have one of those models that requires you to enter ‘near’ information. It helps if you know the nearest main town to your destination and I find that a physical map is the best way to identify that. So, that’s my first reason for answering ‘Both’ to the Ireland Map or GPS question.

Main routes

Depending on what GPS you use, when you are driving around Ireland, you may be directed via the shortest or fastest route rather than by a main route. Some Irish roads are narrow with little room to pass an oncoming vehicle making for some hair-raising ‘white knuckle’ drives. If you’re a nervous driver, you might want to select major routes to avoid these minor roads. On the other hand, the smaller roads sometimes take you to places you’d never otherwise see — and generally these very small roads are fairly quiet — so it can be an adventure.

Broadband / Cell phone signal

If you are relying on your cell phone for you GPS, it’s definitely a good idea to have a map as backup because the cell phone signal is poor in some parts of the country. Personally, I find it very stressful if I get lost and have no Internet or mobile coverage on my cell phone.

Ireland Map or GPS?

Post codes, main routes and mobile coverage are the three main factors that influence my Ireland map or GPS recommendation. So, if you’re hiring a car and are offered GPS, I’d be inclined to go for it. Just make sure that the maps are up to date as some Irish roads have been upgraded and don’t appear on older GPS maps.