Services and rest areas

Service areas are a relatively new concept in both Ireland, where the first sites have only been evident since 2010. In the case of Northern Ireland, road users had to wait another five years before the first motorway services opened there.

With the massive expansion of the motorway network that has taken place in recent years, it was only a matter of time before the first roadside facitlities were constructed.

Irish government policy has been to build "online" service areas, whereby a pair of sites are built on either side of the carriageway. These are then run by a third-party operator under a concession, and are signed using standard blue or green signage.

However, third parties can apply to build an "offline" site privately, to which a single site is built next to, and accessed from, a junction. These sites are unusally signed using brown "tourist" style signage.


So what's provided?

Whether online of offline, service areas either side of the Irish border are similar to those on the British mainland. A large amenety building offers toilets, food and drink outlets (often popular brands) and a seating area; many also have showers.

Outside will be ample parking and fuelling facilities, picnic facilities, and often somewhere to stretch your legs. An increasing number feature electric vehicle charging points.

Another thing to note is that Rest Areas don't exist on Irish and Northern Irish motorways. Some motorways do have parking laybys, being routes that have been upgraded from all-purpose dual carriageways. These are provided where proper service areas don't exist, but don't have any facilities - they are literally a place to pull into for a rest. For your own safety, you should remain in your vehicle at these laybys.

You can find out more information about motorway services at Motorway Services Online. Likewise, you can access information on individual sites from the Junction Map pages, by simply clicking on a service area's name.

Signage symbols - Ireland

Petrol station
(not 24 hours)

Petrol station
(24 hours)

Electric vehicle charging poing

Garage repairs

Public telephone

Public toilets


Picnic area


Tourist information point

HGV facilities