The Ultimate Guide To Campervanning In Ireland

A campervan trip can be one of the best ways to get away, explore new places and spend some time in the great outdoors without having to give up all your home comforts.

Of course, you need to make sure you choose the right destination and that you’ve done some research and planning before you set off.

If you’re thinking of visiting Ireland in your campervan or motorhome this year, then this guide is for you. Below, we’ll take a look at where to go, where to stay and everything else you need for the perfect campervan trip in Ireland.

Why go to Ireland?
There are so many reasons that you should consider Ireland for your next road trip. Firstly, it has loads of beautiful routes you can take along the coast, inland and even through some of the nation’s top cities.

It is also bursting with historic sites, breathtaking landscapes and incredible beaches. As a nation, Ireland is pretty geared up for campers, so there are lots of impressive campsites and stopovers to choose from too.

Not only this, but it is one of the greatest places in the world for hospitality, music and comedy, and you’ll have the opportunity to try loads of great food and drink along the way.

Need we say any more?

If you’re looking for a friendly, exciting and enjoyable place to go on a campervan holiday, Ireland is the place for you.

How to get there
There are several ways you can get to Ireland but this will very much depend on your campervan status. What we mean by this is, do you have your own campervan or are you planning to rent one when you arrive? This will usually determine your style of travel, though you have a couple of options.

Getting the ferry
If you’re planning on taking your own campervan over, you’ll need to get the ferry from the UK. There are several different ports you can leave from and travel to, including Liverpool, Pembroke, Cairnryan and Holyhead. These ferries travel to and from Dublin, Belfast, Larne and Rosslare.

Of course, you can travel on the ferry even if you aren’t taking your own campervan, but this is typically the longer way to travel. You might do this if you want to drive your own car over.

Flying to Ireland
If you’re planning on renting a campervan when you arrive, you might wish to fly to Ireland instead. This can be the quicker (and sometimes cheaper) option and means you can travel over there from multiple locations, not just the UK.

Renting a campervan
If you don’t have a campervan of your own, you’ll need to hire one for your road trip. When you arrive in Ireland, you can head over to your chosen campervan provider to pick up your temporary home on wheels.

Some providers will even pick you up in your camper, for example, from the airport, or drop it off at your chosen location rather than you having to make your way to their offices. You can choose the pick-up and drop-off time that best suits you and your travel arrangements.

What’s more, as these are being hired out, most companies will use new, state-of-the-art campervans and motorhomes, though some do prefer to use older and more quirky vehicles.

Be sure to do your research into reputable companies like Campervan Ireland, before you book your van and pay for the rental. By doing this, you’ll make sure that you get the best possible service and that your campervan is of the highest standard for your trip.

When to go
There’s never a bad time to go to Ireland, but if you want warmer, dryer weather then there are certain times of year that are better to visit. The ideal time to go, as with most places in the UK is between April and October.

That being said, remember that Ireland is called the Emerald Isle for a reason. It is very luscious and green, but it is that way because it rains so often. So no matter the time of year, you need to be prepared for the odd shower, even in the warmer months.

July and August might offer the hottest weather, but as also it’s the school holidays these are some of the busiest months of the year. What’s more, when there are big events on like the Rugby Six Nations, St Patrick’s Day, Easter weekend and Christmas, you might also find it becomes very busy and usually more expensive.

But despite these times being busier, there are often lots of fun and festive activities going on, so you should still consider these dates if you can afford to go then.

Where to go
There are so many wonderful places to go in Ireland that narrowing down your list can be tricky, especially when you’ve got limited time on your trip.

Many have been fooled into thinking Ireland is a smaller country (well, an island) and therefore, it is easier to see and do everything in a short space of time. This is simply not true. With so much beauty around every corner, you’ll want to spend years exploring!

But if you can’t having a few ideas about where to go can get your planning off to a good start and will ensure you don’t miss out on anything you really want to see or do. To give you some inspiration, we’ve put together a few ideas for routes, regions, spots and attractions you might wish to visit on your trip.

The best road trips in Ireland
There are some routes and loops that are already established as being beautiful and rewarding drives. From the coast to the mountains, some of the best road trips Ireland has to offer include:

• The Copper Coast – Tramore to Dungarvan
• The Wild Atlantic Way – Inishowen Peninsula to Kinsale
• The Ring of Kerry – Killarney
• Mayo coastal road trip – Ballina to Killary
• The Old Military Road – Rathfarnham to Aughavannagh
• Slea Head Drive – Dingle
• The Ring of Beara – Glengariff
• The Burren Loop – Ballyvaughan
• Sky Road Loop – Clifden
• The ‘Four Peaks’ Challenge – Carrauntoohill to Mweelrea and Slieve Donard to Lugnaquilla
The top scenic spots
The great thing about having a home on wheels is you can venture to new places you might not have been able to access or stay on a traditional holiday. You can visit and stay overnight in some of the nation’s most beautiful spots, so you can spend your days visiting some of the most scenic locations Ireland has to offer. To give you some ideas of where to go, we’ve put together a list of some of the greatest spots:

• The Cliffs of Moher
• The Connemara region
• Voya Seaweed Baths
• Dingle peninsula
• Waterford Greenway
• Giant’s Causeway
• The Burren
• Newgrange
• Wicklow Mountains National Park
• Sliabh Liag

Some of Ireland’s best cities
Whether you drive your van directly into the center or you choose a campsite or parking spot on the outskirts of the city, there are loads of wonderful places to visit. If you love experiencing new cities and you want to sample some great food, drink, shopping and entertainment, there’s nowhere quite like an Irish city. During your trip, we recommend you visit the following:

• Dublin
• Belfast
• Galway
• Cork
• Kilkenny
• Limerick
• Donegal
• Waterford
• Derry
• Killarney

Best spots for camping
If you’re in need of some inspiration for where to stay, of course, you can choose the sites you’d like to visit and look for a campsite or stopover nearby. Alternatively, if you want to do a bit of responsible free camping during your getaway, it can be helpful to know some great spots to stop.

So, to help you get the most from your trip, we’ve put together a few of the places to go, these include:

• Eagle Point Camping, County Cork
• Ben Crom Reservoir, County Down
• Nore Valley Park, County Kilkenny
• Omey Island, Connemara
• Baginbun Beach, County Wexford
• Mullaghderg Beach, County Donegal
• Hook Head, County Wexford
• Minard Castle, County Kerry
• Wicklow Mountains National Park, County Wicklow
• Rosguill Peninsula, County Donegal

But remember, these are just a few suggestions and with so many incredible places to see and things to do, it’s important you do your own research and plan the best route for you.

Where to stay
As we said earlier, Ireland is geared up for those who enjoy camping, campervan and motorhome holidays. Because of this, there are loads of different places you can stay and facilities to suit every need and camping style.

When planning your trip, not only do you need to think about the various regions you might want to visit and sites you want to see, but also where you’ll be staying around that area. Below, we’ll look at the different places you can stay in more detail.
Staying at campsites
The first and most obvious place to stay is a campsite. There are sites dotted all around Ireland, many with beautiful views, great amenities and close proximity to the tourist hot spots.

If you’re planning on booking up a campsite, or maybe even several different campsites throughout your trip, then it’s also good to do some research beforehand and look at the reviews online.

You can also make use of dedicated camping and road trip apps that highlight all the nearest sites to your current location. These will often have a rating system, along with a list of all the amenities available at each site.

Of course, choosing to stay on a campsite for your trip offers a safer environment and access to all the facilities and amenities you might need for your stay.

Are there Aires?
If you’re used to travelling around Europe, you’ll know that places like France, Italy and Germany have dedicated overnight spots called Aires.

Unfortunately, Ireland is like the UK in that it doesn’t have spaces that work the same as these Aires. However, there are some spaces that offer approved motorhome parking and which are not official campsites that you can stop at.

Just make sure to always check the rules if you’re going to stay somewhere that isn’t a campsite.

Pubs and stopovers
This moves us nicely on to the next point. There are also lots of approved overnight parking spots that you can stay in around Ireland, such as pubs, services and restaurants.

Many are part of a scheme and require you to pay for goods or services in exchange for a place to park for the night. For example, going into a pub and having a meal, then being allowed to stay overnight in the pub car park.

However, it’s worth noting that most of these places won’t have motorhome facilities, so you have to be aware of this. But they can be a great way to save some money on your trip and support local businesses.

Are you allowed to free camp?
You might be wondering about free camping and staying the night in rural spots. While it is technically illegal to free camp in Ireland, there are plenty who do it with no trouble so it is an option.

You could choose this approach to save money, but also to spend your days and nights in some of the country’s most beautiful locations, without having to head back to a campsite.

You shouldn’t have any problems provided you are tidy, respectful and follow any local rules. This means always cleaning up after yourself, being quiet and not disturbing any of the local flora or fauna.

However, we do not recommend you do this if you need access to facilities and never dump your waste or rubbish in these rural locations.

Campervan facilities and services
In some cases, you might be able to find facilities and places to refill your water or empty your toilet cassette without paying for a campsite for the night.

These services are few and far between as they are not as popular, but they do exist. Again, there are handy apps you can download that will point you in the direction of these helpful facilities.

The rules of driving in Ireland
There are several rules for driving in Ireland that you need to know about. If you’ve been on a campervan holiday before, these will differ depending on where you’ve been, so it’s worth refreshing your mind.

When driving a campervan in Ireland you must have a UK sticker attached to the back of the vehicle or reg plates (and trailer if you have one). Plus, you must have a spare wheel and the tools to change it, or a puncture repair kit, and if you wear glasses you must also carry a spare pair with you in case something happens to them.

And as with any destination, always make sure you abide by the speed limits and follow local traffic laws. It can also be helpful to make sure you have your driving license, insurance details and any rental documents to hand just in case.

Campervanning with a dog

One of the key reasons that many choose to go on a campervan holiday is that they can take their furry friends with them. However, some places in Ireland are more dog-friendly than others, so if you plan to take your pooch with you, always check ahead.

Yes, there will be beaches, parks and fields where they can run about and most campsites will allow dogs on site. But it’s worth noting that some places aren’t as easygoing and many pubs and restaurants might not let them in at all.

So before you go, take a look at the most dog-friendly places across the country and ensure your trip won’t be halted if you take your dog.

It’s also important to know that your dog must be microchipped and up to date on vaccines to enter the country. And if you’re renting a campervan, make sure dogs are allowed in the van before you go.

7 handy campervan holiday tips
If you’re relatively new to the campervan lifestyle (and sometimes even if you’re not) there are some handy hints that can help you to get the most from your trip.

In this final section, we’ve pulled together some of our top campervan tips to make your trip run smoothly.

1. Make sure you know how the electric and gas works
One of the most important things you need to do, and this is usually more important in a rented campervan, is to make sure you know how the gas and electricity work. You also need to make sure you monitor this so that you don’t run out of gas or end up with a flat battery.

Wherever possible, use electric hookups at campsites and services to persevere your battery.

2. Don’t overpack
There is always the temptation to overpack. After all, you don’t want to be in the middle of Ireland and realise you don’t have your favourite jumper or pair of shoes.

However, you need to be aware of the weight of your camper and its contents. Plus, you don’t want to have to try and find space for everything in a smaller van.

So always be deliberate and smart about what you pack. This way, you can be prepared for any weather, situation or mood, without feeling cramped or having to pack up half your belongings before you leave.

3. Keep everything tidy
As we’ve briefly said, a campervan is a small space. Therefore, you want to keep it as clean and clutter-free as possible.

Often these vans and motorhomes will come with clever storage solutions. But always be conscious about putting things away once you’re finished with them. Particularly as you don’t want things rattling around in the back while you’re driving.

4. Think about Wi-Fi
If you don’t plan on staying on a campsite every night, but you want access to Wi-Fi, you might wish to buy a portable device.

Just be aware that these generally operate using a phone signal, so if you’re in an area with little to no signal, it may not work. Therefore, it’s best to check the coverage in the area before signing up.

5. Download useful apps before you go
Another tip we’ve already touched on is dedicated apps that can make your journey more enjoyable. Whether you need a sat nav, a campsite app or anything else, be sure to download these and set up the appropriate accounts before you hit the road.

6. Make sure you pack up properly
While we advise that you don’t overpack, it’s important that you think about the situation you’re going to be in and pack accordingly. For example, Ireland can be wet, so a raincoat or umbrella can be beneficial.

What’s more, if you’re camping in the colder months, make sure to take some extra layers as it could get chilly.

Also, think about any handy devices or gadgets that can make your life easier. This could be a portable phone charger, a torch, a solar shower or a comfy camping chair.

Whatever the case may be, always plan ahead and make sure you pack accordingly without going overboard.

7. Know your dimensions
Finally, it’s vital that you know how big your campervan or motorhome is so you don’t misjudge this. The last thing you need is to try and go under a barrier or squeeze down a tight lane and damage the bodywork.

Plus, you may be asked about the size of the vehicle when booking on to campsites and you don’t want to get this wrong, so make sure you’re aware or have it written down somewhere.

So what are you waiting for?

Ireland is a wonderful nation with so much to offer and a campervan holiday can be the perfect way for you to experience the country, or parts of it at least. So if you’ve read this guide and it all sounds great, what are you waiting for?

Whether you’ve got a campervan of your own or you’re planning on hiring one when you get there, start doing your research and planning your trip to Ireland right away.

We promise you won’t regret it!