If you are one for the beautiful outdoors then maybe you could consider a different way to experience Ireland.
Come to Ireland for some glamping, camping, caravanning or campervanning and you’ll find tons of amazing places to sleep out under the stars…
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my sense put in order,” said American naturalist John Burroughs. Despite the hard work that comes with camping, many people believe that there really is nothing quite as magical as sleeping out under the twinkling night sky. And what a twinkling sky it is… Ireland is home to two International Dark Sky Reserves, free from light pollution and perfect for star-gazing!
And then, there’s the landscape. Could there be a better place in the world for camping? Think green valleys, glistening coastlines, tranquil waterways and sites where you can opt-in for all the modern conveniences you desire, or simply do without – the choice is yours.
Whether you want to stay close to cities or go off the beaten track, camping in Ireland gives you the ultimate freedom to take your time and experience all that the island has to offer. Here’s what you need to know…
Camping under moonlit skies
Traditionally, camping has been all about how much you can carry strapped to your back, into your bike’s panniers or tucked away in the boot of your car… have tent, will travel, so to speak. But with natural landscapes just minutes from urban hubs here in Ireland, you definitely won’t be short of sites where you can pitch up, plug in and relax beside the BBQ.
The good news is that many of the island’s very best campsites are surrounded by the kind of scenery that will take your breath away. Not only that, but lots of our sites come with amazing activity centres, giving you the chance to do everything from horse trekking to zip-lining to canoeing and kayaking. And you’ll usually be close enough to a local grocery store, or towns and villages where you can stock up the ice box.
Glam it up a bit
Getting mucky in a lovely green field overlooking sublime views can be lots of fun for some, but if you’re hovering on the fence about whether you really want to go camping – and all that it entails – then how about going glamping instead? Glamping literally means glamorous camping and in Ireland these options come in all shapes and sizes – eco-pods, eco-cabins, wooden pods, island yurts, horse-drawn caravans, treehouses, teepees and even bubble domes! You can still say you’ve been camping to anyone who asks, just don’t tell them about how luxurious these places can be!
Pitching your tent or motorhome in a place other than a designated campsite may sound ideal, but according to The Outsider, in Ireland it’s not always as simple as pulling over at the side of a road and finding a flat patch of land: “Landowners are often reluctant to let people camp on their land and a lot of public spaces prohibit camping, whether that’s in a tent or a motorhome.“ Always ask the landowner before you pitch, and if they say no, just move along.
“I really love campsites – love ’em – but there’s still nothing like pitching-up in some field/mountain/cliff in the back end of Ballynowhere”
-THOMAS BREATHNACH, TRAVEL WRITER
When it comes to motorhomes, Camping Ireland says: “There are plenty of resting places along the coastal roads, where you can stretch your legs,
enjoy the view and, of course, take beautiful pictures. It is not intended that you stay longer on these rest areas, so it is often difficult to get to the parking lot for vehicles, which are higher than about 2.5 meters.”
The best advice is to plan your overnight stops in advance so you can be confident you are parking up legally.
The practical stuff
Not all campsites are the same, so head over to Camping Ireland, which lists all the approved sites on the island. You can search by type, see if your site allows pets, and what facilities it offers (showers, communal kitchens, barbecues etc). They definitely advise you book ahead – either online or by phone – especially during peak holiday times. And remember it’s not just about pitching your own tent, many sites have mobile homes or caravans, which you can rent out. So, yes, technically you can sleep under the stars, but you’re a little more toasty indoors! It’s also a great idea to order your Camping Key Europe card before you come. It lets you find offers at attractions and activities while touring the island, and some campsites even offer nightly discounts to Camping Key Europe card holders.
You can find out much more about the great places to see and visit at www.ireland.com
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling