From the Giants Causeway in County Antrim to the famous Ring of Kerry, exploring Ireland by campervan has never been more tempting. In this article we will take you through our favourite stops along the way, from Ireland’s Ancient East to the Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal, Ireland has something for everyone.
The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is one of the most famous driving loops in the country. Start off near Killarney in County Kerry, southwest Ireland and be prepared to take in beautiful coastal scenery like no other.
Leaving from Killarney the route is 214km long, not taking into account all of the detours and necessary stops you will be compelled to make once you are faced with such beautiful scenery. Head straight to Kenmare from Killarney, then onwards to Sneem. This is the best way to avoid the tour buses which have to drive in an anti-clockwise direction due to their size in these tiny, narrow roads. Grab every Instagrammable opportunity you can get, from the sprawling green fields, to the jagged mountains and cliff faces on this raw and wild coastline.
The highlight of the Ring is the spectacular Kerry Cliffs near the charming village of Portmagee. These towering cliffs have a dramatic drop that is a stark contrast to the deep blue ocean below. You can also see the famous Skellig Michael Islands from this viewpoint. Known to locals as a pilgrimage site, it is now in the limelight for being used as a dramatic landscape in the new Star Wars films. You can take a trip to explore these islands, however, due to the popularity remember to book way in advance.
The Giants Causeway is in Northern Ireland. Don’t forget to include Northern Ireland in your road trip as this little country really is like nowhere else on earth.
Set on the dramatic coastline of County Antrim, these hexagonal columns made of basalt rise out the sea creating a geological paving which you can spend hours exploring. Legend goes that the Giant Finn McCool created the Causeway as a path to Scotland so he and the Scottish Giant could fight. However, upon realising the Scottish Giant would beat him, he ran back to Ireland. His quick-witted wife disguised him as a baby and when the Scottish Giant arrived upon seeing the baby Finn McCool he ran back to Scotland out of fright, breaking up the path as he went.
Even if you don’t believe the story, the Causeway is a beautiful location worth exploring. You can visit the visitors centre owned by the National Trust, but if you don’t feel like you would make the most of it you can visit the Causeway for free as they have the right to public access. Park in a nearby town or get the Causeway railway from Bushmills, you could also hitch or take a shuttle bus to the site.
Ireland’s Ancient East
If history and culture are your thing then you need to make sure you include Ireland’s Ancient East in your itinerary.
Start your journey in Waterford and explore a Viking history that has been in Ireland for over 1,000 years. Check out the King of the Vikings VR exhibition to give you a taste of what things where really like all those years ago. After taking in the sights head to Wexford and check out the interactive Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience. Learn about this immigrant ship, which is actually still there, and step back into life in the 1700s.
But by far the best attraction is the Irish National Heritage Park, which showcases more than 9,000 years of Irish history. Explore traditional dwellings and take in reinactions from passionate historic actors.
Donegal’s Wild Atlantic Way
The west coast of Ireland is known as the Wild Atlantic Way and should be included on any campervan itinerary. Country Donegal is often skipped but it shouldn’t be. This county located in the far North of Ireland offers rugged coastline, unbeatable scenery and the added bonus of being a Gaeltacht region where many locals speak Irish first and English second.
Slieve League is the main draw of Donegal, often dubbed the highest cliffs of Europe, this location offers hiking trails that will give you breath-taking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Donegal Town is good for a spot of lunch and a wander. There are some ruins by the marina of an old graveyard and church which can make for some stunning pictures.
No journey to Donegal is complete without stopping off at Malin Head. This is Ireland’s most northernly point. Prepare for windy weather, even on the warmest of days!
The Ring of Beara
The Ring of Kerry is famous for being known as a popular go-to for a roadtrip, but why not also explore the Ring of Beara? It’s often passed up for its neighbour so if you want to avoid the crowds it’s a good idea to opt for this route and enjoy just as spectacular views. This coastal look takes in ocean views, roads that twist and wind and lots of hardy sheep that will get in the way. The landscape is just as breath-taking, and you’ll often get to enjoy it without being disturbed by other tourists.
The Cliffs of Mohe
The Cliffs of Moher are famous worldwide and are the most visited natural tourist attraction in Ireland. They are easy to get to and you can do it in a day from Dublin. The Cliffs stretch for 8km and offer lots of walking trails but very few visitors actually explore the whole length. This means that if you’re up for the walk you can easily find an area with little or no tourists. Allow yourself plenty of time to take in the magic of these mythical cliffs.
Forget Stonehenge, Newgrange is where it’s at. Older than the Pyramids, this Neolithic site is located a few hours’ drive from Dublin in County Meabh. The huge, circular stone tomb was built over 5,200 years ag as a druid passage tomb and temple.
The main site takes up an acre of land and stands 15m tall as well as being surrounded by the other tombs in neighbouring fields named Knowth and Dowth. One of the most amazing things about Newgrange is that the entrance passage is aligned to let in a beam of light during sunrise during the winter solstice. The guides can show you this phenomenon at any time of year by using torches.
You must head to the Visitors Centre to purchase your tickets first or you could purchase them in advance. There is only a limited number of visitors allowed a day so do your research if you are planning to visit during the summer or a popular holiday season.
An often-overlooked hidden gem, Achill Island boasts picturesque coastlines, idyllic beaches, quaint fishing villages and lots of activities to enjoy. Expect to see rolling vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and steep farmland inhabited by hardy Irish sheep. There are plenty of hills just waiting to be hiked and you can also rent surfboards or kites to enjoy the spoils of the sea. After exploring you can rest and unwind in the town of Keel, hit any of the local pubs and enjoy a jig and partake in a pint of Guinness or two.
Written by Stuart Cooke, Digital Marketing Manager at My Baggage, a luggage delivery service based in Belfast.