Free Motorhome Camping in Ireland

April 25, 2019 in Destinations and Ireland

Motorhome travel isn’t always the cheapest holiday experience, but it doesn’t have to be that way for your road trip or camping holiday in Ireland. By organising your motorhome hire with Goboony you’ll get a great deal and rent directly from a private owner, and you can reduce accommodation costs further through looking for free motorhome camping options in Ireland, so that you can see the Emerald Isle with your mind free from budget woes. Plus, this will allow you to see more of this gorgeous country up close, instead of hiding away on a campsite. Find out more about what wild camping and free campervan overnight parking entails, and the best places to do so in Ireland!

Goboony Ireland Free Motorhome Camping H2 Wild Overnight Motorhome

What is wild camping and overnight parking?

Wild camping is pitching your tent/caravan/campervan in the wild, without the confines of a  campsite. Open land, with no roof above you. It focuses on getting back into the rural nature of camping, something many feel they lose when pitching at a designated campsite. Overnight parking is a term mainly applied to motorhomes, and consists of parking somewhere overnight that is not a campsite, and not in rural nature. This can apply to fields, parking lots and more. Common locations for free motorhome parking is supermarket  parking lots, farms (with permission), service stops and casinos. Wild camping and overnight parking are the two main options for free motorhome camping in Ireland, the UK and other locations!

Wild Camping vs. Touring Sites

 

Wild Camping

Touring Sites

Legality

The biggest disadvantage of free parking spots is that you’re not allowed to stay just anywhere. You’re not allowed to reside on private property or public property without permission. However you can always ask or check, as it very often tolerated or permitted, and there are many tools for finding locations that allow it.

These are guaranteed to be allowed, particularly when found on the Camping Ireland website, which reviews all sites listed. You can sleep a little more comfortably at night knowing you won’t be asked to move.

Nature

It can be hard to beat true wild camping spots, where you’re surrounded by stunning nature and feel like the only person on earth. However often your ‘wild camping’ will consist of overnight parking, in a carpark or field.

It can really depend on the site. There are city campsites, where the focus is on location and/or amenities. But you do get some campsites in stunning locations. You’re still a bit less ‘in’ nature, and will have other vans around blocking it further.

Price

FREE! More money for van upgrades or holiday attractions.

Price varies based on the site amenities, location, season and more. But you would struggle to find a place cheaper than £8 per night for your van.

Amenities

You’ll be lucky to have a toilet nearby.

Depends on the site, but even on the most basic touring site you can expect to have toilets, perhaps even showers. Some sites have restaurants, cafes, shops. Often there is also a reception, where you can get advice on the local area.

Location

With overnight parking you’ll be able to stay right in the city centre or close to it, and be able to pick up and leave the next day without any fuss. Wild camping will have you further away, but in prime locations too.

Some campsites are walking distance of villages or towns, but usually with larger cities you’ll be quite a distance away. Campsites are also quite a distance from attractions and sites.

Social

Some motorhome travellers find these parking spots to be lonely, whilst others relish in the privacy, it is definitely not the option for those looking to make friends.

Far more social, vans can be clustered quite closely so conversations occur naturally. You can get tips and advice from fellow holidaymakers.

Privacy

You get a lot more privacy from other travellers, but you’re often not in a location where you can truly set up and relax around your van.

Can be minimal, as some touring sites have very limited space per pitch. But others utilise hedges or the foliage to create private areas you can set up in.


What are the general rules for Wild Camping?Goboony Ireland H2 Campervan Trip Buildings Street

It can sound quite confusing, to discuss rules for something that isn’t even allowed! But consider these more as general etiquette for wild camping, advice to make as small an impact as possible. And by following these habits, you'll often be permitted to stay!

  1. Arrive late, leave early - Don’t spend a full day in a spot, there’s few to go around and you don’t want to inhabit nearby residents. Make sure you’re staying for sleeping, otherwise you’re better off in a campsite.

  2. Take only photographs, leave only footprints - No litter! Don’t disturb the foliage or wildlife. Don’t leave any traces of a campfire, and ensure you’re not parking over foliage.

  3. Be prepared to move if asked - People have the right to ask you to leave their property, so respond politely and do as asked, perhaps ask them for a tip of somewhere you could go. This also means ensuring you’re in a fit state to drive, so that second beer may be a no-go.

  4. When in doubt, ask! The worst thing someone could say is no, and then they may give you advice on a better camping spot. If people spot you on their land, they’ll ask you to move, but if you go and ask them if you can stay and perhaps buy a product they offer, they’ll often have no problem with it.

  5. Avoid tourist sites unless it is in their designated parking lot. Out of sight, out of mind, is a good phrase to remember when choosing areas.

  6. Always let someone know where you are, better safe than sorry!

  7. Read up on wild camping tips and overnight parking rules before going, being prepared is the best tactic.

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Resources for free motorhome camping in Ireland

Given that wild camping and overnight parking is not permitted everywhere, it can be quite daunting as a beginner. Luckily, there are many resources to help you find the perfect spot where you can rest your weary head in peace. Here are some of our top picks:

  • CamperContact. Search through hundreds of campsites, service areas and motorhome parking. Each option has the price, GPS, amount of parking spots and more listed. There are also reviews from people who have parked there.

  • Park4night. Very similar to CamperContact, but more specialised for the UK and Ireland. Also has a map function which allows you to plan your route exactly as you wish to drive it.

  • TotalCampingIreland. This Irish camping website has a page focused on overnight parking in Ireland, listing all legal stopovers and service points.

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Best Free Motorhome Camping Spots

Here is our selection of the best wild camping and overnight parking places in Ireland. Based either off their location and proximity to great attractions in Ireland, or simply how great the place is itself - and they’re all free!

  1. Horn Head (Dunfanaghy) - The perfect resting spot on the Wild Atlantic Way, it would be incredibly hard to beat the views offered here. There are no amenities, but a nearby 3G mast ensures you can share this gorgeous view. The road leading to it is a difficult and narrow one, so this is not for the faint hearted! GPS: N 55.20419, W 7.95220

  2. Mullaghderg Beach (Ulster) - Ideal for beach lovers, start and end your day by this fine sandy beach, however keep in mind that it is unsafe for swimming due to strong currents. The center is only 2km away, and there is a great bar for a traditional pint of Guinness! GPS: N 55.03708, W 8.36932

  3. Parking Hook Lighthouse (Churchtown) - Make Hook’s Lighthouse your last stop of the day and enjoy this spacious overnight parking place. You’ll have sea views, and access to the daytime toilet and cafe of the lighthouse. GPS: N 52.12498, W 6.93005

  4. St Mullins (Leinster) - A perfect rural hideaway, set along the River Barrow. Enjoy swimming, fishing, walking and kayaking in this tranquil setting, with a nearby cafe/restaurant ideal for a bite to eat. GPS: N 52.48777, W 6.92955

  5. Silver Strand Beach (Malin Beg) - A pristine beach with the possibility to swim too! The village of Glencolmcille is only 100 metres away, and you may spot grazing sheep on your strolls. GPS: N 54.66547, W 8.77761

  6. Carrigafoyle Castle (Ballylongford) - This quiet parking is described as being peaceful and quiet, and is walking distance of the historic site - certainly worth a visit! Visitors have claimed that you can’t get more Irish than this location, so be sure to add it to your list. GPS: N 52.56994, W 9.49510

Goboony Ireland H2 Motorhome Travel Overnight Parking Camping

Ready for an unforgettable campervan trip to Ireland? You’ll find plenty of things to do in Ireland, and with these free motorhome camping tips you’ll have plenty of budget to do them! Immerse yourself in the wild beauty of this stunning country, and look to Goboony for plenty of motorhome hire options in Ireland.

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