Reduce your accommodation costs by exploring free motorhome camping options in Ireland. See the Emerald Isle with your mind free from budget woes. Find out more about what wild camping and free campervan overnight parking entails, and the best places to do so in Ireland.
What is the difference between wild camping and overnight parking?
There are numerous resources for finding wild camping spots or free campervan parking, but before we get into these it's important to know the difference between the two. Wild camping refers to camping somewhere that is not a campsite and spending a night in the 'wild' amidst nature, where you can enjoy and fully submerge yourself in the outdoors and your surroundings. Wild camping is also often prohibited, but generally, if you follow the wild camping etiquette you’ll be fine. If you’re not noticeable, then you’re not in trouble.
Free overnight campervan parking more often refers to stopping somewhere in a motorhome just to spend the night for free, usually in more urban areas such as parking lots. Overnight parking spots serve the purpose of spending the night for free before you set off on an adventure again the next day.
What are the rules on motorhome overnight parking?
The most important thing to remember about parking overnight is that it is not allowed everywhere. Never assume you can stay somewhere, as that can result in you being woken up at 4 am by an angry official. Secondly, just because you can park somewhere doesn’t mean that you can stay the whole night. Campervan overnight parking is difficult, but luckily there are loads of websites and apps to help make it easier.
Wild camping tips
Car parks may be practical, but they don’t provide the best view to wake up to. If you’re focused more on the journey and stops, rather than your road trip destination, then perhaps some wild camping spots are more in line with what you’re looking for. For successful wild camping in the UK, always follow the general rule of ‘leave only footprints, take only photographs’. Furthermore, stick to the following wild camping tips:
-Don’t camp on verges or in car parks
-Always ensure you are out of sight of any walking paths and well-known tarns
-Stay for only a single night at each location
-Arrive late and leave early
-Keep noise to a minimum
We recommend visiting Wild With Consent to find wild camping spots with the landowners' permission.
Online resources for overnight parking and wild camping spots
Given that wild camping and overnight parking are not permitted everywhere, it can be quite daunting when trying it for the first time. 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:
Best free motorhome camping spots in Ireland
To get you on the road and to give you an idea of the types of overnight parking spots you’ll find on platforms like these, we’ve selected a few of our favourites for you:
Horn Head, Dunfanaghy
N 55.20419, W 7.95220
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!
Mullaghderg Beach, Ulster
N 55.03708, W 8.36932
Ideal for beach lovers, start and end your day on this fine sandy beach, however, keep in mind that it is unsafe for swimming due to strong currents. The centre is only 2km away, and there is a great bar for a traditional pint of Guinness!
Parking Hook Lighthouse, Churchtown
N 52.12498, W 6.93005
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.
St Mullins, Leinster
N 52.48777, W 6.92955
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.
Silver Strand Beach, Malin Beg
N 54.66547, W 8.77761
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.
Carrigafoyle Castle, Ballylongford
N 52.56994, W 9.49510
This quiet parking is described as being peaceful and quiet, and is within 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.
Find your ideal budget-friendly campervan to enjoy an affordable holiday in Ireland.