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Ireland, the enchanting island on the edge of Europe, exerts an almost mystical magic. It lies in the North Atlantic, west of the British Isles. The west coast is very rugged and has numerous offshore islands, most of which are uninhabited today. Ireland features incredibly beautiful, unspoilt regions and is a veritable El Dorado for holidaymakers who set off in a campervan to explore the island.
Important to know: Ireland is politically divided into two parts, five sixths of the area form the Republic of Ireland, the rest belongs to the United Kingdom of Great Britain as Northern Ireland. This political background is not relevant for a holiday with a campervan in Ireland. The only thing to note is that the Republic is in the Eurozone, while in Northern Ireland you pay in British pounds.
Also, distances in the Republic are in kilometres, while in Northern Ireland they are in miles. Due to the Brexit, there is now an external EU border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, but this is handled in the usual sovereign manner. The Irish are not easily ruffled.
The capital Dublin is located on the east coast of the island and has over 550,000 inhabitants. The pulsating, lively metropolis scores with cosmopolitanism and exudes an unmistakable charm that visitors cannot escape. Numerous sights, attractions and events make life in this lovely city interesting and varied. Traffic, however, is considerable, and it is advisable to either hire a bicycle or use public transport when exploring the city, including hop-on hop-off bus tours that allow visitors to explore the city at their own pace.
According to Irish folk wisdom, you can experience all four seasons in one day in Ireland. In fact, the weather is somewhat unstable with pleasantly moderate temperatures. This is due to the Gulf Stream, which gives Ireland a decidedly mild climate. In winter, the temperatures rarely drop below freezing, and extremely hot summer days are rare. However, it rains frequently, especially in the southwest. But these rain showers are usually not wild and heavy, but rather gentle and steady. They provide the lush green that covers Ireland in an unbelievable number of colour shades. This is where the nickname "the Emerald Isle" comes from.
As Ireland enjoys a mild climate, a holiday with a caravan or campervan is theoretically possible all year round. However, in the winter months, rain showers are more frequent and there are fewer hours of sunshine. Therefore, the summer half-year is more suitable for exploring the beautiful landscapes, untouched nature, mysterious monuments and colourful cities.
The best time to travel is between April and September. There are still wonderful holidays in October, even if the mountain peaks are often covered in snow. As temperatures average around 20 degrees Celsius even in the height of summer, these months are perfectly suitable for renting a campervan and discovering Ireland by campervan.
Depending on the time available, there are different routes to take to explore Ireland in a campervan. The Wild Atlantic Way, which stretches along the west coast and is one of the longest coastal roads in the world at around 2,500 kilometres, is a must. Those who can take weeks to discover the Emerald Isle in a campervan can take a wonderful coastal tour, detours inland to special destinations are recommended. For those who don't want to spend quite so long on the island, shorter tours are available.
From Dublin, the route first leads south. In Wicklow Mountain National Park, there are several interesting destinations in addition to breathtaking panoramic views of seemingly untouched countryside. The monastery complex of Glendalough is at least as worth seeing as the stately home of Powerscourt Garden with its magnificent gardens and nearby impressive waterfall. Further south is the seaside town of Courtown, where you can visit the impressive Seal Sanctuary.
Via Wexford, the route follows the coast to Waterford, then turns northwest towards Cashel, home to one of the oldest testaments to Christian Ireland: the Rock of Cashel. The towering rock was an important meeting place in prehistoric times, and today the monastic ruins are impressive. The tour leads to the charming, colourful town of Kilkenny, which not only boasts a Norman castle and a lot of history, but also joie de vivre and charm.
We continue north via Portlaoise to visit a whiskey distillery in the small town of Tullamore. The tour is very interesting and includes a whiskey tasting. On the way home to Dublin, a detour should be made to the coastal town of Howth or Malahide Castle.
For the journey from Dublin to the south of Ireland, the motorway should be used, the journey time is around three hours. Tolls are charged on the motorways in Ireland. A good starting point for a round trip along the south coast is Cork. Not far from the bustling city lies the small town of Cobh, which was still called Queenstown in 1912 when the Titanic set off from there on its fateful voyage.
From Cork, a trip to Kinsale is a must. The charming coastal town captivates with the colourfulness of its houses and a wonderful marina where you can hire a sailing boat with skipper for a round trip. Along the rugged coastline, the campervan takes you to Baltimore, where a spectacular dolphin and whale watching tour awaits interested guests.
The south of Ireland is characterised by a fantastic display of flowers. The flower island of Garinish Island in Bantry Bay, not far from the town of Glengarriff, is beautiful. If you want to experience a little adventure, choose the route over the Healy Pass. The pass road itself is not dangerous, but the view that opens up is indescribable. The route continues via Molls Gap to Killarney, not without stopping above the lakes and enjoying the view at Ladies View, which already thrilled Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting.
A must-do when visiting Kilarney is a trip to Muckross House, a stately country estate surrounded by a magnificent park. Hiring a horse-drawn carriage with a driver and being driven through the magnificent grounds along the lakes is a special treat. From Killarney, it's back to Dublin, which is a drive of about four hours.
If exploring the west coast is on the agenda, it is recommended that you choose Kerry Airport as your starting point. The first venture on the agenda is the RoK, the Ring of Kerry, this legendary coastal road is part of the Wild Atlantic Way. Tourist buses are only allowed to drive the RoK in a counter-clockwise direction. It is advisable to take this route even with a campervan, it can get very crowded when campervan and bus meet on the narrow roads.
The next stop is Dingle, a peninsula with numerous sights. A boat trip takes you to the Blasket Islands, the westernmost point in Europe. For the campervan, the drive over the Connor Pass near the small town of Dingle is not recommended, the road is frighteningly narrow in places.
From Dingle we continue north, always following the coast. The ferry across the Shannon is a good way to save kilometres. From the ferry, it is not far to Kilkee, a charming holiday resort. A little later, following the coast, you reach Ireland's most spectacular cliffs, the Cliffs of Moher, which have already served as a film set for a Harry Potter movie. There is a visitor centre and hiking trails, but it is also possible to book a boat tour and admire the over 200-metre-high cliffs from the sea.
Not far from the cliffs is a unique karst landscape, the Burren. This seemingly inhospitable landscape was already inhabited in prehistoric times, as evidenced by a Stone Age fort and the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a burial site more than 5000 years old. Exciting is a visit to the Bird of Prey Centre, a bird of prey station that offers spectacular flight shows.
The student city of Galway is also worth a visit, and mainly towards the evening when the busy streets and alleyways are bustling with people, the cheerful city is full of life and music. Galway is the gateway to Connemara, a sparsely populated landscape of incredibly powerful beauty. Here is a popular destination, Kylemore Abbey, the typical picture of the magnificent building should not be missing from any Ireland advertisement. Not far from the Abbey is Ireland's only fjord, Killary Fjord, which can be explored on a boat trip.
The further north you go, the more rugged and lonely the landscape becomes. Decades ago, the poet Heinrich Böll was so fascinated by this region that he bought a house on Achill Island and spent the summer months there with his family for many years. The work "Irish Diary" by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature reflects his love for this country and especially for this region.
He is not the only poet to have fallen under the spell of this area. A little further north is Yeats County, so named after the poet William Butler Yeats, who loved this landscape dearly and is buried here at Drumcliff at the foot of the impressive Ben Bulben. The Ben Bulben is a table mountain that can be seen from afar and is the subject of many legends. It is accessible by hiking trails.
Via the charming little town of Donegal with its castle steeped in history, you reach the county of the same name and thus the most north-westerly county in the Republic of Ireland. Here, too, there are impressive cliffs, the Slieve Leagues, magnificent mountain passes such as the Glengesh Pass and beautiful castles such as Glenveagh Castle. Glenveagh National Park is home to one of Ireland's largest herds of red deer, and about twenty years ago golden eagles, thought to be extinct in Ireland, were successfully reintroduced here.
The Emerald Isle is a true paradise for campers. Irish campsites are attractively located and well equipped. However, it should be noted that British plugs are also used in the Republic of Ireland, so an appropriate adapter must be used. It is advisable to book pitches at the popular campsites in good time.
If you are travelling in Ireland with a camper or campervan, you first have to get used to driving on the left, but this is much easier than you think. The roads, which are sometimes quite narrow, especially in less densely populated areas, also take some getting used to. However, to compensate for this, they lead through indescribably beautiful landscapes and offer spectacular views. Drivers renting a campervan in Ireland in particular should take it easy with the unfamiliar vehicle at first.
Arrival is by plane or ferry. The advantage of travelling by ferry is that the holidaymaker can bring his own vehicle and does not have to rent a car. There are various ferry connections between England or France and Ireland, the most popular being Holyhead - Dublin and Cherbourg - Rosslare. It is not necessary to bring your own vehicle as not only can you rent a campervan in Ireland, but there are also caravans for hire.
Ireland has several international airports and the holidaymaker arriving by plane can easily rent a vehicle. The most used airport is Dublin Airport, but Cork, Kerry, Shannon and Galway airports are also busy. However, if travelling by air, it is compulsory for the camper to rent either a car and caravan or a campervan in Ireland.
It is not difficult to rent a campervan in Ireland, there are various providers and the prices are moderate. The best place to rent a campervan in Ireland is, of course, Dublin. This is where all the threads come together, where most round trips across the island begin and end. Campervans can also be rented in other towns, for example Ballywilliam near Limerick.