The emerald eye: 5 of Ireland's most scenic campervan journeys

Martin Dorey has spent over 25 years exploring Ireland by campervan and motorhome. The result? His new book Take The Slow Road: Ireland, and these expert-recommended Irish campervan journeys...

3 mins

1. The Copper Coast: Waterford

Tramore Beach (Shutterstock)

Tramore Beach (Shutterstock)

Best for: Hidden beaches

Between Tramore and Dungarvan on Ireland’s south coast you’ll find a UNESCO Global Geopark, old mine workings, fascinating geology and a whole lot of amazing beaches.

One of Ireland’s best loved wild swimming spots can be found at Newtown Cove near Tramore. Surfers might find a few secret spots on this coast too, while one of Ireland’s best hidden beaches, Stradbally, hides in plain sight.

There’s also a new ‘Greenway’ traffic-free route for walkers and cyclists, which links Dungarvan with Waterford. The views as you approach Dungarvan are spectacular. Stay at new designated motorhome parking places in Dungarvan.

2. The Slea Head Drive: Dingle Peninsula

Coumeenoole (Martin Dorey)

Coumeenoole (Martin Dorey)

Best for: Cliff-hugging driving and beehive huts

Head west out of Dingle town on the Slea Head Drive and you’ll pass a collection of beehive huts hunkering down on the hillsides above the road. Some are still in use by local farmers but the best preserved are open to the public, for a small fee. No one knows their true age but suffice it to say they aren’t of this world.

Continue on and you’ll come to Coumeenoole, a beach with incredibly clean water, bright yellow sand and churning rollers. A little further on, Blasket Island Centre has stunning views of Great Blasket and reveals a fascinating story of people and language. Overnight at Campail Teach an Aragail near Dingle.

3. The Antrim Glens

Glenariff Falls (Martin Dorey)

Glenariff Falls (Martin Dorey)

Best for: Victorian attractions

The A2 coast road hugs the coast all the way between Larne and Cushendall. Further north you’ll find the big-hitting Game Of Thrones attractions like the Giant’s Causeway and the Dark Hedges but, here the secret is to find lost Victorian wonders.

The Waterfall Walk, designed by visionary railwayman Berkeley Deane Wise, takes you down into the depths of a steep gorge to visit Glenariff’s spectacular falls. Further down the coast, on Islandmagee, another of his attractions, The Gobbins Path, will take you along the coast on a series of paths and bridges cut into the rock. Park up for the night in one of a few designated overnight spots at Glenariff.

4. The Shannon Waterway

The pretty town of Athlone on the Shannon (Shutterstock)

The pretty town of Athlone on the Shannon (Shutterstock)

Best for: Getting to the Celtic heart

From the Shannon Pot to Killaloe, Ireland’s greatest river is awash with ancient sites and culture. Visit sweat houses on the shores of Lough Allen, if you can find them, or take a walk around Rinn Duin, one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns.

Roam contemporary art galleries in Athlone and Leitrim, sip a Guinness in Sean’s Bar in Athlone (Ireland’s oldest), marvel at stunning decorated high crosses at the ruined abbey at Clonmacnoise, and tour Ireland’s spiritual heartland, The Hill of Uisneach near Lough Ree. Stay at the motorhome overnight stop at Portumna.

5. From Clifden to Westport

The starry night sky at Clifden (Martin Dorey)

The starry night sky at Clifden (Martin Dorey)

Best for: Glimpses of the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way covers 2,500km on Ireland’s west coast, so don’t expect to see it all in one go. But for a glimpse, the Sky Road, a wibbly wobbly ‘wow’ of a road that takes you out along the top of a finger of land in Connemara, just outside Clifden, is epic.

Park up for the night at Clifden Eco Beach Camping. Then there’s Killary Fjord, the Doolough Valley and finally, just outside Ireland’s coolest little town, Westport, there’s the hulk of Croagh Patrick. Climb it and see the 365 islands of Clew Bay below you. Stunning, in any weather.

Follow Martin's Irish journey

Take the Slow Road: Ireland by Martin Dorey is published by Bloomsbury and is out now in paperback and ebook (Paperback, £20.00)

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