At first glance, camping and Ireland might not go hand in hand:
The weather (as you might have noticed!) can be cold and unpredictable, leading to a bracing encounter with the elements if you don’t have the right tent or camping gear.
However, Ireland is also legendarily scenic, and we have an abundance of camping-friendly areas on this little island. For such a small country, it’s a minor miracle that we have so many places untouched by human presence.
With a little planning and travel, you can escape from everything that makes life modern – phones, electricity…even bathrooms and showers!
“Wild” camping (i.e. camping outside of a site) is allowed in much of Ireland, especially near the sea and in national parks. When in doubt, research beforehand. If you’re still unsure (or it’s a last-minute decision), call to the nearest residence and ask permission.
Generally, even if a landowner has given you their blessing, do not light fires or disrupt the camping area. Leave nothing behind and take nothing but memories.
Connecting with nature is a profound, therapeutic experience, so we’ve picked out some excellent wild camping spots across this beautiful country.
We’ll start by the sea, and then offer a few further inland…
Beara Peninsula, Cork/Kerry
Along this 200+ kilometres of coastline, the beautiful Beara Peninsula offers incredible views of the Atlantic and acres of flat space for campers to choose from. Unsurprisingly for a place with two mountain ranges (Caha Mountains and Slieve Miskish Mountains) there’s no shortage of elevated, remote places to pitch your tent.
Also, unsurprisingly for an area up a hill and by the sea, it can get breezy! So, pack accordingly.
Most of the Beara Peninsula is in Cork, but in its northernmost parts it enters Kerry.
Glenregan Wild Camping, Offaly
This is one of those sweet spots that feels completely secluded while being reasonably accessible. Glenregan is a valley that sits between Stillbrook Hill and Wolftrap Mountain and is flanked by a dense woodland. But it’s quite close to the R440 road.
It’s a flat, peaceful landscape, and one that plays host to lovely local wildlife, from deer to pine martens.
Doonloughan Beach, Ballyconneely, Connemara
This is an appealingly wide inlet, offering a broad beach and surrounds. The small hills overlooking the light sand are suited to pitching a tent, and (like a few places on this list) the remoteness is part of its appeal.
Of all of the camping spots on this list, this one is especially nice for swimmers. The water is clear and inviting, especially on a warm day.
Wicklow Mountains National Park
Some campers are uncomfortable with the idea of “wild” camping, especially if permission is hard to find. So, Wicklow Mountains National Park is a perfect compromise. It is wild in the sense that it is not an official camping site – you won’t be sharing space with other holidaymakers and there are no common areas like picnic spots or bathrooms.
Knockadav Wild Camping, Waterford
In the Knockmealdown Mountains, this spot offers a trade-off: Its altitude promises memorable views, clear air and a true escape from modernity. But the price for this is an uphill journey and – sometimes – chilly winds.
But, as the adage goes, there’s no bad weather, just the wrong clothes. So, if you pack appropriately, this truly wild camping spot has a lot to offer. The aforementioned views take in gorgeous farmland and Blackwater Valley.
It’s not just the landscape you’ll notice. This area, bordering Tipperary and Waterford, is also an important breeding ground for several birds, including the endangered red grouse and the hen harrier. If you’ve a keen eye, you might also notice warblers, cuckoos and even buzzards!
The Seven Leave No Trace Principles
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.
Let’s Go Camping!
Ireland has a rich tradition of camping. In fact, it’s more suited to the hobby than you might realise. The country’s climate is temperate, which means it never gets too humid at night; there are no scary bugs or snakes (a midge might be the worse you’ll find); and the country’s air, flora and fauna are worth experiencing first-hand.
Before you rush out to any of the above places, there are a few practical things to consider: Practice pitching your tent before camping (even if it’s in your back garden or the living room); let people know where you’re going; never camp near a “No Camping” sign; and make a list of what you need before you go.
Find the locations mentioned in this blog post in the maps below.