Lough Mardal Lodge, Donegal
The formula for perfect glamping has to be the sweetest contrast between luxury digs and the most dramatic of wilderness background. Few places in Ireland do it better than Lough Mardal Lodge in South Donegal.
Overlooking 90 acres of rugged lakeland scenes, the site offers plush yurt bases, where guests can hunker down in recently upgraded five-star beds. Sheepskins, lattice walls and radial rafters blend Mongolian magic with a homely air while you’ll sleep under the stars thanks to large dome skylights.
Proudly green-friendly, Lough Mardal’s large communal lodge is made with hay bales and there’s also a charge point for electric vehicles. Bringing the dog? They’re pet- friendly, too! From €130 per night; loughmardalglamping.ie
Call it social distancing at its finest. There aren’t many spots you can enjoy wild-camping in Ireland, but head to the hidden coasts of the Wild Atlantic Way, and you’re half way there. Clifden Eco Beach offers guests a semi-wild camping and caravanning experience with its secluded pitches tucked between protected dunes along its private sandy beach. When not being wowed by the setting (is this the Caribbean?) you can avail of local kayaking or pony-trekking and as Ireland’s first independently eco-certified, campsite, guests here can also enjoy a 100% zero-carbon getaway.
Summer in the Gaeltacht isn’t cancelled just yet! Just opened last year, this Aran Islands spot offers both camping and glamping to staycationers considering an escape to Inis Mór. Overlooking the dreamy strands of Frenchman’s Beach, the site’s Clochán na Carraige pods were designed based on the old beehive shaped stone huts which can still be found on parts of the island.
Larger tigíns here sleep six, while budget travellers can simply camp up for €10 a night. The site is within handy strolling distance from Kilronan harbour, while also being within trekking distance of magnificent Dún Aonghasa.
From €150 per night;
The Sunny South East is synonymous with the Irish family holiday and as a result, Morriscastle Strand Holiday Park in Wexford offers the most prime camping real estate in the country! Located on its own stretch of sandy beach (check those stunning Irish Sea sunrises!), the four-star outfit is known for both its excellent classic touring facilities - and more recently for the addition of its coastal glamping pods.
The site also plays a strong philanthropic game, with all monies gathered from extra activities donated to charities from The Seal Sanctuary to The Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Camping from €25 per couple; pods from €110;
Road-trip! It seems half the parish seem to be considering buying a camper van these days. But if you still don’t have your own wheels, Lazy Days Camper Hire in Wicklow, do. Having started with a retro family of traditional VW Combi vans, after a few years of blood, sweats and breakdowns, the business have since updated to a modern Transporter fleet. They make a seriously sound budget getaway with the combo of your car rental and accommodation costing from €120 per night.
They also sleep up to four, for a fun couples or mates getaway.
Few places offer such an accessible great escape as Cape Clear, set a 90min car spin, 45 min boat ride and an infinite realm of tranquility away from Cork City. The island’s campsite is fittingly heavenly; and although tent camping is sadly out here this summer, they still offer two private yurts, overlooking the bay.
Guests can choose to cook on site or head out to nearby pubs like Sean Rua's for a meal, while island activities include kayaking, visiting the nearby goat farm, practicing your cúpla focail or partaking in the increasingly hip hobby of birding.
Sitting upon a wildflower meadow overlooking both the village of Ardmore and the Celtic Sea coast, Ardmore Glamping offers six modern glamping pods or a large Scandinavian log cabin.
They’re primed in an ideal location for exploring the culturally symbiotic regions of West Waterford and East Cork. But that’s if you end up leaving the artsy, outdoors haven of Ardmore! Here, you can enjoy local activities like stand-up paddle boarding, local cliff walks, visiting the famous Brigid Shelly gallery or enjoying a sundowner cocktail at the Cliff House Hotel.
Pods from €140
No, this isn’t some bucket-list Instagram account from Finland. Though it could be. Finn Lough is the Irish Shangri-La for every budding influencer with its stunning setting and dreamy aesthetic - but don’t let that turn you off! Its collection of stunning dome glass capsules, located in Fermanagh’s woody lakes offer a real connection with nature without skimping on lux. Standards include fluffy robes, Nespresso machine and your own private telescope for stay-gazing. Swoon!
From £250 per night; finnlough.com
County Kerry is spoiled for its scenic (and well-oiled) camping grounds and one of my favourites is Wave Crest near Caherdaniel. The caravan and camping park set on a panoramic stretch of the Ring of Kerry, offers gorgeous sea and mountain views while their on-site Glaise Rinn Café & Deli will keep your picnic basket stocked.
The park features a private launch pad for water-sports enthusiasts and when exploring the area, kids will love the seashore safaris with Sea Synergy in Waterville while everyone will love the Skelligs Chocolate Factory.
Thinking of taking the family north this summer - but not sure where? Let’s Go Hydro should make a splash. Located at the Knockbracken Reservoir, 20 minutes outside Belfast, it’s billed as a water sports and alternative accommodation resort. And with good reason.
It features Northern Ireland’s only cable wake park, a canoe polo park, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and a leisure beach, while you can overnight in a choice of glamping pods, a floating lake pod, a luxury boat house, a safari tent or an igluhut! Yes, I’m exhausted, too.
Located in the beautiful forest park of the same name, Lough Key is one of the most scenic bases to explore the Northwest. The park reopens this Monday (July 13) for self-contained caravans and camper vans, while limited campers (tents) will be welcomed later in August. Stay tuned for planned re-openings of the site’s adventure play kingdom and tree canopy trail for but there’ll be plenty to enjoy in the meantime, from woodland nature trails to taste-testing the park’s two lakeside food trucks.
Eco retreats are the norm, not the niche, in Ireland now and fine example in Ireland’s Ancient East is Blackstairs Eco Trails, run by former Green Party deputy leader, Mary White. Guests can sleep in cute shepherd hut accommodation, served by geothermal heating and a private well. Also on offer are wildlife walking trails and foraging workshops, but in case you fail at the latter, you’ll still enjoy a delicious organic breakfast come morning. Decent value too from €75; blackstairsecotrails.ie
Looking for romantic hideaway? Killarney Glamping is a couples only destination, where you can canoodle in the choice of self-contained lodges or glamping suites. The latter come with their own outdoor kitchenette and BBQ so you enjoy dinner under Killarney skies when the weather’s kind or cozy up inside with your gas-stove and electric blankets if it gets chilly. Upgrade with extras like Prosecco on arrival if you want to impress.
Located in one of the most scenic necks of Irish countryside, Hidden Valley near Glendalough is an adventure kingdom for the outdoorsy Irish fam. Many of the park’s activities, like its mini golf, boating lake, combat laser tag will still be in action this summer and if that’s not enough excitement, Wicklow Mountains National Park is on your door-step, too. From €32;
Overlooking Slane Castle, set on an organic farm and gold-certified for eco-friendliness, Rock Farm has idyllic country escape furrowed all over it. The site features a number of glamping options, from a traditional yurt to a “swallow’s nest” lodge while guests can explore the area with electric bike hire before relaxing back at base in a bubbling hot tub. The farm also hosts a vibrant farmers’ market if you’d like to stock up on some delicious Boyne Valley souvenirs. From €88;
Any glamping site featuring a vintage caravan named Dotty can be rightly praised for setting the pitch right. That’s the nature of Wildflower Glamping, which adds an eclectic, kooky touch to Cavan’s scenic countryside. The outfit also features a hobbit house, a wild rose wagon and charming foxglove tent.
Killykeen Forest Park is just around the corner if you fancy a natural tonic as in the gorgeous Farnham Estate if you prefer your tonic with gin. PS. Wildflower are also group friendly if you fancy organising a reunion on the wilds! From €100;
Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands are likely to enjoy an age of exploration this summer, as we look to discover somewhere beyond our coasts. A fine vantage to explore them from is Lakeside Holiday Park in the quaint village of Mountshannon on the shores of Lough Derg. That lakeside location is pretty blissful during a summer swelter, and a playground haven for water-lovers with swimming, diving and even the option for canoe and boat hire. Maybe take a paddle out to the monastic remains on Holy Island? From €25; l
Masterfully restored, but with added sparkle, this glamping juggernaut mixes cosy furnishings with kit like a log burning stove, sun deck and even a sauna overlooking a hidden patch of countryside. Myrtle sure puts the mirth in summer. From £235 per night;
Located on one of Ireland’s most beautiful coastal strips and far-flung on the peninsula of the same name, Rosguill Holiday Park is well worth the road-trip (a 6hr drive from Cork City, to give a ballpark). Its dramatic backdrop offers a non-stop postcard while on-site pitch and putt, tennis and a shoreside ice-cream café should get the summer memories rolling. When exploring Donegal’s northern headlands, attractions include Fanad Lighthouse, Glenveagh National Park and the stunningly enigmatic Murder Hole Beach. From €20;
Check out this little patch of sustainability in Drimoleague! Top of the Rock is a camping and ‘pod páirc’ set on an idyllic working cattle farm overlooking the heart of West Cork. Solar panels and harvested rain-water help fuel the farm’s steady supply of beef, rhubarb, parsley - and campers, who are largely attracted to the area switch-off appeal. A popular base for hikers, guests here can stroll around nearby heritage walks or take the 12km Kealkil walk to Gougane, following Saint Finbarr’s path. Just imagine that campfire at night-time (sustainable timber logs, as standard).
From €25; topoftherock.ie N.B. All camping prices quotes are based on two persons sharing while some glamping options require a two night minimum. For more, see discoverireland.ie &