10 Irish camping and glamping experiences for an amazing summer staycation

From horse-drawn caravans to glamping under stars, there's a lot on offer to ensure some happy campers
10 Irish camping and glamping experiences for an amazing summer staycation

Clissmann Horse Caravans

Perhaps few camping experiences warrant a place on the national travel experience bucket list but Clissmann Horse Caravans in County Wicklow is a true holiday Hall of Famer. The traditional, horse-drawn caravan hub has long been renting out both horses and caravans for those seeking the ultimate slow tourism escape. But now you can also overnight in one of their gorgeously decked out wooden wagons on site — without the need to tack your horse every day. You can also pair your experience by taking a guided horse-drawn wagon tour around the local byroads. If that even sounds too speedy, you can also go on a hiking tour of the stunning local hills accompanied by your very own companion donkey. Nature lovers should note that the site is also conveniently located near the new Beyond the Trees Avondale attraction; a seriously exciting tree top walk and viewing tower set over the forests of Wicklow which opens this month. The best part? To descend the 38m back down to Earth, you can catch a thrilling spiral slide! Horse caravan stays start from €95 — some of the best glamping value around right now. clissmannhorsecaravans.com

Lough Mardal

Glamping can sometimes feel like somebody just popped a bell tent in a vacant field which is why the true queens of glam stand out from the pack. No more so than Lough Mardal, a sustainability-minded and off-the-grid glamping site set upon the lake of the same name in scenic South Donegal. Show-stopper here are its skydome Mongolian yurts which are kitted out with a mix of vintage furniture and cosy comforts while the site also features a snug Shepherds Hut if you’re feeling a little more pastoral. In your downtime, enjoy rambles along beautiful bogland walks, visit nearby Murvagh Beach for a dip or head to local pub Whoriskeys known for its pizzas and live music. Back at base, catch up with your campmates at Lough Mardal’s base eco-lodge which is sustainably grown with mud, straw and grá. Huts from €110, yurts from €130; loughmardalglamping.ie

Morriscastle Strand

Okay, so your neighbours went to a campsite in France which had a heated pool, solar powered tents, and an on-site boulangerie. But did it sit overlooking some of Europe’s most stunning sandy shores, offer everything from beach yoga classes to ukulele nights and serve Crispy Crème Tayto ice-creams in their very own parlour? Well, perhaps they should have saved themselves the ferry schlepp with a visit to Morris Castle Holiday Park, one of Ireland’s finest four-star campsites which surely stacks up to any contenders on the Continent! The family-run Wexford site has long been popular with the touring market but has pivoted during the pandemic and now offers sea-view pods stays too.. They can sleep up to two adults and five children and rates include access to the many family friendly activities on site, too. Absolutely worth those sunrise shots too if you fancy rising at…5am! Pods cost from €140 with minimum night stays applying. morriscastlestrand.com

Roof Tent Adventure

The covid pandemic paired with social media has brought with it several travel trends not least, enjoy nature, embrace great outdoors, and most importantly of all, look great doing it! You’ll be the envy of your fellow campers if you kit your motor with a roof tent, an eye-catching and comfy sleeping cocoon which clips onto your car’s roof rack to take your camping adventure, literally, next level. Accessed via a drop-down ladder, your tent is essentially a hard shell box which pops open in a minute (no more peg hammering!) and features an integrated memory foam mattress to guarantee the perfect slumber. Tents are available for hire from outdoors camping specialists, Buckled Wheel, in Fethard, Co. Tipperary. You’ll need to pick one up from Tipp, so why not spend your first night in the likes of Con Traas’ charming Apple Farm site near Cahir before making a break for the wilds of the West. Tents cost €280 per week. buckledwheel.ie

Wild Camping

Wild Camping has emerged as an increasingly popular activity in recent years but to really go wild in Ireland…in a national park…head to Wild Nephin National Park in Mayo. This huge park features a number of designated camping areas accessible following hefty hikes and shelters are also available on a first-come/first-served basis. Camping is free but you’ll need to pre-register via campingwildnephin.com before your trip. This adventure is for experienced hikers and campers only so plan ahead and pack accordingly: that includes bug repellent to deal with midges and possibly ticks who thrive in bogs in summer. For other camping in nature options, which require a lower step count, check out Coillte’s forest camping options at coillte.ie

Dromquinna Manor

Okay, we’ll forgive you for thinking you’ve just woken up in some dream watering hole in the savannas of Africa but this is actually Kenmare Bay, not Kenya. The ultimate in outdoor opulence, Dromquinna Manor is so glam it prefers to shy away from the term glamping entirely, opting to brand itself with the “luxury camping” tagline instead. And with good reason. Each of the custom made tents are loaded with quasi five star hotel standards along with your own private veranda overlooking the estate. There are still some spots available for this summer (a rarity) and tents are available from €175, which rates pretty well compared to some pod options across the country. Guests can also look forward to a basket hamper delivery of freshly brewed tea or coffee, yogurt and croissants come morning. dromquinnamanor.com

Crom Campsite

The National Trust are the custodians of some of the most magical heritage sites in Northern Ireland but did you know you can also camp in one of their locations? Fermanagh’s historic Crom Estate, home to the largest area of natural woodland in Northern Ireland, is a haven for both campers (and pine martens) this time of year and makes an idyllic spot to base yourself in the lakelands region. The site is spread over two areas, Culliagh and Bell Hill which offer family friendly plot offers tent pitches from as little as £13 as well as glamping pods built into original estate buildings from £57. While there, wake up to stunning views of Lough Erne, hire a boat to explore the secret islands, or discover the site’s old castle ruins. nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/crom-campsite

Highview Country Park

Northern Ireland’s great value camping is drawing visitors from both the south and across the pond and few areas in the region offer better summer feels than Portrush. Covering all camping bases, the town’s highly rated Highview Country Park, offers twelve pitches for tents, four log cabins, two static mobile homes and a self-catering holiday cottage. Pitch rates start from £27 and holiday homes from £85 per night. Though you may wish to stick around for longer, located within short spinning distance to all the attractions of Antrim’s Causeway Coast including the Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills Distillery, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, Game of Thrones Dark Hedges and Dunluce Castle. highviewholidaypark.co.uk

Goats Path Farm

West Cork is camping heaven with everywhere from Eagle Point in Ballylickey to Barleycove Holiday Park on Mizen offering dream back-drops to pitch up for the night. Looking for a new spot to pitch up at? Goats Path Pods is a brand new pod and camping site located on the gorgeous and lesser travelled Sheep’s Head peninsula. As well as traditional tent pitch options, the site features six “grass-roof” effect pods including one hobbit-style pond hewn into the hillside. All pods feature sea views, too. goatspathpods.ie For another option in the West Cork, check out Top of the Rock a family friendly “Pod Pairc” and walking centre set on a family farm outside Drimoleague. It’s an ideal spot for families with animal lovers or guests looking for a base to hike the St. Finbarr’s Way. topoftherock.ie

Glamping Under The Stars

One of the consistently top-rated glamping sites in Ireland, Glamping Under The Stars makes the perfect family friendly base for those considering a break in lovely Laois this summer. The colourful offering has a collection of bell tents, shepherd huts, hobbit houses and wood lodges to choose from which provide a great introduction to families wishing to dip their toes into a stay in the great outdoors. While there, explore everything from the fairy trails and wildflower meadows, discover local attractions like Emo Court and the fantastic Rock of Dunamase while the site has also teamed up with new outdoor specialist Midland Escape to offer guests kayaking, paddle-boarding and mountain biking too. glampingunderthestars.ie

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