11 Lesser-Known Motorhome and Campervan Road Trips in Ireland
If you’re planning a driving tour in Ireland, it’s good to know that there are other roads to roam that aren’t on the Wild Atlantic Way, Causeway Coastal Route or in Ireland’s “Ancient East”. Hire a campervan in Ireland to escape to hidden byways, captivating loughs (lakes) and secret shores where mountains meet the sea.
Drivers take note: In Northern Ireland, it’s miles per hour, while the Republic of Ireland uses kilometres. Speed limits differ on either side of the border (though it’s always 30mph/50kph in built-up urban areas); always drive on the left.
These lesser-known driving routes in Ireland are listed clockwise, south from Belfast.
- Mourne Coastal Route
- Cooley Peninsula Scenic Drive
- Boyne Valley Scenic Loop
- Dublin to Glendalough: The Wicklow Mountains
- Copper Coast Road
- Vee Scenic Drive
- Ring of Beara Drive
- Lough Gill Loop: Yeats Country
- Fermanagh Lakelands
- Inishowen 100
- Sperrin Mountains Scenic Driving Routes
1. Mourne Coastal Route
102 miles / 164km
Taking in the shores of Strangford Lough and Carlingford Lough, this coastal route wends south from Belfast to Newry, via Ards Peninsula and pretty Portaferry, and the seaside resort of Newcastle. Along the way are quaint villages and windswept shores, with gorgeous sandy beaches at St Helen’s Bay, Ballywalter and Murlough (the latter is on a National Nature Reserve and is backed by dunes and views of the Mourne Mountains). Finish this Northern Ireland driving tour in the city of Newry on Thursday or Saturday to enjoy its famous market – and explore its historic landmarks on the heritage trail from Bagenal’s Castle.
2. Cooley Peninsula Scenic Drive
80km / 50 miles
In County Louth, skirting the south shore of the sea inlet of Carlingford Lough and the hills of the Cooley Peninsula, this leisurely drive through spectacular rural scenery takes just a couple of hours. The loop is a stunner, but you’ll want to spend some time cruising Carlingford Lough (or kayaking on it) and hiking the hill trails and the Valley of Glenore. Start over the river from Newry on the R173 and follow the coastal road to Carlingford and then Dundalk Bay via Templeton Beach, before heading into the hills beyond the Hill of Faughart – said to be the birthplace of St Brigid – towards Slieve Foy.
3. Boyne Valley Scenic Loop
225km / 140 miles
Campervan hire in Ireland means that you’re free to get off the beaten track and visit some lesser-known cultural and heritage sites. The Boyne Valley loop through counties Louth and Meath are perfect for this; start at the ancient town of Drogheda and take in UNESCO World Heritage site Brú Na Bóinne; Trim Castle (you might recognise this from Mel Gibson’s Braveheart); the heritage town of Kells; Mellifont Abbey; and the ruins of Monasterboice. There are 9000 years of history in this one remote valley.
4. Dublin to Glendalough: The Wicklow Mountains
80km / 50 miles
Set out south of Dublin towards the village of Bray, then take the R117 for Enniskerry, the gateway to Wicklow. Drink in the views of the Great Sugar Loaf mountain and continue to Glencree and the R115 (widely known as the Military Road), which takes in the steep climb to Sally Gap. Beautiful in the sunshine or swirling mist, the narrow tarmacked road slices through rolling heather-clad slopes towards stunning Glendalough, “the valley of the two lakes”. If Dublin is the final point of your campervan road trip in Ireland, return to the depot via the picture-perfect village of Roundstone.
5. Copper Coast Road
166km / 100 miles
The Copper Coast is a UNESCO listed Global Geopark – a landscape with a unique geological heritage. From Wexford to Tramore and finally, Dungarvon, along with the too-often-overlooked county Wexford and County Waterford coastline, this route might be famous for its mining heritage, but it’s the pastoral seascapes and secluded beaches that make it really special.
6. Vee Scenic Drive
32km / 20 miles
In early summer, the bare slopes of the Knockmealdown Mountains on the Tipperary-Waterford border are a blaze of purple rhododendrons, but at every other time of year, the drive north from the handsome town of Lismore (on the R668) is a quiet one. The Vee is a switchback on the rugged mountain ridge and this beauty spot offers panoramic views down to the lush countryside below – descend the other side to visit the pretty villages of Clogheen and Ardfinnan.
7. Ring of Beara Drive
137km / 85 miles
We haven’t recommended the usual west coast routes for your campervan tour of Ireland as they are too often overrun, but the craggy outcrop that is the Ring of Beara has somehow stayed under the radar. From Glengarriff, the road passes the service town of Castletownbere, beyond which is the stupendously sited Dzogchen Beara Meditation Centre with its café and blissful meditation garden overlooking the jewel blue of the Atlantic. At the southwestern tip of the peninsula, ride the cable car to tiny Dursey Island, before re-joining the untamed R575 navigating the wild coastline to Allihies.
8. Lough Gill Loop: Yeats Country
46km / 26 miles
Make a pilgrimage to Yeats country in County Sligo and explore the forested shoreline of Lough Gill, a favourite spot for the beloved Irish poet who wrote about the romantic Lake Isle of Innisfree. A loop drive from Sligo Town (on the R286) and around the tranquil waters takes less than one hour and takes in Hazelwood Forest, Parke’s Castle and Dooney Rock. Stop for a break at the tearoom in Dromahair, near the lake’s east end.
9. Fermanagh Lakelands
A region rather than an official driving route, the area is dominated by Lower and Upper Lough Erne, with the “island town” of Enniskillen where the waters meet (cruising the waterways to Lough Erne’s islands is a must-do). Quiet country roads ribbon through the Lakelands and Castle Coole, the Marble Arch Caves, Belleek Pottery and Lough Navar Forest.
10. Inishowen 100
161km / 100 miles
The Inishowen Peninsula in the northeast of Donegal has a 100-mile drive (signposted Inis Eoghan), perfect to explore with your campervan hire in Ireland. From Buncrana, the loop traces headland bluffs and beaches, and Ireland’s most northerly point at Malin Head.
11. Sperrin Mountains Scenic Driving Roues
A rich and wild landscape of mountains and exposed moorland, there are no less than four driving routes crisscrossing Northern Ireland’s Sperrins (Central, 90 miles / 145km; South, 64 miles / 103km; East, 63 miles / 101km; and North 50 miles / 80km). Slow travel is sustainable travel, so take your time exploring the traditional market towns and villages – Gortin is a great place to base yourself and there’s an 8km drive in the nearby Gortin Glen Forest Park.
Why Bunk Campers?
Our Ireland motorhome hire depots are conveniently situated in Belfast and Dublin, making these convenient starting points for you to embark on your campervan adventure. Plus, whether you’re touring the Emerald Isle, seeking adventure, or relaxing with home from home comfort, we have a campervan that will suit you.
Select the perfect campervan or motorhome for you from our range of 2-6 berth vehicles available for your own Ireland road trip today! To book, use the quote and book button on our website, email [email protected] or call our team on +44(0)2890813057.