Explore Ireland by caravan in a week
For one week the island of Ireland is yours, as you make your way through some of its most beautiful regions: along the Mourne Mountains drive and the Causeway Coastal Route to the Wild Atlantic Way and back through Ireland's Ancient East to Dublin, after a detour to the lakelands around Lough Erne
Our compact tour shows you a wonderful cross-section of Ireland: its mighty mountains and lonely glens, its tranquil lakes and vast beaches. In only one week, you will see the Irish Sea, the North Channel and the wild Atlantic waters – a bit of everything and always the best bits! From the Mourne Mountains in the north-east, you travel along the Antrim coast and west into the solitude of Donegal. From the lakelands in Fermanagh, you return to Dublin, taking in the splendid history of the Boyne Valley and Ireland's Ancient East. You'll pass through legendary sites and hidden gems on this seven-day road trip!
Welcome to a land of fantasy, from the stunning peaks of the Mournes, to the forests of Westeros...Explore Day 1
The grandeur of the Mourne Mountains
On the way to Northern Ireland, it is worth making a detour to Monasterboice, a monastic site that dates back to the Early Middle Ages.
The car park is situated right opposite the splendid old cemetery. The monastery ruins from the 6th century have preserved their wonderful round tower. Three famous high crosses from the 9th century bear witness to the Celtic spirituality of the religious art of that time. It is just under 40km now to Northern Ireland.
Imperceptibly the route crosses the border, where miles and the British pound are used, and the M1 becomes the A1. From Newry the tour follows Carlingford Lough and the Mourne Coast Scenic Drive [A2] in sweeping bends along the coastline of the North Channel. At Kilbroney Park you will immediately become aware of the majestic mountain landscape of the Mourne Mountains, an area of tranquillity, vastness and grandeur.
Heading east to the magic of "Westeros"
Through the most south-easterly point of County Down, the route follows the curve of the coast, then continues up to Newcastle.
A nice detour inland from Kilkeel is the reservoir in Silent Valley via the Whitewater Scenic Loop, overlooked by Slieve Donard, which, at 849 metres, is the highest mountain in Northern Ireland. Ahead lie Newcastle and one of the largest scenic attractions in Northern Ireland: Tollymore Forest Park. The unspoiled woodland provided an unforgettable natural stage and superbly eerie filming location for Game of Thrones®. Here you are in the middle of the Seven Kingdoms of this fantasy saga.
You will find a less eerie night's lodging at Annalong Holiday Park, south of Newcastle, right on the North Channel, on the Mourne coast.
Beautiful castles, Viking history and seaside resorts are on the menu for today's trip...Explore Day 2
From Newcastle through St Patrick's Country
Today's leg starts from Newcastle on Murlough National Nature Reserve and continues along Dundrum Bay into St Patrick's Country. It is full of history and stories – Downpatrick, at its centre, was settled as early as the Neolithic period.
Its cathedral is said to house the tomb of Saint Patrick. On the anniversary of his death on the 17th March, Saint Patrick´s Day, it is the destination for pious pilgrims. The nearby visitor centre recounts the story of the national saint of Ireland and of Irish missionary work in Europe.
Castle Ward is no less exciting, situated not far to the east at the mouth of Strangford Lough. It provided the Game of Thrones® series with the backdrop for "Winterfell Castle", the ancestral home of House Stark. Many scenes of the epic fantasy series were filmed in the most beautiful regions in Northern Ireland.
To the Ards Peninsula via Strangford Lough
From the fantastic viewpoint over the straits of Strangford Lough – whose natural harbour once offered the Vikings' ships protection – the tour heads northeast.
From Strangford, small ferries shuttle passengers to Portaferry. They operate all year round, from the early hours of the morning until late at night.
You will pass small towns along the route, such as Portavogie and Ballywalter. Between them is the most easterly point of Ireland: Burr Point. Take your time and follow the coastal road to Groomsport through the rural regions of the east.
Not far from the urban bustle of Belfast, Bangor combines the souvenir stalls and carousels so characteristic of a seaside resort. It becomes quieter as you head towards the sweeping sands of Helen's Bay. The overnight destination of Dundonald is quickly reached – it’s so close to Belfast that it is often mistaken for a suburb of Northern Ireland's capital. In the evening, the city of Belfast can be very quickly reached from the campsite by bus, train or taxi.
Take in panoramic views of some of Northern Ireland's best spots on the Causeway Coastal Route!Explore Day 3
Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland's dream road
Head into town towards Belfast, then take the M2 and M5 motorways from Dundonald to the southerly entrance to the Causeway Coastal Route. The signposts keep you on track: "The North". From Carrickfergus and its mighty castle, Northern Ireland's dream road winds along the magnificent Antrim coast in a northwesterly direction, the open sea to your right.
From now on, the brown signposts for the Causeway Coastal Route will guide your route. Today's destination is Bushmills, and the most scenic route there is via Larne and Ballycastle. Several attractions can be found along the way; the Gobbins Cliff Path, for instance, or Glenarm Castle and Gardens. Amazing views open up around almost every bend.
You may come across coastal parking places, but be wary about height barriers that would make them inaccessible for motorhomes.
Antrim's coast and glens
Before Cushendall, it is worth taking a detour to Glenarrif Forest Park, to the wonderful Glens of Antrim and then inland to Ballycastle. The coastal A2, however, provides you with a great panorama of the North Channel. In the distance on the horizon you can even see the coast of Scotland.
Take the turning after Bushmills along the coastal route from Ballycastle to Ballintoy – in Game of Thrones® it is the fictitious ports of the Iron Islands – and enjoy the view of offshore Rathlin Island and a visit to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge – make sure to book tickets in advance.
Soon you reach the basalt coastline of the Giant’s Causeway, the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. The nearby coastal trails are fantastic, with panoramic views to match. The pitch for the night is at Bushmills, one of the tourist centres of the Antrim Coast with a wide array of nice pubs and restaurants.
Discover the history of the Walled City, and visit a glorious country park on your fourth day...Explore Day 4
Visit the Walled City on the River Foyle
Along the wonderful Antrim coast – with a stop at Dunluce Castle – today's route snakes to the west. The seaside resorts of Portrush and Portstewart might entice you into the water, even if it's only for a short walk along the shore with your trousers rolled up, paddling in the surf. The route takes you from Coleraine along a country road to Derry~Londonderry. It starts on the A2 and crosses the large bridge over the River Foyle.
Northern Ireland's second-largest city was founded in 1613, and today the Walled City greets its guests as a modern, vibrant place full of history. In 1968, however, it was a centre of conflict in what was known as The Troubles in Northern Ireland. A guided tour from the Visitor Information Centre takes you around the 400-year-old city walls, to the “Free Derry” wall murals that explore the legacy of its turbulent past, and through a city whose people have come together with a strong sense of community.
From Northern Ireland to Glenveagh National Park
After a stroll around the town, the route takes you in the direction of Letterkenny and Downings. You have reached the north-eastern starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way. You will now be accompanied by its blue wave signage.
Today's destination is the far north of Ireland, the headland of Melmore Head in County Donegal. Off the route, near Malin Head, the northernmost point of the island, is the setting for a completely different world: a filming location for the Star Wars movie "The Last Jedi".
However, if you prefer to enjoy the real world beauty of this part of the island, take a detour [signposted N56] to the magnificent Glenveagh National Park. Hikes (including short hikes) set off from the Visitor Centre and take in the dramatic lake scenery of Donegal. The Wild Atlantic Way now takes you northwards, through remote regions to Melmore Head. You'll find a pitch for the night at Rosguill.
Today is all about lovely beaches, as you journey to Ireland's northern tip!Explore Day 5
In Donegal's far north
Melmore Head delights visitors with two blissful beaches: Tra Na Rosann Beach in the west faces the sunset and Mulroy Bay in the east is perfect for a morning dip. Then you will have to tear yourself away to set off again.
From Rosguill the Wild Atlantic Way heads further and further west. If you didn't have time during the outward journey for a trip to Glenveagh National Park, you can make up for it at the start of the onward journey along the southbound route towards Gweedore (N56 – R251 – N56). It's worth it.
Otherwise, the northern loop of the Wild Atlantic Way takes you on the N56 back up into the Gaeltacht – the Irish-speaking regions of the far north of Donegal – and its remote coast. There are beautiful beaches north of the N56 at Sheephaven and Dunfanaghy Bay.
After heading strictly west initially, the Wild Atlantic Way turns southwards at Gortahork and crosses the vastness and solitude of the most northerly Irish county towards Gweedore. Both of our alternative routes are beautifully scenic and meet each other again here.
The Northern Headlands
Now you head to the nice little town of Dungloe, which is known for its lively Mary from Dungloe Festival in the summer. Maghery Beach, a white sandy beach with a car park large enough to accommodate caravans, is situated 5km to the west.
After a picnic – and possibly a swim – our tour takes you south, to spend the night in the lively fishing port of Killybegs. We recommend stopping in the small towns of Ardara and Glenties as well, for a spot of shopping or for a short stroll.
If you wish, you can still venture on the narrow roads leading to Slieve League. The highest cliffs in Donegal offer a fantastic view of the Atlantic.
The top car park is indeed accessible for motorhomes (except during the busy summer months of July and August). However, it fills up quickly and could pose problems for larger vehicles when turning. Instead, park in the Visitor Centre and take the shuttle bus to the viewing point. Or just go for the healthier and more invigorating option of walking. An ice cream van at the top next to the cliff edge promises an extra reward!
On your way to the lakeland paradise of Enniskillen, you'll find epic cliffs and scenic beaches...Explore Day 6
From southern Donegal back to Northern Ireland
Today we go back for the day to Northern Ireland. The old fortress town of Enniskillen, with its imposing castle on Lough Erne, is the destination. If you would still like to take a detour to the Slieve League Cliffs, you will have to add on an extra 20km to go there and back, and factor in an additional three hours.
A nice alternative is a circuit of the small peninsula on beautifully scenic, yet very narrow roads heading towards Malin More. You will go past the beautiful beach of Glencolmcille.
The local history museum, Glencolmcille Folk Village offers a glimpse of what life was like in centuries past and its café is a good spot to stop for lunch. From Killybegs the tour heads to Donegal, near the bay beneath the Bluestack Mountains.
After you pass Ballyshannon, your journey will take you away from the Wild Atlantic Way when it goes over the border into Northern Ireland at Belleek, County Fermanagh.
The road winds towards Enniskillen, which was built on the stretch of river that connects Upper and Lower Lough Erne. In the early afternoon, boat tours depart from here to cross Lower Lough Erne to Devenish Island.
The monks' island is famous for its magnificent round tower and the ruins of a 6th century monastery. Be sure to get your tickets before taking a stroll around the town.
The Fermanagh Lakelands are among the most beautiful landscapes in Northern Ireland and you can enjoy them on the 25km drive from Enniskillen to Lough Macnean on the border. There is a wonderful place to spend the night at Belcoo, with magnificent views of the tranquil lake.
Finish your journey with a subterranean cave trip and some of the island's most fascinating archaeological sites!Explore Day 7
From Northern Ireland to the Republic
Today's route goes back over the border into Ireland. It's your last day and Ireland has a splendid finale ready for you as a farewell gift.
Set off early so you can fit in a visit to Marble Arch Caves in the nearby Geopark. It is situated just under 15km and approximately 15 minutes away from the campsite in Belcoo.
A guided walk through the magical caves and a subterranean boat trip are the perfect prelude to the onward journey. You then drive south-east in the general direction of Dublin, through County Cavan. The country road [N3] goes straight, with a turn-off after Virginia towards Loughcrew Megalithic Centre, right in the middle of the Stone Age, 5,000 years back in time.
The megalithic period of the Ancient East
You are back in Ireland's Ancient East, in County Meath. Here at Slieve na Calliagh, the "Hill of the Witch", the county's highest mountain range, the remains of 25 of the former 32 graves are preserved, including megalithic sites with engravings, similar to those found at Newgrange and Knowth. The sites rank among the most magnificent monuments of the Boyne Valley, a region that has preserved the myths and history of Ireland for centuries. The Loughcrew Megalithic Centre offers a range of tours.
If you do not have to be in Dublin until tomorrow, the site's beautiful campsite is recommended. Otherwise, take the M3 to the Irish capital approx. 90km or 1.5 hours away.
This short trip was long enough to take you through the beautiful landscapes of the north and north-west and back through ancient history. You will have found out why Ireland captures the hearts and the imaginations of its visitors. The only thing that’s left to do is plan your next trip – you can be sure of a warm welcome!