09 October, 2019
Last updated on 14 March, 2022
Posted by Spaceships Crew
One of the perks of dating an Irish girl is the chance to explore Ireland. Every year we go camping with Cazzy’s family in Donegal and I’ve been lucky to spend Christmas in both Belfast and Dublin. But, most recently, we found that an epic 16 day Spaceships road trip is the perfect way to discover Ireland.
The Delta campervan on the Spaceships road trip in Ireland
Starting from Spaceships Dublin we did a loop of both north and south, discovering the untapped beauty of almost all of Ireland’s coastline. And I can honestly say that this was one of our favourite adventures yet. In fact, here are my 5 top reasons for believing that a road trip is the perfect way to discover Ireland.
1. Discovering the “in-between” moments
Whenever you visit a new country, you tend to research the many towns and cities, select a number of locations, and then arrange transport to take you to and from each one. Well, we did exactly the same with our road trip, stopping off in dozens of the most famous towns and cities all across Ireland.
However, these locations were not the highlight of our trip. Instead, it is what I like to call the “in-between” moments that made our time in Ireland so enjoyable. What do I mean by this? Well, it’s the winding roads, gorgeous green fields and rugged coastline that lies between each town that are so enjoyable.
The In-Between moments on your road trip in Ireland can be the most memorable
The moments that most stands out in my mind are those spent overlooking the crashing waves along the Wild Atlantic Way and sitting in a small, random Irish pub in the middle of nowhere. You can’t plan for these moments, but having your own vehicle offers the chance to experience your own wondrous “in-between” moments.
2. Complete freedom over your daily schedule
With so much to pack into our 16 day itinerary, you can imagine that we had a pretty strict schedule. However, this isn’t to say it wasn’t flexible. I deliberately allowed for a couple of days leeway, giving us the chance to stop some days short, or make them a little longer if we found new sites to see along the way.
You never know which areas you will most enjoy, and by having your own transport, you are in charge of how long you stop off at each site and where you choose to end up at each night. If we had been on a pre-arranged tour then I know for a fact that we would have felt rushed at many places, and at others would have felt like we wanted to get going sooner.
3. The ability to wild camp
Hands down, one of the most enjoyable things to do on an Ireland road trip is to wild camp! Sure, staying in campsites is still necessary, and you will find tonnes of them dotted all over the place. However, we much preferred wild camping, as it offered the chance to stay in some truly breathtaking locations. Find out all you need to know about Wild Camping here.
Wild Camping on a Spaceships road trip in Ireland
The best spots we found were located right on the coast, on largely unspoiled beaches with no one else in site. Perhaps my favourite was on a large layby we found on Achill Island. With no one else in view, we enjoyed our dinner and breakfast with stunning views right out across the ocean. From here, you also get the most inspiring sunsets and sunrises.
4. You can save a LOT of money
That’s right, travelling Ireland in your own campervan can work out much cheaper than the alternative of arranging tours and nights in hotels. Even if you are backpacking Ireland, then the cost of hostels will soon add up as they aren’t as cheap as in other parts of the world. And as long as you get a van that is fuel efficient, then the cost of petrol really doesn’t add up to much.
Your Spaceship is your transport, accommodation and kitchen on your road trip!
As a rough idea of fuel spend, we averaged around 15 Euros a day on petrol, which included about 3 to 4 hours of driving. Also, we used our van to power all of our electronics (2 phones, 2 laptops & a drone!), which no doubt took up it’s fair share of fuel over the course of 16 days.
5. It’s great fun!
Lastly, but by no means least, driving on Irish roads really is a lot of fun. Yes, they do get quite narrow in more remote areas, but they tend to be very well maintained, with surprisingly few potholes. We also found them to be very uncrowded, meaning that it’s rather enjoyable, as you wind in amongst quaint little villages and rolling hills.
Of course, it helps that our Spaceships VW Delta campervan was very new, so it handled excellently and had an automatic gearbox which made driving a breeze. Seriously, this was the first automatic I have ever really driven and it is so much easier than a manual!
What did our Ireland road trip look like?
Day 1: Dublin To Wexford
Day 2: Wexford To Cashel
Day 3: Cashel To Blarney
Day 4: Blarney To Castletown-Bearhaven
Day 5: Castletown-Bearhaven To Killarney
Day 6: Killarney To Dingle
Day 7: Dingle To Limerick
Day 8: Limerick To Doolin
Day 9: Doolin To Galway
Day 10: Galway To Roundstone
Day 11: Roundstone To Achill Island
Day 12: Achill Island To Sligo
Day 13: Sligo To Mullaghderg Beach
Day 14: Mullaghderg Beach To Derry
Day 15: Derry To Belfast
Day 16: Belfast To Dublin
A few top tips for planning your own route
Based on our experience driving across Ireland, here are a few final tips I think you’ll find useful for planning your own route.
Try and limit driving to 3-4 hours a day
Though it might not sound like a lot, when you include time spent visiting towns and attractions, 3 hours a day is actually a lot to squeeze into an itinerary. On some days 3 hours will be fine, as much of the time will be spent driving up the coastline; but on the other days there will be a lot of stops within that 3 hours. For us, days that included roughly 3 hours of driving worked out perfect, 4 hours maximum!
Make time to see the sights on your road trip
Make use of Google Maps
So, how do you know how long you’ll be driving for each day? This is where Google Maps comes in. We used them a lot for planning our itinerary, as it’s free to use and you can bookmark an almost endless number of sites. Then, you can plan out each day and Google Maps will give you an accurate calculation of how much driving each day will include.
Google Maps is also a great navigation tool to use once you’re in Ireland, as you can download offline maps. Then, all of your bookmarks will be saved offline, and you can use your phone as an all-in-one sat nav system as well.
Hit the western coast
If you’re limited on time or stuck for ideas, I would say that the best thing you can do is to head to the western coast. In our opinion, the Wild Atlantic Way offers up many of the best roads and views anywhere in Ireland. Also, it passes through many of Ireland's best towns and cities. It also includes the epic Ring of Kerry, possibly Ireland’s most famous road trip.
Hopefully you can see that road tripping Ireland with your own campervan is by far the best way to explore the Emerald Isle. It truly is a spectacular country, with so much to offer travellers of all ages. And I will say, I highly recommend checking out the vans that Spaceships Rentals have on offer, as they are modern, easy-to-use and custom converted for living in.
A Spaceships Road Trip is the perfect way to discover Ireland
We are Cazzy and Bradley from the Dream Big, Travel Far blog, and we couldn’t imagine exploring Ireland any other way and we definitely plan on returning more and more in the coming years. Happy Spaceships road tripping!