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Hiring A Campervan In Ireland - Everything You Need To Know!

Written by:
Bradley Williams
/
Last updated:
August 22, 2019
Travel stories
Roadtripping Ireland is becoming increasingly popular; so, to help you with hiring a campervan in Ireland this year, here's everything you need to know!
our Ireland campervan rental
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If you are planning on travelling around Ireland this year, then I can tell you straight up …

Hiring a campervan in Ireland is the best way to go!

Sure, there are a few challenges involved in renting and driving a campervan or motorhome across Ireland, but in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the downsides.

We had our Spaceships Rentals Delta campervan for 16 days and, in that time, managed to roadtrip ALL of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

That's right, more than 3,000km covered around Ireland in what was our favourite roadtrip to date!

You can read more about our complete Ireland road trip itinerary, but I first recommend you keep reading to learn more about how to hire a campervan in Ireland and whether it really is best for you ...

First up, why would you want to hire a campervan for your trip to Ireland?

Hiring a campervan and driving one around a country certainly isn’t for everyone. 

However, from our experience in Ireland it presents a LOT of awesome opportunities, such as these 5 ...

1. It allows you to see a lot more of the country

The problem with getting buses or transfers all across Ireland is that you miss out on so many of the “in-between” moments. 

For us, the bits in between the cities and towns, such as the rolling hills and epic mountains views, are a whole lot better than the towns themselves.

Sure, you can stare out of the window on a 4 or 5 hour bus journey, but how likely are you to actually do this?

I know for me, whenever I get on a bus, I soon started to feel sick and bored, so have to watch a movie, listen to something or try to sleep; all in order to distract myself.

When you have your own car, this is completely different as you are in control and completely engaged with your surroundings.

Read Also: Driving the Ring of Kerry

campervan ireland

2. It gives you freedom and flexibility over stops

Better yet, you have complete flexibility over which roads you take and how frequently you stop.

Many of the best spots we found in Ireland came as a result of taking smaller country roads, as opposed to the bigger more-touristy routes.

Getting off the beaten track and into rural Ireland really is a treat, as is the chance to stop for as many photo opportunities as you want, away from the big built up crowds of people at rest points.

3. You have the option to change route on a whim

Personally, I love the flexibility of knowing that, though you are supposed to end up in one place one night, you could instead be somewhere completely different. 

You might decide to stop a few hours short because you find the perfect camp spot, or you might want to keep driving longer because you don’t feel tired yet and want to keep going.

4. You can get more done in less time

You also find that you can squeeze in more and get more done when you have your own campervan, as opposed to being on a strict timetable with a tour company or stuck with certain bus timetables.

When you have your own wheels, you decide when to get going and when to stay for longer.

You don’t have to wait around for hours in a city when you don’t really want to be there any longer, and you don’t have to wait for everyone else to get back on the bus after stopping for pictures.

Read Also: Driving the Ring of Beara

5. It saves you money

Okay, this might raise a few eyebrows as there is a common misconception that campervan and motorhome rental in Ireland is the more expensive option.

Well, this isn’t actually the case!

Sure some vehicles can be quite pricey, especially larger motor homes and RVs, however we found that the rental costs were equal to, if not slightly lower, than what we would have otherwise spent on buses, trains, tours and accommodation.

Still not convinced? Well, keep reading ...

campervan views

How much does it actually cost to hire a campervan in Ireland?

Full disclaimer, our roadtrip around Ireland was in part collaboration with Spaceships Rentals.

We didn’t have to pay for the van for most of the trip, however, we did cover everything else ourselves, including food, insurance, fuel etc …

If you add on the full cost of the rental (assuming no part of our trip was free) then it cost us €1400 each for 16 days in Ireland. This included:

  • Flights from London to Dublin and back again
  • Transport to and from Spaceships Rentals depot and Dublin airport
  • Cost of the van for 16 days
  • 16 days of no excess insurance cover (€23 per day)
  • Fuel
  • Groceries
  • Eating & drinking out
  • Stays in campsites
  • Entrance to sites

Absolutely everything.

Which, at €87.50 each per day, I’m sure you will agree is pretty darn good!

Especially when Ireland isn’t the cheapest of countries.

In comparison, if you chose to get around Ireland by tour company, or through busses and paying for private accommodation, there’s a good chance you would have ended up paying more.

A stay for 2 people in a cheap hotel or Airbnb in Ireland averages at anywhere between €50 and €80 per night; so that’s almost half your daily budget gone right there, before you’ve even got out of bed in the morning!

Even if you plan on backpacking around Ireland on a budget, you’re going to end up spending at least $50-$80USD (€45-€70) a day - based on The Broke Backpacker budgeting.

I’m not saying there's a humongous difference in price, but what I am saying is to ignore the common misconception that hiring a campervan in Ireland will be a lot more expensive than the alternative.

wild atlatnic way campervan

Why might you not want to hire a campervan?

That being said, here’s a few reasons why hiring a campervan to roadtrip Ireland might not be for you.

You’re travelling solo

Travelling Ireland in a campervan is naturally less sociable than, say, being on a tour with lots of other people.

If you’re on your own driving around the country, you might find the whole experience a bit less enjoyable.

You like your space

If you’re in a small campervan, then storage space is a luxury.

You’ll need to keep everything tidy as you go and you will be sleeping, driving and cooking all in the same space.

For us, this wasn’t an issue, but I know some people who wouldn’t like the slightly cramped nature of living out of a van for a couple of weeks.

You’re not a fan of shared campsite facilities

In Ireland, all of the campsites we stayed at were of decent quality, and any shared toilets and showers were cleaned regularly.

But some people simply don’t like sharing such facilities with strangers.

You’re not a confident driver

Irish roads are surprisingly well maintained, but the bigger issue is that they are often very narrow.

So, if you’re not a very confident driver, then you might find the task of driving a large van or motorhome very daunting.

There will be times when you will need to maneuver carefully and there will be some streets that you simply can’t fit down.

Read Also: How To Travel Around Ireland

lake with campervan

How long do you need to rent for?

Well, isn’t that the million Euro question!

The quick answer is … “there is no answer”.

It’s completely up to you how long you wish to take.

Of course, if you are renting a motorhome or campervan, then you want to make best use of your time, so it’s good to sort out an itinerary ahead of time.

I will say, if you want plenty of time to see the whole of Ireland, like we did, then 16 days is the bare minimum you should allow.

We were fortunate enough to travel in June when the days were long, so we had a good 14 hours of sunlight every day to explore.

For the itinerary we followed, I’d say that perhaps 3 weeks is a more reasonable amount of time.

A month or more would be even better, as then you could travel further inland and do some day trips to other islands as well.

That being said, if you are limited on time and funds, then a 1 or 2 week Ireland campervan rental will suffice.

It just means you’ll need to sort out a solid route to follow so you can squeeze in as much as possible.

If you want to get across to the West coast and see even a few of the top sites, then I would recommend 4 or 5 days at a minimum.

campervans ireland

Planning an Ireland itinerary

To help give you an idea of what to expect, here are a few itineraries you could follow that I would recommend:

Our 16 day itinerary

A part of this, we did an entire loop of Ireland, starting just outside Dublin and ending back there.

This included almost all of the Wild Atlantic Way and all of Ireland's top sites in both the south and north.

You can read the full route here.

Some shorter 7 day itineraries

For each of the road trips, you will need to do your research and pinpoint places to see in between, but each of the towns listed is a good rest point for the night.

  • Dublin (1 night) > Kilkenny (1 night) > Blarney (1 night) > Killarney (1 night) > Ring of Kerry (1 night) > Limerick (1 night)
  • Limerick (1 night) > Doolin (1 night) > Galway (1 night) > Roundstone (1 night) > Athlone (1 night) > Dublin (1 night)
  • Belfast (1 night) > Derry (1 night) > Donegal (1 night) > Sligo (1 night) > Athlone (1 night) > Dublin (1 night)

For more help deciding where to stop, there are some useful guides we wrote:

gap of dunloe campervan

Finding the right company for your road trip

The great thing nowadays is that there are plenty of Irish campervan hire firms to choose from.

Because roadtripping Ireland is becoming so popular, there’s plenty of choice out there.

When we were researching companies to collaborate with for our trip, we opted for Spaceships Rentals. Mainly because:

  • They offer the most reasonably priced vehicles - For the base models, it is actually highly affordable, even for budget travellers like ourselves
  • The Caddy is a custom-converted Volkswagen Caddy Maxi, which means it’s a lot smaller and easier to drive than a full motorhome
  • They have a good range of vehicles, right up from custom-converted Volkswagen Caddys, to much larger RVs and motorhomes.
  • They have tonnes of solid reviews across all platforms and are a trusted, worldwide company.
  • Their vehicles all seemed very modern and fuel-efficient.
  • Their “no excess” fee was just €23 a day. Some firms don’t allow you to completely remove excess, or if they do, they often charge more than Spaceships do.

Seeing as we went with them, obviously I’m a little biased in my recommendation! 

However, we did right a full review for them, which you’d probably be interested in reading here.

It’s a fair account of our experience, which does point out the issues we had as well.

But yes, I do recommend you check around online to research other firms and find one that suits your needs and budget best.

A quick Google search of “Ireland campervan rental” will quickly turn up some good companies to explore.

What to look for in a great Irish rental firm

When making your decision of which company to go with, here are some important things to look for.

  • Solid reviews - Google Reviews and Facebook reviews are always a good starting point. As well as seeing what other bloggers have said about them by typing in “COMPANY NAME review”.
  • Modern vehicles - To save money on fuel, and ensure you have a safe trip without breakdowns, it’s best to find a company offering vehicles that are no more than a few years old. Campervans easily wrack up tens of thousands of kilometres, even in their first year, and any decent firm will always be reinvesting in modern vehicles.
  • No added extras - Check the small print to see what is actually included in your rental. Things that typically aren’t included in the initial quotation are bedding and any cooking equipment.  Also, some firms might have limits on the number of kilometres you can drive, and then charge you extra for going over.
  • Affordable insurance cover - If you want real peace of mind when hiring a campervan in Ireland, you can pay a set amount for every day of the hire in order to reduce the excess in case of damages. For example, we paid €23 so as to have €0 excess. We had the choice not to get this, but felt a lot better having it. For larger campervans, it’s often not possible to entirely remove the excess charge.
  • Breakdown cover - There’s always a chance something will go wrong on your travels, and any decent hire company should offer full breakdown cover as standard with your hire.
  • Where their offices are located - Not all firms have offices located all across Ireland, though most are located close to Dublin. Just check which airport you are flying into.
seating campervan

Driving a campervan or RV in Ireland: What you need to know

Before you head off in your swanky new campervan, there's a few things you should first know about driving in Ireland.

  • They drive on the left
  • No turning right on red - for you American readers
  • The roads can get very narrow, especially in the rural areas and cities. In some parts, you will be unable to get a large campervan or motorhome through
  • There aren’t a lot of motorways
  • They drive in km/h in the south & mph in north
  • Speed limits are well sign posted throughout each country
  • You will see a lot of animals in the road, so take it easy

Top tips for saving money on your campervan hire

To help save money on the cost of your trip, here are a few top tips for cutting back on expenses with your campervan. Check out my full list of Ireland travel tips here.

Go out of season when prices are massively reduced

Peak months for campervan rental companies in Ireland are June till August; as this is when schools are out and the weather is at its best.

However, if you don’t mind putting up with shorter, colder days (and maybe the odd bit of snow), then you can save 50% or more by booking in low season.

There’s nothing to say that roadtripping Ireland wouldn’t be equally as amazing in Autumn or Spring, especially when you can make huge savings on both the cost of the van and any campsites.

Travel with more friends

Our Delta campervan with Spaceships Rentals slept 2, but had seats for 4 people.

If we were really looking to cut back, we could have found two more people to roadtrip with and then cut the cost of the rental in half.

All you’d need is a small 2-person tent with you and then take it in turns with where you sleep each night.

Make good use of the cooking facilities

Your campervan rental should come fully kitted with basic cooking equipment.

We used our small gas stove every day, at least for breakfast, dinner and the odd cup of tea.

Eating out in Ireland can be expensive (a standard pub meal is roughly €12-18), so you can save a heck of a lot by cooking for yourself every night.

That leaves more money for beer!

cooking in campervan

Wild camp wherever possible

My number 1 tip for saving money when caravanning Ireland is to wild camp wherever possible. 

We wild camped most nights, and they were the best nights of the whole trip!

Each night we fell asleep watching waves crash against cliffs and then got to enjoy early morning sunrises over the horizon.

Here’s a look at our favourite spots for wild camping in Ireland.

wild camping

Other common questions when hiring a campervan:

Finally, here are some other common questions (that I know we had) about hiring a campervan in Ireland.

How do you find campsites for the night?

Our van came with a Camping Ireland guide filled with hundreds of campsites all across Ireland. We used this most of the time when looking for camping and caravanning spots.

Other useful websites include:

Is it safe driving a campervan in ireland?

I wouldn’t say it is necessarily any more dangerous than driving elsewhere in Europe.

But of course, you should exercise suitable caution when driving down narrow country roads.

In the south of Ireland, we found that drivers are a lot more patient than those in the north; but that being said, Irish roads have their fair share of serious accidents.

If it’s raining heavily and visibility is poor, I would advise trying not to drive until the weather clears up.

Not only because of other drivers, but also wayward sheep still out on the roads late at night!

And if the roads are very wet, then take it easy as they aren’t always in the best of condition.

Is it difficult driving a campervan?

The campervan that we had was a converted Volkswagen Caddy Maxi, which isn’t too much bigger than a regular car.

Sure, it’s a little wider, but not by much; which is another reason why I loved driving it so much.

It handled very easily and was easy to maneuver.

In terms of driving anything bigger, like a campervan, then I really can’t say as I don’t have any direct experience.

What happens if I break down?

As long as you hire through a decent company, you should have full breakdown cover.

Make sure to check the small print to see if you are covered, and get any necessary breakdown numbers when picking up your vehicle.

When is peak season in Ireland for campervans and motorhomes?

June-August.

Can I buy my own campervan/motorhome?

Hell yeah you can!

But that’s always going to be a lot more hassle and will require a lot more money up front.

That being said, if you plan to roadtrip Ireland for a good couple months, then you could always buy one and sell it for a similar price, meaning you cut back massively on the cost of your van.

I know that Spaceships look to sell their vehicles when upgrading their fleet, and you can check out current listings here.

If you’re looking for other motorhomes or campervans for sale in Ireland, another good site to search on is Gumtree.

spaceships campervans

Final Thoughts on hiring a campervan in Ireland

If hiring a campervan in Ireland seems like your idea of a dream holiday, then I’d say go for it!

There really is nothing stopping you from having one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life, driving across the gorgeous Emerald Isle.

Our time roadtripping Ireland was nothing short of perfect and we saw everything we dreamt of seeing and more.

We got extremely lucky with the weather as well, which was a bonus!

Above I’ve tried to give an honest and fair overview of what it’s like renting a driving a motorhome or campervan in Ireland; but if you have any more questions or think I missed something, then just drop a comment below and I’d be happy to help where I can!

Read Also:

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