VW T5 camping in Ireland

Vanlife Guide: Visiting Ireland

By Tin Top

This article is about the practical side of bringing a van to Ireland. We will have lots of other articles about when to visit, hints and tips, and do not miss sightseeing trips.

Getting to Ireland in a Van

By now you have probably worked out that you can't drive your van to Ireland without at least spending some time on a ferry. Choose wisely as prices can vary considerably. 

If you are coming from Great Britain a nice way to get a good nights sleep and a hot shower is to take an overnight 8 hour service from Liverpool with Stena Line or P&O. It is a little bit pricier than the shorter day crossings but sometimes not a lot 

The times and routes below were last updated in Dec 2023.

Port Serving Ferry Frequency
Larne Cairnryan, Scotland P&O 6 x Daily
Belfast Cairnryan, Scotland Stena Line 12 x Daily
Belfast Douglas, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Summer Only
Belfast Liverpool, England Stena Line 4 x Daily
Dublin Douglas, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Summer Only
Dublin Liverpool, England P&O 4 x Daily
Dublin Holyhead, Wales Stena Line 8 x Daily
Dublin Holyhead, Wales Irish Ferries 4 x Daily
Dublin Cherbourg, France Irish Ferries 2+ Weekly
Rosslare Fishguard, Wales Stena Line 4 x Daily
Rosslare Pembroke, Wales Irish Ferries 2 x Daily
Rosslare Cherbourg, France Stena Line 6 x Weekly
Rosslare Cherbourg, France Brittany Ferries 2 x Weekly
Rosslare Le Harve, France Brittany Ferries Not Running in 2024
Rosslare Bilbao, Spain Brittany Ferries 2 x Weekly
Rosslare Santander, Spain Brittany Ferries Winter 2024 Only
Cork Roscoff, France Brittany Ferries 2 x Weekly

Driving a Van in Ireland

If you are from the UK everything is more or less the same in terms of regulations and driving habits. Technically you should have a UK sticker on your van, but the yellow reg is a bit of a giveaway. If you are from most other countries just remember to drive on the left! Everything else should fall into place.

Signs and Speed Limits

Speeds and distances in kilometers, but the limits are roughly equivalent (30mph in town, 70ish on the motorway). In Northern Ireland speeds and distances are in MPH.

Toll Roads

We have some tolls, but they tend to be cheap and they are easily avoided if you don't mind a scenic detour. Most tolls are €3 or less for a registered campervan. Commercial vehicles might be a little more. The big one to watch out for is the barrier free M50 (Dublin ring road). The toll for this road needs to be paid online or in a shop after you have travelled through the tolling point. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines (sometimes thousands of euro).

Alcohol

Just don't. The drinking driving limit is very low and is regularly enforced, especially in tourist areas. You should be careful not to drink alcohol when parked outside of official campsites (or private carparks where you have permission) as you will technically be under the influence whilst in charge of your vehicle. 

Narrow Roads

Some roads in Ireland, especially in tourist areas or along the Wild Atlantic Way are tiny. Not just so small that two vans would find it hard to pass, but so small that one van could find it hard to pass. It is not unknown for relatively wide roads to suddenly turn into narrow lanes with high stone walls either side. Be prepared to reverse and be confident in doing it.

Take Your Time

Irish drivers are usually patient. If they are not patient then f*ck them. Take your time, don't panic, let them wait. The Irish police (on both sides of the border) are easy going, are not corrupt, don't issue cash fines, and probably won't bother fining you at all unless you really test their patience or do something very illegal or dangerous.

Fuel

Diesel has a black handle, petrol has a green handle. Fuel is easy to find almost everywhere. Gas canisters are not so easily found. Camping Gaz is a pain to find and other types of gas have unusual connections or bottle sizes. You will find what you need, but don't expect it to be in every shop or service station.

Where to Stay in Your Van In Ireland

Wild Camping

It's illegal and gazillions of vans do it every night. Be discrete and stay sober so you can move if you have to. Lots of pubs allow camping in their carpark as long as you have a meal or a few drinks. There are some Aires facilities, but not many. Some motorway service stations, ferry car parks, and beach car parks will ignore a camper discretely parked in a far corner

Camp Sites

There are loads, they get booked up fast in the summer, and they are expensive and have poor facilities compared to the continent. They are not bad at all, but don't expect swimming pools or on-site dining and do expect to pay €30+ and extra for electrical hook-up, awning, showers, or laundry.

Camping Ireland

Camping Info