Holidays and shortbreaks away needn’t break the bank. Here are some ideas for things and activities to do that are free of charge. Access to these is free however, there may be a charge for parking and activities within the location.
These are great activities for you and for families to enjoy without costing anything. Pack a picnic, bring your bike and leave the wallets at home. Great locations right throughout Ireland. Pitch up your tent, caravan or motorhome and get out and enjoy Ireland. Camping Ireland sites are located throughout the Island of Ireland. All offering top quality sites in great locations.
1. Visit a visitor attraction for free of charge
For 2021 access to over 70 heritage sites in Ireland will be free of charge. Sites run by the Office of Public Works have waivered their fees for this year. This means that you can now visit the likes of Kilkenny Castle, Ross Castle, Clonmacnoise, Newgrange and many more throughout the country for free. This is a huge saving for everyone. However, advance booking will be essential in most cases. Once the main holiday season starts in June there will be a big demand for access to some of the most popular sites. You can pre-order your tickets online through the Heritage Island website. Just a handy tip – some sites may not put all their tickets up online so if you are in an area and want to visit a site but don’t have a ticket it might be worth calling in to see if they have any free times. For more information, including details on all sites go to the Heritage Island website
The National Museum of Ireland offers free entry to their museums.
- National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7
- National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
- National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, Kildare Street, Dublin 2 (booking required)
The museums have a strong emphasis on national and some international archaeology, Irish history, Irish art, culture, and natural history. It has three branches in Dublin and one in County Mayo. The Natural History Museum in Merrion Street is closed for works.
2. Take a walk in Ireland’s National Parks
Did you know there are 6 National Parks in Ireland, all free to visit? The first park established in Ireland was Killarney National Park located in County Kerry in 1932. Since then a further five National Parks have been opened – Glenveagh National Park, Donegal, Wicklow Mountains National Park, Connemara National Park, the Burren, Co. Clare and the newest Ballycroy in County Mayo. The parks are located in all parts of the country for you to explore and enjoy. Where ever you stay in Ireland there isn’t a national park too far away from you. For more information on the National Parks click here for more information
3. Take a trip to one of Ireland’s fabulous beaches
If the weather is good, nothing beats a day at the beach. However, beaches can be enjoyed even on a wet day. Nothing beats playing games on the beach in shorts or wellingtons! One thing we are truly blessed within Ireland is hundreds of miles of fabulous beaches. You might even find some all to yourself, your own private beach. Pack a picnic, load up the buckets and spades and hit the beach. From Rossnowlagh in Donegal to Barleycove, in Cork right around to Morriscastle in Wexford to Cranfield in Down there are hundreds of great beaches to explore in Ireland. For information on our favourites click here to our Favourite Beaches
93 Irish beaches and marinas have been awarded Blue Flagsin 2021. 79 of the 81 beaches and all 10 marinas awarded last year have retained Blue Flag status from last year. Four additional beaches have obtained Blue Flag status for the 2021 bathing season. Blue Flag sites are only awarded for one season at a time. These Blue Flag sites have been awarded due to their adherence to a strict number of criteria covering:
- Environmental Information and Education
- Water quality
- Safety and Services
- Environmental Management
During the season inspectors will assess each Blue Flag beach and marina to ensure compliance with the criteria. The counties with the most Blue Flags this year are Donegal and Kerry, which have 14 flags for their beaches and marinas. In Cork Warren, Cregane Strand has regained Blue Flag status last held in 2013, while Inchydoney East has been awarded a Blue Flag for the first time.
The Green Coast Award is to recognise beaches of high environmental quality. The award is for beaches which have excellent water quality, but which are also prized for their natural, unspoilt environment. 63 Irish beaches have received the Green Coast Award. For information on these awards click www.beachawards.ie
Many of the caravan & camping sites in Ireland are located with easy access to beaches. Some sites have direct access onto a beach whilst others are just a short drive away. Site owners can often let you into information on secret gems of beaches, off the beaten track and not well known.
4. Take a scenic Irish driving route
The Wild Atlantic Way might be the most popular driving route in Ireland. It is 2,500km in length but there are many routes within this that you can tour and visit the many sites in that area. For more information on suggested routes within the Wild Atlantic Way check out our blog – Touring the Wild Atlantic Way
The Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland is a spectacular driving route. The route stretches from Belfast to Derry/Londonderry and includes the legendary Giant’s Causeway. For more information on this route check out our blog – Northern Ireland
Ireland’s scenic routes aren’t just along the coastline. Many inland routes are offering breath-taking scenery taking in mountain paths. A trip up The Vee in County Tipperary is spectacular. It is famous for its breathtaking views across the Golden Vale rising to 610metres above sea level. If you are visiting Kerry a trip through the Gap of Dunloe and to Moll’s Gap is a must.
5. Visit the spots where Game of Thrones was filmed
You can easily tour the main filming spots of Game of Thrones and are free of charge. Northern Ireland is to more Seven Kingdoms locations than anywhere else in the world, Northern Ireland IS Game of Thrones Territory. This driving route takes in many of the best spots including Castle Ward, The Dark Hedges, Tollymore Forrest Park and the Mourne Mountains. Check out Game of Thrones Territory here
6. Walk in Dinosaurs footsteps in Valentia Island
Visit the Tetrapod Trackway on Valentia Island in County Kerry to see footprints that are older than dinosaurs! Valentia Island lies at the end of the Iveragh Peninsula, more familiar to many as the location of the Ring of Kerry. On the island you will find one of only 4 sets of prehistoric footprints in the world! The footprints give an invaluable view of the transition of life from water onto land. You can also visit the slate quarry. Access to Valentia Island is by bridge from Ballinskelligs or from March to October by ferry from Cahersiveen. A visit to Valentia Island can be part of your tour of the Ring of Kerry or you can make it a stopover staying on the Island. For information on caravan & camping in Kerry, including staying on Valentia Island visit our website Camping Ireland/Kerry
7. Take a cycle on one of Ireland’s Greenways
Ireland’s Greenways and trails are a great way to see some of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of the country while enjoying the great outdoors.Ireland’s Greenways and trails are a great way to see some of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of the country while enjoying the great outdoors.A Greenway is a predominantly traffic free path, designated for use by pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorised users such as wheelchair users, families with buggies etc.Greenways are designed specifically to meet the needs of cyclists in terms of gradient and surface and are wide enough to accommodate shared usage. Greenways are ideal for cyclists, and in particular cyclists with limited experience and children.
There are many Greenways and cycle routes in Ireland. Here are our favourites
1. Waterford Greenway
2. Great Western Greenway
3. Great Southern Trail
4. Grand Canal Way
5. Royal Canal Way
6. Great Eastern Greenway
7. Old Rail Trail Mullingar to Athlone
For more information on these routes and other cycle routes click here
8. Visit one of the many forest parks with activities onsite
Access to these parks is free of charge however there may be a small parking charge. Within these parks, there are several activities for which there is a charge. However, you can enjoy the park, the walking trails, café, etc. free of charge.
Castlecomer Discovery Park, Kilkenny – With over 80 acres of woodland and lakeside to explore this is the perfect place to experience nature, get fit and enjoy the great outdoors. Why not take a hike and bring a picnic? Get a complementary map at the reception desk before you start.
Farren Wood, Cork – Farran Forest is an area of approximately 44 hectares situated on the banks of the Lee reservoir in County Cork. The panoramic views, diversity of flora and fauna combine to make an area of great natural beauty and a ready amenity for all visitors, including a wildlife enclosure and a large duck pond. It has ample car parking, toilets, and a playground.
Lough Key Forest & Activity Park, Roscommon – This is one of Ireland’s most extensive and picturesque forest parks. Enjoy the scenic nature walks, beautiful bog garden, enchanting wishing chair, magical underground tunnels, ice house and epic views from the observation tower. Lough Key also has its own caravan & camping park so why not make a weekend and book in.
Colin Glen Forest Park, Antrim–Put on your walking boots and choose from four colour-coded routes, from a gentle stroll to a more challenging hike. These routes are also wheelchair and pram accessible. The kids will surely love the free of charge Gruffalo Trail.Colin Glen is home to premium sporting facilities catering for people of all ages and playing abilities including Ireland’s first Toptracer Driving Range to Belfast’s first indoor dome. There is a charge for these activities.
Caravan & Camping in Ireland
I hope these help you to really enjoy your holiday in Ireland. There is no better way to see the country with all your own home comforts. Click Camping Ireland to find information on all the great caravan & camping sites throughout Ireland before you travel. It is always wise to book ahead so you won’t be disappointed or have a wasted journey. Download the Camping Ireland App which you can use to browse and search for approved sites with ease while you are travelling around. For more information on the app click here
There are over 100 quality approved caravan & camping parks throughout Ireland. Sites offer top class facilities with many onsite amenities. There is a variety of sites around Ireland. Maybe you are looking for a quiet site where you can pitch up and use the site as a base for travelling around. Maybe you want a site where there is a playground for your kids or even sites where there are a host of onsite activities for all the family to enjoy. Whatever you want Camping Ireland has something for everyone.
Don’t forget to order your Camping Key Europe Card which offers great discounts and savings at campsites, visitor attractions and many more outlets. The card is accepted in over 2,800 sites in Ireland and Europe. It also includes free third-party insurance. You can order the card here
For information on these sites, the facilities they offer and other information log onto our website Camping Ireland Enjoy the independence and flexibility that camping in Ireland can offer in quality approved sites. We look forward to welcoming you to outdoor living.