5 of the Best – Top Caravan and Camping Sites in Ireland
Last week we gave you our top 5 camping and caravanning sites in Wales. Continuing with the ‘best of’ theme, we give you our list of recommended sites in Ireland this Summer…
Nore Valley Park
Bennettsbridge, County Kilkenny, Ireland
The working farm, in which this 60 pitch family orientated camp site is set, provides the main focus of the park and is understandably one of the main draws for those customers who return year after year.
All camp guests have free access to the farm and are actively encouraged to help with small farm tasks and feeding the animals, which of course appeals enormously to children of all ages. There is a wide range of activities on offer – mainly of the outdoors fun variety and include straw play areas, go-karts and a giant chess set. Some of the activities attract a small extra charge.
Nore Valley Park are proud holders of an impressive set of tourism industry accolades bestowed through the ‘Failte Ireland Awards’ scheme which include ‘Best Family Friendly Site’, ‘Best 3 Star Park’, ‘Environmentally Friendly Award’ and an ‘Ambience Award’.
Facilities: Toilets and showers, electric hook-up, children’s play area and straw play area, giant chess, pool room, sand-pit with diggers, crazy golf, go-karts, trailer rides, animal feeding, 3D maze, small shop, home baked bread/scones/pizza/quiches and continental breakfast available
Open: Beginning of March to end of November
Cost: Per night charges – caravan pitch €12/motor-home pitch €11, adults €4, children over two €4, electric €4
Hidden Valley Holiday Park
Rathdrum, County Wicklow, Ireland
Located at the edge of the Wicklows Mountains National Park, the Hidden Valley is surrounded by a wealth of attractions of both the natural, historical and modern man-made variety. However, without even stepping off the site there is so much to occupy holiday makers that many won’t feel the need to tear themselves away and explore further afield.
There is lots and lots of entertainment, both organised and otherwise, laid on for children and adults of all ages but it is rather more of the earthy variety than that often associated with holiday parks. Many of the activities centre around the Avonmore River which flows through the park and a private lake. The river has its own sandy beach and is gently flowing and shallow enough to make it safe and fun for swimming and beautiful enough for generally lazing about.
Kayaks and rowing boats can be hired from the site, while for something a little less serene but rather more fun try one of the bumper boats (think dodgems on water) complete with water blasters.
If you fancy something a little less wet then go exploring on one of the walking trails which lead directly from the park where wildlife and bird-life abounds.
If, as a parent, you dread the words ‘I’m bored’ then rest assured this will not be an issue here. If, on the other hand you have no kids in tow then this is a site which will equally appeal. In fact, there truly is something for everyone here.
Facilities: Electric hook-up, choice of hard standing and grass pitches, super pitches available with individual water supply and waste disposal, toilets and showers, laundry room, camp kitchen with dish wash and cooking facilities, kids’ outdoor adventure fun park, café serving hot drinks and cakes, fishing, kayak and row boat hire, bumper boats, football coaching and organised matches, cinema nights, family bingo, kids’ disco, walking trails, kayak lessons and certification, camp-fires allowed at river
Open: 16TH March to 30TH September and October bank holiday
Cost: Per night charges – pitch+unit per night – from €10, each adult €6, each child (aged 2 – 15) €4, electric €4
Boyle, County Roscommon
Lough Key is not so much a camp site as its own little kingdom complete with such things as a fairy bridge, follies, souterrain, lake, viewing tower, a network of 19th century servants’ tunnels and gardens. That is because it is part of a vast estate of parkland, forest and woodland and home to an activity centre – the type of place which children’s dreams are made of.
The natural world, wildlife and walking trails amid beautiful scenery sit cheek by jowl with 21st century entertainment options giving campers and caravanners easy access to the best of both worlds. Action packed and exciting or laid back and lazy – you choose.
One of the highly unusual features of Lough Key is its Swedish boda borg, a 2 storey, 47 room building which alone could keep every member of your party occupied for the holiday duration. If you remember the TV show the ‘Crystal Maze’ then you might be able to picture the concept.
Boredom will not be an issue here – but trying to fit everything in before the holiday draws to a close might be.
Facilities: Electric hook-up, toilets and showers, launderette, recreation room, outdoor play area, lakeside café, shop, gift shop, forest and park walking trails, tree canopy walk, observation tower, adventure play kingdom, boda borg, 19th century servants tunnels, bog gardens
Open: March to November
Cost: Per night charges – €22 per pitch, €5 per adult, €5 per child, €3 electric
Wave Crest Caravan Park
Caherdaniel, County Kerry, Ireland
This is one of those sites which has all the must-have facilities as well as a few extras but still manages to retain that small, friendly and informal camp site feel.
The number one thing going for Wave Crest is its location – bang smack on the shore front but with the advantage of a slightly elevated position meaning that the beaches, coves and mountains which surround this site can be viewed in all their splendour. Basking sharks, the gentle and majestic giants of the ocean, as well as pods of dolphins are regularly seen cruising the waters of the bays and bird-life abounds so nature lovers will be satisfied. It is little wonder then that this site was voted ‘Best Coastal Site’ by the ‘Irish Caravan and Camping Council’ in 2009.
As could perhaps be easily guessed, much of the entertainment here comes in the form of water based activities so boating, sailing, fishing and swimming are all hugely popular while the area around Wave Crest has a host of attractions from every category – historical, cultural, archaeological, sporting and 21st century family entertainment.
Facilities: Electric hook-up, showers and toilets, dish wash area, laundry, TV room, children’s play area, shop and deli, fishing supplies, café, games room, Internet access
Open: All year
Cost: Per night charges – €19 per pitch, €2 each adult, €2 per child, €4 electric
Acton’s Beachside Caravan and Camping Eco-Park
Claddaghduff, Clifden, Connemara, County Galway
Acton’s Eco-Park, part of an organic farm, is the ideal camping base if you love the idea of wild camping but don’t want the inconveniences it entails. It’s also the perfect choice if your vision of the perfect holiday involves days spent surrounded by natural beauty, gazing across Atlantic seascapes over a white sand beach and spending starlit nights around a camp fire (which isn’t just allowed here but encouraged).
There are times when it can feel like there is no-one else here which is partly thanks to the way the site owners have set out the pitches amongst sand dunes and machair to make them private and secluded.
As if all this wasn’t enough then rest assured that you can camp here knowing that while you holiday you are helping to do your bit towards conservation and all things eco-friendly. Acton’s is totally committed to operating on a sustainable, green, environmental and ethical basis. Some of it is obvious such as the recycling and electricity supplied through wind power while some things are rather more subtle and behind the scenes.
If playing at the beach or ocean gazing won’t keep you stimulated enough then check out the many things to see and do in the area which range from the low impact such as bird-watching, exploring ancient remains, walking to the tidal island of Omey or scuba diving to high energy and thrill packed options such as surfing.
Facilities: Electric hook-up (supplied by wind power), toilets and showers, laundry, fishing points, dog friendly site (no charge), eco-friendly fire pits for camp fires, fully enforced child protection policy, recycling, shop service, boat mooring, Wi-Fi, scheduled events calendar, free telephone calls to UK and Ireland
Open: All year
Cost: Per night charges – €10 per pitch, €5 each adult, €3 each child, €4/5 eco-tricity
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