Cycle routes in Ireland
There’s a real variety of landscapes leading up Ireland’s west coast, from the agricultural hillsides, woodlands and jagged coastal peninsulas of Cork, Kerry and Limerick in the south, to the rocky lunar-like landscapes and sacred stone sites of Burren National Park in County Clare, and the beautiful golden beaches of Galway. The further north you go, the quieter the well-surfaced rural roads become, with the cultural region of Connemara providing access to the Aran Isles from Doolin harbour as well as traditional Irish heritage in the Gaeltacht (primary Irish speaking areas).
Burren National Park
1. Burren National Park
Due to the inhospitable nature of the Burren’s rocky landscapes, numerous examples of early human inhabitation have remained throughout the area, untouched by foreign settlers. Our cycling tours lead you through the Burren over rural tarmac roads and paved paths. These are very narrow roads we’re talking about here, proper winding country lanes, only a car’s width. Not that you’ll see many cars.
2. Connemara region
The distances between the villages and towns of Connemara are perfect for pedalling, with 20-30km routes making for a very nice afternoon by bike. Several coastal stretches take you past beautiful golden beaches to tempt you into the ocean, if you’re brave enough. The local seafood is a must, with shellfish, salmon and sea trout fresh out the Atlantic and onto restaurant and kitchen tables.
This characterful coastal village is an ideal base for cyclists wishing to experience two of west Ireland's best loved landmarks, the Cliffs of Moher (18km cliff top walk) and the Isles of Aran (ferry from the harbour). Doolin is also the home of Irish music, with many a night well spent out of the saddle and down the local pub toe tapping to the beat of the tipper on the bodhran (frame drum).
This is where Irish is spoken in the streets and in the schools. Half of Ireland’s Gaeltacht population (where Irish is their primary language) is in Galway, and Galway City is the headquarters for many of Ireland’s cultural heritage and Irish language organisations. Cycle into the countryside and you’ll find similar scenery to Kerry and Cork, but much, much quieter and with a fraction of the tourists.
The lively coastal town of Clifden is the start and finish of the annual Tour de Conamara public bike race which takes place every May. Stop off for the night here and you’ll have the pick of the 140km routes around the area, including a lovely 16km loop, known as the Sky Road, which takes you out of Clifden and around Streamstown Bay for uninterrupted Atlantic views over Inishturk and Turbot.
The Wild Atlantic Way
6. The Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is a Fáilte Ireland (Welcome to Ireland) success story and provides sign-posted road routes from Cork and Kerry, in the south, to Donegal, in the northwest, via Galway. Quiet rural lanes, pre-existing, bike-friendly tracks and a network of resurfaced railways (the Greenways) run alongside the WAW to connect cyclists with isolated communities, including locally owned B&Bs.
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More Ireland cycling articles
Follow winding rural roads and good quality, car-free tracks on your bike in Ireland.
Get closer to the incredible landscapes of the west coast, and the communities living there.
Previously abandoned railway tracks have been turned into cycle routes.