Tour de Ireland: See the Country by Bike
If the thought of the Tour de France has got you itching to get in the saddle yourself, now is the perfect time to plan a cycling holiday on one of the many beautiful bike routes around Ireland. Ready to claim your own personal yellow jersey? Read on for our list of the most scenic cycling routes in Ireland. Now get on your bike!
The King Fisher Trail, Leitrim and Fermanagh
Primarily situated in Counties Fermanagh and Leitrim, although it also extends into Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan, the 300-mile King Fisher Trail was actually the first long distance cycle route in Ireland and remains a popular choice with both serious and casual bikers. Taking in an appealing mixture of terrain, from gentle rolling hills to more taxing mountain climbs, the route mainly follows quieter country roads and is easily adjustable based on your level of experience. Attractions along the way include Lough Scur Dolmen, the neo-classical mansion of Castle Coole and the subterranean wonders of the Marble Arch Caves.
The Connemara Cycle Loop, Galway
For sheer range of scenery, few places in Ireland are the equal of Connemara – which makes it a perfect place to explore by bike. The Connemara Cycling Loop, which officially begins in the town of Clifden, consists of 150km of cycling which can easily be broken up into smaller loops for a more manageable trip. A nice beginner’s option is the Sky Road route, which rises up in the hills outside the town of Clifden and affords you spectacular views of the islands of Inishturk and Turbot. If you’d prefer something genuinely off the beaten track, the Derroura Trail is one of Ireland’s finest mountain biking routes and offers spectacular views of the Maam Valley, the Twelve Pins and Lough Corrib, for those brave enough to make the ascent. Be warned: this occasionally hair-raising ascent is not for amateurs.
Beara Peninsula, Kerry
Clocking in at 195km in total, the Beara Peninsula cycling route takes in some of the most spectacular parts of Cork and Kerry in a genuinely unspoilt corner of Ireland. The highlight of the route is undoubtedly the Healey Pass, which snakes its way through the mountains overlooking Bantry Bay. The climb here could be challenging for a beginner, but there are plenty of viewing points along the way to catch your breath and enjoy the views of the bay and the Kenmare river. Once you’ve claimed your crown as King of the Mountains, the wooded surrounds of Glengariff Nature Reserve make a perfect pitstop, and offer a chance to try and spot one of the region’s most magnificent natural sights - the elusive white-tailed eagle.
Great Western Greenway, Mayo
The longest off-road cycling route in Ireland, the Great Western Greenway is a sure-fire way of beating the traffic – there isn’t any! Running from Achill to Westport, the 42km car-free route follows an old disused railway line past some of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland, the islands of Clew Bay, and the imposing summit of Croagh Patrick. If you’re an experienced cyclist, the route can easily be tackled in one day but it can also be broken up into smaller sections if you’re taking it easy or bringing along the kids. And even if you don’t own a bike, there are plenty of cycle hire shops along the way which makes the Greenway an ideal option for beginners.
Inishowen 100, Donegal
Planning on Hitting the Open Road This Summer?
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