Arrive at Shannon, Ireland airport by 1pm, meet your guide and fellow travelers, and then transfer to the unique rocky limestone wilderness of the Burren. The Burren is renowned for its grey limestone landscape that in spring and summer transforms into a myriad of color, hosting one of the highest diversities of wild flowers in Europe. After checking into our hotel and changing into cycling clothes, we gather for a trip orientation and bike fitting. A warm up loop along narrow country roads and wider coastal routes is the perfect opportunity to make sure our bikes are well fitted for the week of riding ahead. Heading inland, we pass through the town of Lisdoonvarna, home of Ireland's matchmaking festival and known for the healing properties of its mineral waters. Our first views of the Atlantic on this ride are breathtaking! Dinner included.
Cycling: 18 miles (2 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +1363' / -1363'; Van transfer: 1 hour
We explore the Burren, a 400 square mile wonderland of terraced formations, megalithic tombs, ring forts, castles, caves, and amazing botanical life. No visit to Ireland is complete without exploring this unique region. Discover a place with over 6,000 years of history as we cycle into the Burren interior, stopping first at Poulnabrone Dolmen: a portal tomb that is one of Ireland’s most iconic archaeological structures. After a picnic or pub lunch (depending on the weather!), we continue on to an unlikely find in this ancient landscape. Hazel Mountain Chocolate is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up for cyclists. We stop in for a coffee and a tasting at this boutique bean-to-bar factory before continuing around Black Head. Coastal cycling doesn’t get better than this - cliffs, lighthouses, beaches and the ever-changing Atlantic your constant companion. All meals included.
Cycling: 49 miles (5 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +2,696' / -2,696'.
We bike through bucolic Irish countryside this morning, heading south through the village of Liscannor before looping around to the day’s highlight. Were you feeling a steady drag those last few miles? Keep going! All the climbs are worth it, none more so than today where we finish the ride on the edge of the staggering 700 foot high Cliffs of Moher, home to the largest colony of nesting seabirds on mainland Ireland. Our approach takes you on a lesser known path, letting you appreciate this sublime natural feature in the best possible light. Continuing on to the next stage of our journey, we sail out of Doolin to the smallest of the Aran Islands, Inis Oírr. We stop here for lunch before continuing on to Inis Mór—our island home for the next two nights. All meals included.
Cycling: 16 miles (2 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +1,023' / -843'
The three isolated rocky outcrops of the Aran Islands are unique in their geology and archaeology, bearing a potent sense of history. In ancient Ireland, they once held a position of great trading power. Today they are a bastion of traditional Irish language, culture and music. Inis Mór is the largest of the Aran Islands and home to one of the most important prehistoric sites in Europe, Dún Aonghusa (Dun Aengus), a semi-circular stone fort that sits dramatically at the edge of a 300 foot drop into the sea. We spend the day exploring Inis Mór by bike and on foot. All meals included.
Cycling: 22 miles (2–3 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +1,260' / -1,260'
After a relaxing morning we catch the ferry to Rossaveal in Co. Galway. Described by Oscar Wilde as 'a savage beauty', Connemara is a spectacular mountain and bog wilderness which forms the setting for some of the most scenic bicycle rides of our journey. Our route winds along the coast to Clifden village, a picturesque market town in the heart of Connemara. All meals included.
Cycling: 33 miles (3–4 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +1,052' / -1,040'
Our last day of cycling features an impressive backdrop of rugged mountains, a patchwork of lakes, and windswept bogs, providing a sense of wild isolation. Our route starts at Kylemore Abbey, a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920, with its magnificent edifice sitting on the edge of Kylemore Lake. We take time to tour the impressive grounds before riding to Lough Inagh, one of Connemara’s most spectacular lakes. Continuing on, we encounter the old bog road, one of the best stretches of biking on the whole trip. The lakes of Connemara open out to either side giving an undisturbed vista across to the Twelve Bens in the distance. Returning to Clifden, we gather for a farewell dinner commemorating our cycling adventure. All meals included.
Cycling: Cycling: 40 miles (4 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +1,657' / -1,663'
Following breakfast, we travel to the artsy, bohemian city of Galway and take a couple of hours to wander through its vibrant streets and eat lunch. Stay in Galway, catch a train to Dublin, or transfer with our guide to Shannon airport, arriving around 3:00 p.m. Breakfast included.
Drive: Clifden to Galway: 48 miles, ~1.25 hours; Galway to Shannon: 53 miles, ~1.25 hours