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 breath-taking! Dinner included.
Cycling: ~15 miles, Hours in the saddle: 1 hour; Terrain: mostly flat; Elevation gain/loss: ~1211'. Transfer drive: ~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: 37 miles; Hours in the saddle: 5; Terrain: Flat to rolling hills with one longer descent; Elevation gain/loss: ~2,195'.
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 O���rr. We stop here for lunch before continuing on to Inis M���r?our island home for the next two nights. All meals included.
Cycling: 17 miles; Hours in the saddle: ~2; Terrain: Flat to rolling hills; Elevation gain/loss: ~1023'.
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 M���r is the largest of the Aran Islands and home to one of the most important prehistoric sites in Europe, D���n 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 M���r by bike and on foot. All meals included.
Cycling: 17-22 miles; Hours in the saddle: 2.5; Terrain: Flat to rolling hills; Elevation gain/loss: ~100'.
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 Roundstone village, a picturesque fishing harbor in Connemara. All meals included.
Cycling: 31 miles; Hours in the saddle: 3; Terrain: Flat to rolling hills; Elevation gain/loss: ~1,020'.
This morning we join a knowledgeable Roundstone local for an exploration of one of Ireland's most spectacular white sand shores. Learn about seaweed foraging and discover some of the varied lifeforms that this side of the Atlantic has to offer. Your specialist guide is widely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the local ecology and offers fascinating insights into how people have survived in this wild environment for millennia.
Today's cycling route takes us to Ballyconneely Village via stunning white sand and coral beaches, and on to our hotel near Clifden. Ballyconneely has been the vanguard of several historic projects and events. Most notably, the first transatlantic flight ended in the Derrygimla Bog, about two miles from Ballyconneely Village in June, 1919. We have the option to finish today's ride along the Sky Road from Clifden, considered the most impressive coastal road in the country. All meals included.
Cycling: 12.5 miles; Hours in the saddle: 1.5; Terrain: Flat to rolling hills; Elevation gain/loss: ~460'. Option to add 10.5 miles; Elevation gain/loss: ~915'.
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 leads us through this remote wilderness to 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 continuing on past Lough Inagh, one of Connemara?s most spectacular lakes. Continuing on, we cycle to the historic Ballynahinch Castle. It has been the home of several of Connemara's characters including an Indian Maharaja who was a famous Cricketer. Returning to Clifden across the bog road, we gather for a farewell dinner commemorating our cycling adventure. All meals included.
Cycling: 39 miles; Hours in the saddle: 4; Terrain: Flat to rolling hills; Elevation gain/loss: ~1,700'. Option to add 10 miles; Elevation gain/loss: ~100'.
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 hour.