Ireland Coastal Cycling

Trip Length 8 Days
Group Size 4-16
Difficulty
Starting from
$4,499 for REI Members
$4,899 for non-members
Departures May 2020-Sep 2020
Mon���Fri 7am���5pm PT

Fresh ocean air, rolling green hills, and solitary back roads; our 8-day cycling tour of Ireland is unforgettable.

Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way has all the ingredients for a perfect cycling tour. Magnificent coastal scenery, fascinating local history and bustling villages rise up to greet us with each bend in the road. Our trip highlights the diversity of the west coast. We stop in lively pubs to listen to live music, experience stretches of rocky landscape at the Cliffs of Moher and marvel at impressive monuments to Ireland's illustrious past.

Our journey begins on the magnificent plateau of The Burren and onward to the legendary Cliffs of Moher. On the Aran Islands, where Irish Gaelic is spoken daily, ancient Celtic stone forts and early Christian churches stand in isolated grandeur. Wild rivers, clear lakes and heather-covered mountains bring a striking change of scenery as we pedal our way through Connemara. Celebrate the day's ride with pints of Guinness and traditional Irish merriment. We bid farewell to our newfound friends and newly-discovered country along the narrow, cobblestone streets of bohemian Galway.

Open trip gallery
See all trip photos

Trip Highlights

  • Cycle the rolling hills and quiet roads of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way
  • Explore the limestone karst and diverse flora of the Burren
  • Discover a bastion of old-world culture alive on the Aran Islands
  • Visit castles, a local craftsman, and white sand beaches in Connemara
  • Enjoy fully-supported rides that highlight the diversity of the west coast

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Participants should be experienced riders who are comfortable in the saddle for 2-6 hours per day; they should be comfortable riding on a variety of surfaces besides paved roads, including cobblestone streets, city streets with vehicle traffic, and narrow country backroads.

Rides range from 8-41 miles with the ability to add 10 miles on several days. Terrain is flat to rolling hills with a few steeper ascents and descents. Total elevation gains and losses range from 100'-2,300'. Vehicle support is available when needed.

Note: The Irish drive on the left side of the road; therefore, we cycle with traffic on the left side of the road.

  • Road Cycling
  • Cycling

What's Included

Double-occupancy accommodations as noted above; meals as noted in the itinerary; transfers as noted on the itinerary; bicycle; entrance fees to Kylemore Abbey; support van; skilled trip leader(s).

Accommodations

Hotels, 7 nights

Your wheels for the journey

Every great tour begins with a great bike, and our top-flight fleet has been carefully curated for your cycling adventure.

Want to bring your own bike?�� You can do that too.

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Cycle a short country loop via Lisdoonvarna.

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.

Day 2

Ride through the rocky Burren and coast around Black Head.

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'.

Day 3

Bike to the Cliffs of Moher and ferry to the Aran Islands.

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'.

Day 4

Experience Ireland at its most traditional on Inis M���r.

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'.

Day 5

Ferry to Connemara for the most scenic coastal cycling of our trip.

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'.

Day 6

Explore the Roundstone seashore and ride white sand beaches to Clifden.

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'.

Day 7

Cycle around the Twelve Bens, exploring centuries-old castles en route.

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'.

Day 8

Explore artsy Galway before traveling back to Shannon.

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.

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary?this will help you and the field staff.

Bicycles

The bikes provided include quality components and are maintained to the highest standards. There will be a choice of a hybrid bicycle with flat handle bars or a road bike with drop handle bars. There are a limited number of electric bikes reserved on a first come first served basis. Each bike comes equipped with flat pedals, a bike computer, compact handlebar bag (with map), 1 water bottle cage, puncture repair kit, spare tube and CO2 tire inflator. You may choose to bring your own pedal and shoe system, and/or your own bike seat (don't bring the post). You must bring your own bicycle helmet.

Collection of selected R E I Co-op cycling merchandise and snacks laid out to pack for a bike tour

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.