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    The Best Bike Loops in Ireland

    By Sara Mc Geough
    More by Sara

    Finding the Perfect Irish Cycle Route for You

    Take the quiet country roads along the Wild Atlantic Way to discover some of the most beautiful places in Ireland. From the towering sea cliffs of Slieve League in the North, through the ancient boglands of the Céide Fields in the West and down to the craggy mountain passes of the MacGillycuddys Reeks in the South, Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way boasts some genuinely spectacular cycling loops. In a country where the land is central to Irish identity, history and culture, taking the road less travelled is the best way to uncover the beating heart of life in Ireland.

    Is It the Right Level for You?

    Our suggested routes are some of the best bike loops in Ireland. Ranging from circuits with challenging climbs and twisting descents to gentler gradients with rolling hills—there are options for every level of cyclist. See our grading parameters to choose the most suitable ride for you. Instead of a continuous route that has you trying to cover huge distances or pack in a gruelling itinerary, these bike loops are dotted across the country in areas handpicked for their combination of stunning scenery and rich cultural heritage. This way, you can enjoy your days on the bike, without worrying about complex logistics.

    Going on a Great Cycling Loop in Ireland

    We have added links to the RWGPS (Ride with GPS) tracks to allow you to tackle these loops independently. Still, if you’re concerned about navigating the country roads or figuring out the logistics of it all, a guided tour with van support and local guides might be a better option. Wilderness Ireland’s self guided tours offer carefully curated routes and hand-selected accommodations to take away the stress of logistics. Our guided tours benefit you from on-route mechanical support and expert local guides. Private and custom trips are also available.

    The Best Bike Loops in Ireland

    The Lough Gill Loop, Co.Sligo

    Distance: ≈ 55 km/34 miles
    Start Point: Strandhill
    Highlights: Lough Gill, Parke’s Castle
    Grade: Green, Level 1-3

    Parke's Castle next to lough gill

    Cycle through beautiful Co.Sligo, lauded by the famous Irish poet W.B. Yeats as “The Land of Heart’s Desire.”

    Start your day with a hot coffee and freshly-baked pastry from Shell’s Café as you watch the surfers catching waves from the seafront in the renowned surf village of Strandhill, the start point of the ride. A Sunday morning favourite of many local cyclists, the loop follows the wooded shores of Lough Gill, winding through green tunnels of ancient oak trees that suddenly give way to panoramic views of the lake and the ancient Ox Mountains sitting behind it. Stop off at the impressive Parke’s Castle on the lough’s north-eastern shore or take a quick detour from the route to explore the ruins of the medieval Franciscan Friary of Creevlea Abbey. Grab lunch at the family-run Stanford’s Village Inn and Tea Rooms in Dromahair on your way round.

    Snack Stops: Shells Café in Strandhill, Stanford’s Village Inn and Tea Rooms in Dromahair.

    Cycle This Area With Us

    The Killybegs-Glengesh Loop, Co. Donegal

    Distance: ≈ 70 km/43 miles
    Start Point: Killybegs
    Highlights: Slieve League Cliffs, Glengesh Pass
    Grade: Blue, Level 4-6

    Slieve League cliffs

    Starting out from the port town of Killybegs, the hulking sterns of brightly-coloured fishing trawlers quickly give way to green hedgerows and a jaw-dropping view across the Atlantic Ocean. Standing taller than any sea cliffs in Europe and far less crowded than their famous sister, the Cliffs of Moher, the climb to the viewpoint at the top of Slieve League Cliffs is well worth getting up and out of the saddle for.

    If you’re feeling adventurous, take a detour to the Silver Strand beach at Malin Beg. Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, it’s the perfect spot for a dip in the sea to cool off. Spin through the Gaeltacht village of Glencolmcille before you tackle the route’s highlight for enthusiastic cyclists—the Glengesh Pass.

    Snack Stop: Brew In Thru’s vintage coffee truck on route to Slieve League, Killybegs Seafood Shack for a post-ride fish supper or The Rusty Mackerel for food and drinks.

    Cycle This Area With Us

    The Ring of Beara, Co. Cork/Kerry

    Distance: ≈ 145 km/90 miles
    Start Point: Kenmare
    Highlights: Allihies Village, the Healy Pass
    Grade: Red, Level 7-9

    Healy Pass, Ring of Beara cycle loop

    One of the most beautiful places in Ireland, the Beara Peninsula remains wild and relatively untouched by tourists.

    Start from the historic town of Kenmare and hug the coastline passing through the picturesque villages of Ardgroom, Eyeries and the post-card-worthy Allihies. Continuing around the edge of the Peninsula, you’ll pass by one of the most unique places in Ireland, Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Centre. Perched on the cliffs between Allihies and Castletownbere, it is home to Ireland’s only Buddhist Temple. It has a charming café with delicious homemade food. On your way to Glengariff, consider a short but steep detour up to the viewpoint at the Healy Pass. A favourite of local cyclists, wind your way up the switchbacks for 7km at an average gradient of 5%.

    Snack Stops: Derreen Gardens Café for coffee and cake, Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Centre café for lunch and McCarthy’s Bar for a drink in Casteltownbere.

    Cycle This Area With Us

    Kilkee Loop, Co.Clare

    Distance: ≈ 65 km/40 miles
    Start Point: Kilkee
    Highlights: Cliffs of Doneen, Kilkee Cliffs
    Grade: Blue, Level 4-6

    Kilkee Cliffs
    Once you leave the slightly busier N67 road, you’re onto small back roads that lead to the tiny coastal road via Loop Head.

    Take in stunning views of the Cliffs of Doneen, the cliffs of Moher’s far less touristy but just as majestic younger cousin. Stop for lunch at the traditional Keating’s Bar in Kilbaha before you take on the 5km climb out to Loop Head Lighthouse to see the impressive Kilkee Cliffs. Loop home via the Clare coastline with views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

    Snack Stops: Keating’s Bar in Kilbaha for lunch, the Diamond Rocks Café for a post-ride drink.

     

    Dromore Loop, Co. Down

    Distance: 75 km/46 miles
    Start Point: Dromore
    Highlights: Dromara Hills
    Grade: Blue, Level 4-6

    Starting from Dromore, you head to Dromara along a fast, rolling route before you get to a local’s favourite climb—the “mineshaft” with spectacular views across Co. Down.

    Stop for lunch, an ice cream or even a swim in the seaside town of Newcastle nestled at the foot of the Kingdom of Mourne. As you loop back, you’ll hit the second big climb of the day up the “Windy Gap” with fantastic views of the Mourne Mountains.

    Snack Stops: Urban Food & Coffee, Castlewellan and Birch Café, Newcastle

    Dingle Peninsula Loop, Co.Kerry

    Distance: 40 km/25 miles
    Start Point: Dingle
    Highlights: The Blasket Centre, Slea Head, Dunquin Pier
    Grade: Green, Level 1-3

    Dunquin Pier

    One of the most iconic areas along the Wild Atlantic Way, the Dingle Peninsula is truly magical!

    Once you reach the coast, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Stop off for some hearty, traditional fare at Tig Áine. After lunch, soak up some cultural heritage at The Blasket Centre, where you’ll experience the authentic, interactive re-telling of the story of the Blasket islands. Likewise, the iconic Dunquin Pier is worth stopping for a photo as you loop your way back to the lively town of Dingle.

    Snack Stops: Tig Áine for lunch.

    Cycle This Area With Us

    Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains, Co.Dublin/ Wicklow

    Distance: 107.4 km/67 miles
    Start Point: Dublin
    Highlights: Sally Gap
    Grade: Red, Level 7-9

    Sally Gap

    A challenging day in the saddle with plenty of climbing, this loop is perfect for those looking to get out of the city and into the mountains.

    You’ll start with great views of Dublin city sprawling below from the viewpoint on Cruagh Road before climbing by Lough Bray and speeding along the smooth pavement through the Sally Gap to Laragh. Taking the quiet backroads, you’ll reach Roundwood via Lough Dan and then on to Eniskerry. Spin home via Crone Woods, and if you’re feeling thirsty after all those miles, pop into local’s favourite Johnnie Foxes Pub for a drink or some food before heading back into the city.

    Snack Stops: In Laragh town, try Glendalough Green Café for some baked goodies! Johnnie Foxes Pub, perfect for a drink and refuel!

    Fanad Head Loop, Co. Donegal

    Distance: 75 km/46 miles
    Start Point: Rathmullan/Ramelton
    Highlights: Fanad Head lighthouse, Lough Swilly
    Grade: Blue, Level 4-6

    Fanad head

    Immortalised in song, you’ll begin your ride in the famous “hills of Donegal” in the village of Rathmullan (the linked RideGPS starts in Ramelton but we recommend starting in Rathmullan). From there, the route goes south before looping upwards with fantastic views of Mulroy Bay up to Fanad Head. Take a photo by the lighthouse and take in the rugged coastal scenery of Ireland’s northwest before continuing down along the coast overlooking Lough Swilly—a place known for bird-watching!

    Snack Stops: Lighthouse Tavern, Fanad for lunch.

    Cycle This Area With Us

    The Burren Loop, Co, Clare

    Distance: 68 km/ 42 miles
    Start Point: Ballyvaughan
    Highlights: The Burren
    Grade: Blue, Level 4-6

    The Burren

    Start this loop with a hot drink and slice of homemade cake at the Burren Perfumery, right in the heart of Clare’s UNESCO global geopark site.

    Spin through its unique karst landscape on your way to the coastal village of Ballyvaughan. Stop here at the Tea and Garden rooms for lunch before you continue the loop northwards and then south again. Consider stopping off at Hazel Mountain Chocolate to buy homemade chocolates or coffee before you ride the final section back to the start point.

    Snack Stops: The Burren Perfumery for coffee and cakes, Tea and Garden Rooms in Ballyvaughan.


    * The above ride has a different starting point,but you can easily start the route as suggested in Ballyvaughan.

    Cycle This Area With Us

    Connemara Clifden Loop, Co. Galway

    Distance: 153 km/ 95 miles
    Start Point: Clifden
    Highlights: Doo Lough Valley
    Grade: Red, Level 7-9

    Cycling in Connemara

    Connemara is one of Ireland’s wildest and most spectacular regions. You’ll start your route heading towards the picturesque village of Leenane. Flanked by heather-covered mountains and sweeping boglands, you’ll pass by the beautiful Kylemore Abbey and enjoy the dramatic scenery of Killary Fjord—one of Ireland’s three glacial fjords!

    Then it’s the most iconic section of the route—Doo Lough Valley—a place steeped in history from the Great Famine of the nineteenth century. Stop for lunch in the bustling town of Westport before returning via Leenane.

    Snack Stops: This Must be the Place in Westport and The Creel Restaurant in Westport.

    Go Biking With Wilderness Ireland

    Meet the Author: Sara Mc Geough

    “Hailing from the glens of Leitrim in the northwest of Ireland, Sara is a writer and outdoor activity enthusiast. She spends her summers working as a cycling guide in Europe and her winters as a freelance writer. A graduate of History and European Studies from Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University, she blends her love for writing with her love of Irish history and exploring the Irish landscape. An avid cyclist, open-water swimmer, hiker and rock climber, Sara has travelled far and wide from trekking in Nepal to rock-climbing in Thailand to mention just a few, but it's her home soil of the Wild Atlantic Way that has her heart.”

    View profileMore by Sara

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