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Best Bike Rides in Ireland

Posted on Aug 16, 2016 by Darragh Devaney

There’s no better view of Ireland than the one you get from the saddle of a bike. It’s faster than walking and more intimate than driving. It’s cheap, good for the environment and adventure in one of its purest forms.

Immerse yourself in the culture, talk to the locals and experience the real Ireland. We’ve pulled together some of the best bike rides in Ireland for the seasoned cyclist.

Best Bike Rides in Ireland

Bike Rides in Ireland

The Beara Way

Want a challenge? The Beara Way encompasses the entire Beara Peninsula and is a strong competitor for best bike rides in Ireland. At 138 kms long, it’s tough, but the scenery makes it worth it. Starting in Kenmare, the route offers spectacular views across Bantry Bay, the Kenmare River and the ultimate scenic mountain route, Healy Pass. Take in the beautiful villages of Glengarriff and Eyeries as you have your picnic lunch. Don’t miss the highest waterfall in Ireland, The Mare’s Tail, on the famous Hungry Hill!

The Beara Way follows country roads so traffic isn’t a big concern. Spread it out over as many days as you like, or do sections – it’s already divided into easy to follow sections. Catch a ferry from Castletownbere to Bere Island for an extra 19km circular route to squeeze every drop of adventure from your trip! If you don’t want to do it alone, sign up for the annual Ring of Beara Cycle.

Distance            138 km
Ascent 5,300 m
Approx. Time  1- 6 days

Bike Rides in Ireland

The Ring of Kerry

A classic for a reason, the ring of Kerry is roughly a 200km loop of the best of co. Kerry. The standard route to follow is the same as the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle held every July. Enter that for the thrilling atmosphere as 10,000+ people battle it out in Kerry to battle it out, or go alone at any other time for a much quieter challenge.
As you pedal, stop and contemplate the historic Ross Castle, Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farms. See the mysterious Celtic Ogham Stones. Pedal over the Coomakista Pass to Derrynane House and drink in the sight of the stunning glaciated valley, The Gap of Dunloe.

Distance            180/200 km
Ascent 1,740 m
Approx. Time  1- 4 days

Bike Rides in Ireland

The Mourne Mountain Cycle Loop

When in Co. Down, the moss-covered Mourne Mountains epitomise the image of Ireland that many novels have captured. CS Lewis used the region as inspiration for his classic Narnia novel, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The trails are plentiful, beckoning both the amateur and the pro.

A notable local route is the 70-km Mourne Mountains Cycle Loop, showcasing the phenomenal views over the Cooley Peninsula and Carlingford Lough. There’s a decent climb past Spelga Dam followed by an even better descent.

Distance            70 km
Ascent 973 m
Approx. Time  1- 2 days

Bike Rides in Ireland

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The King Fisher Trail

Are you looking for something off the beaten path? County Fermanagh‘s King Fisher Cycle Trail, Ireland’s first long-distance cycling trail, traverses counties Leitrim, Fermanagh, Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan.

Encompassing the Upper and Lower Lough Erne and Macnean, the vast King Fisher Cycle Trail affords 480km of expansive country roads. Break to explore the subterranean caves at Marble Arch Geopark, the mysterious 18th-century Florence Court, or the romantic Crom Estate woodlands.

Officially starting in the town of Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, there are multiple points to rent bikes along the way for those wishing to bike a portion of the Trail.

Distance 480 km
Approx. Time  2-8 days

Bike Rides Ireland

Connemara Loop Cycling Route

The Connemara Loop Cycling Route is a 150km scenic cycling trail. Discover quaint villages, quiet beaches and wilds of Connemara along the way. It will take you 1 to 3 days depending on how ambitious you are.

Find detours along the route to increase or decrease the level of difficulty. Starting at Clifden, be sure to visit Kylemore Abbey. Check out Killary Harbour and Fjord, and if time is on your side, get a ferry to Inishbofin and Omey Island.

Distance            150 km
Ascent 3,4437 m
Approx. Time  1- 3 days

If you’re after long distance bike rides in Ireland, these two routes will blow your senses!

The Wild Atlantic Way or Mizen Head to Malin Head

Bike Rides in Ireland

The Wild Atlantic Way

Pedal the very edge of Western Europe on the Wild Atlantic Way – Ireland’s extraordinary coastal route – and by far the longest. As you ride, watch folklore come to life, witness history, experience the brutal elements and the raging swell of the Atlantic. Get to know each of the coastal villages along the route. Eat the food, drink the beer and even take a surf.

At an impressive distance of 2,500km, it’s not to taken lightly – but you’re guaranteed to reap the benefits for your efforts especially if you take your time to do it all. There are over 50 Blue Flag beaches, nearly 20 long distance walks, over 120 golf courses and over 500 local festivals and events.

Within that there are many smaller-scale, family-friendly bike rides, a favourite being Co. Mayo’s Greenway. A 42km off-road walking and cycling trail, the Greenway follows the old railway route from Wesport to Achill.

Distance 2,500 km
Approx. Time 25+ days

Bike Rides in Ireland

Mizen to Malin

Finally, the ultimate bucket list challenge and one of the ultimate bike rides in Ireland – Mizen to Malin (MizMal). The length of Ireland from top to bottom, this Ireland’s equivalent to Britain’s Land’s End to John O’Groats. There are many ways to do it: go straight up or go the scenic route. Feel free to map your own route but the shortest option is about 555km. The record is 19 hours set in 1993 by Alex Barry… feel free to try and beat that! A more enjoyable and painless way to do the MizMal is to join our Bike Tour – Mizen Head to Malin Head.

Distance 935 km
Ascent 555 m
Approx. Time  6 days

Have we given you a sense of wanderlust? No worries, we have the cure – a pinch of pedalling and swig of Irish countryside! Check out our 2017 rides below:

About the author

Darragh Devaney

Joining Wilderness Ireland in 2015, Darragh is our Trip Operations Manager. He's also Wilderness Ireland's resident cycling expert! Darragh has travelled throughout the world - cycling across France, living abroad in South Korea, travelling through Canada and the US, but still prefers cycling in Ireland to anywhere else!

Read more articles by Darragh | View Darragh's Profile

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