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All You Need to Know: Explore Ireland By Bike

8 min read

Ireland by bike…while for some this might sound like a challenge, for those looking for their next adventure, there’s no better way to explore the Emerald Isle than by biking through Ireland!

See below for our top reasons to bike across Ireland.

By Darragh Devaney, Operations Manager
More by Darragh

Reasons to Bike Across Ireland

In this article about biking across Ireland, explore the top reasons for deciding to travel Ireland by bike. Learn what kind of bike rider you are, and how to choose the trip best for you. And finally, get a few tips on how to prepare for your next expedition biking through Ireland!

1. Intimate connection to the landscape

Ireland by bike, biking through Ireland

The Emerald Isle sure is green!

 

By choosing to travel Ireland by bike, you’ll have the chance to connect with the landscapes spreading out around you. Learn about the local mythology inspired by Ireland’s landscapes as you’re biking through them. Biking across Ireland will also give you the chance to meet the people who call this island home. Though covering less distance than if you were driving, your profound connection with a specific region that you’ll develop will be worth it! The slower pace will make you enjoy it more.

2. Evoke all 5 senses

Few things are nicer than cycling the Irish countryside with the wind on your face and sun in the sky!

 

Feel the wind in your face, smell the fresh flowers in the fields, taste Ireland’s farm-to-fork local cuisine, touch spongy moss from the bogs, listen to crash of ocean waves slamming into the cliffs, and feast your eyes on the stunning Irish landscapes rolling out to the horizon. All a bit harder to do if you’re driving!

3. Flexibility

Stopping to enjoy the view of rugged Donegal mountains.

 

You whizz around a corner and come face to face with an amazing overlook… or mountain… or clifftop church, and what’s the first thing you want to do? Take a photo! You’re biking along and all of a sudden, you see a fascinating castle in the distance, or narrow dirt trail crossing the road. Over lunch, your waitress tells you about an amazing ancient megalithic site just up the hill. Being on a bike give you the flexibility to stop for photos, explore places you pass along the way, or change plans last minute based on local recommendations.

4. Get in touch with nature

From seabirds to deer to sheep and cows, you never know what kind of animals you’ll meet while biking in Ireland!

 

Travelling around in a car may be faster, but you won’t get the chance to learn about the strange planets of Ireland, explore Ireland’s fascinating geology, or come face-to-face with Irish wildlife such as puffins, red deer, or basking sharks. Taking bike trips in Ireland allows you to get a little muddy, feel a little windswept, explore the backcountry not always accessible via car, and get in touch with your wild side.

5. A Sense of Accomplishment

The Mamore Gap is one of Ireland’s most impressive climbs!

 

Finally, the obvious: travelling Ireland by bike is a huge accomplishment and you should (and will!) feel proud of yourself! Imagine how much more meaningful your trip becomes after you bike across Ireland. The accomplishment you’ll feel after biking across Ireland will be far more meaningful than if you simply drove – and this profound sense will stay with you long after your plane lands back home.

Choosing the Best Ireland Bike Trip for You

Ireland by Bike, Biking through Ireland

Biking along Lough Gill during a magical sunset in Co Sligo

What kind of cyclist are you?

There are all kinds of bike riders out there, but we’ve narrowed it down to four main types in order to help you choose the best bicycle Ireland tour for you!

Check out the four types of bike riders below to see which one sounds the most like you!

The Chill Rider

The Chill Rider likes to bike – but also to relax! You want the joy of experiencing Ireland by bike, but you don’t want it to be an epic challenge. You like the idea of mixing workout with relaxation in Ireland’s dramatic landscapes. Staying off-the-beaten-path is also important to you, and you’re looking for a flexible itinerary.

What bike trip works for you? This type of bike rider appreciates a laid-back literary, matching perfectly with the Biking and Yoga Escape through Ireland’s quiet northwest counties Sligo and Donegal, some of Ireland’s best kept secrets! Chill Riders will love combining biking and yoga in a tranquil, overlooked corner of Ireland for a detox that both exercises and relaxes body and mind.

On this tour, the pace is easy and the route is flexible, making it perfect for beginner cyclists, or those who simply want to slow down the pace and enjoy Ireland’s most chilled-out regions.

The Traditionalist

The Traditionalist is a cyclist who loves the classics. You want to interact with your destination while learning about the history and the culture of Ireland. You don’t mind a little bit of a challenge but not so much that it might detract from the experience. You want to make sure you visit classic Irish landmarks and must-sees (after all, you’re coming all this way!), but you also appreciate biking through Ireland to gain new perspectives on the Emerald Island.

What bike trips work for you? The Traditionalist will love the Connemara & Aran Islands bike tour. Not only will you tick all the boxes, you’ll have the added thrill of island-hopping across the Irish-speaking Aran Islands, rolling through the vast Connemara bogs and standing at the edge of the Cliffs of Moher. Traditionalists will enjoy exploring Ireland’s icons by two wheels, an entirely new way of seeing the Emerald Isle!

Alternatively, for those wishing to explore the beloved Southwest in and off the beaten track journey, the Traditionalist will love our intense Kerry Peninsulas bike trip as a way to combine the traditional southwest while still staying away from the crowds.

At a more gentle pace, this bike tour is designed for active beginners or people with some cycling experience who are looking for a way to visit iconic Ireland off-the-beaten-path without an overly-challenging pace.

The Adventurer

The Adventurer wants to get as far off the beaten path as possible. You like the idea of deviating from the crowds, and you want to explore a place few people venture. You’re not afraid to get a little dirty, and you want to develop a connection to the place where you’re biking.

You want a more moderate pace and don’t shy from a challenge. For you, it’s all about the journey, and less about the destination. You’d rather forsake must-sees and grand landmarks for a sense of adventure and the chance to explore somewhere off most traveller’s radar.

What bike trips work for you? As the Adventurer is searching to get away from the norm, they pair well with our new 2018 trip, Biking Donegal from Cliffs to Coast. This trip lets the Adventurer explore the rugged and remote County Donegal, a backdrop for the 2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi as well as National Geographic Traveller’s Coolest Place on Earth.

These adventurous Ireland by bike trips are best suited for active people with decent biking experience and a desire to chart the unknown!

The Challenger

‘Challenge’ is your middle name! The Challenger yearns for physically demanding itineraries that lets you put your skills to test. You love dramatic natural landscapes with hills and summits. You prefer scenic but challenging point-to-point routes, as a sense of accomplishment is very important to you.

While you enjoy learning about Ireland’s cultural and historical heritage, you’re the type of bike rider who appreciates spending most of your day on two wheels exploring the wilds. For you, the destination is just as important as the journey itself.

What bike trips work for you? For an epic, multi-country, unforgettable adventure, the 5 Countries Bike Trip is perfect for the Challenger as it allows them to explore the rich and varied landscapes of the 5 countries of Great Britain and Ireland, rolling through regions often inaccessible to most cyclists. Or for a challenge of a lifetime in Ireland alone, bike the best of the Wild Atlantic Way, a new for 2018 bike trip. Cycle through more than 400 miles of some of Ireland’s most dramatic and beautiful coastline along the world-famous Wild Atlantic Way!

With either trip, expect longer days, some challenging climbs and more dramatic terrain, but know that our support van will always be there to give you a break if needed. These trips, longer than other trips, are designed for active and experienced cyclists who love a challenge and don’t shy away when the going gets tough!

How to Prepare to Travel Ireland by Bike

Ireland by Bike Connemara biking

Biking along Connemara’s famous Sky Road for some of the best views!

 

New to multi-day touring? Perhaps you’ve taken a multi-day touring before, but it’s been awhile? Chances are that you’ll have to do some prep for your next Ireland bike trip.

You’ll get the most out of your trips if you have a comfortable fitness level. If you’re physically prepared for a biking trip, you’ll be able to enjoy the landscapes, culture and nature around you, instead of struggling up one hill after another.

See below for a few tips.

Bike Tips for Cycling in Ireland

Build up your endurance slowly.

Nobody can go from zero to Olympian right away so don’t overdo it. You’ve got months before you leave to explore Ireland by bike, so start small. Start with shorter rides and slowly build up to longer ones. Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint!

Create a schedule.

Based on your fitness levels, ability, availability, and current exercise, create a bike schedule that contains steadily longer, more challenging and more intense rides. And once you create it, make sure you stick to it as closely as possible!

Incorporate biking into your daily routine.

Whether that means biking to work, creating an early morning biking routine, going for long weekend spins, using your bike to take care of day-to-day tasks, or mixing and matching, make sure that you incorporate biking into your everyday routine!

Go for the real thing.

Try to recreate experiences that closely mirror your upcoming biking trip. So, try to avoid gym biking, or biking only on flats. Of course, these activities can complement your training, but make sure you’re challenging yourself to train outdoors on variable terrain, including ascents and descents.

Get your miles in.

Depending on which trip you’re planning on doing, make sure you slowly build up to the kind of daily milage you’ll be doing on your bike trip. You can have a look at our grading videos here for a better idea of daily distances.

Go for a trial run (or more accurately, a trial cycle!).

If you’re worried about a week-long bike trip, try doing a weekend of biking when you’re feeling more confident. Stay close to home – bike on an established, easy-to-follow path (like a canal or well-worn trail) and stay in a local BnB for the night.

Explore on two wheels!

Use your newfound biking abilities as a way to explore your local region. Not only will you get into better biking shape, you’ll have fun learning about your local area! This will put you into the right gear for enjoying Ireland by bike as well.

Read More about Biking in Ireland

Meet 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!”

View profileMore by Darragh

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