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Trip Grading Explained

Our Trip grading Explained

If you are looking for a relaxed yet active vacation, a physical challenge, or anything in between, we have a trip that suits your needs.

To help you chose the trip that is right for you, we’ve included a comprehensive grading system. This allows you to consider the balance of physical activity, skills required and accommodation comfort.

Trip Grades

Our trips are graded either green, blue or red with green trips being the most accessible and red trips being the most difficult. Within each of the colour grades, there are numbered sub-grades with 1 being easiest and 9 being the most challenging.

  • Green = 1-3
  • Blue = 4-6
  • Red = 7-9

Each of the grades is worked out based on a number of factors, with the level of physical challenge being the most significant. Technical skills and experience required are also important contributors when working out a trip grade.

The videos and explications below, narrated by our guides and staff, describe how these grades apply to each activity and trip type that we offer, including Hiking, BikingSelf Drive Journeys, and Family trips. They will also describe a typical day on each trip.

If you have any questions about our grading system or would like advice on finding the type of trip that would suit your experience and fitness level, please feel free to call or email us on +353-91-457898 or [email protected].

Comfort Grades

Most of our trips include the best and most authentic accommodation available in each area, but our comfort grades will help you understand the type and grade of the accommodation on each trip. The idea is to give you a feel for the type of accommodation involved.

Basic – These are easy-going rustic accommodations (often bunk-houses) and will usually have shared facilities with hot showers and cosy rooms.

Classic – In these 3 or 4 star hotels, guesthouses, BnBs and inns, you can enjoy great local hospitality along with a hot shower, the best local food and a comfortable bed at the end of the day’s activities.

Deluxe – 4 star hotels, manor houses and guesthouses (with the occasional castle), where you will enjoy excellent service and quality accommodation with a friendly, homely feel.

Luxury – We have selected the best castles, 5 star hotels and top quality manor houses in locations across Ireland, each with their own character and charm. You can expect the very best of personal service in each one.

*On occasion our deluxe or luxury trips will include a slightly lower grade accommodation so that you can experience a more remote or unique area where highly-graded accommodation is not available. These will always be the best available in the area and are at breath-taking and off-the-beaten-track locations that are well worth it!

Hiking


Our hiking trips range from straightforward, gentler hikes to more challenging itineraries which will take you to a new mountain top each day.

Our green graded hiking trips are suitable for reasonably fit active travellers who enjoy moderate hikes. Green trips include shorter hikes (distances typically 8-10km with the odd longer day), fewer ascents, and generally over smoother (but usually not paved) terrain. Hikes are usually in flatter coastal areas or valleys and include more cultural stops along the way. Expect to be out 5-6 hours a day with ascents up to a max of approx 1,500 feet/450m.

Blue-graded hiking trips are suitable for fit and experienced hikers. Hiking at a good pace, expect to be out for 6-8 hours a day. Blue trips will introduce some steeper climbs to summits, with some daily hikes involving ascents of over 3000ft/900m. You will not always be on a path and the terrain underfoot may be rough and boggy, including boulder fields and mountain tops. Harder hiking days are generally followed by an easier, more relaxed day which would include some cultural highlights along the way. Distances will generally be up to 16km a day, with the occasional longer day.

For more of a challenge, red-graded hiking trips mean longer hikes from 15-25km every day, with rougher, steeper terrain including rough hill tracks, boggy ground, boulder fields and mountain tops. There may be ridge walks or short non-technical scrambling so a good head for heights is useful. Red hiking trips are suitable for very fit and experienced hikers used to more challenging days and routes.

Browse our selection of hiking trips here.

Biking & Road Cycling


Our biking and road cycling trips are graded to account for a combination of general level of fitness required, number of miles covered, daily ascent, estimated biking time, and total trip length.

Our green-graded biking trips usually include shorter days, with less ascents and more stops along the way. Green graded trips are suitable for people with a reasonable level of fitness who enjoy biking and want an active but relaxed trip, as well as for active people new to multi-day bike trips looking for a new way to explore Ireland’s sweeping landscapes. Daily distances are generally 25 – 40 miles (40 – 65km), biking at an average speed of around 12mph. We will ride on mostly straightforward rolling terrain with one or two notable, with the option of riding in the support vehicle if you need a break. We will be on our bikes for 4-6 hours each day plus the odd longer day, with plenty of time for breaks, lunches and visits to sites of interest.

Our blue graded road biking trips are suitable for people with a good level of bike fitness, who bike regularly and may have done a multi-day bike trip before. Daily distances range from 35 – 45 miles (55 – 70km), including the occasional steeper climb interspersed with opportunities to stop and admire the view. Blue trips usually have a much easier day following the more difficult ones, and include plenty of breaks throughout the day. Expect to be on the bikes for  5 – 7 hours each day plus the odd longer day; there is also time each day for breaks, lunches and visits to sites of interest.

Our red graded trips are suitable only for fit and experienced riders who love biking and enjoy the challenge of longer days in the saddle, riding for more consecutive days. Daily distances are generally from 45 – 60 miles (70 – 95km) on a variety of terrain from rolling countryside to hilly and mountainous areas. Most days will be challenging and the trip will include some of the more testing climbs in Ireland including high mountain passes. These harder climbs are rewarded with fast and exhilarating descents. We will often be on the bikes for 7 hours each day plus the odd longer day. There is also time each day for breaks and lunches plus visits to some sites of interest.

Browse our Range of Bike Tours Here.

Discovery Journeys – Self Drive & Family Trips


Discovery journeys are self-drive trips with personal activities and experiences tailored to your own group’s personal activity level. They allow you to experience Ireland at your own pace with one-to-one meet ups with local guides and experts who can lead you through activities at your own pace. They also include overnight stops at the very best local 4 and 5 star accommodations. Active experiences are at your own pace and can be tailored to meet green, blue or red graded levels depending on your group’s preferences. For self-guided days, we’ll provide you with suggested points of interest to visit, places to eat, local recommendations, and things to see along with maps and directions.

See our Self Drive Journeys Here.

Our fully-guided Family Trips work in much the same way – personal activities and experiences are tailored to your family’s personal activity level. This allows your family to experience Ireland at your own pace – local guides and experts will lead you through activities such as hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking and paddling at a pace comfortable for the whole family. Expect top-notch hotels and guesthouses that are family-friendly and include child services, as well as activities catered for children and adults. In addition to active experiences, each itinerary allow plenty of time for cultural activities.

Check out our Family Trips Here – New for 2018!

We work hard to select the best available accommodation for each comfort grade in each region of Ireland. We do our best to work with 4 and 5 Star authentic Irish-owned or owner-run hotels, guesthouses and castles as part of our commitment to working with the local communities in which we travel. We seek to find a balance between character and comfort so that you can enjoy a truly Irish experience, while not compromising on quality.

Still Have Questions? – Contact Us

If you have any questions about our grading or would like help in finding the trip that’s best for you, feel free to contact our friendly team who have designed and experienced the trips for themselves. Call +353-91-457898, North America toll free 1-844-235-6240 or email us at [email protected].