Ireland is an incredible place for cycling, with some of the best cycling routes in the World to explore. If you’ve fallen in love with cycling, or simply want a physical challenge to inspire and motivate you, you’ll love our guide to some of the great cycling routes in Ireland.
We all know Ireland is a beautiful country, with a stunning combination of dramatic coastline, national parks and areas of historical interest to discover. Getting out on your bike is a brilliant way to make the most of the scenery and improve your fitness at the same time, so we’re here to help by sharing some cycling routes that will get you in the mood to do just that.
10 Irish Cycle Routes You’ll Love
There are impressive cycle routes across every county in Ireland, so we’re just going to jump straight in with what we consider to be the best of the best. If you have a particular favourite or have tried some of these routes already, get in touch and tell us what you think.
1: Wild Atlantic Way, West of Ireland.
The Wild Atlantic Way is a stunning route along the Wild Atlantic coastline that covers 2,750km/1,700 miles from Kinsale, County Cork, in the south to County Donegal in the North. It runs along the entire west coast of Ireland, also passing through Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim.
This is a unique area of the world with many historical and natural points of interest to explore, and it is also well renowned for the excellent food available along the way.
You can take a long cycling trip and work your way along the entire Wild Atlantic Way, or join it at a convenient point and take in as much of the route as you wish. There are several shorter routes and loops within the Wild Atlantic Way, and you can adapt your cycle route to suit your timings and preferences.
2: Dublin to Wicklow Mountains loop
If you’re living or staying in Dublin and want to get out of the city for a few hours, the Dublin to Wicklow Mountains loop is exactly what you need. It’s easy to hire a bike in Dublin, so you can enjoy this cycle route even if you’re only visiting for a weekend, and it’s easy to access the route to get started.
You will find incredible views of lakes and mountains as well as the city, and you’ll enjoy some more challenging climbs as well as some easier riding on this 75km loop.
3: Kingfisher Trail, County Leitrim.
The Kingfisher Trail is a 480km stretch of stunning countryside that includes impressive views across Lough Erne and Lough Macnean and can be divided up into sections so that you can decide on the approach that suits you best.
The route takes you from County Leitrim, through Fermanagh, Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan, and you can join the trail at many points along the way, where bikes are available to hire. Many cyclists choose to make the full trail their goal for a cycling holiday, stopping in the picturesque towns and villages along the way to explore and enjoy good food.
4: The Inishowen 100 Scenic Cycling Route, Donegal.
The Inishowen scenic cycling route is a stretch of 100 miles/160km, signposted to take you around the whole of the stunning Inishowen Peninsula. There are plenty of places of interest to explore along the way, and the beautiful beaches in the area are second to none.
This route can be completed in one day, but rushing through it will mean you miss out on the beauty of the local area. Particular highlights include the Culdaff village, Culdaff Bay and Kinnagoe Bay beach, so don’t miss these little gems!
5: Inishmor Entire Island Loop, Galway.
Exploring new areas by bike is a great experience and discovering Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, this way is ideal. This 55km route will take you around the whole island, giving you time to take in the ancient stone fort, Dun Aonghasa and the Serpent’s Lair blow hole in the rocks, as well as many incredible beaches and beautiful views. You can hire bikes close to the ferry or bring your own and enjoy getting to know this stunning island.
6: Great Western Greenway, Mayo.
The Great Western Greenway is a world-renowned cycle route that showcases some of the most stunning views in Ireland. Beginning in Westport, on the mainland, and running to Achill Island, this route gives you a great way to explore the coastline and national parks for 42km.
7: Royal Canal Greenway, Kildare.
This 130km stretch of the Royal Canal takes you from Maynooth, County Kildare, through some fascinating towns and villages in Meath and Westmeath, to Longford Town or Cloondara in County Longford. It’s possible to cycle a short stretch of this route, which is flat and reliable for families and beginner cyclists, or make a trip to cycle the whole length of the route and stop to enjoy some Irish hospitality along the way.
8: Causeway Coast cycle route, Derry.
This Northern cycle route is a great way to see the North coast of Ireland, and it gives you a chance to visit some impressive heritage sites, too. Beginning at Castlerock, Derry, and ending at the Giant’s Causeway, this route is a must-visit for an Ireland cycle trip.
9: Black Valley Loop, Kerry.
Generally considered to be suited to more experienced cyclists, you’ll love the 56km/34.7 mile Black Valley Loop in County Kerry. It’s a challenging and beautiful ride, giving you incredible views across the Lakes of Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe, and it’s often referred to as one of the best cycling routes in Ireland.
10: Green Heartlands route, Roscommon.
This is a circular ride that is around 206km in total and can be broken down into seven stages, making it achievable for cyclists of all levels. You can visit several interesting places along the way, making the most of the excellent options for food and drink, as you discover the beautiful mid and south Roscommon on this fully marked trail.
Preparing for a Cycling Challenge
When you’re planning a cycle trip that covers a long distance, you’ll want to prepare yourself in advance to really make the most of it. Here are our top tips to set yourself up for success:
- Do some training. It’s not a good idea to set out on a long cycle ride when you haven’t ridden your bike in a while, so take some shorter training rides before you tackle a long or challenging route.
- Plan your route. You’ll need to know where you’re going and with whom. Have you arranged for friends to join you at certain points along the trail and keep you company for a while? Even if you’re using GPS to plot your route, it’s a good idea to take a map as a backup option in case technology fails you.
- Prepare your bike. A flat tire or a damaged bike will hold you up and cost you precious time on your cycling trip. Get your bike serviced or service it yourself before you set off on a ride and carry bicycle spares for any minor repairs you may need along the way.
- Pack with care. When you’re taking a cycling holiday or trip in Ireland, you can’t rely on the sunshine to keep you dry and warm. You’ll need to prepare for difficult weather conditions, including a light cycling rain jacket, and ensure that you pack as efficiently as possible to make the most of your limited space.
- Think about food. If you’re planning an extended cycle trip through Ireland, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the very best food and drink in the world as you travel. However, you’ll be burning a lot of energy and you’ll still need snacks to keep you going. Pack some slow-release oat bars or high-protein treats for emergencies and you’ll be prepared for anything.
- Be realistic. Don’t set yourself impossible goals or be disappointed if you end up going at a slower pace than you’d planned. Just make the most of the scenery along the way and embrace the opportunity to slow down.
And most of all, enjoy your trip!
Find your new Bicycle in Ireland
Here at The Edge, we can help you find a new bike that will take your cycling to the next level. Whether you’re looking for a road bike, a trail bike or an electric bike, we’re here to offer advice and share our experiences so that you can find the best option for your lifestyle and your budget.
Getting active outdoors is great for your physical and mental health alike. Discover cycling, swimming and surfing in Ireland, and find everything you need to get started within our range. You can order online or pop in and talk to us at The Edge at Kinsale Road in Cork, contact us at +353 (0)21 432 0522 or visit our website today.