"O Ireland, isn't it grand you look," admired philosopher John Locke in the 17th Century. Join us for 11 days of cycling on Ireland's western coast and you too will fall in love with the magic of the Emerald Isle. You'll pedal stone-lined roads to ancient ruins. Spend a day each visiting the Aran Islands and Connemara. And enjoy opportunities both on and off your bike to explore the rich Irish landscape and colorful villages steeped in history. But riding is only half the fun. By night, you'll enjoy the gracious hospitality, humor, and traditional music for which the Irish are famous.
**If this sounds great, but you would prefer a shorter tour, join us on our 7-day Cycling Ireland's West Coast tour.**
Day 1: Arrive Ennis, Ireland
Highlights: Colorful Ennis, County Clare, welcome dinnerWe meet today in Ennis, capital of County Clare. We'll fit bicycles this afternoon, then you are free to go for warm up ride or to take a stroll through colorful Ennis before we gather for wine and introductions. We'll enjoy a welcome dinner together this evening.
Day 2: Bicycle to Doolin
Highlights: Castle ruins, medieval monasteries, Cliffs of MoherLow stone walls enclosing miles of pasture lead us today past castle ruins, medieval monasteries, and churches destroyed in the wake of the Reformation - all standing as landmarks across the Irish landscape. Then it's on to the coast and the extraordinary Cliffs of Moher. Our destination is Doolin, the epicenter of traditional Irish folk music. Dinner together. Distance: 52 km (33 miles).
Day 3: Rest day in Doolin
Highlights: Irish music in Doolin, optional bike ride to the BurrenThere is no need to pack this morning, as we'll be in Doolin again tonight to enjoy the music in its pubs. Take the day off to enjoy a walk along the shore or take an optional bicycle ride into the Burren. This unique limestone region hosts a variety of wild flowers and plants unusual in this part of Europe. Dinner is on your own. Distance of marked route: 59 km (36 miles).
Day 4: Aran Islands
Highlights: Aran Islands, Inishmore, guided walk in Dun AenghusWe are taking a short bike ride today to visit Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. Once there, you can explore the main village of Kilronan before we head off to explore the rest of the island. Plan on a walk this afternoon to Dun Aenghus, one of Europe's most important prehistoric settlements. Dinner together this evening. Distance: approximately 8 to 10km on the bike, optional walking.
Lodging: Kilmurvey House
Day 5: Bicycle to Clifden
Highlights: County Galway and Connemara, bustling town of ClifdenWe're back to Kilronan this morning, where we'll catch a ferry north to County Galway and the village of Rossaveal. Just beyond lays the heart of Connemara, Ireland's "wild west." This area was devastated by the potato famine in the 1840s but has rebounded in recent decades through the tourist trade. Along with the Aran Islands, Connemara is one of the few remaining Gaeltacht regions, where Irish Gaelic is still widely spoken. Tonight we settle into one of the most vibrant towns of County Galway, where tradition and modernity nicely mix to create a lively atmosphere. Enjoy dinner on your own in one of the several pubs or newer bistros and restaurants. Distance: 70km (43 miles).
Day 6: Clifden
Highlights: Sky Road, scenic coastlineWe have another night in Clifden so there is no need to pack. Those wanting to ride can take a leisurely 15 km loop ride along spectacular Sky Road, passing by the abandoned D'Arcy Castle. Anybody wanting more mileage can keep pedaling farther north on any number of the small country lanes of County Galway. Return to Clifden for a lazy afternoon walk along Beach Road, a cuppa in one of the cozy galleries in town or a tipple in one of the local pubs! Distance: 15-50km (9-31 miles).
Day 7: Bicycle to Delphi Mountain Resort
Highlights: Delphi Valley, Kylemore Abbey, scenic cyclingToday we pedal north past iconic Kylemore Abbey, where a visit to Western Ireland's top attraction is well worth it, and then continue into the unspoiled Delphi Valley through Connemara's tallest mountains, the Mweelrea Range. Situated between the wild Atlantic Coast and Clew Bay, Delphi Valley is lovely and remote, surrounded by stunning scenery; in other words, the perfect place to ride a bike. Our mountain home this evening is a historic resort nestled in the mountains which provides genuine Irish hospitality with a luxurious twist. Distance: 53km (33 miles).
Lodging: Delphi Mountain Resort
Day 8: Ride to Westport
Highlights: Great Western Greenway, Westport House and Country EstateWe are leaving Connemara and Co. Galway today as we head north to Louisburgh and then east to the small city of Westport in Co. Mayo, known for its multi-colored shops, cheerful attitude and continental flavor. Located at an inlet of the Atlantic on Clew Bay, Westport is one of Ireland's only planned towns. The award-winning Great Western Greenway walking and cycling route begins here and the Westport House and Country Estate, one of Ireland's most recognizable tourist attractions is only 5 minute walk from town. A three-time winner of the National Tidy Towns Competition and in 2012 won 'Best Place to Live in Ireland,' a competition run by the Irish Times. Dinner is on your own tonight. Distance: 41-55 km (miles). Lodging: not confirmed yet, should be Clew Bay Hotel or similar
Day 9: Rest day in Westport
Highlights: Great Western Greenway, pretty town of WestportToday we invite you to rest and visit the small city of Westport or take a ride on the Great Western Greenway along Clew Bay from Westport to Achill. If you opt to be off your bike today, Westport has several options to offer from the Westport House and Country Estate to a day trip to Clare Island, the alleged home of the pirate queen Grainne O'Malley. Dinner is on your own tonight. Distance: 25-85km (15-52 miles).
Lodging: Clew Bay Hotel or similar.
Day 10: Bicycle to Cong
Highlights: Lodge near Ashford Castle, leisurely cycle through lakes and countryside, Quiet ManThough we rarely encourage you to rush your ride you might want to today because tonight we will be staying very near the grounds of the legendary Ashford Castle! Stroll to this 13th century castle built by the Guinness family; Ashford is surely the most dramatic castle in Ireland. We'll be just over a kilometer away from the village of Cong, perhaps most famous in the U.S. because the Oscar winning Best Picture of 1952, the Quiet Man, was filmed here. Enjoy the Quiet Man museum and one of Cong's excellent pubs or wander through the Ashford grounds. We'll enjoy a special farewell dinner together. Distance: 67km (41 miles).
Lodging: Lisloughrey Lodge
Day 11: End Galway, Ireland
Highlights: Shuttle to Galway, guided walk, farewellWe shuttle to Galway this morning where we'll enjoy a guided walk together before we say our farewells. You may wish to stay in Galway or use it as a base for further explorations of western Ireland. Whatever your plans, have a great trip.
HighlightsTraditional Irish music, Doolin, Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, Ireland's longest fjord, Connemara, Galway
Includes"The Usual" plus... Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; Use of a quality aluminum road bike with compact gearing or hybrid; 11 days, 10 nights accommodation; 7 dinners with wine or beer, 10 breakfasts; island ferries and guided walk in Dun Aenghus
Arrive/DepartShannon International Airport (SNN) or Dublin (DUB)
Total Distance390-501 km (241-309 miles)
Daily Distance10-75km (6-47 miles) with an optional rest day and optional mileage most days.
What to ExpectFun, music, dancing, beer, cider, and wonderful cycling. "O Ireland, isn't it grand your look."
Rolling country rides with a few steep but short hills; mild temperatures with some winds or light rain possible; some walks during our day on one of the Aran Islands.
Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.
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