Cycling in Ireland

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Tips for Cycling in Ireland

*Guest Post by Mike McLeash

Land of leprechauns, home of Guinness, sanctuary of all things musical, poetic and green.

Ireland does have a lot going for it – maybe that’s the luck of the Irish – but still, it’s not exactly the first place that comes to mind when considering bicycle touring. I mean, isn’t it so small that you’d tour it in a weekend?!

Cast your suspicions aside because biking in Ireland has become way more popular in recent times. And it’s got something for all cycling enthusiasts; whether you’re a leisurely weekend rider or a months-long bicycle tourer looking for a serious test.

Now. Before I go any further, I must warn you of the dangers you’ll face when cycling in Ireland. It’s not because of the liver-damaging levels of Guinness that Irish people consume (and will tempt you into doing the same), or indeed their obsession with the weather (that’s bound to rub off on you, too). Nope, it’s far more dangerous than that. Ireland has a vice-like grip. And once you cycle there, the country will squeeze you so tightly that you’ll never want to leave its alluring charm!

Cycling in Ireland Wild Atlantic Way

Still hellbent on going? Good decision. Here are some handy things to know before your trip…

 Beware of Climate Change

It’s something the Irish love to talk about, which comes in handy for cyclists. After all, it’s helpful to know what kind of weather conditions you’re up against.  The cooler climate of the west means that the country is good for cycling all year round. But like most countries on this side of the world, make sure you bring along some rain gear…and possibly a flask of hot whiskey. ;)  In fact, it’s known to rain so much in the west of Ireland that locals differentiate between “dry rain” and “wet rain”. Makes total sense.

Still, it’s all part of the fun. There are only a few places in the world where you can go from glorious sunshine one minute to sideways hailstones the next! It’s nothing if not an adventure.  As a rough estimate to help you plan your equipment, temperatures range from 16–18 °C in the summer and 5–7 °C in the winter. Brr.

Cycling in Ireland Glendalough

Take Note of Your Route

There’s lots of cycling routes to choose from in Ireland. Luckily for biking enthusiasts, the local government has responded to increasing bicycle tourism by developing a variety of off-road greenways. These routes add up to a total distance of nearly 10,000km – so you’ll have a seemingly endless supply of roads to choose from. The best aspect of discovering these routes in such a small country is that they’ll often lead you down roads without any traffic on them. With the wind at your back, the sheep on either side and stunning views ahead, it’s a scene perfect for any cycling fanatic.

Cycling in Ireland Cliffs of Moher

The Top 3 Routes For You To Check Out

So now we know that Ireland’s got the green light for cycling, that it can have temperamental weather systems and that it’s got enough Guinness on tap to fuel your trip (phew), let’s take a look at some of the cycling routes available.




3) Bringing up the rear at number three is the Rathdrum-Wicklow Gap Route. If your stay in Ireland is just a short one and you’re not looking to stray too far from Dublin, it’s definitely one to check out. You’ll find a great variety of options within this 74km route that’s easy to get to from the city. And, even though it’s so close to the city centre, you’ll feel like you’re smack bang in the middle of nowhere, with countryside to rival the most desolate of English landscapes (I feel like a traitor saying that, but it’s true!) Plus, if you want to extend your stay, there’s options for camping along the Wicklow Way for an even bigger adventure.

2) A slightly longer route and the route that wins my second spot is the Beara Peninsula. It’s hard to define – as there’s no real beginning or end point to it – but it can be nearly 200km if you want it to. Fun times. Along this route, you’ll be amazed by the views around Kerry and Cork. And it wouldn’t be a trip to Ireland unless you visit some of the local pubs. But be warned: the locals here are both massively friendly and famously hard to understand. So you may just find yourself agreeing to sing a song in a packed pub before you can get back on your bike.

1) The route that takes my number one spot today is the famous Wild Atlantic Way – a route that also claims the title as the world’s longest coastal ride. So, cleaning up in terms of prizes then. The path stretches over a staggering 2,500km. That’s even longer than my ride across 5 countries a few summers ago! So much for limited routes in a small country. The road is diverse at times and breathtaking constantly. It follows the Atlantic seaboard on the edge of Western Europe and you’ll feel more like you’re at the edge of the world as you gaze out over soaring cliffs, sandy beaches and offshore islands.

So, that’s 3 of my favourite routes in Ireland – but there are many, many more. if you’re after a proper adventure this summer, I’d highly recommend this as a trip to remember! Downside is that Ireland can be expensive in terms of accommodation. So for a trip this length you’ll surely need something like this to make sure you’re comfy for the duration of your trip. More money for those pubs, then…

Mountain Bike Routes

Road cycling not your thing? Fancy a more off-track option? You’re in luck because Ireland’s got a few mountain bike routes up its sleeve as well!

The Ballyhoura mountain bike trails in Kilfinane, Co Limerick, comprise close to 100km of trails and include forest climbs, tense single track and technical sections that will get the adrenalin pumping! And the renowned Ring of Kerry, with its 169km of routes for both road and mountain biking enthusiasts, is sure to get your heart pounding even faster. Upon leaving the charming town of Killarney, lose yourself in pretty mountain passes with sweeping views over Kells Bay and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. You’ll find secluded coves, interesting forts and plenty of friendly towns and villages on the way – trust me, this may be one route on which you’ll want to slow down and take your time.

The Home Straight

Now you’ve got all the info you need, you should be ready to saddle up and cruise into the land of céad míle fáiltes, or “a thousand welcomes.” Good luck leaving it behind.


Hey, I’m Mike from a small town in England and I’m currently I’m cycling around SE Asia. When I’m not on my bike I’m running my blog – Pinch-Flat. Ross from Travelling for Fun has been kind enough to let me give my tips on cycling in Ireland. I hope you liked them!

Image Credit Flickr Creative Commons – Dyn Photo, Daniel Dudek, Dora Meulman

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Ross Travellingforfun

About Ross Travellingforfun

I have ducked, dived, bungeed, burned, skydived, surfed, volunteered, volcanoed, crossed continents, conquered mountains, got robbed, got sick and got drunk and I hope this website will inspire you to do the same.