Top 5 things to know when planning a cycling holiday in Ireland.

Planning a cycling holiday in Ireland? There can be a lot of things to consider. Is Ireland a good cycling destination? Which part should you go to? How can you organise the best bikes and accommodation?

We make this much easier for you with a 5 point guide to planning the best cycling holiday possible in Ireland.

Group cycling holidays in Ireland. Custom cycling holidays in Ireland

Group cycling holiday along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland

1. Ireland as a cycling holiday destination

An island on the northwest of Europe, Ireland is quickly becoming a mecca for cycling holiday enthusiasts. With over 2,000km of unspoilt Atlantic coastal cycling and a plethora of quaint, old-world country towns and villages, Ireland has it all when it comes to cycling adventures.

Wild atlantic coastal vistas, brooding mountains, hidden valleys and an ancient culture combine to make for a spectacular cycling experience. Quiet roads and cycling greenways are a big draw to many would be cycling holidayers.

2. What type of cycling experience does Ireland offer and where is the best place to go?

Cycling as a hobby and sport has exploded in popularity in Ireland over the last decade. There are a number for purpose built greenways, with many more in the pipeline. Without doubt, the best place to cycle is along the West Atlantic coast of Ireland. Towns like Galway and Westport are hidden gems, packed full of character with great food and accommodation options and are very welcoming places to visit. The cycling routes offer a maze of rural laneways and coastal roads which are ideal to explore by bike. Connemara, the Burren and the Aran Islands are consistently voted some of the most unique cycling experiences in the world. The South West coast also offers excellent scenery, however a busy tourist industry in the south west during summertime can mean these areas are less pleasant for cyclists due to the amount of other traffic on the road. The western coast around Galway and especially Connemara is less busy and more suitable for those wishing to get off the beaten tourist track.

Cycling tour in Westport Ireland

Greenway cycling holiday in Westport

3. How can I plan my trip? Should I use a local cycling tour operator or just rent bikes and plan the trip myself?

There is nothing more exciting than pulling out a map, reading the town names and picking a cycling route. This is what cycling adventures are all about. Exploring the open countryside and moving across the land under your own power is the best way to explore a new country. However, having the input of a reputable local cycling tour operator can be the difference between a good holiday and an unforgettably great holiday experience. Local advice on the best routes to cycle, and just as importantly, the best stretches of road to avoid can be crucial. This makes sense, imagine if someone visited your home-town. No doubt there are places you would tell them to visit and places to avoid and Ireland is no different in this regard so it is well worth contacting a reputable cycling tour operator to inform yourself of the basics. Good cycling tour operators will offer advice not just on the best cycling routes but also on the best places to stay, eat, and other worthwhile activities. The Irish countrysie is dotted with a huge number of well-preserved historic sites that are perfect to explore by bike. Many of the best historic sites are off the beaten track and not well sign-posted. Some are impossible to find without local input. Having a local operator give you directions to these hidden gems is one of the things that separates Ireland from other cycling destinations.

4. How do I choose a local cycling tour operator in Ireland? –

There are 4 important things to consider here.

1 – Pick a well established local cycling tour operator that has plenty of good feedback from other customers. Trip Advisor is your friend here.

2 – Make sure the operator lives in the area is not just an internet based business offering multiple destinations including Ireland. If the operator is not local to the area, you will not receive the most up to date advice and if something goes wrong, it can be difficult to get the problem resolved if you are dealing with someone in another country or timezone.

3. Make sure the operator has good quality bikes and cycling gear, like Trek, Bontrager, Ortlieb etc. The last thing you want is a bike that is not comfortable, mechanical issues or sub-standard gear. Make sure your bike selection type is guaranteed. You don’t want to see ‘or equivalent’ in the bike description.

4. Finally, go with your gut. Once you make contact with a tour operator, make sure they are responsive to your emails and answer your questions.

Bike rental break at a pristine beach in Ireland

A view of the rented bike and panniers while stopped for a rest at a deserted beach

5. Should I do a self-guided trip or hire a local guide?

Most of the cycling holidays in Ireland are self-guided for good reason. The cycling distance are relatively short and the operator will supply you with everything you need so a guide is only required if you are not used to cycling a bike or you are a very nervous cyclist. The guided tour will also be more expensive since you will need to pay the guide so the self-guided option is better value. With the self guided option, the operator will provide you with everything you need including bikes, equipment, accommodation booking, luggage transfers, directions, advice on the best places to eat etc. The best operators will offer advice on everything you need including airport transfer and other parts of your trip to Ireland.

So there you have it, a simple guide to booking your 2020 cycling adventure, and if you need any help, feel free to send us an email at and ask any questions you like. We are happy to help.

West Ireland Cycling is a 3rd generation family owned business and have been arranging award winning cycling tours and bike and equipment rental for over 40 years.

Get in contact with us and we will be happy to arrange a cycling holiday of a lifetime for you in 2020.