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The Emerald Isle

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

Ride the length of Ireland from Mizen to Malin

Duration

16 Days

From

USD 4,950

Ride Rating

Moderate

Group Size

8 - 18

Trip Description

  • The Wild Atlantic Way, is a continuous coastal route running the length of Ireland. It's rugged features are drawn from the rock of Erin's Isle by the unforgiving tides of the Atlantic Ocean. 
     

  • Our fully supported and guided ride takes in the best of the route, travelling from South to North with favorable winds.  Stopping along the way at enchanting hamlets, to sample the warmth and hospitality of the Irish.  
     

  • The ride has been carefully created by our local guides to showcase hidden Ireland, a proud land of deep history, quaint villages, bustling towns, tradition, folklore, heroes and song.
     

  • From a lively welcome in the county of Cork (ORK), we will ride Mizen Head, the length of the country to a triumphant finish at Malin Head, the northernmost point of the Emerald Isle. The adventure ends with a group transfer to Dublin (DUB).

Ride Overview

Average Daily Distance: 37 mil/ 60 km​

Average Daily Climb: 1463 ft / 446 m​

  • This ride is rated ‘Moderate’. In total, the ride covers approximately 477 mi / 763 km, and climbs +5,785m/ +18,975ft, over 13 riding days and 1 hiking day.

  • The terrain is mostly on quiet tarmac roads in good condition, with the occasional farm track or bike/bridlepath. 
     

  • Having local riding guides throughout, and daily briefings, we will always know what is coming. GPS tracks, broken down day by day and an accompanying hotel list with contact details are provided.
     

  • Throughout the ride we will have vehicle support and riding guides on hand, so distances are very achievable for anyone with a moderate level of fitness.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Ireland

Welcome to the land of Saints and Scholars. Our guides will meet us on arrival at our Hotel in Cork (ORK). Ireland’s second largest city is now home to technology giants such as Apple, but hasn’t lost an ounce of its charm.  It is the home of Michael Collins, founder of the Irish Free State, who was assassinated on the road to Bantry. We will have the opportunity for a bike fitting and warm up ride if time allows, before our first happy hour introductions, briefing and welcome dinner.

Ride: -

Meals: Dinner, Happy Hour

Accommodation: Metropole Hotel

Day 2: Mizen Head to Bantry

Today's ride begins with a wonderful coastal route on quiet lanes, meandering through rural farmland. We will take in the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, truly one of Ireland's hidden gems. Finishing in the town of Bantry, site of one of Ireland's most notorious rebellion attempts. In 1796 a fleet of 43 french ships slipped past the Royal Navy to take Ireland in Support of Wolfe Tone’s dream of a republic, and as a stepping stone to defeating the English. (https://www.bantry.ie/about/history) Irish weather and the Wild Atlantic ultimately defeated them. Tonight we enjoy world class seafood and local artisan produce in this coastal haven.

Ride: 60km/37.5miles  +480mtrs/1575ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, -

Accommodation: Maritime Hotel

Day 3: Bantry to Kenmare 

Our route today takes us through the quaint town of Glengarriff, with a stop to visit Garnish Island, home to the Napoleonic Martello towers, and world famous Italian style gardens.  The literal highpoint of today’s route is the Healy Pass. One of Ireland's greatest places to cycle.  We will be challenged by the climb, but the vistas at the summit will more than make up for the effort. Descending to the shores of Kenmare Bay, where after our ride we can walk to the ancient burial site of Kenmare stone circle. Built during the bronze age (2,200AD – 500 B.C.) the circles are believed to be for ritual purposes. They were often orientated on solar and lunar events, such as the position of the sun on the horizon on a solstice. The Kenmare stone circle is composed of 15 heavy boulders, At the centre is an impressive Dolmen with a giant capstone. Dolmen mark the burial place of a chief or hero.

Ride: 70km/44miles + 680mtrs/2230ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, -, Happy Hour

Accommodation: Kenmare Bay Hotel

Day 4: Kenmare to Killarney

This region of Ireland is just one iconic cycle route after another. Today we ride the Black Valley and the Gap of Dunloe which will leave us in awe of the rugged beauty which abounds. The Gap of Dunloe is a glaciated formation with jagged rock walls towering above.   Dotted with glistening lakes which we’ll pass, as we glide down into the valley.  

Along our route we will stop at Kate Kearney's Cottage. Once a famous síbín (ILLEGAL BAR) where Kate produced a particularly potent form of poitin (Irish spirit distilled from potatoes). Kate Kearney’s “Mountain Dew”, was so strong that it could not be drunk without at least seven times its own quantity to temper it.  Kate ignored the law and continued to create her special liquor and sell it to tired travellers in need of reviving.  The song Rare old Irish Dew is about the brew. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXELvufFxEU

Our ride today ends in the town of Killarney, located on the outskirts of Killarney national park. The national park was Ireland’s first, having been gifted to the Irish Free State, and was once host to Queen Victoria on a visit in 1861.  For those looking to ride further, there will be time to ride into the park and explore.

Ride: 45km/28miles + 470mtrs/1542ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, -, -

Accommodation: Abbey Lodge

Day 5: Lahinch to Lisdoonvarna

The spectacular Cliffs of Moher await us today. The world renowned natural wonders must be seen in the morning to be fully appreciated. A winding country lane takes us from Lahinch to the cliffs and then from there we will explore the unique landscape of the Burren. Completing our ride in the town of Lisdoonvarna, famous for it’s annual matchmaking festival.  There’ll be plenty of time to explore the town on foot once we’ve checked in.

Ride: 54km/34miles + 540mtrs/1772ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Happy Hour

Accommodation: Rathbaun Hotel

Day 6: Inishmore Island 

There’s a short ride today (7.5km/5miles) to Doolin, where we’ll take to the water, crossing with our bikes to the Largest of the Aran Islands. There is no better way to see the island than by bike. The ancient fortress on Dun Aonghasa is the main attraction, the fort consists of three massive drystone defence walls. Outside them is a chevaux-de-frise – that is, a dense band of jagged, upright stones, thousands in number. A devastatingly effective way to impede intruders, these surround the entire fort from cliff to cliff. Dún Aonghasa is over 3,000 years old and excavations have revealed significant evidence of prehistoric metalworking, as well as several houses and burial sites. The whole complex was refortified in AD 700. In the late afternoon we depart the Island by a different ferry (45mins) to the small port of Rossaveal in Connemara and transfer to our hotel in Clifden.

Ride: 31km/20miles +190mtrs/624ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, -

Accommodation: Buttermilk Lodge

Day 7: Clifden to Leenane

The wilderness of Connemara is known around the world and today we will have our own Connemara adventure. Rugged coastline, towering mountains and quaint villages make this the quintessential Irish location and it is home to the versatile Connemara horse breed. We finish our ride on the shore of Ireland's only Fjord, Killary harbour. A unique Irish experience is available this evening, a seaweed bath, great for soothing tight muscles. Fresh local seaweed is placed in a piping hot bath and the water releases the oils in the seaweed which are said to have restorative powers.

Ride: 55km/35miles + 345 mtrs/1130ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, -, -

Accommodation: Leenane Hotel

Day 8: Leenane to Westport

Today's route winds through rugged green and stone valleys, with nothing but sheep for company. The Iconic mountain, named after St Patrick is synonymous with a July pilgrimage, and will dominate the skyline as we make our way into Westport, a bustling town where great food and entertainment is always guaranteed. We’ll go out on the town tonight, to tap our feet to the sounds of traditional Irish music while enjoying a well-earned drink. 

Ride: 57km/36miles + 205 mtrs/673ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, -, Happy Hour

Accommodation: Wyatt Hotel

Day 9: Westport to Achill Island

The Great Western Greenway was Ireland's first greenway, a dedicated sealed cycling path. The track is on what used to be the rail line from Westport to our destination, the Island Paradise of Achill. Known for its pristine beaches and high sea cliffs. We will explore the island from the saddle and to really experience island life, stay overnight and get to know the locals. Our hotel tonight is named Stella Maris, Star of the Sea is an ancient title for the Virgin Mary.

Ride: 75km/47miles + 580 mtrs/1903ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, -

Accommodation: Stella Maris

Day 10: Carrowteige Clifftop Walk

Today we’ll take a break from the saddle and hit the trails of Mayo. This section of the Wild Atlantic Way has some of the most dramatic coastline to be found anywhere in Ireland, and today's route is described in Lonely Planet as “The finest sustained coastal walk in western Ireland” 

We will visit Ceide Fields Visitor Centre, showcasing the oldest, most extensive Stone Age monument in the world. Consisting of megalithic tombs, fields and houses, the relics are softly covered by a natural blanket bog, itself a wonder with unique flora and fauna. Following this breath-taking hike, we will continue by coach to the town of Ballina with a stop at the iconic Downpatrick head to learn of the folklore surrounding this magical place. 

Hiking - Distance: Up to 13kms. Highest point: 270mts. Paved roads, sandy and gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, can be wet & boggy underfoot.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, -, -

Accommodation: Twin Trees Hotel

Day 11: Ballina to Sligo

This region of Ireland is famous as the home of Queen Meabh, a pirate that controlled the local waters in days gone by. She is reputedly buried atop of Knocknarea which we will pass on today's cycle. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, our route hugs the coast for most of today, passing wonderful sandy beaches along the way, for anyone that feels like a swim.  County Sligo is synonymous with WB Yeats, and we will see today why this region was such an inspiration to the Nobel Prize winning Laurette. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/55687/the-song-of-wandering-aengus

Ride: 70km/44miles +295mtrs/968ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, -,-

Accommodation: Clayton Hotel

Day 12: Sligo to Donegal town 

Mountains and Sea dominate our route today. The unmistakable tabletop mountain of Benbulben fills the skyline, this natural wonder is ever changing as the light shifts along its contours.  Classiebawn Castle marks our arrival at the sleepy fishing village of Mullaghmore, now a world-renowned location for big wave surfers. Our ride ends today in Donegal town, steeped in history and culture, Donegal Castle and Abbey are integral parts of Irish history and our visit will bring this location to life with it’s rich stories.

Ride: 55km/34miles + 280mtrs/919ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, -, -

Accommodation: Gateway Lodge

Day 13: Donegal to Ardara 

Donegal is one of Ireland's largest counties, making for stunning expanses of wild untamed countryside. We will ride through this landscape en route to the quaint village of Ardara. The making of Irish Tweed is strongly rooted in this area and you have the opportunity to visit one of the workshops and see how this ancient material is hand woven and the intricate skills needed to produce the world class textile. Tonight visit Nancy’s bar, for a true local welcome.

Ride: 50km/31miles  + 500mtrs/1640ft 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, -, -

Accommodation: Nesbitt Arms

Day 14:  Ardara to Letterkenny

Crossing the heart of Donegal today we will see Irish rural life at its most authentic. Passing through the villages of Glenties and Finntown whilst following the shoreline of Lough Finn this route is a perfect way to see seldom visited regions of Donegal. We will complete today's ride in the bustling little town of Letterkenny.

Ride: 55km/34miles +350mtrs/1148ft 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, -, - 

Accommodation: Station House

Day 15: Letterkenny to Malin Head

What a way to finish our epic Irish Experience! Following the coast north from Letterkenny for approx 1.5hrs, we will take the ferry across Lough Swilly to Buncrana before continuing our cycle, ever northwards. Passing through Carndonagh to finish our final ride at Ireland’s most Northerly point, Malin Head. After a celebration of our journey’s end at the point, we will transfer back to Letterkenny to celebrate in Irish style, with warmth, music and friends.

Ride: 73km/45miles + 600mtrs/1968ft

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Happy Hour

Accommodation: Station House

Day 16: Departure

The best airport to fly direct internationally is Dublin.  Flights from Belfast will usually be best for the UK. A group transfer to Dublin will take place after breakfast.

Ride: -

Meals: Breakfast

Accomodation: -

Bikes

Bring Your Own

The ideal machine for this ride is a Hybrid Bike with at least 30mm tires, capable of carrying 2 water bottles.  A lightweight Hardtail MTB, Gravel Bike, or Road Bike fitted with 28mm tires would also be acceptable.

 

Bike Rental

Hybrid bike rentals are available from WeAdventure on request.  Ebikes are available on special request. If bringing your own bike, please make sure that you bring sufficient parts to maintain the bike in good order throughout the ride.

Local Bike Hire: 

  • Hybrid Bike - USD 225 

  • E-Bike - USD 490 (limited availability)

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Inclusions

What's Included
  • Arrival and departure drop off.

  • 15 nights accomodation with 15 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 5 dinners, 4 happy hours.

  • Guiding and support services, boat transfers.

  • Entry fees when mentioned.

  • Snacks & drinks whilst riding.

What's Not Included
  • National and international airfares

  • Bike rental

  • Single room supplement *

  • Guide team gratuities

  • Travel insurance

* Single rooms are available on request at a surcharge of 950USD per room.

See our FAQ for more information about our cancellation policy and answers to common questions.

Essential Info

Visa and Entry Conditions

At the time of writing, Ireland has removed all prior entry conditions, and issues visa on arrival to most nationalities. Travel entry conditions are updated as regularly, so it is always a good idea to check these.  Usually you will require the following.

  • Passport (valid for at least 6 months from date of  entry)

  • Visa if required 

  • Flight itinerary

  • Vaccination record 

  • COVID-19 test result (if unvaccinated)

Consult the Irish Embassy website for the latest entry requirements.

Health and Vaccines

There are no specific vaccine requirements for travel to Ireland, but it is advisable to have general vaccinations up to date.  In addition, you will may to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test result. 

Weather

August is the warmest month on average, with temperatures ranging between 57 and 66°F. In theory it is also the driest month, but Ireland is known for offering 4 seasons in day, and one should always expect a chance of rain whilst on the Emerald Isle.

For riding, layers to start rides in the morning, and peel off in the warmth of the day is the best strategy. Carry a light windproof or showerproof jacket.  Support vehicles are always on hand to carry day bags which can be accessed easily.

Money and Expenses

It's a good idea to have some cash on you for incidentals, either in USD or better yet some local currency (Euro).  ATMs, which are abundant in Ireland, are the easiest ways to get local currency. Almost all ATMs will accept foreign cards.  Having some US dollars in cash will enable you to change some money, in case of card issues. Cards are accepted in chain and larger establishments, but Euro notes are accepted everywhere.