• USP Icon Tried and tested tours designed by cyclists
  • Usp clock A family run business for over 20 years
  • Usp person Personal and bespoke tours to suit your budget
  • Usp tick Trusted to deliver over 20,000 cycle tours

Grand West of Ireland Self-Guided

Grand West of Ireland Self-Guided

Ireland Flag Ireland

  • Region Region West of Ireland
  • Tour Type Tour Type Self Guided (Open Departure)
  • Duration Duration 12 days
  • Bike Type Bike Types Road, Hybrid, Touring & e-bike

Core Route

576 Kilometres
2 (Moderate) Difficulty Level: 2 (Moderate)
Average Distance per Day: 58 km
0 606 km
Average Elevation Gain per Day: 286 km
0 400 km

Extended Route

490 Kilometres
2 (Moderate) Difficulty Level: 2 (Moderate)
Average Distance per Day: 70 km
0 705 km
Average Elevation Gain per Day: 381 km
0 400 km
April - October from
€1070
Next Steps

This fantastic itinerary combines all of the best parts of the beautiful West of Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way. Starting from Galway, the first leg takes you south through County Clare to the medieval town of Ennis on the banks of the River Fergus. The next leg leads you west to meet the Atlantic Coast at Kilkee, where you stay for two nights. The loop ride from the town is around the aptly named Loop Head Peninsula. Leaving Kilkee you ride north along the Atlantic Coast to Doolin for another two-night stopover. The loop ride from here takes you around the Burren coastline. From Doolin there is a short ride to catch the ferry over to Inishmore, largest of the three Aran Islands. The next day is spent exploring and enjoying the island. You leave the island by another ferry which lands you at Rossaveal on the northern shores of Galway Bay. From here you ride west through Connemara to the town of Clifden for a two night stopover. The loop ride takes you around the coast to Roundstone and out along the Sky Road. Leaving Clifden you ride through the Lough Inagh Valley to Leenane on the shores of Killary Harbour. From Leenane you continue north to Westport, with the option of an upper or a lower level route. The loop ride from Westport takes you to Doolough and along the shores of Clew Bay in the shadow of Croagh Patrick.

Highlights

  • The wonderful coastal scenery of Loop Head

  • The spectacular Cliffs of Moher

  • The Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna

  • Enjoying traditional music sessions in Doolin’s pubs

  • Sharing the lanes with the pony carts on Inishmore

  • The wonderful views of the Twelve Bens from the Bog Road

  • Sampling the fare in Clifden’s excellent restaurants

  • A swim in the sea at Dog’s Bay

  • The ride out along the Sky Road to the west of Clifden

  • The marvellous coastal ride from Tully Cross to Leenane

  • A cruise on Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord

  • Hiking up Croagh Patrick for marvellous views over Clew Bay

Day 1

Arrive in Galway (there are regular buses from Shannon Airport or trains and buses from Dublin to Galway). Stay the night in guesthouse in this bustling historic university town. If bicycle rental has been arranged we will meet you in the evening or first thing the following morning (depending on arrival time) to adjust the bicycle for you and talk you through the week ahead.

2

Galway – Ennis (78km – climb 205m) The route takes you away from the city along the coast to Oranmore but you leave the busier roads behind as soon as you reach Kilcolgan. From there it is on quiet backroads past the ruins of Kilcolgin Castle and more importantly Kilmacduagh (one of the best preserved early Christian monasteries complete with slightly leaning round tower) to the market town of Ennis. The main town of County Clare is colourful brimming with shops, restaurants and pubs with traditional Irish music. Even though this is a lengthy day there is very little in the way of climbing.

Galway ennis Elv

3

Ennis – Kilkee (ca 58km or 68km – climb 386m) You are leaving Ennis to cycle along quiet backroads to Kilkee located directly on the Atlantic Coast. During Victorian times Kilkee was a favoured holiday location thanks to its 2km long sandy beach offering safe swimming.

Ennis Kilkee Elevation

4

Loop Head (ca 36km or 64km – 256m / 354m) Loop Head the most westerly peninsula will offer you some sublime coastal scenery with its cliffs, arches, and freestanding pinacles. At the tip of Loop Head you will find a fully working lighthouse (not open to the public) offering a wide sweeping vista. The cycling is on very quiet backroads.

Kilkee Loop

5

Kilkee – Lisdoonvarna / Doolin (ca 68km - 441m) Today's cycle will remain along the coast to the north passing Lahinch famous for the surfing and golfing, to Lisdoonvarna or Doolin (both villages famous for their traditional Irish music). Stay here for the next two nights. One of the alternatives lets you cycle past the Cliffs of Moher rising majestically more than 200m out of the sea.

Kilkee Lisdoonvarna E Lv

6

Loop Day (various options- 51km, 58km and more - 416m) There are 3 different options for today all doing a circuit of the Burren, a unique lunar-like landscape providing botanical interest as well as rich in historical remains. Visit the village of Balllyvaughan, the Aillwee Caves, and ride past the Poulnabrone Dolmen as well as other burial chambers.

Lisdoonvarna Loop elv

7

Doolin for ferry to Inishmore (various options) Cycle the 7km to the village of Doolin to take the ferry (ticket not included) to the island of Inishmore (the biggest of the 3 Aran Islands). If not done the days before you can cycle to the Cliffs of Moher in the morning. The island is very rich in historid and pre-historic sites and highlights include the cliff top fort of Dun Angeus, the Seven Churches and the coast road to the west of the port village of Kilronan. The island is famous for the knitwear that bears the Aran name. Spend the night on the island to get a feel for island life.

Lisdoonvarna Doolin ferry elv

8

Back to mainland (Rossaveal) by ferry - Clifden (ca 58km (205m) longer option available) After a morning spent exploring the island further and visit for example the fantastically located
Black Fort (a 3,000 year old promontory fort), you take the ferry back to Rossaveal at noon. You will be heading north into Connemara proper. There are great views towards the Twelve Bens (the 12 mountains at the centre of the Connemara National Park). Turning west you ride across the peats bogs (where you can watch peat digging in progress) to Cashel and across another Bog Road to Clifden. This colourful small town is often labelled the metropole of Connemara. Here you will stay for two nights, and you may enjoy traditional Irish music in its pubs.

Rossaveal to Clifden elevation profile 1

9

Clifden loop rides (ca 40km climb 152m, 58km (320m), 90km) There are 3 options to choose from, the core describing a figure of eight loop based on Clifden. On the way you can visit the village of Ballyconneely where Alcock and Brown crash landed their biplane after completing the first transatlantic flight in 1919. There are some very beautiful beaches here. In Roundstone you can see traditional musical instruments being made by hand. There is a wonderful a ride out along the Sky Road to enjoy some sublime coastal scenery, and for the enthusiastic rider you continue along more coastal scenery to Claddaghduff and Aughrusbeg.

Clifden Loop elevation profile

10

Clifden – Leenane (65km – shortest 36km (247m) or 75km – climb 486m) Leave Clifden behind to cycle through the beautiful Lough Inagh Valley to Kylemore, where you may like to visit Kylemore Abbey. From here there are choices to cycle along the coast to Lettergesh or to go a more direct route to Leenane. This small village is located on Killary Harbour, Ireland's only fjord. It was the location for the film “The Field”.

Clifden to Leenane elevation profile 2

11

Leenane – Westport (ca 62km – can be extended -climb 162m for shortest to 682m for longest option) A beautiful and gentle day in the hills of Connemara and Mayo. Cycle on very quiet roads along the lakes of Lough Mask and Lough Nafooey. Westport where you stay for 2 nights is a colourful market town in County Mayo. Here it is not difficult to find pubs with traditional Irish music.

Leenane to Westport elevation profile 3

12

Westport Loop day (54km, 68km climb: 487m – can be extended) This is a beautiful loop ride around Croagh Patrick (Ireland's holy mountain) visiting the village of Louisburgh and heading back to Westport along Clew Bay. Along the way visit the National Famine Memorial, Murrisk Friary and the Croagh Patrick visitor centre. Or hike up this mountain on a pilgrim’s path. Alternatively cycle the Great Western Greenway.

Westport Loop elevation profile 4

13

Departure. Breakfast, followed by farewell and departure for your onward journey.

Route Map

Accommodation

The standard accommodations for this region's self-guided itineraries are guesthouses and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs). Generally, these have between 4 and 10 guest rooms and the owners/providers live on the premises. In almost all cases the bathroom facilities are ensuite (self-contained within the room), and the room facilities usually include a television and tea/coffee making facilities. There is a communal reading / television lounge. Small family run hotels are also used in a few locations. The providers are excellent sources of local information.

Breakfast is always included. Most guesthouses do not offer an evening meal.

When you book a tour, your pre-trip planner will have more details about the specific facilities and services provided by the accommodations.

Examples of our guesthouses in this region include;


Getting here

The most convenient international airports are Shannon Airport and Dublin Airport.

There is a small regional airport in Ireland West Airport.

Galway, Westport and Ennis have direct rail links with Dublin (Heuston Station) operated by Irish Rail.

Bus Eireann operates intercity and regional bus services throughout Ireland.

Citylink and GoBus run buses between Galway and Dublin Airport. Citylink also operates a service on the Galway to Clifden route

Climate

Ireland's climate is surprisingly mild given its northern location. This is mainly due to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream which brings warm waters up to Western Europe from the more tropical Atlantic zones.

Temperamental is a fitting description of Ireland's weather. It can be very unpredictable! The old adage that it is possible to experience four seasons in one day is close to the truth. During the summertime, the warmest months tend to be July and August, when average temperatures during the day can range from 15ºC to 20ºC. A hot day in summertime could produce temperatures of 22ºC to 24ºC and on rare occasions can exceed 30ºC.

The best time to travel to Ireland for an outdoor trip such as a bicycle tour is from the beginning of May to the end of September. April and October are also possible, but the chances of encountering inclement weather increase. Towards the end of October the days are significantly shorter.

Traditionally May can provide some of the best weather days of the season. The last two weeks in June have the longest days of the year.

July and August are peak travel season for Ireland. The first weekend in August (a public holiday weekend) is the busiest of the season. School holidays are from the end of June until the end of August.

The latter half of September sees the change to autumn colours.

Core Tour Cost €1095
Luggage Transfers €575 (per couple)
Hybrid Bike Rental €195
Road Bike Rental €275
E-Bike Rental €345
Single Supplement €315


€1095 per person sharing, to include;

  • 12 nights' accommodation with breakfast
  • Pre-Trip Information Booklet and Planner
  • On call telephone support
  • All mapping, routes and cue sheets with gpx tracks
  • Meet, greet and bike fitting


Luggage Transfers

  • Luggage transfer charges are calculated as follows:

    The standard charge is based on one or two riders. A couple would therefore share the luggage transfer costs. There is then a small additional fee for the third and each additional person.
    For example:

    1. Total cost for one or two riders = €575 (287 per person based on two people sharing)
    2. Total cost for three riders = €575 + 45= €620 (207 per person)
    3. Total cost for four riders = €575+ 45 + 45 = €665 (166 per person)

Note that the more riders in the group, the less expensive are the luggage transfers per rider.

Please note that we will endeavor to provide you with the bike listed below. On occasion, due to availability and size requirements, you may receive a different bike. All our bikes will be of a similar style, quality and specification to those listed.

Stevens 6x Lite Hybrid Bike

5 frame sizes
Aluminium 6061 DB Frame
Stevens Alloy fork
27 speed

Bring your own saddle and/or pedals if you wish and we will fit them to the bike. (You must be able to remove them yourself at the end of your trip).

Fitted with: Rear rack; platform pedals, bottle cage, fenders (mudguards)

Equipment provided: Handlebar bag; map case; spare tube; puncture repair kit; lock; mini pump; multitool.

Available on request: Panniers, helmet, odomoter, gps unit

Stevens San Remo Road Bike

8 frame sizes
Aluminium 6061 DB
Carbon fork

Bring your own saddle and/or pedals if you wish and we will fit them to the bike. (You must be able to remove them yourself at the end of your trip)

Fitted with: Platform pedals, bottle cage,

Equipment provided: map case; spare tube; puncture repair kit; lock; mini pump; multitool, frame bag

Available on request: Panniers, helmet, odomoter, gps unit

Stevens E-Lavena E-Bike

E-Bike

  • 4 frame sizes
  • Aluminium 6061 Frame
  • SR Suntour NCX D LO Air

Bring your own saddle and/or pedals if you wish and we will fit them to the bike. (You must be able to remove them yourself at the end of your trip).

Fitted with: Rear rack; platform pedals, bottle cage, fenders (mudguards)

Equipment provided: Handlebar bag; map case; spare tube; puncture repair kit; lock; mini pump; multitool.

Available on request: Panniers, helmet, odomoter, gps unit

Next Steps

Are you ready to find your next adventure? Leave us your details to make an enquiry.

+44 (0) 7780 496969