Ireland

Ireland has long been a tourism hotspot in Europe thanks to it’s heady mix of breathtaking scenery, heritage and culture.

And while the weather can leave a lot to be desired at times, it’s this very mix of elements that has led to a steep increase in cycling in the country. As a hobby, club memberships are increasing annually. As a method of daily transport, cycle routes and schemes are popping up in cities around the North and South.

For tourists, there are now a vast array of formally-recognised cycling routes to choone from whether you want to take in coastal, urban or mountain views. But with almost 100,000 km of road, how do you choose one?

Towbar and cycle rack fitters David Murphy Towing have compiled their list of the top cycle routes to check out to see the very best of Ireland by bike:

Wild Atlantic Way, West Coast

The West Coast’s most famous coastal scenic drive is now also a stunning cycle route. Stretching over 2,500 km of rugged, winding coastline from Donegal to Cork, you can join the Wild Atlantic Way cycle route from Belfast through the Causeway coast route. Or if the few thousand kilometres sounds a bit of a challenge, you can tackle one of the individual cycle routes in counties like Kerry, Clare, Galway and Sligo.

Along the way you’ll experience the epic edge of Western Europe. See the viking raided Skellig islands, try surfing at one of over 50 Blue Flag beaches, visit ancient monasteries, climb wind-battered lighthouses or stop for a hearty meal and a pint in one of the many quaint pubs in the harbour villages dotted along the way.

Ring of Kerry, South West

This scenic tourist drive in County Kerry plays second fiddle only to the Wild Atlantic Way but is just as famous, regularly making the island’s “must-see” lists. Now also a stunning cycle route, the Ring of Kerry is a 200 km loop (hence the name) which starts in Killarney and passes through glorious sites like Ballinskelligs and Valentia Island as well as many ancient stone forts like Cahergal and Loher.

You can take a boat fishing at Ross Castle in Killarney, sunbathe on the grassy grounds of Muckross Abbey or spend 2 hours climbing Torc Mountain to witness the epic waterfalls and views from the top. The Kerry Way roughly follows the Ring’s scenic driving route, whereas the signposted Ring of Kerry cycling path uses older and quieter roads where possible.

Inishmor Island, Galway

Infinitely less pedal power than the previous two, but no less breathtaking, is the entire island cycle route of Inishmor islands. The largest of the world-famous “Aran Islands”, Inishmor lies off the west coast of County Galway. The route can be achieved in one full day with a moderate level required to cover the 55 km.

The islands are accessed by ferry and give the feeling of being transported back in time to the ancient Ireland of myth and legend. Renting a bicycle straight off the ferry, the route will show you ancient stone forts, unique natural rock formations beaches, view points and medieval churches.

The Kingfisher Trail, Fermanagh

Heading across the border to Northern Ireland, this route was actually the first long distance cycle trail in the whole of Ireland. It takes in Southern counties Leitrim, Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan as well as Fermanagh and brings a real off the beaten track experience. Again, this is a moderate cycle route that usually takes a minimum of 2 days to complete the 480 km.

The figure eight style trail takes in a variety of scenery from mountains and caves to lakes and canals, and provides the opportunity to see plenty of tourist attractions along the way, like Fermanagh’s Marble Arch caves. Helpfully, this cycle route can be broken down into five separate county “loops” or stages, opening the route up to cyclists of all abilities and fitness levels. The Northern Loop starts in Enniskillen, Fermanagh and is 155 km in length.

The Mourne Mountains, Down

Staying North, a list of the best cycling routes wouldn’t feel complete without the inclusion of the Mournes, a series of routes that local cyclists hold dear to their hearts. The heather-covered mountain peaks are a stunning representation of Northern Irish countryside, the same countryside that inspired author C. S. Lewis’ magical land of Narnia.

The mountains include a number of smaller routes such as the Rostrevor Route which takes you 26 km out from the picturesque town, its namesake, through the forest, the mountain and the stunning Carlingford Lough. There are some steep elements to the route, but they are ultimately worth the sweat.

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