Ireland Bike Tour: Galway, Connemara & Connacht

A 7 day trip to Ireland 
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4.75 out of 5 stars
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The west of Ireland is the epitome of verdant beauty, crowned with towering mountains and filled with all the colors of the rainbow. Astride a bicycle, the scene takes on a special magnificence, beggaring description and boggling the mind. Every ride you’ve taken will pale by comparison, and every future ride will leave you longing to return.

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Ballynahinch Castle, The Cashel House, The Bog Road, Clifden, The High Sky Road, The 12 Bens, Lough Inagh Valley, Kylemore Abbey, Killary Harbour, Leenane, the Joyce River Valley, Maam, Cong, Clonbar, Finny, Partry, Ballinrobe, Cong

Departure Dates 

Regular departures from May to September

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Welcome to Connemara, the Ancient Seat of Irish Kings

You arrive in Galway, the cultural capital of western Ireland and the foremost city in the ancient province of Connacht, before turning further west to Ballynahinch Castle, your princely home for your first two nights. A two-time winner of Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence, this former home of the powerful Clan O’Flaherty has been converted into one of the finest hotels in Western Europe. Your rooms feature beds that are as elegant as they are comfortable, incredible views over the Ballynahinch River, and all the modern luxuries you would expect from such a renowned establishment.

Your group will meet for a quick bike fitting and a short talk on safety measures before heading down a verdant, sheltered path and to the bay road beyond. For generations, farmers have been harvesting the seaweed washed ashore to supplement the poor soil of the West, but low tide brings a peculiar delight as the exposed seaweed turns a shade of vibrant gold before your eyes. Replenishment can be had at the breathtaking Cashel House, a sweet and sophisticated manor house with spectacular gardens and the finest tea treats you’ve ever tasted: the scones are fantastic, and the tart of the day (with or without ice cream) is always delectable. Following tea, return to the castle to freshen up before dining with your fellow riders at Ballynahinch’s renowned Owenmore Restaurant, featuring fresh Irish seafood and Connemara lamb, tasting platters of chocolate and crème brulée, and an extensive wine list featuring varietals from the Old World and the New.

Distance cycled: 17.7 km/11 miles

Day 2: Cruising the Coast

Today starts with a hearty and delicious Irish breakfast to give you plenty of energy for a full day’s trek along the Atlantic Ocean. Your ride begins at the charming town of Clifden, widely regarded as the “capital of Connemara.” Climb the Sky Road 400 feet above sea level for awe-inspiring views off to sea or inland towards stoic Clifden Castle, or stay in town to shop for traditional Irish wool garments, tweed blankets, fine art, books and antiques. Stop for lunch at one of the many pubs or restaurants in the area for a draught of Murphy’s Stout (the West’s answer to Guinness) with freshly caught and perfectly prepared fish and chips, then climb back on the bike for more adventurous riding. Aspiring anglers can also take this time to try their hand at fly-fishing some of the streams in the area, accompanied by experienced and knowledgeable guides. After a robust dinner at the Castle’s own pub – try the slow-braised pork belly or the always impeccable catch of the day – you’ll retire to the library for a roaring fire and a tasting of some of the finest Irish whiskeys available with Seamus, the resident expert on uisce bethea, Ireland’s “water of life.”

Destinations cycled: The Bog Road, Clifden, The High Sky Road
Distance cycled: 35.4 km/22 miles. 48.2 km/30 miles with the High Sky loop ride

Day 3: A Ride into the Mountains

Today’s journey will dazzle you with some of the most beautiful countryside this side of Eden, including the incredible Twelve Bens and the stunning Lough Inagh Valley. The Bens are a collection of sharp quartzite mountains dominating the Connemara horizon and offering those intrepid enough to reach the top a one-of-a-kind over this picturesque part of the world. After descending into the valley, you’ll make your way to the stylish and secluded Lough Inagh Lodge for lunch, featuring Cleggan crab claws, roasted duck with plum sauce, and pacific oysters served with lemon wedges and a shot of Guinness; should you require some additional pep, the Lodge also serves a delicious Irish coffee with Bailey’s. Once your hunger has been sated, coast down to the singular Kylemore Abbey, a home of Benedictines that was once the site of a mighty and elegant castle. Converted by Belgian nuns fleeing from Ypres during the savage fighting in World War I, this remarkable estate includes stone parapets and soaring towers as well as one of the largest and best-kept walled Victorian gardens in Europe.

Your sumptuous evening begins with your arrival at the unparalleled Rosleague Manor, an exquisitely restored Victorian manor house with timeless antiques adorning every inch of the guest rooms, the drawing rooms, and the elegant Victorian conservatory. Adirondack chairs allow you to enjoy the great outdoors, and a covered patio featuring a full service bar and wicker-woven low slung chairs perfect for a nightcap or pre-dinner aperitif. Guest rooms feature en suite facilities and views of the sea or the lush forests beyond, and dinner is an exercise in tasteful decadence, highlighted by fresh caught seafood, local lamb and game, and a wine list meticulously crafted to complement the superb food offerings.

Destinations cycled: The 12 Bens, Lough Inagh Valley, Kylemore Abbey
Distance cycled: 33.7 km / 21 miles.

Days 4 - 5: From the Coast to a Castle

Your magnificent accommodations at Rosleague Manor will hopefully prepare you for the longest ride of your trip, taking you up the rugged Irish coast and down into Joyce Country. Your attempts to keep your eyes ahead of you will likely be in vain, as roiling waves pound the sugar-sand beaches and dolphins play within yards of the shore. Pedal past the graceful reach of Killary Harbour at the border between County Galway and County Mayo, one of only three glacial fjords in Ireland and catch a glimpse of the backside of the Mamaturk Mountains and the impressive face of Mweelrea, the tallest mountain in Connacht. Lunch today comes courtesy of the Blackberry Café, a Leenane mainstay featuring mouthwatering shellfish, robust Irish stew, and some of the best seafood sandwiches your taste buds will ever meet, rounded off with a scrumptious dessert, tea or coffee.

The final leg for today’s ride winds its way through the fertile floodplains of the Joyce River Valley, the center of Joyce Country and one of the most captivating areas of the island. Sheep herding still accounts for most of the local’s livelihoods, so keep a weather eye open for your ovine companions while you soak in the incredible landscape. A stop for a pint in the neighborhood pub in the small village of Maam will give you the strength for the last bit of biking before reaching the indescribable estate at Ashford Castle. This five-star hotel has received over two dozen awards over the past five years alone, and is consistently rated as the best luxury resort hotel in Ireland and one of the finest in the entirety of Europe. State rooms featuring four-poster canopy beds, full fireplaces and opulent bathrooms line the older part of the castle, and the Corrib Rooms feature outstanding views of Lough Corrib, the Cong River or the immaculate castle gardens. Depending on your mood – and your reactions to the ride! – dinner can be taken at a local pub in the nearby village of Cong, in Ashford Castle’s Drawing Room (featuring traditional Irish fare and classic country desserts ) or at Cullen’s at the Cottage, Ashford’s bistro-style restaurant that serves us the choicest cuts of Irish beef, pork and lamb as well as delicate salads and succulent soups.

Destinations cycled: Killary Harbour, Leenane, the Joyce River Valley, Maam, Cong
Distance cycled: 77 km / 48 miles

Day 6: Sheepdogs, South Mayo, and a Feast Fit for a King

Today you’ll spin the beautiful south of County Mayo, beginning with a ride past Lough Mask, a serene limestone lake that empties into the fast-flowing Corrib River all the way to Galway Bay. Don’t be surprised to see masses of fisherman, as the lake is one of the best trout fishing reservoirs in Ireland. Then it’s off to learn the finer points of sheepdog herding from the Joyce family and their incredible dogs, featured in the heart-warming hit Marley and Me; be prepared to have your heart stolen by these lovable creatures and their enchanting humans, and revel in the easy grace of Irish charm. You’ll hit the trail in the shadows of the Party Mountains, ruled by Devilsmother and Maumtrasna, before a mid-day meal at Harrington’s Pub in Partry, a cozy spot frequented by local fisherman and notable for its renovations during Ireland’s recent economic boom.

The homeward journey weaves through Ballinrobe, a flourishing market town containing the striking Bowers Walk and the aristocratic dwellings of Cranmore House and Moore Hall, and returns to Ashford Castle for an afternoon filled with activities of your choosing. Shoot some stick at Ashford’s renowned golf course (rated the finest in Connacht in 2012), pamper yourself at the Castle’s luxurious spa, or satisfy your lordly leanings by donning a falconer’s glove and hunting in the most regal of ways: with the help of an arresting bird of prey. Your final meal in Ireland is sure to be the finest, as you join your group in the George V dining room, built by the Guinness family when they feted the Prince of Wales in 1906. 11 chandeliers bedecked with priceless Waterford crystal illuminate this stately scene, while the air is sweetened with the gentle melodies of the resident pianist. Executive Chef Stefan Matez will astound you with his tasting menus and his prix-fixe meals while a master carver delivers a perfect cut of roast to your plate, and a master sommelier can guide you through the 30-page wine list to find the perfect accompaniment to your superlative meal.

Destinations visited: Clonbar, Finny, Partry, Ballinrobe, Cong
Distance cycled: 60km / 37 miles

Day 7: Leaving the Emerald Isle

Spend your last hours in Ireland at your leisure before heading back home: we promise it won’t be long until you’re planning your return trip!

Price

Price 

Zicasso recommends the following guidelines for customized Ireland tour packages, excluding international flights:

  • 5-star: USD $300 - $1,000+ per person per day
  • 4-star: Minimum USD $250 per person per day
  • 3-star: Minimum USD $220 per person per day

The customized package will include accommodations, airport transfers and other transportation within Ireland, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip.

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.