Bring the family on your next bike ride
Ireland has fantastic family friendly cycle paths and greenways which make for unforgettable holidays. Alongside these routes, there are some exciting variations that experienced cyclists can add on to the cycle, while the rest of the family enjoy activities in the area.
Waterford Greenway, Waterford
46km one way | Greenway | 2-6 hours
The glorious Waterford Greenway is the ideal place to introduce your family to a cycling holiday. Starting in buzzing Waterford City, fuel up for the day ahead with an energizing breakfast at The Granary Café and stop by Waterford Greenway Bike Hire to pick up rental bikes. The 46km long greenway runs west along the base of the Comeragh Mountains, through the Waterford countryside, before turning for the sunny coast and ending in Dungarvan.
The Waterford Greenway is a gently rolling route with astounding views around every bend, making it a great introduction to cycling. It takes between two or three hours to arrive at Dungarvan, a pretty harbourside town with great places to eat as you watch colourful boats bob along the harbour.
Explore the Copper Coast
Bid farewell to the family as they hop on the shuttle bus back to the bike rental shop and turn your attention to the Sean Kelly Cycle Route on the Copper Coast. This 73km ride from Dungarvan to Passage East has some punchy climbs as it makes its way through Tramore and on to the endpoint in a total of three hours.
Embrace Waterford City’s family activities
Reunited with the family, enjoy the rest of your holiday in Waterford with a visit to King of the Vikings, the world’s first Viking virtual reality experience. Teach the kids all about where their food comes from at Grow HQ, this intriguing café makes growing food part of the dining experience and often runs workshops and demonstrations.
Great Western Greenway, Mayo
49km one way | Greenway | 2-5 hours
The windswept coastal cycle from Westport to Cashel along the Great Western Greenway is one of Ireland’s best family bike routes. Base yourself in Westport for the weekend and spend a morning wandering the charming streets before setting out on your bike ride.
The 49km long path is a manageable route that takes between two to three hours for novice cyclists to complete and the reward is incredible views of Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick in the background. Cross over to Acaill (Achill Island) and jump into the crystal clear waters of Keem Bay before heading on to the finish line in Cashel.
For a very handy pickup service anywhere along the greenway, get in touch with Westport Bike Hire, so your family can head back to the mainland and spend the afternoon walking the grounds of stunning Westport House.
Take the gravel road back
Mix things up on your cycle back to Westport by taking the alternative gravel section between Mulranny and Newport. This off-road route runs alongside the greenway but has trickier sections to navigate with some technical climbs and challenging terrain.
See the best of Westport
After working up an appetite in the fresh air, book in for a hearty meal at An Port Mór Restaurant or Maddens bistro in the centre of town. Go on an exciting kayak tour around Clew Bay or hike to the summit of Croagh Patrick, making family memories to treasure forever.
Best cycles in Ireland for regular bike riders
Check out these bike routes for regular cyclists who love the challenge of climbing big hills. There’s always lots of activities to enjoy after your cycle, so stay for a little longer and experience all the great things to do in these areas.
Birr Cycling Hub, Offaly
5km - 73km routes | Forest Paths and Road | Time depends on route chosen
For a unique cycling holiday in Ireland, pack your bike and head to Offaly and enjoy the Birr Cycling Hub. Rather than limiting yourself to one route, this hub has five loops ranging from a spritely 5km sprint to a lengthy 73km stint through the Offaly countryside and Slieve Bloom Mountains. The Birr Cycling Hub includes idyllic routes up to 10km long on car free trails through Lough Boora Discovery Park and longer routes to Shannon Harbour.
Take on one route per day or stitch together your favourites and really explore Offaly. Don’t leave without cycling the 24km long Pilgrim’s Road to Clonmacnoise where you’ll experience Ireland’s rich history and see the ancient monastic settlement founded by St Ciarán in the 9th century.
Explore beautiful Birr
Stay in the gorgeous town of Birr and experience this wonderfully welcoming place during and after your bike ride. The loops through the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains pass through Kinnitty, the perfect excuse to treat yourself to a delicious meal at enchanting Kinnitty Castle. Keep your eyes peeled for the only pyramid in Ireland as you leave the village.
Take on your first mountain bike trail
Mix up your biking holiday activities and drop by Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Centre to experience the exhilarating rush of mountain biking. A few laps on the thrilling trails and you’ll be hooked on this hobby.
Killykeen Forest Park and the Cavan Lakes, Cavan
32km loop | Roads | 2 hours
The short cycle routes through peaceful Killykeen Forest Park in Cavan are popular with families, but this park is also a fantastic place for regular cyclists. Set off from the centre of Killykeen on a 32km looped route that snakes its way through a leafy landscape dotted with rippling lakes and rolling hills.
With only 220m of climbing on the loop, the hills provide a nice variation throughout the route, rather than any significant challenges. Drop into Farnham Estate, around the 20km mark and treat yourself to a delicious lunch, fuel for the remainder of the cycle.
See Cavan in a whole new light
Stay in Cavan Town or bask in nature’s beauty and camp in Killykeen Forest Park. Once you’ve experienced Cavan’s delights by bike, it’s time to hop in a kayak with Cavan Adventure Centre, paddling around Lough Oughter where the spellbinding Clough Oughter Castle sits on an island in the middle of the lake.
Relax and indulge in County Cavan
For the ultimate relaxing getaway play a round of golf at one of Ireland’s oldest golf courses, County Cavan Golf Club and book in for a full body massage at Ciúin Spa at the Slieve Russell Hotel. Stop off at Cavan County Museum on your way home and get an even deeper insight into The Lake County.
55km loop | Roads and Country Lanes | 3.5 hours
This brilliant bike route in Sligo is a fantastic way to see the Yeats County. Beginning at Grange, between Sligo Town and Mullaghmore, the bike ride begins along quiet, rural roads but the striking peak of Benbulben soon comes into view.
See the lush green slopes of this flat topped mountain before rounding the bend and witnessing the dramatic carved gorges on the opposite side.
One magnificent landscape is replaced by another as you approach two of Ireland’s most beautiful waterfalls, the Devil’s Chimney and Glencar Waterfall. Flick through your gears and spin your way up the only significant climb. From here, freewheel down to the viewing point where you’ll quickly catch your breath before Hag’s Leap takes it away again. This majestic free standing tower is one of Ireland’s most special sights and well worth the cycle alone.
Spend some time in Sligo Town
Book a room in buzzing Sligo Town for a few nights and fall in love with this scenic place. Take some time to discover the amazing restaurants, artisan food producers and the Sligo Food Trail. Finish up in Shoot The Crows, a legendary pub with stone floors, low ceilings, chatty locals and chestnuts roasting on the fire.
An action packed short break on land and sea
You don’t have to look far for more adventurous activities in Sligo. Head for the coast and watch the waves crash against the shore with a walk along the golden beach of Strandhill. Book in for a surf lesson with the fully female owned surf school Rebelle Surf and conquer the waves as well as the hills on your cycling holiday.
Dublin Bay, Dublin
37km one way | Road and Cycle Paths | 2 hours
Visit the capital and check out all the city’s highlights, as well as some incredible cycling routes. The 37km stretch along Dublin Bay has some steep hills at either end in Dalkey and Howth, while the stretches along the coast are flat throughout.
Enjoy a varied cycle as you make your way from Dalkey, up Killiney Hill and on to Dún Laoghaire. Stop off for a morning coffee and if you’re feeling brave, take a dip at Sandycove Beach, one of the capital’s most scenic swimming spots.
Enjoy North Dublin Bay by bike
Take one of the cycle paths into the city and see ships sail into Dublin Bay as you cross the River Liffey and continue north. The section from Clontarf to Howth is a popular cycle route, so expect to see lots of fellow cyclists exploring Dublin Bay.
Stop for a stroll down the wooden bridge and a coffee at Happy Out Café in Dollymount before jumping back on your bike. Make a detour into St. Anne’s Park with its wide open parkland and quirky follies, and immerse yourself in nature and birdsong with a pitstop at Bull Island, just a stone’s throw from the park. Finish your cycle with one last climb up the steep pitches of Howth and round the day out with a tasty treat of fish and chips down by the pier.
Take in the sights and sounds of Phoenix Park
Add in a few more kilometres to your cycling holiday with a leisurely spin around Phoenix Park. The 10km loop around the outskirts of the park is a great way to see the sights and have a chat with your friends as you go. The fantastic network of bike lanes leads cyclists past Dublin Zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin and the Furry Glen to name but a few.
Ireland’s best bike rides for expert cyclists
Challenge yourself to some of the toughest routes and climbs in the country. Expect to spend time standing out of your saddle as you summit mighty hills on demanding roads and feel the rush of freewheeling down long descents and sweeping bends.
The Wicklow Mountains, Wicklow
100km loop | Road | 6 hours
As any serious cyclist knows, The Wicklow Mountains are full of challenging bike routes that test even the fittest of bike riders, but it’s hard to beat the 100km loop that starts and ends in Russborough House in Blessington. Enjoy the quiet lakeside roads, watching out for rowing clubs training on the lakes before taking on the first significant climb of the day as you approach the Sally Gap.
Onwards to Glendalough
Take a breather at the JB Malone Memorial and gaze out over the dark waters and white sands of Lough Tay. Brace yourself for a breathtaking 15km downhill section through the biking hub of Roundwood and onto majestic Glendalough. Hop off your bike and wander around this historical site, taking in picture perfect views of the lakes. Top up your energy levels with a flat white and a slice of cake at Glendalough Green café, a welcome beacon for cyclists and hikers.
Cycle around the foothills of Lugnaquilla
Two hefty climbs and steep descents follow as you sweep around Lugnaquilla, Ireland’s highest mountain outside of Kerry. The lofty peak is ever present as you sweep around its base and enter the final stretch of the route.
Make your way over a series of shorter climbs back to beautiful Blessington where the team at West Wicklow House have hearty meals waiting. Originally built as an inn for weary travellers, it’s an apt place to visit after climbing 1,670m through the Wicklow Mountains National Park and the perfect way to finish your epic cycle.
Mount Leinster, Wexford and Carlow
136km loop | Road | 5 hours
Expert cyclists flock to Carlow to take on one of the toughest cycles in the country on Mount Leinster, a route that wouldn’t look out of place on the Tour de France. The route is 136km long, but it’s the 6km continuous climb that’s the main attraction here. The climb is both mentally and physically challenging with some serious cyclists choosing to summit the mountain twice, once from each side, on their cycle around the Carlow and Wexford border.
Conquer one of Ireland’s steepest climbs
Set off from Enniscorthy and warm up on the undulating hills, preparing yourself for the challenge ahead. As you pass through Bagenalstown the road turns near vertical as you make for the top of Mount Leinster. With a chunk of determination and good rhythm, you’ll reach the top and have conquered one of the toughest hills in Ireland. The steep descent on country roads is popular with walkers, so take care on the way down.
Make your way back to Enniscorthy, or if you still have some energy left in your legs, head to Bunclody and take on Mount Leinster again from the other side. Be warned though, this approach is even tougher with a gradient of 16.3% in some places.
Book a table at The Wilds in Enniscorthy and devour their brunch menu of full Irish breakfasts and gourmet sandwiches from sustainable sources. Spend the rest of your weekend in Enniscorthy and visit Enniscorthy Castle before heading to Monart Destination Spa, treating your aching muscles to some TLC at this five-star resort.
Ring of Kerry, Kerry
169km loop | Road | 11 hours
No cyclist’s guide to Ireland is complete without a mention of the pinnacle of road cycling in Ireland, the Ring of Kerry. The cycle begins and ends in Killarney via a demanding rural cycle on the Iveragh Peninsula, where you’ll remember the stunning coastal views long after your visit.
Experience Kerry’s epic scenery
Marvel at captivating Carrauntoohil as you make your way to the charming village of Killorglin, gazing up in awe at the peaks of the MacGillycuddy Reeks. Make a short detour to Rossbeigh Beach where the mesmerising golden strand fades into the blue of the Atlantic Ocean. The Ring of Kerry cycle continues to hug the rugged coast until you return inland to the colourful town of Kenmare.
See the best of the Iveragh Peninsula
Keep the spirit of adventure going and visit the great explorer’s granddaughter at Tom Crean Brewery. Fill up on a traditional lunch of pork ribs or try their delicious vegan pizza, hop back on your bike and get ready for the biggest climb of the day as you make your way towards Killarney National Park.
The inspirational views of Muckross Lake and Lough Leane give cyclists the final boost they need as they return to Killarney, almost 170km later. Make a reservation at popular Quinlan’s Seafood Bar and savour fresh, seasonal seafood to celebrate finishing one of Ireland’s best cycles.
The best places to go mountain biking in Ireland
Crossed all of Ireland’s best road cycles off your list? Swap your slick tyres for a knobbly set and learn how to mountain bike. Interest in mountain biking in Ireland is surging and there are some fantastic places to learn.
Grab a rental bike and take on Ticknock Mountain Bike Trail in the Dublin Mountains. Climbing a tarmac road to the trailhead leaves you full of energy to jump, turn and zip downhill. There’s a fun network of trails here and you can take a lesson and learn from the pros.
The trail that snakes around the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Co. Offaly offers three routes, from moderate to more challenging options. The single tracks take riders across forest and open land, with plenty of climbs, descents and tight turns along the way. Hire a bike from the bike centre in Kinnity and join a guided tour of the village and the Slieve Bloom.
The beginner-friendly trails in Ballyhoura, Limerick are a great starting point for cyclists who want to get into mountain biking. This trail network has trails to learn on and treks for testing yourself as you progress.