Here are the nine best cycling routes in Ireland.
A world-class, traffic-free 42km stretch through some of Ireland’s most beautiful scenery from Westport on the mainland all the way to the Achill Island. Cycle along the Great Western Greenway and experience exceptional views of Croagh Patrick, deserted villages, national parks and some of the most stunning coastline in the west.
A spectacular 46km paved cycling and walking trail along an old railway line, the Waterford Greenway stretches from the quays of Ireland’s oldest city Waterford to the vibrant seaside market town of Dungarvan. Stop at Mount Congreve and visit what many consider to be one of the great gardens of the world, as well as Viking settlements, a Norman castle, a fantastic cafe and deserted railway stations on the trailside.
Also known as the Limerick Greenway, the Great Southern Trail is a 39km cycle route through incredible countryside from Rathkeale to Newcastle West and on to Abbeyfeale. Following a disused railway line, this gentle cycle brings you along the banks of the River Deel, past restored railway stations and through boglands with stunning views of the Limerick countryside.
If you’re a novice cyclist or travelling with young children, the Great Eastern Greenway in Louth is perfect, particularly the stretch from Omeath to Carlingford on the old Dundalk, Newry and Greenore railway line. There are lots of different places to join the Great Eastern Greenway and they all have great views across the lough to the Mourne Mountains, while Slieve Foy towers over it on the Louth side. The Greenway runs through fields of grazing sheep, over old level crossings and across a few bridges. There are magnificent, mature trees, colourful wildflowers and singing birds on the edge of the trail.
The 105km long Royal Canal Way runs from Dublin’s north-side to Abbeyshrule in County Longford. Perfect if you’re looking for unspoilt views of the countryside along the canal towpath. Beautiful rural landscapes are revealed as you make your way west, passing through the towns of Leixlip, Maynooth, Kilcock and into Westmeath and Longford.
Much like its sister, the Royal Canal Way, this is a fantastic way for cyclists to escape the city and bask in the tranquillity of the countryside. The Grand Canal Way links Adamstown in County Dublin with Shannon Harbour in Offaly. It snakes through towns and villages that were bustling hubs of trade and commerce in the 18th and 19th centuries, and much of the beautiful landscape remains untouched.
A stunning route that touches on parts of Clare, Tipperary and Galway, the Lough Derg Blueway is best experienced on the 65km loop that takes you along the eastern shore of the lake and through the villages of Dromineer and Terryglass. A 30km loop is a great option if you’re looking for a shorter cycle. This route has spectacular views of the lake before descending into Castlelough, through a working farm and along a slight off-road section to Garrykennedy.
The Old Rail Trail Greenway is the perfect trail for families looking for an active getaway. The trail is entirely car-free and mostly flat making it a leisurely cycle for bike riders of all ages. Set off from Athlone and head for Mullingar on a cycle through areas rich in biodiversity and heritage. Moate, Castletown or Ballinea are great stop-off points for refreshments along the trail. Bikes of all types can be rented in Athlone, Moate and Castletown.
Ireland’s longest trail stretches from the evocative terrain of the Beara Peninsula in West Cork, all the way towards the counties Leitrim and Cavan through some of the most picturesque and remote areas in the whole of Ireland. Without question, The Beara-Breifne Way is one for serious cycling enthusiasts, the trail is over 500km long and follows the 14-day march taken by Dónal Cam O’Sullivan Beare and his one thousand supporters in 1603. Stop along the trail and visit the places and communities shaped by their story.
Grab your bike and head off on one of the wonderful cycling routes in Ireland.