Malin Head to Fanad Lighthouse (80km)
Our Wild Atlantic Way cycle starts at Ireland’s most northerly point – Malin Head. Breathe in the fresh sea air as you set off from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal and turn for Buncrana on the edge of Lough Swilly. Grab a seat at The Drift Inn and fuel up with a hearty lunch as you wait for your ferry to take you across the lough.
Heading north from the port in Rathmullan, make sure you schedule a pit stop in Portsalon to see spectacular Ballymastocker Beach. The day’s final destination is coming up, less than a 15km cycle brings you to Fanad Lighthouse perched on a rocky outcrop. Watch as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean marking the end of the first leg of your trip.
Fanad Lighthouse to Slieve League (Sliabh Liag) (130km)
After a relaxing first day, the next stage from Fanad Lighthouse to Slieve League is the first of the big days on the bike. Change to your highest gear and climb through the Donegal landscape, flanked with lakes on either side as you head inland to Glenveagh National Park. Drink in the views and a well-earned coffee at the Glenveagh Restaurant and marvel at the superb views.
Continue down through the lush park and get your first glimpse of the Derryveagh Mountains and domineering Errigal in the distance rising above them. Having spent the morning climbing the route that makes up part of EuroVelo1, the rest of the day is spent freewheeling downhill towards Slieve League, a highlight of any trip to Donegal.
Book a table at the nearby Rusty Mackerel for a rewarding meal of freshly caught seafood. Choose from any of the great bed and breakfasts or hotels in Killybegs for a restful night’s sleep.
Slieve League to Sligo Town via Mullaghmore Head (120km)
Waking up to the sounds of the ocean, this leg of the cycle hugs the coast and leads you through some of Ireland’s quintessential seaside towns. Spin your way from picturesque Donegal Town, to the music loving Ballyshannon and the welcoming surf town of Bundoran. Stop at Hardy Baker in Bundoran and try, what they claim to be, 'Donegal’s finest porridge’, just what you’ll need to keep yourself going to Mullaghmore Head.
Watch enormous waves crash into the shore at Mullaghmore and make a reservation at Eithna’s By the Sea for an award-winning meal in this colourful, family run restaurant. Energetic Sligo Town is just 30km away and is packed with fantastic accommodation choices for the night. Grab some tubes and energy gels from Gary’s Cycles before you leave the following morning.
Sligo Town to Downpatrick Head (100km)
Experience another dream day on the Wild Atlantic Way zipping from one gorgeous coastal town to the next. A cup of fresh coffee and warm pastry straight out of the oven at Pudding Row in Easkey is a treat that every cyclist deserves. Catch glimpses of surfers riding waves as you pass Enniscrone and cycle alongside the Moy Estuary into Ballina.
Reaching 400km as you pull into the town, take a break by the river with some chocolates from Noo Chocolates or if you’re passing through on a Saturday, pick up fresh produce at the Farmers Market.
End the day at the next Wild Atlantic Way Signature Point, Downpatrick Head, and get a fantastic view of towering Dún Briste. Watch out for colourful puffins flying overhead as a magical day on the Wild Atlantic Way draws to a close. The 15 Wild Atlantic Way Signature Points mark places that epitomise this part of the world with spectacular headlands, unique historical points, gorgeous beaches and so much more.
Downpatrick Head to Keem Beach (110km)
Our next stage of the ultimate Wild Atlantic Way cycle starts with a visit to the ancient Céide Fields in Mayo. See where people farmed the land over 5,500 years ago as you turn towards the spectacular landscapes of the Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park. The earthy colours of the boglands contrast with the rich blues of the skies overhead and the Atlantic Ocean.
Reaching the shores of Clew Bay, turn onto the Great Western Greenway, cross from the mainland to Achill Island and stop at the shimmering waters of Keem Beach. Relax on the golden sand and take a dip in the turquoise water, a perfect tonic for your tired legs.
Keem to Killary Harbour (100km)
Next morning, retrace your route back towards Westport, get on the road early and pull into This Must be The Place in Westport for breakfast. Try their beetroot flat white for a healthy start to your morning. By this stage, your bike might need a quick tune up. See the team at The Westport Bike Shop before you head off again.
Experience stunning views of idyllic islands in Clew Bay as you pedal out to Louisburgh and discover magical Mayo. Glide alongside Doo Lough and the foothills of Mweelrea as the glacial fjord of Killary Harbour comes into view. Find a cosy lodge on the edge of the harbour and watch the stars in the night sky as you enjoy some time off the bike.
Killary Harbour to Galway City and Derrigimlagh (130km)
Waking up well rested, the Wild Atlantic Way cycle crosses into Galway and runs towards Letterfrack on the edge of Connemara National Park. Schedule your morning coffee break to stop at Kylemore Abbey, where Benedictine nuns make delicious chocolate treats to go with your caffeine fix.
Passing through Clifden, pose for a photo with your bike at the striking white beacon in Derrigimlagh, before hopping back into the saddle and cycling towards Galway City with views of Lough Corrib in the distance. Arriving at vibrant Galway City, it’s hard to resist the smell of Dough Bros wood fired pizza wafting through the air.
Spend a day relaxing in this wonderful city brimming with culture and craic, treating yourself to a pampering session in The g Hotel's ESPA spa. Stay in a bike friendly hotel like The Connacht Hotel and safely store your bike in their lockers while you relax.
Galway City to Loop Head and The Cliffs of Moher (150km)
Swap the buzz of the city for spectacular scenery as you freewheel your way through the striking landscapes of The Burren, filling your lungs with fresh sea air. Following the route through Kinvara and Lisdoonvarna, stop at the Cliffs of Moher, 75km away from Galway City. Catch your breath and look out over the ocean, watching birds fly over their nests in the cliff face.
Nearby Dodi Café in Lahinch serves up seasonal food, ideal for hungry visitors and fuelling you for the next stretch into the quaint village of Miltown Malbay and on to Spanish Point and Loop Head. The towering lighthouse marks the end of the Loop Head Peninsula and another of the Wild Atlantic Way Signature Points.
Loop Head to Dunquin Harbour and The Blasket Islands (160km)
Continuing to the next city on the route, Limerick City has no end of amazing places to grab breakfast, or if you need a lie in by this point, a leisurely late lunch in a modern bistro. Add a relaxing car-free detour to your route, hop on the 39km long Great Southern Trail from Rathkeale to Abbeyfeale.
Crossing over the Kerry border and cycling through Listowel and Tralee, this is a welcome spot to enjoy a day off the bike and give the legs a rest. Discover gorgeous golden beaches including Banna Strand and Tralee Bay. Swim in the sea and let the rejuvenating salt water work its magic on your muscles.
Through rolling hills and rural landscapes, the peak of Mount Brandon comes into view and the day’s cycle becomes more challenging as you tackle the steepest climb of the entire route on your approach to Dingle. With the hardest part of the whole trip over with, reward yourself with an unforgettable treat at Murphy’s Ice Cream (the Dingle gin flavour is a must) and finish off the last few kilometres to Dunquin Pier, the sailing point to The Blasket Islands.
The Blasket Islands to Bray Head (125km)
Making your way back to The Blasket Islands, the following day takes you from one gorgeous peninsula to the next, this time to the Ring of Kerry. After a short and sharp climb in the morning, the route is flat for the most part as you cycle through Killorglin and Glenbeigh.
Pull on your brakes as you come into the waterside town of Cahersiveen and grab a coffee at any of the great cafés or Fertha Bar and Restaurant and look out west to Valentia Island and the next Wild Atlantic Way Signature Point at Bray Head. Crossing from the mainland at Portmagee and making your way to Bray Head, spot the Skellig Islands and Dingle Peninsula far off in the distance.
Bray Head to Dursey Island (160km)
Approaching the final few legs of the cycle, the trip from Bray Head to Dursey Island is the last big day in the saddle bringing you from one knockout coastal view to another. Take in the world class views as you whizz around the famous Ring of Kerry along the edge of Kenmare Bay and pull into the vibrant town of Kenmare.
Unless you’re an elite endurance athlete like Joe Barr, who’s planning a Guinness World Record attempt to cycle the route in under 110 hours, you’ll need another rest day in Kenmare. Donegal native Joe takes on the mammoth trip in May with only very brief stops and his journey will be followed with great interest.
Visit the Tom Crean Brewery, hear the story behind Ireland’s greatest explorer and get inspiration from his determination for the rest of your trip. Stay for the night and feast on a traditional Irish breakfast in the morning.
After a reinvigorating night’s sleep, keep going along the southern edge of Kenmare Bay. As the land opens up in front of you, see the roads and hills you’ve cycled and enjoy this huge achievement. Pass through Allihies, stopping at O’Neill’s Bar for lunch and cycle out to the Dursey Island cable car where you can bring your bike onboard.
Dursey Island to Mizen Head (120km)
Another day on the Wild Atlantic Way, another incredible cycle along the rugged coastline. Push down on your pedals and journey into Castletownbere, with incredible lookout points over Bantry Bay, Bere Island and your next port of call in Glengarriff. Marking the day’s halfway point, grab a table at The Park Bistro or MacCarthy’s Bar for a locally sourced lunch in this magical town.
Plan a visit to Bantry House as you wheel your way through Bantry and enjoy the colourful gardens or extend your stay here and hop on a boat out to Garinish Island. The next 45km of the cycle leads through a gently rolling coastal landscape, bringing you to the most southwestern point on mainland Ireland, Mizen Head.
Mizen Head to Old Head of Kinsale (115km)
The final day of this once in a lifetime cycle runs through gorgeous, rural West Cork. The relaxing towns of Skibbereen and Clonakilty make for fantastic places to rest and look back on this incredible holiday. You’re due a relaxing afternoon off the bike by this stage, so book in with Clonakilty Brewing Company and let ‘Thirsty Frank’ talk you through his latest creations and hear all about this amazing brewery.
Sweeping around a long bend, the endpoint of Old Head of Kinsale, at long last, comes into view. Let the ocean breeze push you along the last few kilometres on this iconic headland, with cliffs on either side of you as, after 1,600km of cycling, you complete the Wild Atlantic Way Cycle.
Taking time to visit the phenomenal Signature Points, friendly towns, soaring mountains and endless coastlines gives you a deep connection with the Wild Atlantic Way. Check out our Wild Atlantic Way page for even more great ways to enjoy this majestic part of the world.