Ireland: Clare & Galway

Self-Guided Biking Tour, Ireland: Clare & GalwaySelf-Guided Biking Tour, Ireland: Clare & Galway

Ireland

Clare & Galway

overview

On this easy-pedaling route through two distinct regions, you’ll roll past ocean vistas into some of Ireland’s most compelling countryside. Begin on the Burren, a 100-square-mile limestone escarpment framed by sky and sea. From Ballyvaughan, a spectacular coastal road leads to windswept views at the dramatic Cliffs of Moher. Picnic on a secluded beach, savor tea and scones at a tiny café outside harborside Doolin, then travel via ferry to Inis Mor, the largest of the three Aran Islands. Here, the authentic Irish language and music remain very much alive, and easy rides between empty beaches and intricate stone-wall mazes take you to the ancient barbarian fort of Dun Angus. Back on the mainland, you’ll wheel into Clifden, where dramatic bog roads beneath the Ben Mountains ramble past tranquil lakes and over the peat that still fuels this region’s home fires. Take the famous Skye Road, visit Kylemore Abbey, explore Connemara National Park, or indulge in seaside golf, deep-sea fishing, and pony trekking into the wild Irish realm Oscar Wilde called “a savage beauty.”

2014 Downloadable Itinerary

Activity Level
Easy to moderate;
11-22 miles daily
Meet
Shannon, Ireland
Depart
Galway, Ireland
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
Self-Guided Biking 
8 days, 7 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Full Irish breakfast daily and four dinners (days 1, 2, 3, and 5); beverages not included
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • A personal welcome upon arrival
  • Local transfers as noted in the itinerary
  • Ferry crossings on days 3 & 5
  • Luggage transfers between the hotels
  • Detailed route notes and maps
  • High-quality Giant Hybrid bicycle with 24 speeds (helmet not provided), tire repair kit, lock, map/route note holder, and panniers
  • 24-hour emergency service
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the Country Walkers staff
Compare Dates & Prices
Prices Starting From...
Season 2+ travelers Single Supplement Solo Surcharge
2014
April 15 - June 30
$2,498
$475
$1,000
July 1 - Aug 31
$2,698
$475
$1,000
Sept 1 - 30
$2,498
$475
$1,000

*Price is based on per person, double occupancy.

Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Ballyvaughan
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2
Doolin
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3
Kilronan
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4
Kilronan
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5
Cashel
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6
Clifden
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7
Clifden
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8
Clifden
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Day 1

Ballyvaughan

Arrival in Ballyvaughan

You are met at the Shannon Airport upon arrival of your flight and transferred to your hotel in Ballyvaughan, in the heart of the Burren. After being fit to your bicycle, you are soon free to take a short bike ride and explore your hotel’s bucolic surroundings or one of the nearby attractions, such as Ailwee Cave or Newtown Castle. You may wish to complete the day with a live music show at the pub next door to your hotel (on certain days of the week).

Hylands Burren Hotel

Ballyvaughan, Ireland

A privately owned, renovated 18th-century hotel in the heart of the charming village of Ballyvaughan, County Clare, the perfect base for exploring the limestone landscape of the Burren. The three-star hotel offers spacious and simply furnished guest rooms and inviting common rooms with cozy sofas and open fireplaces. The Burren Bar, a typical Irish pub, often hosts musicians and storytellers, while the dining room specializes in fresh seafood, including the catch of the day, directly from Ballyvaughan Harbor, served with home-baked brown bread and scones.

Day 2

Doolin

Optional walk on the Burren; 3-4 hours, easy to moderate. Ballyvaughan to Doolin; 17.5 miles, easy to moderate

After a hearty Irish breakfast, you can join a guided walking tour of the Burren (requires advance reservation at an additional cost—please contact us for details). A well-known local character, walking guide, and sheep and cattle farmer provides a lively introduction to the Burren’s history, archaeology, flora, and fauna. Or, you may depart the hotel in the morning for today’s ride on the spectacular coast road. Paralleling the Burren Mountains, you have beautiful views across the Atlantic Ocean and the Aran Islands, with ample opportunities to stop along the way to explore the dramatic windswept landscape, or perhaps take a dip at Fanore’s golden sand beach before enjoying a cup of tea and scone with a longtime local resident. The day’s final destination is the village of Doolin, nestled at the foot of the Cliffs of Moher. Some say the best way to see the Cliffs is from the ocean, and regular boat departures from Doolin Harbor provide a stunning close-up view. The most adventurous can ride the 5 miles (all uphill!) to the visitor center for a different, but just as stunning, perspective.

Aran View House Hotel

Doolin, Ireland

This early-18th-century hotel has been in the same family for several generations. Completely renovated in Irish country-house style, it offers spacious and comfortable guestrooms with spectacular views of the Aran Islands and the wild Irish coastline. The Georgian hotel is situated on 100 acres of rolling farmland, just a 5-minute ride from the village and a few miles from the Cliffs of Moher. Guests may relax in the Lounge Bar with a pint of Guinness before dining on fine European cuisine.

Day 3

Kilronan

Boat trip to Inis Mór, Aran Islands. Cycling around Kilronan, 2-3 miles, easy

This morning, you leave the mainland to travel to the largest and most distant of the three Aran Islands. After you catch the ferry in Doolin for the 90-minute trip to Inis Mór , your bicycle provides the perfect way to explore this fascinating 9-mile-long and 2-mile-wide Gaelic island, where mainly Irish is spoken. The limestone geology of the three Aran Islands has resulted in a rocky, windswept landscape, whose residents at one time subsisted solely on farming and fishing. You can explore the village of Kilronan, perhaps shopping for woolen goods at the Aran Sweater Market and Museum, or take a short but stunning ride along a quiet road to the southern tip of the island. Once the day trippers have departed, you savor the rugged beauty and simplicity of true island life.

Aran Islands Hotel

Kilronan, Ireland

The only hotel on the island of Inis Mór, the Aran Islands Hotel lies just a few minutes from the village and the ferry dock, overlooking the water and surrounded by a maze of ancient stone walls. A warm island welcome awaits, as well as spacious guest rooms decorated with paintings of island scenes by local artists. The hotel’s traditional Irish pub and restaurant is a favorite local gathering spot for a hearty meal and live music, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

Day 4

Kilronan

The Ring of Aran; 11.25 miles, easy to moderate

Leaving the hotel at your leisure, you enjoy the peace of the island as you follow the stunning coastal road, passing a seal colony, and the crescent-shaped sandy beach of Kilmurvey—perfect for swimming. One of the island’s highlights, Dun Angus, an Iron Age hill fort, is near the halfway point of today’s ride. The semicircular Celtic stone fort lies at the cliff’s edge and is one of the most impressive in Europe, awaiting an official designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. On the return, you delve deeper into the island’s heart. Passing only a few cottages, and perhaps a horse, your route takes you to an otherworldly landscape of perfectly shaped stone walls, reminders of the harsh island terrain. Back to your hotel, you may wish to join the locals at the pub and listen to lively Irish music as residents join professional musicians on stage on Fridays and Saturdays.

Aran Islands Hotel

Kilronan, Ireland

The only hotel on the island of Inis Mór, the Aran Islands Hotel lies just a few minutes from the village and the ferry dock, overlooking the water and surrounded by a maze of ancient stone walls. A warm island welcome awaits, as well as spacious guest rooms decorated with paintings of island scenes by local artists. The hotel’s traditional Irish pub and restaurant is a favorite local gathering spot for a hearty meal and live music, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

Day 5

Cashel

Boat trip to Connemara. Rosaveel to Cashel; 22 miles, easy to moderate

This morning, you leave the Aran Islands for the mainland and the Connemara region, this time by a different ferry route, which is the shortest crossing from Inis Mór to the town of Rosaveel in Connemara (approximately one hour). Here you experience a new beauty of the landscape as you cycle past small lakes and rocky outcrops with the 12 Bens of the Ben Mountains looming on the horizon. Your route then becomes a quiet bog road where the turf is still cut by hand and left to dry. Your destination is the town of Cashel, where you are welcomed at a country-house hotel and its fine restaurant.

Cashel House Hotel

Cashel, Ireland

A four-star, family-run hotel set in 50 acres of award-winning gardens at the head of Cashel Bay. This gracious, mid-19th-century country home welcomes you with its cozy lounges and libraries with peat fires. A flower theme connects the walking trails surrounding the property to the artwork adorning the corridors, the guestrooms’ draperies, as well as the restaurant’s fine porcelain ware. An exquisite dinner, served in the bright conservatory, features a wide variety of fare, such as venison or quail and vegetables from the hotel’s organic gardens.

Day 6

Clifden

Cashel to Roundstone; 14 miles, easy to moderate. Roundstone to Clifden; 11 or 15 miles, easy to moderate

Today you depart Cashel for the easy ride to Roundstone, a sleepy coastal village brought to life by a skilled community of artists and craftspeople, with festivals in the warmer months. The town is a perfect stop for lunch, and you may be tempted to peruse the shops and galleries for paintings, ceramics, or silver jewelry. The afternoon offers two options—a spectacular bog road, where your path will most likely only cross that of a few free-roaming sheep, or the longer coastal route—both bringing you to Clifden, known as the capital of Connemara.

The Quay House

Clifden, Ireland

Built in 1820 as the harbormaster’s house, this small family-run inn is the town’s oldest building, formerly also a Franciscan monastery and a convent before becoming a guesthouse. Stylish rooms are individually decorated with period furniture and original artwork, while elegant living rooms with fireplaces are perfect places to relax in after a day of cycling. Breakfast is served in a light- and flower-filled conservatory. Overlooking the harbor, the inn is just a few minutes’ walk to the town center, where dining options abound.

Day 7

Clifden

Layover day in Clifden

A day in Clifden offers a number of different activities. In addition to cycling (such as the short and hilly ride around the famous Sky Road), there are some lovely walks. The nearby Alcock and Brown memorial is an interesting site of local interest—where the first successful nonstop Atlantic flight landed. Perhaps the most attractive option is to combine a trip to Kylemore Abbey with a visit to the nearby Connemara National Park. For golfers, the Connemara championship links course— a short trip away, nestled along the edge of the Atlantic—offers challenging and exhilarating golf. There are also deep-sea fishing excursions, or you could go pony trekking. Lastly, the town of Clifden itself invites exploration of its tempting shops, quaint streets, pubs, and fine restaurants.

The Quay House

Clifden, Ireland

Built in 1820 as the harbormaster’s house, this small family-run inn is the town’s oldest building, formerly also a Franciscan monastery and a convent before becoming a guesthouse. Stylish rooms are individually decorated with period furniture and original artwork, while elegant living rooms with fireplaces are perfect places to relax in after a day of cycling. Breakfast is served in a light- and flower-filled conservatory. Overlooking the harbor, the inn is just a few minutes’ walk to the town center, where dining options abound.

Day 8

Clifden

Departure from Clifden

You depart Clifden this morning and transfer approximately 75 minutes (depending on traffic) to the city of Galway, where connections can be made for the train or bus to either Dublin or Shannon airport, or you may choose to spend an extra night in this lively city.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

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