With summer on the horizon, more families than ever before are making the decision to holiday at home. It’s not hard to see why, either, as the best Ireland has to offer will stack up against any international competition – stunning scenery, beautiful backdrops, and plenty of fantastic amenities to enjoy.
That’s especially true if you happen to be an avid cyclist; an Irish staycation can be even better in the saddle! With that in mind, we’ve put together some recommendations on how you can experience an active, sustainable holiday in the beautiful region of Connemara…
If you happen to be within striking distance – or have a few hundred kms in your legs after winter training! – then you might fancy doing the entire journey by bike, especially if your route covers the iconic Wild Atlantic Way. There’s plenty of quick and easy (and eco-friendly) alternatives if that’s not the case, though; the edge of Connemara is located just 18km from Galway City, which is served by regular bus and train services.
From the City of the Tribes, you’ll be a short spin from Spiddal, Clifden, Letterfrack and Carna – all of which have local bus services, too – and with each teeming with their own individual charm, they truly showcase the best of Irish language, culture and folklore.
Cycling routes, trails and amenities
Whether you’re looking for a planned route or simply want to get in the saddle and go, Connemara is bursting with options – the landscape is draped with loops and trails well suited for any rider.
The Connemara Loop is a 92km round trip which will see you start and finish at Maam Cross; you’ll also be able to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of Killary Fjord, which is nestled at the banks of the Maumturk Mountains and arrives halfway through the loop. For a shorter route, the 16km Sky Road Loop is the perfect jaunt for any beginner, as it starts and finishes in the picturesque market town of Clifden.
If you’re of a competitive bent, the annual ŠKODA Tour de Conamara is an international cycling sportive not to be missed – but if you do happen to visit at another time, you can always recreate one of the routes to see what the fuss is about!
Should you make the trip sans velo, finding bike hire options in the area is easy. Clifden Bike Shop provides a range of quality bike hire options; from electric, hybrid and road to children’s bikes, buggies and tandems. And, if anything amiss should occur along the way, Mannion’s Bike Shop offers top-notch repair services to get you back pedalling in no time.
We’ve put together a list of some superb cycle stores located across Ireland, so you can be sure to find one wherever you are!
Get back to basics
There are lots of accommodation options in the area, to suit all budgets and tastes. In keeping with our environmentally conscious mindset, Clifden Eco Beach Camping was the first Eco-Certified Carbon Neutral premises in the country.
With their Sustainable Travel Ireland Gold Standard certification in the back pocket, the park delivers a legit eco beach experience; without your usual modern day distractions such as WiFi, it allows you to truly soak in your stunning surroundings.
If camping isn’t your thing, highly rated hotels and self-catering options in the area include Clifden Station House, Delphi Resort and Connemara Holiday Lettings.
Things to do and see
Oscar Wilde once described the unique, unspoilt landscape of Connemara as a “savage beauty” – and beyond its raw splendour, there’s plenty to see and do…
Kylemore Abbey and Walled Victorian Gardens
This Gothic Benedictine nunnery attracts over 500,000 visitors each year – and its tranquil charms make it easy to see why. With a church, mausoleum and woodland trails, it’s located between Westport and Clifden and can be accessed by bike; just be prepared to pedal some steep, narrow lanes!
Situated 3km away from Oughterard, Glengowla Mines and Family Farm Experience is an attraction like no other. Featuring a mine which was abandoned in 1865, you’ll be able to submerge yourself in a world of mining – just be sure to wear your hard hat!
An Trá Mhór
A long, sandy beach sheltered on the shores of Inervan, this spot is perfect for swimming, walking and cycling. Remember to Leave No Trace, so this cove can be enjoyed for generations to come!
Supporting small, local businesses is the easiest way to be more eco-friendly whilst you’re on your getaway. Seafood is an integral element of Connemara’s local cuisine, and by eating local produce you’re also lowering your own carbon footprint.
It’s not just the fish that’ll have foodies salivating either; whether you’re on the look out for a fresh take on pub grub or a lighter plant-based lunch, check out this guide on local food options offered by independent businesses.
Don’t forget to take a look at our essential apps you should download before you head off on your cycling staycation!