More and more families with young children are embracing the wonderful world of cycling. As a great way of keeping fit and healthy for adults and children alike, cycling is also a great social activity which encourages the whole family to get out and about together and enjoy the beauty of Ireland’s unspoilt scenery.
Our beginner’s guide will take you through the best places to cycle with young children across the island, as well as top tips on how to get your kids used to getting around in the saddle.
Get started with our favourite family-friendly cycling routes
Great Western Greenway, Co. Mayo
As a 42km trail which follows the route of the old Westport to Achill railway line, the Great Western Greenway is an easy, traffic-free route that’s perfect for families with younger children. As Ireland’s first ever greenway, it’s been hailed as one of the best greenways in the world: no small praise!
There are several cafes and restaurants along the route, including the Mulranny Park Hotel, Nevins Newfield Inn, and The Tavern Bar and Restaurant which are perfect options for a family-friendly pit stop.
Phoenix Park, Dublin City
Dublin’s much-loved Phoenix Park is a fantastic location for a family bike ride. The park has over 11 kms of cycle paths, and there are plenty of picnic areas and playgrounds along the way for a speedy lunch.
As the home of Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park promises a jam-packed day out for all members of the family, with lots to see and do both on foot and on two wheels.
Waterford Greenway, Co. Waterford
Following the route of an old railway line (recognise the pattern?!), this 46km trail in Ireland’s Ancient East is home to some of the island’s most stunning scenery. There are multiple ways to cover the route, including walking some of it, cycling in either direction, or biking one way and then using the bus to return to Waterford from Dungarvan.
Numerous eateries can be found along the route, with Coach House Coffee, Kiersey’s Bar and Tearooms, and The Bridge Cafe ideal locations to refuel.
Lough Key Forest Park, Co. Roscommon
Lough Key Forest Park is a tranquil location for a family bike ride. The park has over 8 kms of designated cycling trails, and there are plenty of additional activities and attractions to keep the little ones occupied, including a zip-line and an adventure play area.
The on-site Lakeside Café provides light bites, while the nearby town of Boyle offers a wider choice of bars and restaurants.
Blessington Greenway, Co. Wicklow
Set amongst the backdrop of the scenic Blessington Lakes, this short and sweet 6km route is immensely popular with families. Along the route you’ll find the nearby Russborough House and Gardens, one of the finest examples of palladian architecture on the island.
The Avon Centre in Blessington is a popular destination for visitors seeking outdoor activities and adventure, offering a wide range of activities, including kayaking and archery for outdoor enthusiasts.
Top tips for cycling with children
1. Choose a suitable route
When cycling with children, it’s important to choose a route that matches their skill level. As a starting point, look for flat routes with smooth surfaces, and plenty of rest stops. Traffic-free trails are the ideal option for teaching kids how to cycle in a safe, controlled area.
2. Plan ahead
Before you set off on your cycling adventure, plan your route and schedule plenty of breaks along the way. Make sure to pack enough food, water, and spare clothes for the whole gang.
3. Dress comfortably
Make sure the little ones are dressed in breathable and comfortable clothing. Securely fitted helmets and appropriate footwear are a must too, so make sure you double check everything before leaving the family home.
4. Make safety your top priority
It goes without saying, children’s safety should always be the top priority when cycling. Teach your children about road safety, and make sure they understand the importance of wearing a helmet at all times and wearing clothing which is bright and visible.
5. Choose bicycles carefully
Your bicycle is the most important piece of equipment – after all, you can’t get in the saddle without one! Make sure you do your research when purchasing bikes for adults and children, so they see you through for many years. Little Big Bikes is an Irish company that specialises in adaptable bikes that grow along with your child, so are a handy option for younger children who are growing quickly.
With the right preparation and equipment, cycling with children can be a fun and memorable experience for the whole family. If you’re looking for more inspiration, take a look at our guide to buying bikes for kids.