Sunrise cycles: The best Irish spots for a scenic morning view

By We Love Cycling

For those who love cycling, witnessing the sunrise while riding through Ireland’s picturesque scenery is a unique experience that combines physical activity with the awe-inspiring beauty of the isle awakening.

In this guide, we’ll explore the best locations for sunrise cycling in Ireland, providing route suggestions, tips for early-morning rides, and insights into what makes these views so spectacular!

The magic of sunrise cycling

Cycling at sunrise offers a peaceful and serene start to the day. The roads are quieter, the air is fresh, and there’s a special tranquility that can only be experienced in the early morning hours. Plus, starting your day with a bike ride can boost your mood and energy levels, setting a positive tone for the rest of the day!

Best sunrise cycling routes in Ireland

The Wild Atlantic Way – Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula

The Dingle Peninsula is renowned for its dramatic coastal scenery, and the Slea Head Drive is one of the most breathtaking cycling routes in Ireland. At sunrise, the Atlantic Ocean glistens under the first rays of the sun, and the rugged cliffs and sandy beaches are bathed in a golden light.

The route offers stunning views of the Blasket Islands and passes through charming villages like Dunquin and Ballyferriter. For the best experience, start your ride early and reach Slea Head as the sun begins to rise, creating an unforgettable backdrop for your cycle.

After your ride, make your way to Bean in Dingle for a freshly brewed espresso and some delicious pastries. You can then spend the rest of the morning exploring the quaint streets of Dingle, visiting the assortment of local independent shops on offer.

The Causeway Coast – Giant’s Causeway to Carrick-a-Rede

The Causeway Coast is famous for its rugged beauty and iconic landmarks. Starting your ride at the Giant’s Causeway at dawn allows you to witness the unique basalt columns illuminated by the light of sunrise.

The route to Carrick-a-Rede takes you along the coast, offering panoramic views of the North Atlantic and passing by historic sites like Dunluce Castle. The sight of the sun rising over the sea, combined with the dramatic cliffs and rolling hills, makes for a truly memorable cycling experience.

After your cycle, stop by The Red Door Tea Room in Ballintoy for a cosy cuppa and some homemade treats. You can then continue your adventure by testing your nerves on the historic Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge for stunning views of the coastline.

The Ring of Kerry – Killarney to Molls Gap

The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most popular cycling routes due to its scenic beauty and diverse landscapes. Starting your ride in Killarney and heading towards Molls Gap at sunrise provides stunning views of the Killarney National Park, including the Lakes of Killarney and the rugged MacGillycuddy’s Reeks.

The climb up to Molls Gap is challenging, but the reward is a breathtaking panorama of mountains, valleys, and lakes. This route is perfect for those who enjoy a combination of challenging climbs and spectacular scenery!

If you’re in need of a break, head to The Coffee Pot in Muckross to enjoy a morning coffee in a quaint setting. You can also spend the rest of the day exploring the beautiful grounds of Muckross House and Gardens, one of Ireland’s finest country estates.

The Burren – Black Head Loop

The Burren in County Clare is a unique landscape characterised by its limestone pavements and rich biodiversity. The Black Head Loop is a popular cycling route that offers stunning views of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands.

Starting your ride at sunrise allows you to see the Burren’s distinctive rock formations and wildflowers in the early morning light. The route is also relatively gentle, making it suitable for cyclists of all levels.

Post-ride, visit The Burren Perfumery Tea Rooms in Carron for organic teas and freshly baked goods in a peaceful garden setting. A short drive will also take you to the famous Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most iconic backdrops.

The Wicklow Mountains – Sally Gap to Glendalough

The Wicklow Mountains are known for their dramatic landscapes and picturesque valleys. The route from Sally Gap to Glendalough is particularly beautiful at sunrise, with the mountains and lakes illuminated by the first light of day.

Starting your ride at Sally Gap, you’ll experience a breathtaking descent into the valley, passing through ancient woodlands at every turn. The highlight of the ride is reaching Glendalough, where the early morning mist and the rising sun create a mystical atmosphere around the historic monastic site.

After your descent, be sure to head to Glendalough Green Café in Laragh for a well-earned breakfast. Spend the rest of your day exploring the historic Glendalough Valley, enjoying the tranquil lakeside walks on offer.

Top five tips for a successful sunrise cycle

  1. Plan your route

Choose a route that offers safe and scenic cycling, and plan to arrive at your chosen sunrise spot just before dawn to witness the full beauty of the sunrise. Bring a physical map so you don’t need to rely on your phone.

2. Prepare your gear

Equip your bike with lights and reflective gear, as you’ll be cycling in low light conditions. Dress in layers to stay warm in the cool morning air, and bring a camera to capture the stunning views.

3. Check the weather

Early morning weather can be unpredictable, especially in Ireland! Be sure to check the forecast before you head out, and always be prepared for changes in temperature and visibility.

4. Stay hydrated and fuelled

Even though it’s early, it’s important to stay hydrated and have a light snack before your ride. Bring water and some snacks to keep your energy levels up.

5. Enjoy the moment

Take the time to enjoy the peace and beauty of your surroundings. Sunrise cycling is as much about the experience as it is about the ride, so pause to take in the views and appreciate the serenity of the early morning!

Cycling at sunrise in Ireland offers a unique way to experience the island’s natural beauty. If you’re looking for some staycation inspiration this summer, be sure to check out our guide on staying in beautiful Connemara.