The Wild Atlantic Way stretches for an amazing 2,500 km (1,500 miles) along Ireland’s west coast. It’s a route that brings you past every possible seascape; from towering cliffs, hidden inlets, pebble and sandy beaches, tiny harbours, tranquil bays and everything else a coastline can offer.
Cycling the Wild Atlantic Way has become a dream for many. It can be done in one (very long) holiday or spread over several holidays. Here are some of our top tips if you would like to turn your Wild Atlantic Way bike tour into the experience of a lifetime.
Plan your route
This might seem like a bit of a contradiction. After all, you are following the Wild Atlantic Way. However, it is worth knowing that most people who follow the Wild Atlantic Way do so by car. This can lead to very busy roads, especially at peak holiday times, when you can also expect to have quite a few tour buses thrown in for good measure! To avoid having to cycle on these busy roads, get yourself good local maps. The “Ordnance Survey of Ireland, Discovery Series” have a 1:50,000 scale maps, so all small local roads are clearly shown. Maps 1,2,3,6,10 and 11 cover the County Donegal section of the route. You may end up not following the exact Wild Atlantic Way, however your experience as a cyclist might be a lot more pleasant.
Book your accommodation ahead
Ireland has a good network of hostels, hotels and bed and breakfasts. Most of the time this will mean that you will find accommodation at the end of a day’s cycling. A note of caution however; on occasions when a festival, a summer school, a sporting event, or a myriad of other events is taking place, you might find that all accommodation is booked out for miles around. A pleasant day’s cycling could turn into a bit of a nightmare if, at the end of the day, you have no option but to get on your bike for another long cycle, simply to get a bed for the night.
Take your time
OK – it’s 2,500 km long and you want to see as much as possible. But by trying to pack in too much you might be missing out on the real gems. It simply would not be possible to count the number or places that are worth spending some time at along the way. Remember, many of the very best memories of an Irish cycling holiday will be when you are off your bike. So… dip your feet in the Wild Atlantic Ocean, lock your bike and hike to a remote headland, enjoy the atmosphere of an Irish pub and taste some delicious fresh local brown bread. Chatting to a local farmer herding his sheep or visiting a traditional woollen weaving mill might well be the highlight of your adventure. Every stop will lead to one more special memory to take back with you!
Explore what is near the route as well as the route itself
How many attractions – both well known and hidden — lie just off the Wild Atlantic Way? It may be well worthwhile heading inland every now and then. In County Donegal, Mount Errigal, The Poisoned Glen, Glenveagh National Park, Lough Eske and several other treasures lie just off the route. The same applies to every other county along the way. Don’t miss out on what lies just over the horizon by sticking rigidly to the coast. You might just find the hidden gem that others are missing out on.
Consider letting others do the hard work for you — then all you have to do is to enjoy the ride!
You probably just want to get on your bike and enjoy the very best of what the west of Ireland has to offer. The easiest way to do this could be to let someone else do the hard work for you. Local tour companies know the highways and byways, the places you shouldn’t miss and the places you should avoid. They will also book your accommodation and transport your luggage while you are cycling.
At Ireland by Bike we know every tiny road, every hidden gem and everything in between. We pick up your luggage each morning and make sure that it’s waiting for you when you arrive at your accommodation. We have been working with some of the very best Bed and Breakfasts in this region for the past ten years and we know how well they care for cyclists. So… if you want the ultimate Wild Atlantic Way experience, contact us. The bike tour of a lifetime awaits.