Discover the “coolest place on the planet” and take home memories to last a lifetime.
DONEGAL truly is one of Ireland’s gems, so much so that National Geographic Traveller named it as “The World’s Coolest Destination for 2017.” Choose this Highlights of Donegal bike tour and savour Ireland’s most awe inspiring land and seascapes. Along the way you will meet some of the friendliest and warmest people on the planet. This is the bike tour that has everything; amazing coast, stunning national parks, open boglands, ancient history, pleasant villages and legendary hospitality.
Day 1: Arrive Donegal.
This self-guided bike tour of County Donegal – Ireland’s North West corner starts in historic Donegal Town. The town is steeped in history, with its imposing 15th century castle and ruined abbey. It also has a great selection of lively pubs and cafés. There are easy transport connections to Dublin Airport and Ireland West Airport making it the ideal arrival point for your adventure.
Day 2: Donegal to Carrick. 58/61/75 km
We will meet you at your Bed & Breakfast at 9:30 a.m. We will give you everything you need for your bike tour and answer any questions you have. Today you cycle west, along Donegal Bay. The smell of the sea will soon be all around as you pass quiet bays, headlands and inlets. Cycle to the fishing port of Killybegs and on along the dramatic coastline to Carrick. If you arrive early enough a visit to the cliffs at Sliabh Liag is an unforgettable experience. If you don’t have time to fit in a visit to the cliffs in the evening it is possible to do so the following morning.
Day 3: Carrick – Glencolmcille – Port – Carrick. 38/47/59 km
More stunning coast, beautiful sandy beachs, remote deserted valleys and 5,000 years of history combine to make this one of the most unforgettable days of cycling you will ever do. Cycle from Carrick to the beautiful and historic valley of Glencolmcille. If you feel like a visit to one of the most stunning beaches you will ever see then don’t miss the side trip to the Silver Strand. From Glencolmcille continue to the remote deserted valley and harbour at Port. Return to Carrick where you will spend your second night.
Day 4: Carrick to Glenties. 41/58 km
Your cycle today takes you from Carrick over boglands to the top of Granny Valley. Experience the adrenalin rush of a cycle down this amazing Valley to Maghera where a pristine beach, a series of caves, and pretty Assarancagh Waterfall await. Cycle along Loughros Beag Bay to the heritage town of Ardara – a centre for traditional weaving. An option here is to cycle to the stunning headland at Loughros Point. Continue to your overnight stop in the pretty village of Glenties.
Day 5: Glenties – Portnoo – Glenties. 0 – 40 km
The stunning area west of Glenties around the villages of Portnoo and Rossbeg is just waiting to be explored. A newly opened cycle path will bring you from Glenties to Portnoo. Here you can stroll along the magnificent golden strand. At low tide it is possible to walk out to tiny Inishkeel Island. Cycle along the coast at Rossbeg where you can take in the views over the bay and mountains beyond. On the way back towards Glenties the stone age dolmen at Kilclooney is not to be missed.
Day 6: Glenties to Annagry. 46/59/70 km
Follow the coast north from Glenties. overlooking the many inlets, sand dunes and islands of Gweebarra Bay. If you simply can’t get enough of dramatic coast a cycle around Crohy Head should do nicely. From the harbour at Burtonport you have the option to visit one of the many inhabited islands off the Donegal Coast. Arranmore is a 20 minute ferrry trip from Burtonport. (Ferry tickets not included) The boat trip itself makes the journey worthwhile! Make your way back to the mainland where you cycle past yet more beautiful golden beaches to the village of Annagry.
Day 7: Annagry to Letterkenny. 57/65 km
The unique beauty of the Donegal Highlands is all around during today’s cycle. Pass the hauntingly beautiful Poisoned Glen and majestic Mount Errigal. Your cycling tour then takes you to Glenveagh National Park. Red deer and golden eagles live here among the pristine lakes and mountains. A cycle along the lakeshore here is a wonderful experience. Follow the paths through the park to Lough Gartan. Continue through lush farmland to the bustling town of Letterkenny.
Day 8: Depart
Time to leave the “Coolest Place on the Planet” Letterkenny has good bus connections to airports and other points around Ireland.
Highlights Of Donegal Bike Tour — Accommodation
The accommodation we use on this tour is a mixure of family-run Bed and Breakfasts and small hotels. These are ideal places to cater to the needs of the cyclist. Your host will serve you a delicious breakfast in the morning — setting you up perfectly for the day ahead.
Choose a single, double, twin, or family (one double and one single bed) room. Rooms have their own private bathroom.
We make every effort to choose locations as close as possible to the village or town centre, making it easy to explore your surroundings once you have checked in.
Highlights of Donegal Bike Tour – Getting Here
This cycling tour starts in Donegal Town. It is easily accessible from Dublin and Ireland West (Knock) airports. Use the links below to check the bus timetables.
If you are arriving in Ireland at a different location and would like advice on how to get here, let us know and we will help you to plan your journey.
Note: If you are flying Trans-Atlantic it is worth noting that most flights are overnight – arriving in Ireland in the early morning (eg. if your flight leaves on the evening of Monday 01 May you will arrive in Ireland on the morning of Tuesday 02 May) so you may want to consider a “recovery day” before starting to cycle.
Highlights Of Donegal Bike Tour – 2023 Dates and Prices
Arrival Day: Friday Tours Available: Friday 05 May 2023 – Friday 22 September 2023 Peak Season: Friday 02 June 2023 – Friday 25 Aug. 2023 Alternative Start Day: Available to groups of 5 or more
Price per person sharing: €1,340 Peak Season: €1,390 Single occupancy: €280 Bicycle: €100 E-bike: €230
Self-Guided bike tour price includes:
• Bed and breakfast accommodation in B&B’s and small hotels
• Welcome meeting and bike set up on arrival evening or first morning
• Luggage transfers
• Comprehensive guide booklet
• Maps and turn by turn directions
• GPS unit with all routes pre-programmed (one per room)
• GPX tracks available pre-tour by request
• Emergency support
Not included in price:
• Travel to and from start/finish of tour
• Meals other than breakfast
• Entry to sites and attractions not included as part of the tour
• Evening entertainment
Highlights Of Donegal Bike Tour – Photo Gallery
Highlights Of Donegal Bike Tour – Booking a Tour
To book the Highlights of Donegal self-guided bike tour with Ireland by Bike:
1: Make a Booking Request
Please use the Book Now button.
Once you have completed the booking form we will contact you confirming availability. You will then be asked to pay a deposit of €100 per person. Please note that this deposit is non returnable so it is important that you have all your travel details correct before proceeding to book. Once we have received your deposit your booking is secure.
3: Pay Balance
Full payment is required at least 4 weeks before your arrival date.
Once we have received full payment we will email you your bike tour accommodation list, along with your bike tour guide notes and any other essential information. If you would like the GPX tracks we will send them to you at this stage.
4: Enjoy Your Adventure
We will meet you on the morning of your first cycle and get you set up with your bike, notes, GPS etc. Time to let the adventure begin.
Highlights Of Donegal Bike Tour — Customer Reviews
“From 1 to 12th of August my friend Christina and I cycled this tour which we enjoyed very much. For us Dutch people the quiet, the hills, the friendly people were a great comfort. We want to thank you for the excellent organisation.” – Greet Kuipers & Christina Vierboom. August 2019
“One of our most enjoyable holidays ever. The scenery is spectacular. We loved the quiet roads. The local people in the cities, towns and villages were so friendly and hospitable.” – Ed and Karen Dillon, Ontario, Canada. August 2018
“This was my first time on a cycling vacation, and prior to training for this trip, I hadn’t been on a bike in close to 10 years. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by how sm oothly everything went. I gave excellent marks for the value for the money because of how nice it was to have the entire trip essentially planned out for us. To not have to deal with the hassle of booking, logistics, and hauling around gear and luggage was wonderful.
On the whole, I had a most amazing time, especially as we were blessed with gorgeous weather for most of the trip. All the B&Bs we stayed at were well kept, with wonderful hosts. Seamus and Nora were wonderfully responsive to any requests or concerns we had during the trip. The views were gorgeous at every turn, from the breath taking seaside cliffs at Port to the simple joy of seeing and smelling the gorse brightening all the roadsides and hillsides.” – Clara Ni, Virginia, USA. June 2018
“The accommodations were top; better than I expected. It was nice meeting Seamus and Nora. The transfer of luggage was flawless. It was a tour to be remembered for life.” – Victor Carreño, Puerto Rico, USA. July 2018
“I would absolutely recommend Ireland by Bike to anyone cycling in Ireland and if I ever return to Ireland for any reason I would go cycling just because it was so great and easy with Ireland by Bike.” – Stuart and Abby Zangwill, California, USA. June 2018
“This tour was perfect for exploring the Atlantic coast. The small towns and restaurants had the best seafood ever! Biking allowed us to meet and talk with many people who were unbelievably friendly. Seamus was delightful and even tracked us down the second day when it was extremely rainy and windy to make sure that we did not want a ride to the next B&B. We would highly recommend this trip to both experienced and relatively novice bike riders.” – John and Vickie Hornbeck, Oregon, U.S.A. June 2017
“This trip is magical, one of my best so far! My expectations were pretty high and it was even better than anticipated. I felt safe on the road with the combination of small road + GPS + map + Odometer. The bike was in good shape and I felt reassured that if I needed support you would be there for us. I feel this was a very high quality tour, nothing cheap or cheesy about the choices you made for us. You must love what you do and it clearly shows. Thank you so much!” –Marie-Ève Ouellette, Québec, Canada. September 2017
“Everything from booking over the internet to meeting Nora on the morning of our departure, we were very impressed with everything. Although it was biking a self guided tour, it was great knowing that Seamus and Nora would help out if needed, checking in with us at the end of the first day to make sure that everything was good. Would definitely recommend to friends or family. Well organized, well done. Thank you!” – Gary and Lene Mohle, Ontario, Canada. June 2017
“It was a really great way to experience Ireland’s beautiful landscapes. Despite the rainy weather I enjoyed it a lot. Thank you for everything.” – Roland Meyer, Switzerland. June 2017
“This was our first adventure vacation and I cannot imagine a better planned or better supported one. You did everything and more than what was advertised and we came away feeling it was worth every penny. The personal service, attention to detail, and willingness to help every customer is clear, excellent, and appreciated. We enjoyed meeting the other customers at the B&B’s or on the road, noting that they were all equally impressed with the experience.” – Derek and Cindy Olinger, Florida USA. May 2017
“We were so very sad to see it end—wonderful sights and even more, the people we met were a joy! We would recommend Ireland by Bike to anyone who wants to experience the best that Ireland has to offer. The logistics and information provided were practically seamless, the equipment top notch, and Seamus was only a text/call away if we needed support. This tour allowed us to see the landscape up close and at our own pace, enabling us to enjoy the things that mean the most to us. We are grateful for the opportunity to take an excursion such as this—thank you so much!” –Maureen, Ohio, U.S.A. May 2017
“Perfect organisation, spectacular routes and great selection of B&B’s. I enjoyed my cycling trip very much and would do it all over again!!.”– Christian Rupp, Switzerland. May 2017
“Un’esperienza meravigliosa. Nonostante abbia fatto questo viaggio in solitaria, non mi sono mai sentita sola poiché ho incontrato così tante persone amichevoli – e anche animali! – lungo tutto il percorso e anche perché sapevo che voi, Nóra e Seamus, eravate sempre pronti ad assistermi. La pedalata è stata a tratti faticosa ma mi ha dato l’incredibile opportunità di visitare posti remoti e incantevoli con il mio ritmo. Ultimo ma non meno importante, avere avuto qualcuno che trasportasse la mia pesante valigia è stato impagabile!”
An amazing experience. Despite having done it solo, I never felt alone both because I met so many friendly people (and animals too!) all along the way, and because I knew that you Nora and Seamus were always there to support me. The ride was at times hard but that has given me the incredible opportunity to visit mesmerising spots and remote areas at my own pace. Last but not least, having you carry my heavy suitcase was priceless! – Federica, Italy. August 2016
“Art and I had a most wonderful adventure on our recent (April 1-8) “Highlights of the Highlands” holiday in Ireland. From stunning scenery to quiet roads and a variety of climbing challenges, from lovely B&B’s and gracious hosts/hostesses to charming villages, from dependable bikes to near-perfect cue sheets and maps, Seamus Gallagher, owner of Ireland by Bike, has planned an experience we will remember for years to come. We were lucky that the weather was ideal (cool and dry, mostly—of course, good clothing and rain gear helped) and that we arrived in the middle of lambing season—sweet singles and twins were thriving all along the Wild Atlantic Way!
We have recommended this tour to all of our cycling friends—anyone who chooses this tour will not be disappointed!” – Julane and Art Anderson. Maryland, U.S.A. Highlights of the Highlands. April 2016.
“I really enjoyed the combination of landscape, scenery, sports and travelling. I will absolutely recommend it to anyone who is interested in this kind of holiday. And I’m also quite sure, it won’t be the last one for me. Thanks again!” – Metin Kisa, Vienna, Austria. May 2016
“Due to our time with you we’ve proceeded to recommend the tour to our friends who might be interested. This is, for us, the highest form of praise. We felt well supported, which was of course important knowing you were never far off. Your knowledge with the landscape was perfect. It felt like a personalized experience, yet we had plenty of leeway to explore whatever we wanted. Also appreciated your understanding of us, the aging foreign biker people, and your sense of humor throughout. And your choice of places to stay was terrific as well. You guys totally rocked this thing. Thank you, and the best of success to you in the future. Best wishes, Steve and Jenny…” – Steve Weingarten and Jenny Otter, CA, USA. September 2015
“We thank you for a wonderful trip with my family. You provided a very well put together service with wonderful accommodation selections and excellent response times to any issues we requested assistance with. I will not hesitate to recommend you to friends. Thank you again Seamus and Nora for everything.” – L. Shannonhouse, Utah, U.S.A. August 2015
“Kathy and I just want to let you know how fondly we remember our bike trip with you in County Donegal. You were both terrific and gracious hosts. The B&B people were most warm and helpful. The rain, the wind and the hills all added to the experience. We had a blast. County Donegal was everything we had hoped it would be.” – Tim and Cathy Rancourt, RI, U.S.A. September 2015
“The service, friendliness and availability of the owners far surpassed the other European self guided bike tours we have taken.” – Randy and Sheila Marshall, BC Canada. June 2015
“A fantastic summer getaway.” I would definitely recommend Ireland by Bike to friends as a first choice because of the Sat nav, the friendly owners, the professionalism of the guidebook, and the quality of the cycles. Thanks!” – Evan and Anna Horn, WY, USA. June 2015
“Perfect. We would recommend the tour to everybody who is interested in biking, nature and Ireland.” – Anton Meyer + Family. Dachau, Germany
“Absolutely perfect. Right from the website being tasteful and concise and prompt email replies, all the way through to the end of the trip. The attention to details such as the cell phone with all the numbers and the handlebar bag with the shoulder strap. The personal touches as well, like getting the bike to me a few days early as it was the end of the season and not too busy and deducting the cost of the first accommodation as I was already in the Hostel. I loved that the tours were self-guided, I could go at my own pace and spend time at the attractions that most interested me. Thanks again for everything Seamus, I have so many great memories of my trip. Keep up the good work!!!” – Kelly Newsholm, Hudsons Hope, BC, Canada
“Overall we loved the trip. We certainly had a sense of achievement at the end. Your routes are terrific – back roads that we would not have found ourselves with very little traffic. That was great. We loved Ireland, especially the friendly welcoming people in Co. Donegal. The real find, though, was the Ti Linn Cafe and Shop. They brewed the best coffee of the whole trip – and the home made cakes!! Yum! And they were so friendly and nice! I almost don’t want anyone else to know about the place. Anyway, all the best with future trips. We hope to be back in Ireland soon, as we have great memories of our trip.” – Margaret Carkeet, Lexington, MA, USA
“The self-guided Highlands tour was an excellent route with a bit of everything, including the weather. Organisation was first rate and Seamus accommodated our last minute change of plan without fuss. Bikes, instructions, accommodation and backup were all good. This was a better put-together package than one we did in Europe a few years ago and for us it has lifted the bar in terms of what to expect. We would recommend Ireland by Bike to anyone thinking of biking in NW Ireland.” –Bruce and Kristin Munday, Mount Torrens, Australia
“I have cycled the west coast from south to north using different companies, and Ireland by Bike was by far the best I have traveled with. Seamus & Nora will go to any lengths to make sure their customers have the best of times.” – Peter Boone, Oostakker, Belgium
“An exceptional experience. I have biked in the Cotswolds, Provence and Sicily, but the Ireland by Bike trip was the best ever. I think it was because of the accommodations, the wonderful people and the remoteness of the trails/roads, and because it was selfguided. The bikes were perfect for the terrain. Thank you so much for the wonderful trip.” – Gretchen and Ron Annan, Fruita, CO, USA
“Just great, even better than we expected. The county is marvellous. All types of green hills, fields and woods, sunny white beaches, sturdy rocks and the desolate emptiness of most parts of Donegal amazed us every single day. Cycling certainly is the best way to explore and admire them. Living in Holland, we think the Irish should wake up happy every morning living in such a country. Because of the more than complete itinerary and descriptions, finding our way was easy. It’s great to look forward to every village, hill or view that surprises you past the next corner. It’s easy to tell that Seamus is proud of Donegal and is an experienced cyclist himself. He did everything to make sure our journey would be a great experience. From the first contact by email to the briefing on day 1, to the ‘taxi service’ to the airport at the end, we had nothing to worry about.” – Joop Van Den Berg, Haastrecht, Holland
Had a great time despite being pounded by rain and wind a few times. Well researched. Really appreciated the historical details in the guide: enriched the overall experience. Thanks a lot. We appreciated your friendliness and the planning that you put into providing the tour. We will recommend Ireland By Bike to our friends.” – Andrew and Karen Larcombe, Vancouver, Canada.
“We really enjoyed our trip, we got to see the real Ireland with its beautiful landscape, hills, sheep on the streets, etc. We had a great time, thank you so much!” – Susan Glowka, Frankfurt, Germany
“All four of us found the cycling to be a tremendous exercise in fun. The bikes are great for both occupying the daytime, but also as a boost to our egos in terms of our ability to complete cycling challenges. Seamus, your contribution was helpful, fun and showed masterful timing in terms of being there when most needed. A truly wonderful holiday amongst lovely people.” – Martin McMahon, Airdrie, Scotland
“I woke up one morning and had an impulse to take a bike vacation in Ireland for my 30th wedding anniversary. I am 57 years old and my wife is older but prettier. It was simply the best vacation we have ever had. I saw the most beautiful sights, heard the most beautiful music, visited with some of the most wonderful people on earth, all while getting some of the healthiest exercise my body has ever known. Our trip was safe, clear and free of anxiety. If I could have Ireland by Bike design every vacation from now till the end of my days I would”… – Mandy Patinkin, New York
“When my husband asked if I would join him on a 9 day bike ride in Ireland, my immediate response was “absolutely not.” I had not ridden a bicycle in 15 years, didn’t remember that experience fondly, and we had been away from home for two months and I was homesick. However, he is a persistent fellow, and he encouraged me to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary by trying something daring in mid-life as it were…and I am so grateful that I listened to him. It was an amazing journey. The coast of Donegal is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and I have been lucky enough to see a lot of the world. It was full of challenges and surprises and spectacular landscapes, each day a different kind of beauty. I recommend Ireland by bike for anyone who thinks their adventurous times might be over, so that they discover they are anything but…” – Kathryn Grody, New York
“The tour is well organized and the bikes were super. We could climb nearly every hill with them even when you are above the age of fifty and used to a flat country. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery (sea and hill views), the friendly Irish, the difficult to understand Gaelic language, the sheep on the road, the excellent B&B’s with their warm welcome (and once with a super dinner). Even the Irish weather (with only a few rain spells) was good for cycling. So when we went back to Holland, our heads were empty and we had a lot of new energy to start work again. Definitely we will come back and recommend this tour to friends.” – Maria Meekes and Michel Nielen, Arnhem, The Netherlands
“We were very pleased with everything to do with this tour from the early planning stages and the customizing of the itinerary to the personal and friendly service we received throughout the tour.” – Eamonn and Rhonda Ryan, Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada
“You simply could not have done any more to make the tour more enjoyable” – Marian and Ray Fagan, Dublin, Ireland
Highlights of Donegal Bike Tour – FAQ’s
Below you will find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about this tour. For other more general FAQ’s please visit our FAQ page.
Who is this tour suitable for?
This tour is suitable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness who is comfortable being on a bike for 4 -5 hours on a typical day. The distance you cycle each day is approximately 60 km. It is important to note that the routes are VERY hilly. Experienced cyclists will have no difficulty with the distances. If this tour appeals to you but you are worried about the hills, we recommend using an e-bike.
Will I be cycling along with others?
Possibly – but this is not guaranteed. At busy times of the year June/July/August is is quite likely (but again not guaranteed) that others will be following the same routes as you. In the quieter months when numbers are smaller it is quite possible that yours will be the only group on the road at that time.
Is this tour on cycle paths or public roads?
For most of this tour you are on roads that are also open to traffic. There are some dedicated cycle paths. There is also a section on gravel through Gleveagh National Park. On most roads traffic is almost non-existent. There are some short stretches on roads with moderate traffic. However even here traffic is limited and cycling is not difficult.
Are the routes hilly?
The routes on this bike tour are VERY hilly. (This is partly why it is so beautiful) Most hills are not long however the gradient varies constantly from gentle to very steep. On an average day where you would typically cycle 60 km (37 miles) you can expect an elevation gain of approximately 600 metres (2,000 ft). Using an electric bike will make the hills seem non-existent.
How do I get to the start?
This bike tour starts in Donegal Town. It has regular direct bus connections to Dublin Airport where most people arrive into Ireland. There are also direct connections to Ireland West (Knock) Airport. Belfast Airport has bus connections with one change. To see links to websites with more information and timetables click on the “Getting Here” tab above. If you are flying Trans-Atlantic it is worth noting that most flights are overnight – arriving in Ireland in the early morning (eg. if your flight leaves on Monday 01 you will arrive in Ireland on the morning of Tuesday 02) so you may want to consider a “recovery day” before starting to cycle.
How do I get from the end of the tour?
The tour finishes in Letterkenny. There are good bus connections to the major airports and other parts of Ireland.
“This tour was perfect for exploring the Atlantic coast. The small towns and restaurants had the best seafood ever! Biking allowed us to meet and talk with many people who were unbelievably friendly. Seamus was delightful and even tracked us down the second day when it was extremely rainy and windy to make sure that we did not want a ride to the next B&B. We would highly recommend this trip to both experienced and relatively novice bike riders.”
John and Vickie Hornbeck, Oregon, U.S.A.
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Amuigh Faoin Aer Teo. T/A Ireland By Bike Teelin Rd, Carrick, Co Donegal, Republic of Ireland
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