A tour for the experienced cyclist taking you from the Yeats Country around Sligo Town to the rugged Highlands of Donegal.
This cycling holiday begins in Sligo Town, the heart of the “Yeats Country”. From here you wind your way north, sometimes along the coast, sometimes inland. Cycle through the verdant valleys around Sligo, the dramatic Donegal coast, and the highlands around Glenveagh National Park, finishing in the historic town of Ramelton. With so much variety and so many different landscapes this truly is the ultimate “North West Grand Tour”.
On your arrival in Sligo we will meet you from the train or bus. If you arrive early in the day, you will have a chance to explore this lively town which is forever associated with the poet W. B. Yeats. If you like, we can recommend a short cycle route that will allow you to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and with your bicycle.
Day 2: Sligo to Donegal Town – 83 km
Your bike tour takes you north from Sligo. The beautiful valley of Glencar, with its lake and waterfall, beckons. Cycle on through peaceful countryside, past lakes and farmland. Briefly cross the border into Northern Ireland. Visit the lakeside village of Belleek, famous for its pottery. Continue into County Donegal, rejoining the coast at your overnight stop in historic Donegal Town.
Lookout tower at Bunglass
Day 3: Donegal to Carrick – 60 – 75 km
Today you cycle west along Donegal Bay. You’ll pass inlets, beaches and small peninsulas. Pass through the bustling fishing village of Killybegs. As you cycle west from Killybegs, the coastal views become ever more dramatic. Staggering cliffs tower above secluded beaches on your refreshing journey to your overnight destination is the village of Carrick – the base for exploring Sliabh Liag (Slieve League). No trip to Donegal would be complete without a visit here!
Day 4: Carrick to Glenties – 77 km
Today you will see why a cycling tour is simply the best way to see Ireland. Cycle along a stretch of coast with few equals. View nature at its best as you bike past cliffs, sea stacks, unspoiled fishing hamlets, wild bogs, pristine beaches, remote Gaelic speaking communities, and historic monuments from every era since the stone age. Today’s route has it all! Later in the evening make your way to the pleasant village of Glenties, for your overnight stop.
Day 5: Glenties to Gweedore – 80 km
Cycle north from Glenties on quiet roads overlooking the Gweebarra Estuary. Climb gradually along a beautiful peaceful valley, towards Glenveagh National Park. Here golden eagles and red deer live, and hopefully you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of them! Continue past stately Mount Errigal to your overnight stop in the Gaelic speaking area of Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair). This area has a history of producing internationally acclaimed folk acts such as Clannad, Altan and Skara Brae. A visit to the local pubs will let you see why.
Day 6: Gweedore to Ramelton – 73km
Glorious golden strands stretch along the section of coast you follow on today’s part of your North West Ireland cycling tour. Out to sea the islands of Inishbofin and the Kingdom of Tory are clearly visible. Head inland, passing pleasant lakes, at the foot of heather clad mountains. Rejoin the coast at the historic town of Ramelton. This picturesque town was once a Trans-Atlantic port. That was in the 18th century however. These days it’s a much more laid-back place, and a very pleasant town to explore.
Ballymastocker Beach, Fanad
Day 7: Ramelton – 0 – 85 km
Cycle anything from 0 to 85 kilometres today. A short distance away is the historic village of Rathmullan – forever associated with the “Flight of The Earls” – one of the pivotal events in Irish History. If you simply can’t get enough of biking the dramatic Donegal coastline, a cycle around Fanad Peninsula should satisfy you completely! With the sea all around, Fanad is not lacking in dramatic and ever-changing coastline. A full circuit of the peninsula could be anything up to 85 km.
Island View, Donegal Town
Day 8: Depart after Breakfast
Following breakfast we will transfer you to Letterkenny bus station where you will find easy connections to all parts of Ireland, including the main airports. Take with you your memories of your cycling holiday around Ireland’s beautiful and friendly North West.
North West Grand Tour — Accommodation
One of the great things about travelling by bicycle or by foot in Ireland is the chance to meet local people, and one of the best places to do this is at your accommodation. There is no better type of accommodation to suit cyclists and walkers than the type we use — the traditional Irish Bed and Breakfast (and occasionally small hotels). Here you will be guaranteed a warm welcome. The owners cater much more to the needs of the adventure traveller than the larger hotels.
Your host will serve you a delicious breakfast in the morning — which will set you up perfectly for the day ahead. All of the accommodations we work with cater for people with special dietary requirements.
Choose a single, double, twin, triple or family room. Rooms have their own private bathroom.
We choose locations as close as possible to the village or town centre, so that you will be able to stroll out in the evenings to have a meal and then afterwards you can check out the local entertainment!
North West Grand Tour
This cycling tour starts in Sligo. It is easily accessable from Dublin, Ireland West and Belfast airports. Use the links below to check the bus and rail timetables.
If you are arriving in Ireland at a different location to those listed below and would like advice on how to get here let us know and we will help you to plan your journey.
From Dublin Airport
By Bus: Direct buses (Route Number 23) run to Sligo from Dublin Airport. Timetable
By Bus: Frequent buses (Route Number 64) run to Sligo direct from the Airport. Timetable
From Belfast City and Airports
By Bus: To Enniskillen (Route No. 261) Timetable and then change for Sligo (Route No. 458) Timetable
Departure from Ramelton
On the morning you depart we will arrange to have you transferred from Ramelton to Letterkenny. From here you have numerous options for onward travel.
North West Grand Tour – 2021 Dates and Prices
Tours available: 05 April 2021 – 27 Sept. 2021 Peak Season: 31 May 2021 – 30 August 2021
Price per person sharing: €890 Peak Season: €960 Single occupancy: €195 Bicycle: €105 E-bike: €175
Self-Guided bike tour price includes:
• Bed and breakfast accommodation in carefully selected guest houses and B&B’s
• Welcome meeting and bike set up on first morning
• Daily luggage transfers
• Emergency support
• Comprehensive guide booklet
• All maps and guide notes
• GPS unit with all routes pre-programmed (one per group)
Not included in price:
• Travel to and from start/finish of tour (Sligo/Letterkenny)
• Meals other than breakfast
Shorter Cycling Holidays
If time does not allow you to follow the full 8 day itinerary click on the Short Tours tab above to see shorter versions of this tour.
If you wish to avail of an extra day’s accommodation and bicycle hire at any location during your tour, this can be arranged at a cost of €80 per night/person sharing. Single supplement – €15
North West Grand Tour — Short Tour Options
To get a good appreciation of the beauty and culture of Ireland’s North West, we recommend that you spend at least one week cycling in the area. If, however, time does not allow you to do this, then we offer the following shorter bike tour options. All of the itineraries listed here are part of the “North West Grand Tour”. To find details of what each day of the shorter tours involves see the “North West Grand Tour” itinerary.
7 Day/6 Night Bike Tour
Day 1: Arrive Donegal. Day 2: Donegal to Carrick Day 3: Carrick to Glenties Day 4: Glenties to Gweedore Day 5: Gweedore to Ramelton Day 6: Around the Fanad Peninsula Day 7: Depart after breakfast
Price: Off-peak – €820, Peak – €880, Single supplement – €170, Bike hire – €95, E-Bike – €155
6 Day/ 5 Night Bike Tour
Day 1: Arrive Donegal. Day 2: Donegal to Carrick Day 3: Carrick to Glenties Day 4: Glenties to Gweedore Day 5: Gweedore to Ramelton Day 6: Depart after breakfast
Price: Off-peak – €745, Peak – €795, Single supplement – €145, Bike hire – €83, E-Bike – €133
5 Day/4 Night Bike Tour
Day 1: Arrive Donegal. Day 2: Donegal to Carrick Day 3: Carrick to Glenties Day 4: Glenties to Ramelton Day 5: Depart after breakfast
Price: Off-peak – €662, Peak – €702, Single supplement – €120, Bike hire – 70, E-Bike – €110
North West Grand Tour — Photo Gallery
North West Grand Tour — Booking
To book a self-guided cycling tour with Ireland by Bike:
Please fill out the Enquiry Form giving details of group size, dates, etc.
Once we have received your enquiry we will get back to you letting you know if the dates you requested are available. We will then ask you to enter full tour and group details on a Booking Request Form. Once we have received this we will send you confirmation of pricing etc.
2: Pay Deposit
If you are happy with our proposal you can proceed to pay the deposit using the secure link we will send you. The deposit required is €100 per person for all tours.
Once we have received your deposit we will send you confirmation of your booking along with an invoice for the balance.
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 cycling holiday accommodation list, along with the full guide notes for your cycling tour.
If you are just making a general enquiry, and would like to ask some questions, then simply contact us.
The route was certainly hilly but this reflected the tour description. For me (aged 69) the route was tough going. However, there were sufficient options to make the routes less or more demanding according to fitness. I very much enjoyed the trip and would be happy to recommend it. – Fergus McTaggart, Cheshire, U.K. – July 2017
“One of our best cycling tours ever ! Hope to see you again in the future.” – Sandra Loughead, Canada – June 2017
“Brent and I have done bike tours for the past 7 years, all over Europe, and this was the most enjoyable one we’ve done so far. The people, countryside, weather and your Garmin mapping was amazing ! We will be back next year (or maybe this Autumn) for another tour and will be recommending you to all our bike friends!!” – Nancy and Brent Harley, Canada – May 2017
“We would go again in a heartbeat and will continue to tell our friends. Donegal was stunning and the hospitality incredible. Why go anywhere else?” – D. & L. Reynolds, AL, U.S.A – May 2016. (Click here to see blog.)
“We are back home in Canada and wanted to let you know that our family cycling tour as planned and supported by Ireland by Bike was exceptional.
The hybrid bikes, detailed route planning with maps and GPS, and the B&B style accommodations all exceeded expectations – this part of Ireland is so beautiful and the small towns we biked through or stayed in each had their own wonderful expression of Irish history and Celtic culture. Thanks for the memories.” – Beedell family, Ottawa, Canada – May 2015
“It was an excellent tour from the start to finish. We were very well taken care of which was greatly shown by the pick-up at the station in Sligo, the time Seamus took to explain the tour and the equipment. There was great flexibility and support by Seamus to adjust the tour to personal and weather conditions as well as our planned itinerary.” – Finn, Heike and Knut Wintergerst, Waldbronn, Germany – August 2015
“This self guided custom Northwest Ireland “Grand” tour was a year in the planning and absolutely worth every minute spent. Our contact Seamus Gallagher, owner of “IrelandbyBike.com ” was absolutely flawless in his oraganizing, helping with every minute detail and readily available should we have needed him. Countryside was strikingly beautiful, but the friendly, welcoming people in this more rugged, sparsely populated and less travelled part of Ireland was what really made the trip. We would certainly recommend to anyone.” – Doug Allen, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ca.
View Doug’s Photo Album on Flickr (external link)
“A Complete tour in nice areas on nice quiet small roads with beautiful views, excellent accommodations and friendly people during the whole tour. Thank you both for your hospitality.” – Paul and Els Van Herp, Holland
View Paul and Els photo albums. Album 1 Album 2
“It was outstanding! It was a great value and in fact I think you could charge more as I think that from American standards it was an incredible deal.” – Mike DeJong, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
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