Experience first hand what inspired Yeats to write such beautiful poetry.
If you were to pick one area in Ireland that is ready-made for the perfect cycling holiday, it would be hard to find better than the area around Sligo and the Northern Ireland border. With quiet roads, beautiful unspoilt countryside and unforgettable hospitality, this is an area that is perfect for exploring by bike. You follow the coast from Sligo to the beautiful villages of Mullaghmore and Ballyshannon, before taking a loop through the peaceful lakelands that straddle the border with Northern Ireland. On your way back to Sligo you cycle through the stunning Glencar Valley.
If you would like to spend more time exploring this undiscovered corner of Ireland, we offer a 12 day version of this tour. For those of you looking for something a bit more challenging, we also have an option of a 6 day moderate tour.
It’s time to embark on a journey of discovery in this hidden corner of Ireland.
Day 1:Arrive Sligo
Arrive in the lively town of Sligo, known as the “Gateway to the North West”, and forever associated with poet W. B. Yeats. Sligo has easy transport connections from Dublin Airport and from Ireland West Airport (in Knock.) Explore the town with its many pubs and restaurants. Here you will also find a great choice of music venues.
Day 2: Sligo to Mullaghmore. Approx 35 km (21 miles)
Leave Sligo and cycle under Benbulben to the beautiful spot where Yeats is buried at Drumcliffe. The churchyard lies on the site of an old monastery and is well worth a visit for its high cross and round tower alone. Further along Drumcliffe Bay you will find impressive Lissadell House, where Yeats often stayed. Continue under the mountain to your overnight destination in Mullaghmore — overlooking a pretty harbour and beautiful golden beach.
Day 3: Mullaghmore to Ballyshannon. Approx 25 km (15 miles)
From Mullaghmore, you cycle along the coast, where lush pastures run down to the seashore. Admire the magnificent views over Donegal Bay. Turn inland and cycle along quiet back roads through forests and farmlands. Follow roads that are just about perfect for bike touring. Alternatively visit the seaside resort of Bundoran, where you can enjoy an invigorating swim in the Atlantic. Continue to your overnight stop in the pleasant town of Ballyshannon.
Day 4: Ballyshannon to Garrison. Approx 26 km (16 miles)
Take a lovely leisurely cycle along the south shore of Lough Melvin to the tiny border village of Garrison. However, if you prefer something slightly more challenging, you can take an alternative parallel route where you cycle high above the lake. The views will more than reward you for your efforts. If you fancy leaving the bike for a while, a walk through the woods along Fowley’s Falls is a real treat. You can visit the award winning Organic Centre, where a tour will teach you some of the skills and benefits of using locally grown organic food.
Day 5: Garrison to Blacklion/Belcoo. Approx 27 km (16 miles)
Follow the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic as you continue through more peaceful lakelands. Visit Prince Connel’s Grave dating from 2000 BC, but not quite fitting the pattern of the other monuments from the era. Cycle through Glenfarne Wood, where the lapping of the water along the shore and the whisper of the wind in the trees will be the only sounds. Spend the night in the twin villages of Blacklion/Belcoo, one on each side of the border. Here the upper and lower sections of the lake meet.
Day 6: Blacklion/Belcoo to Manorhamilton. Approx 25 km (15 miles)
Time to leave the border area as you follow the North West Cycle Trail, taking you through forests and farmland along a network of tiny roads. North Leitrim is one of the least populated areas in Ireland, making it the perfect area for touring by bike. A huge variety of wild flowers bloom along the roadsides. (The scent will vary depending on what time of year you are here.) Wonderful views of the Glencar Valley open up in the second half of today’s cycle. Your overnight stop is in Manorhamilton, overlooked by Hamilton’s Castle from which the town got it’s name.
Day 7: Manorhamilton to Sligo. Approx 26 km (16 miles)
Glencar Valley, Lake and Waterfall are rightly renowned for their beauty. Cycle from Manorhamilton through the valley. Stop at the waterfall, immortalised by Yeats in his poem, The Stolen Child; “Where the wandering water gushes/ From the hills above Glencar/ In pools among the rushes/ That scarce could bathe a star,”. Glencar waterfall is just about the perfect place for a picnic. Continue along the lake taking in the beautiful views, as you make your way back to Sligo Town.
Day 8: Departure after Breakfast.
Time to say goodbye to this beautiful region. We are sure that you will have enjoyed your time cycling along the beautiful quiet roads and friendly villages.
Yeats Country and Lakelands – 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!
Yeats Country and Lakelands – Getting Here
This cycling tour starts and finshes in Sligo. It is easily accessable from Dublin, Ireland West (Knock) 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
Yeats Country and Lakelands — Prices 2021
Tours available: 05 April 2021 – 27 September 2021 Peak Season: 31 May 2020 – 30 August 2021
Price per person sharing: €820 Peak Season: €890 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 (Donegal Town)
• Meals other than breakfast
Shorter Cycling Holidays
If time does not allow you to follow the full 8 day itinerary, then please check out our Cycling Mini Breaks to see a shorter version 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
A short bike tour/cycling mini break is available in this area. Please click on the following link for full details:
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.
My wife and I very much enjoyed the 5-day Yeats Country and Lakelands bike tour (with an e-bike and hybrid bike). As others have noted as well.. the routes were well-organized and we appreciated the attention to detail by Seamus and Nora. They were kind and thoughtful hosts. The B&B’s were very comfortable; the breakfasts hearty and the company friendly and helpful. Of course, some wet weather is to be expected but we found the temperatures and weather reasonably agreeable for bike riding. There will be some hills but the beautiful scenery and friendly people more than made up for this. Scott G – Canada. Sept 2019
“From the start of planning to the final ride, it was very well handled. Nora helped me choose the best route for our level of cycling. We enjoyed the main route and several side attractions as recommended on the guide notes. The host families were all very nice with good suggestions for things to see and do in town. Overall a very enjoyable experience.” Margot Theriault.Canada. Yeats Country and Lakelands tour. May 2019.
“Since I have been home, I have recommended your tours to all of my friends. The tour we picked was perfect for us. We took advantage of the two day stops to rest, visit local pubs, and see the villages.” Dianna Daniel, USA. Yeats Country and Lakelands, July 2018
“If you like to ride a bike and want to see a beautiful country, take this tour. It was my favourite vacation that I have ever taken. I highly recommend it!”Gary and Ginny Martin, U.S.A. Yeats Country and Lakelands tour. April 2017
“Without a doubt the best biking trip we have ever been on. Seamus created a bike trip for us that was superb. Great scenery up around Sligo, Blacklion, Belcoo. How he found those back roads for us to use was amazing. Safe biking, B&B’s were perfect and luggage waiting each day at B&B. We will return to Ireland and definitely use Irelandbybike.”Flossie and Paul Horgan, California
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.