Cycling Destinations: Ireland

Ireland is well-known for it’s green grass, its music and literature, a plethora of accents and dialects, its scholarly mediaeval past, sadly for its less than peaceful history, and a great many other things besides. What it’s not necessarily known for is its great cycling. But as with any place with beautiful nature—and Ireland has that in spades—it’s a great place for cycling. The country is doing well to increase its profile as a cycling destination and already it’s starting to make some headway with its professional cycling organisations. But it’s not simply the professionals that are heading to the Emerald Isle to get in some good pedalling. Here are three of best places to cycle in Ireland:

Great Southern Trail. While not yet completed this trail, in the counties of Limerick and Kerry will be 85 kilometres long, making it rideable in a single day but more pleasantly broken up into a couple of days for a more leisurely journey. Part of the EuroVelo series of cycling trails that cross the continent of Europe, it provides scenic views and plenty of chances to take in the island’s nature.

Great Western Greenway. Also part of the EuroVelo trail system, this 42-kilometre long trail is a marvellous day out. Going from Achill to Westport in County Mayo this trail is used by an estimated 300 people each day and was even awarded a European Destination of Excellence Award because it promotes sustainable tourism. Being made of both tarmac and gravel the path is best covered with thicker tyres but is also possible to ride with a standard touring bike. Beware of hikers though, as this trail is shared by walkers as well.

Cork. At just under 40 square kilometres and with a population roundabout 130 000 this university town in southwestern Ireland isn’t some sprawling metropolis, but it is a charming and quaint place to explore on bike. Founded in the 6th century CE it’s much older than a lot of other cities that far north in Europe, making it the perfect place for people interested in history. With temperatures usually between 3 and 20 degrees for the entire year, it’s mild climate make it an ideal place for cycling, though it can sometimes get a bit cold in the winter months.

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