Elemental and wild, every part of the Wild Atlantic Way makes for a beautiful cycle and this stage of the Bay Coast is no different. Setting off from Galway you will make your way over relatively flat terrain through the stunning seaside village of Spiddal, where you can breathe in the Irish language and culture. Its gothic church, stone pier, sandy beaches and Burren views make it stand out along what is a spectacular coastline.
You’ll be rewarded with an extra leisurely lunch at Coyne’s Bar & Bistro in Kilkieran (77km), a local favourite. Following the coast road again to the picturesque 19th-century coastal village of Roundstone is a real treat with great road surface, quiet roads and unrivaled scenery. But don’t be fooled, the headwind in the wilds of Connemara can be a serious challenge!
On leaving Roundstone behind it’s a 23km spin through the village of Ballyconneely to Clifden, our Host Town for the evening.
The flattest stage of the cycle means it isn’t too physically challenging, but the rewards are just as rich. Starting from the surfer’s nirvana of Lahinch on the incredible Cliff Coast, you will wind your way along sweeping roads and rugged and enveloping landscape, taking in some of the country’s greatest natural wonders. Stretching from the Atlantic coast to Kinvara in County Galway, you will have views of the Burren, a remarkable 1,500ha of ancient limestone pavement, hazel scrub, woodland, springs and cliffs.
Atop one of just two short climbs on this cycle you will come upon the infamous Cliffs of Moher at 8km, one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s 15 Signature Discovery Points. The arresting panoramas from these 214m high cliffs on a clear day include the Aran Islands, the Dingle Peninsula and Loop Head.
You will continue along the unspoilt coastline, passing Black Head (38km) and on to Ballyvaughan (47km). This section is one of the highlights of the tour, and relatively unknown even among Irish cyclists. You will stop for lunch on the edge of the Unesco Burren region, with wonderful views across Galway Bay. After lunch it’s a relatively easy cycle along good road surface on the way to and through the vibrant and historically significant city of Galway, our base for the night.
Today’s route takes us out of Tralee towards beautiful Banna Stand and the village of Ballyheigue, Ballylongford and the village of Tarbert, close to where the counties of Kerry, Clare and Limerick meet. Boarding the ferry, take a quick break from the bike to cross Ireland’s largest river, the Shannon.
Cycling on through a flat section of West Clare, its 30km to the bustling town of Kilrush our lunch stop for today.
After lunch it’s back onto the bike heading out to Loop Head and taking in the stunning Kilkee Cliffs and onwards to the coastal town of Kilkee.
A well-deserved coffee & cake break at the Diamond Café in Kilkee and then continuing the final stretch of today’s stage, a 42km spin along the coast to Ennistymon our Host town for the night.
Today’s first stage of the Wild Atlantic L’Etape sees the route take us on the final section of the wonderful Ring of Kerry.
The coastal scenery on your left is absolutely breath – taking and as we swing left onto the Dingle Peninsula we will reach our lunch stop at Sammy’s Bar and Restaurant overlooking Inch Strand.
The beautiful beach below often leads to some of our cyclists taking the opportunity of a swim in the Atlantic before tackling into the second half of today’s ride.
On leaving Inch the peleton heads on towards Dingle.
Overlooking Dingle Bay, this is a bustling harbour town and on arriving here for the first time we’ll pass through the town and take on the loop route around Slea Head.
The scenery here is stunning with views out towards the Blasket Islands and the road takes us back into the town which will be our base for the night.
One of the true highlights of the Wild Atlantic Way, this stretch along the Southern Peninsulas will stay with you long after your cycle has ended. Leaving beautiful Sneem behind, you’ll head out onto the iconic Ring of Kerry, passing through Caherdaniel before taking on the majestic Coomakista Pass, with sweeping views of Derrynane Bay and the Skelligs your reward for tackling the challenging 5km climb.
On this ascent, you’ll peak just twice at 5% elevation, maintaining a healthy 3-4% elsewhere. Downhill, the coastal haven of Waterville, one-time holiday haunt of comedy legend Charlie Chaplin, awaits, with plenty of spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Leaving Waterville behind and it’s off to the Skellig Ring, one of Lonely Planet’s Top Regions for 2017 and an easygoing ride all the way to Ballinskelligs, where the road begins once more to rise at 3-4% elevation, spiking sharply to 8.3% at the top, providing dazzling views of Skellig Michael and Puffin Island offshore.
After lunch we’re back on the road and heading for the wonderful town of Dingle. Our route takes us through Glenbeigh and Killorglan, before heading onto the famous Dingle Peninsula and the final stretch of the day, passing Inch Beach and into Dingle, our base for the night
On leaving Bantry, your route will take you through Glengarriff taking a left turn on to the Ring of Beara for 112km. As you loop around the beautiful peninsula past several Natural Heritage Areas and after 51km we stop in the bustling Castletownbere , after coffee we take on a few challenging climbs you’ll stop for lunch at Helen’s in the small village of Killmackillogue.
Taking you from County Cork into the Kingdom of County Kerry during the afternoon, after a few short ascents you’ll be rewarded with the gorgeous views across Kenmare Bay
With Kenmare Bay and the stunning Ring of Kerry within sight, our final 51km leads through the thriving Heritage Town of Kenmare towards our final destination of Sneem.
After some much-needed rest, it’s time to rise and shine for a truly spectacular day atop your trusty two wheels, experiencing the freshest Atlantic air. Fuel up with a hearty breakfast in the fishing village of Skibbereen before hitting the coastal road, striking out for Ireland’s most southerly point at Mizen Head, one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s 15 Signature Discovery Points and an unmissable sight to see. Along the way, take in the picturesque towns and villages of Ballydehob, Schull, Goleen and Barleycove, with its sandy Blue Flag beach stretching out before you.
From Mizen Head, you’ll journey up the northern flank of the headland, where you can drink in the exceptional views across to Sheep’s Head before winding gently towards Durrus, home of the famous farmhouse cheese and the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat. Then it’s onward to Kilcrohane where the challenging 2km Sheep’s Head climb, with 11% final elevation, awaits. Catch your breath just before the summit at Finn MacCool’s seat, before beginning the long, steep descent into Bantry with fabulous views across Bantry Bay towards the Beara Peninsula. On to Bantry where we will overnight at the Maritime Hotel.
Kick off your first day in the saddle from Kinsale westward to dramatic Old Head, a Wild Atlantic Way Signature Discovery Point where the 17th-century lighthouse still keeps watch over the crashing waves. Warm up the legs as you pedal over a few easy hills, taking in the already striking scenery of the Haven Coast for just a taste of what’s to come.
Keeping the Atlantic to your left, you’ll travel along the beautiful coast road through Timoleague, idyllic Courtmacsherry and the Seven Heads Peninsula.
It’s off down the back roads through inviting towns and villages toward Glandore, where the unspoilt waters of Glandore Harbour invite you to pause and enjoy lunch.
With just over 27km to go on your journey, take an easy spin through some of serene West Cork’s most rural areas to the finish line, where you can reward your first day’s journey with a hearty dinner in the vibrant riverside town of Skibbereen. Once your energy is restored, don’t miss the signal tower overlooking the harbour, where you can capture views of Skerkin Island and Cape Clear. Take a deep breath, rejoice in your achievement and enjoy the Wild Atlantic Way.
Note’s: Parking in Kinsale
There are four (4) main large car parks in Kinsale
Main Town Car Park, (pay and display) Pier Road, Kinsale Sat Nav: 51.7051609,-8.5221269
Church Square Car Park (Free), Church Square, Kinsale Sat Nav: 51.7062634,-8.5258832
Town Car Park (Free, closed summer months), Pier Road, Kinsale Sat Nav: 51.7042369,-8.5208339
New Road Car Park (Free), Kinsale Sat Nav: 51.7096994,-8.5197419. This car park is suitable for coaches, tour bus and motor-home parking.