Independent travelers who would prefer to soak in Ireland's breathtaking scenery at a more leisurely pace will love this 12-day itinerary that combines short road-trips with cycling adventures. Get acquainted with Guinness and the famous Trinity College library in Dublin before heading off to explore the bohemian city of Galway and the mythological Aran Islands. Continue on to the otherworldly Burren, cycle the Dingle Peninsula, and tour the Muckross House in Killarney National Park before capping it all off with a night on the town back in Dublin.

Highlights

  • Visit the Guinness factory in Dublin
  • Take a boat to the Aran Islands
  • Walk along the Cliffs of Moher
  • Enjoy a night of traditional Irish music in Doolin
  • Explore Killarney National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin Dublin
Day 2 Pick Up Rental Car - Drive to Galway Galway
Day 3 Drive to the Aran Islands Galway
Day 4 Drive to Doolin - Walk the Cliffs of Moher Doolin
Day 5 Burren Loop Ride Doolin
Day 6 Drive to Loop Head - Ride to Tralee Tralee
Day 7 Ride to Dingle - Slea Head Cycle Dingle Town
Day 8 Ring of Kerry Drive - Skellig Islands Cahersiveen
Day 9 Drive to Kenmare Kenmare
Day 10 Ride to Killarney National Park Killarney National Park
Day 11 Drive to Dublin Dublin
Day 12 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin

Downtown Dublin, Ireland.
A colorful street in downtown Dublin

Welcome to Ireland! When you arrive at Dublin Airport (DUB), a representative will pick you up and take you to your hotel in Dublin. After you check in and drop your luggage, you'll have the rest of the day free to explore the city.

Whether you want to travel back in history at Dublin Castle or look into the future with a visit to the modern Spire of Dublin, you're sure to find plenty to do in this global city. Stop in at the library at Trinity College to see the centuries-old Book of Kells in the library, cross over the River Liffey on the Ha'penny Bridge, or stroll through St. Stephen's Green and neighboring Grafton Street for shopping or people watching and street performers.

Top it all off with a pint in the Guinness Storehouse, or take a whiskey-tasting tour.

Day 2: Pick Up Rental Car - Drive to Galway

Galway, Ireland
A busy street in Galway

Today, you'll pick up your car and start your road trip. You'll travel 129 miles (208 km) west to Galway, the Emerald Isle's bohemian gem.

Once you arrive, take the opportunity to soak in Galway’s vibrant streets, sample its wide variety of food offerings, or take a tour exploring its unique historical places of interest. Here, you'll also need to pick up the bikes you'll take on the rest of your adventure.

Suggested activities include:

  • Walk High Street and stop into one of the many stores selling local crafts, cafes offering endless pots of tea, and pubs with cozy snugs and the perfect pour of Guinness.
  • If you're here on a weekend, meander the farmers market and try local foods.
  • Stroll the Salt Hill Promenade. Whether rain or shine, this walk to Galway Bay is relaxing and offers stunning views of the Burren—a natural landscape of limestone—off in the distance.
  • Catch a traditional music session in a pub.

Day 3: Drive to the Aran Islands

Inis Mor
Inis Mór

Today, you'll pack up your bike and drive your rental car 23 miles (37 km) to the passenger ferry in Rossaveel. Once you reach Rossaveel, you can park your car in the lot and take your bicycle on the ferry.

Your destination for the day is the renowned Inis Mór (Inishmore), the largest of the three islands that make up the Aran Islands. Once there, you'll explore the island on your bicycle and take in the island's magnificent landscape of rocky fields, wild ocean views, and incredible monuments of Christian, pre-Christian, and Celtic mythological heritage.

When you're finished exploring, you'll board the ferry back to Rossaveel and drive back to your hotel in Galway for the night.

Day 4: Drive to Doolin - Walk the Cliffs of Moher

Doolin
The Cliffs of Moher

Today, you will take your car 43 miles (70 km) south to the colorful coastal town of Doolin. Once you park and check in at your hotel, you can walk along the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland's most visited natural attraction. The views from these storied cliffs draw millions of visitors per year, and you can spend the rest of the day exploring the rocky expanse. As you'll be walking along exposed cliff edges for one to four hours, hiking boots or sturdy shoes are recommended. 

As Doolin is the home of traditional Irish music, you might want to spend the evening listening to some local musicians in one of the town's many bars.

Day 5: Burren Loop Ride

Poulnabrone dolmen
Poulnabrone dolmen

After breakfast today, you'll hop on your bike and ride about 24 (40 km) to the region known as the Burren. Once you arrive, you'll see a lunar-like landscape of bedrock and glacial-era limestone that has formed cliffs, caves, fossils, and rock formations. 

You can explore archaeological sites that are more than 5,000 years old, like the Poulnabrone dolmen (also known as a portal tomb). You might even spot seabirds and puffins nearby, so be sure to bring your camera.

After you're finished exploring the Burren, you'll ride back to Doolin, where you'll have the rest of the evening free. 

Plan your trip to Ireland
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Day 6: Drive to Loop Head - Ride to Tralee

On the road in Loop Head
On the road in Loop Head

Today, you will pack up your bikes and drive south for about an hour to reach Loop Head, which is marked by a prominent lighthouse on one side and the Shannon Estuary on the other. Once you arrive, you can choose to have lunch at the local pub and explore the area by foot, or you can choose to go for a 34-mile (55 km) ride to take in the sea air.

In the early evening, you can opt to stay in Loop Head for the night, or you can drive an additional two hours south and stay in the larger town of Tralee

Day 7: Ride to Dingle - Slea Head Cycle

The Dingle Peninsula
The Dingle Peninsula

Today's drive and bike ride will take you along the Dingle Peninsula, one of the most scenic areas of Ireland. First, you'll take a 40-minute drive to Dingle Town, check in at your hotel, and unload your bicycle.

From here, you will set off on a 25-mile (41 km) ride along Slea Head and the Dingle Peninsula, where you can see castle ruins and ancient Celtic crosses dotting the coast. After you finish your cycling route, you'll spend the night in Dingle, where you can enjoy world-class seafood and more traditional Irish music in the local pubs. 

Day 8: Ring of Kerry Drive - Skellig Islands

Big Skellig Island
A path on Skellig Michael

After breakfast, you'll begin your scenic two-hour drive along the Ring of Kerry. You'll travel along the northern coastline to the town of Caherciveen.

Once you reach Caherciveen, you can unload your bikes and enjoy another coastal ride where you can enjoy up-close views across the Atlantic, or you can book a boat trip to the iconic Skellig Islands, which sit 7.4 miles (12 km) offshore. History buffs won't want to miss Skellig Michael's ruins of a 6th-century monastic settlement, and nature lovers will also be treated to puffins and other unique birds.

You might want to stop at the famous Skelligs Chocolate where you can see how they make their chocolates and sample a few treats before continuing on to Caherciveen, where you'll spend the night. 

Day 9: Drive to Kenmare

Kenmare
A country lane in Kenmare

You'll hop in the car again this morning for a two-hour drive along the rest of the Ring of Kerry. Your destination is the vibrant town of Kenmare, or Ceann Mara, which is situated at the head of the sea.

Once you arrive and check in at your hotel, you can go for a bike ride along one of the six popular cycling routes in town, go on a horeback riding excursion, or book a tour of the Kenmare Bay

Day 10: Ride to Killarney National Park

Muckross House
The Muckross House

Today, you'll set out on a 17-mile (28 km) ride to Killarney National Park. You will get to see even more of Ireland's natural beauty on your way, and once you reach Killarney, you can make a stop at Muckross House, a 19th-century mansion set among mountains and woodland.

You have the day to explore the beautiful grounds of Killarney National Park, the first national park established in the country. When you're finished, you'll travel back to Killarney, where you'll stay overnight. 

Day 11: Drive to Dublin

Dublin
A colorful corner in Dublin

After breakfast, you'll pack up the car and travel 191 miles (308 km) east back to Dublin. Along the way, you may wish to make another stop in Galway.

Other notable stops on this route include the Rock of Cashel, a spectacular group of medieval buildings about 103 miles (166 km) outside of Dublin. Set on an outcrop of limestone, this was once home to the High Kings of Ireland.

Once you arrive in Dublin, you'll have the evening free to spend as you'd like.

Day 12: Departure

Leave your bike behind and say goodbye to Ireland
Leave your bike behind and say goodbye to Ireland

After breakfast, it's time to bid the Emerald Isle farewell. You'll return your rental bikes and car before heading to the airport for your flight home.

Map

Map of Ireland Self-Guided Cycling Tour: Dublin, Galway, Doolin, Dingle Town - 12 Days
Map of Ireland Self-Guided Cycling Tour: Dublin, Galway, Doolin, Dingle Town - 12 Days