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Wild Atlantic Way Cycling Connemara

Galway to Westport

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Section 6 of the Wild Atlantic Way cycling from Galway to Westport, takes cyclists through Connemara, a region of awe-inspiring and unspoilt natural beautyIrish playwright Oscar Wilde described it best when he called Connemara “a savage beauty”.

This Wild Atlantic Way cycling tour will introduce you to both metropolitan and rural Ireland, visiting lively Galway city and Westport, as well as taking you along coastal roads across rural peninsulas. Connemara’s patchwork of lakes, windswept bogs and rugged mountains, gives travellers a sense of splendid isolation. The raw beauty, sweeping vistas and constantly changing moods of the Connemara landscape have captured the hearts and minds of generations of artists, writers and musicians.

From Galway, you will be following the Atlantic coastline on the Wild Atlantic Way, where you are likely to see the traditional sailing boats of Connemara: the Gleoiteog and Pucan, more commonly known as ‘Galway Hookers’. In times gone by the larger boats were used to transport turf from the peat bogs of Connemara to the Aran Islands and County Clare. An impressive stop on the way is Kylemore Abbey; located in one of Ireland’s most unique landscapes/ The abbey had very humble beginnings as a hunting and fishing lodge; in 1871 it was bought by Mitchell Henry and development of Kylemore Castle and walled gardens began. In 1920 it was purchased by Benedictine Nuns and converted to the abbey you see today, after they fled Ypres in Belgium during World War I. As you approach Westport you will enjoy views of Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s ‘Holy Mountain’ and a traditional place of pilgrimage.

With short cycling days, you will have time to explore some of the historic and cultural highlights of the tour, such as Clifden Castle, Killary Fjord and Westport town to mention just a few.

VIEW OUR TOUR OPTIONS

  • Galway to Westport – Standard:
    • 9 days/8 nights. Wild Atlantic Way cycling from Galway to Westport, across Connemara; staying in our selected accommodation along the way.
  • Galway to Westport – Extended Tour A:
    • 10 days/9 nights. Wild Atlantic Way cycling from Galway to Westport, across Connemara, taking a day tour to the Aran Islands OR Inishbofin; staying in our selected accommodation along the way.
  • Galway to Westport – Extended Tour B:
    • 11 days/10 nights. Wild Atlantic Way cycling from Galway to Westport, across Connemara, taking a day tour to the Aran Islands AND Inishbofin; staying in our selected accommodation along the way. 

Trip highlights

  • Explore Kylemore Abbey and walled gardens
  • Sample fresh seafood in charming Westport
  • Experience the lively atmosphere of Galway City
  • Take a boat tour of Killary harbour, one of the three fjords in Ireland

1 Galway

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The first day of your Wild Atlantic Way cycling tour, you will make your way to bustling Galway City. Once in Galway City you should check into your accommodation, familiarize yourself with your bike (adjust your saddle height, etc.) and take some time to explore the city. We suggest you arrive in Galway early, giving yourself time to discover this bustling city, local markets, plentiful history, traditional music and friendly atmosphere. Eyre Square shopping centre incorporates Galway’s old city walls and towers into the building.

2 Galway to Carraroe - 45km

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6H15 | +210m / -207m
On your first day cycling the Wild Atlantic Way, you will leave the hustle and bustle of Galway City, and head for quieter rural roads as you leave Galway behind. You will cycle through Spiddal village on the shore of Galway Bay which is a popular tourist destination with a scenic beach, harbour and craft village. You are also entering the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking region).

Leaving Spiddal you will continue along coastal roads to the village of Carraroe, your stop for the evening.

Extra Day Aran Island Tour

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We recommend you take an extra night in Carraroe in order to visit the Aran Islands. These three rugged islands lie just a few kilometres off the coast of County Galway. There are several ferry crossings a day from Rossaveel see www.aranislandsferries.com. Inishmore (7,635 acres) is the largest of the Aran Islands and home to Dun Aengus, an iconic and impressive Irish stone fort. Referred to as the “the most magnificent barbaric monument in Europe”, it is believed that some of the construction at Dun Aengus dates back to the Iron Age (roughly 1,100 BC). The semicircular, stone fort rests on the edge of a perpendicular cliff rising 100 metres out of the ocean. Inishmore has 1,100 inhabitants and offers a range of sight seeing options to get the most out of your time on the island, such as bus tours and horse and cart or you could take your bike, giving you the freedom to explore at your own pace.

3 Carraroe to Carna - 45km

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6H15 | +232m / -236m
Leaving Carraroe this morning on your way to Carna, you will cycle further into rural Galway, with barren bogland and lakes on either side of quiet country roads. The landscape on this section of the Wild Atlantic Way is picturesque, thought-provoking and serene.

4 Carna to Clifden - 56km

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7H | +330m / -321m
Today’s cycle from Carna to Clifden will be busier by comparison with yesterday. You will continue your Wild Atlantic Way cycling tour along rural roads (boreens in Irish) through small villages such as Roundstone and Ballyconneely; and past sandy beaches as you make your way to Clifden, home to an important horse and pony showr each Summer. Ballyconneely is famous for breeding Connemara ponies, legend has it that the breed originated when Arabian horses swam ashore from a Spanish shipwreck near Slyne Head and bred with the small native pony. In 1919, the first transatlantic flight by Alcock and Brown ended two miles from Ballyconneely in Derrygimla Bog.

Clifden is a popular destination for cyclists, hill walkers and sightseers alike, close to the Twelve Bens Mountain range, Connemara National Park and stunning bays.

5 Clifden to Renvyle Peninsula - 48km

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6H30 | +474m / -431m
Leaving Clifden behind you will cycle west along scenic peninsulas, with stunning beaches and coastal views. Dotted along this coastline there are a selection of tidal islands and headlands, perfect locations for a picnic lunch. Cycling around Lough Aughrusbeg at the head of the peninsula, Inishbofin (8km off shore) will come into view, then continuing along the coast you will reach the village of Cleggan.

Cleggan was traditionally a fishing community but in recent years tourism has made a bigger contribution to the local economy. Leaving Cleggan you will pass Cloon, Laghtanabba and Tooreen Bogs (areas of natural heritage and conservation), on your way to Letterfrack.

NOTE: this is a long cycling day but there are options to shorten the route if necessary, talk to the IrelandWays.com team for advice.

Extra Day Inishbofin Tour

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From Cleggan Pier you can get the ferry to Inishbofin island, with three sailings daily during the summer in the morning, midday and evening.

Inishbofin island is renowned for its white sandy beaches, magnificent scenery and rare flora and fauna. Remnants of Iron Age promontory forts dot the cliffs, alongside examples of early Christian and medieval monastic remains like St Colman and St Leo. 16th Century strongholds whisper of pirates Don Bosco and Granuaile but most notable are the remains of a 17th Century barracks (known as Cromwell’s Barracks) which used to be a prison for Catholic clergy.

In more recent years Inishbofin has become increasingly popular with tourists, a heritage museum sheds light on local history with accounts of island life in times past and information on the many archaeological sites.

6 Renvyle Peninsula to Leenane - 21km / 24km

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3H | +166m / -212m
Today is an intentionally short cycling day, giving you two options:

A. Visit Kylemore Abbey (admission not included) on the way to Leenane (24km). Kylemore Abbey was originally a hunting and fishing lodge, it was bought by Mitchell Henry in 1867 and over the next four years he developed Kylemore Castle, walled gardens, woodlands, school and walks. In 1920 a community of Benedictine Nuns settled here after their abbey in Ypres, Belgium was destroyed during World War I. The nuns opened a world renowned boarding school for girls and began restoring the abbey, Gothic church and Victorian walled garden to their former glory.

B. Enjoy a lazy start to the day and continue with your prearranged route, to Tullycross and along the coast of Killary Fjord (Ireland’s only fjord) to the village of Leenane (22k). Killary Fjord is an important area for mussel farming and it is possible to take a 90 minute sightseeing cruise from Leenane to the mouth of the fjord.

7 Leenane to Louisburgh - 36km

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5H | +266m / -265m
Leaving Leenane this morning you will cycle along beautifully scenic roads around the edge of Killary Fjord. From here you will travel through the stunning Delphi Valley which separates Ben Cregan and Ben Lugmore, before heading inland to your accommodation in Louisburgh. Although the village of Louisburgh is small, the townland covers an area of 450 square kilometres and contains over 700 known archaeological monuments.

8 Louisburgh to Westport - 22km

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3H | +141m / -135m
The last day of this Wild Atlantic Way cycling tour is short and along fairly flat, well paved roads from Louisburgh to Westport. Today you will pass Oldhead Woods, sandy beaches and possibly the most famous mountain in Ireland: Croagh Patrick. Legend has it that Croagh Patrick is the site from which Saint Patrick banished snakes from Ireland. An annual pilgrimage on the last Sunday in July sees thousands of devotees from all around the world travel to Croagh Patrick for what is known as ‘Reek Sunday’, a day of worship in honour of Ireland’s patron saint. Some people even climb the mountain barefoot, as an act of penance. Your final stop is the lively town of Westport.

9 Westport

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After your breakfast your Wild Atlantic Way cycling tour comes to an end. Ask the IrelandWays.com team about adding an extra nights if you wish to spend some time exploring the Heritage Town of Westport. Being so close to the sea most restaurants will specialise in a variety of seafood, as well as shellfish fromKillary fjord, Step back in time when you visit the 16th century Westport House and Gardens and for a traditional Irish evening out, stop off at Matt Molloy’s bar which is world famous for Irish music, ‘Craic agus Ceol’.

Hotels and guest houses have been carefully selected for their location, comfort, character, food, and friendliness of the staff (why not ask our sales team about optional upgrades to superior rooms or suites where available along your tour). As our tours pass areas of outstanding natural beauty and cultural heritage, it is worthwhile considering adding in a rest day in the middle of your tour. Accommodation displayed is subject to availability and if the hotel/guest house described is not available, we will provide you with one of the same standard of comfort and price.

Galway - Standard

We have chosen a 3 star hotel in Galway City for your accommodation, ideally located, just walking distance from the most popular tourist attractions in Galway City Centre.

Carraroe - Standard

This family run guest house is in Carraroe (An Cheathru Rua), situated off the Wild Atlantic Way, in the heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht on a peninsula west of Galway City.

Carna - Standard

Your accommodation this evening is in a rural village surrounded by some of the finest scenery in Ireland.

Clifden - Standard

Tonight’s accommodation is a warm and friendly home away from home. This purpose-built guest house offers all the modern comforts you would expect and is located on a quiet and sheltered hillside, just 400 metres from Clifden town.

Renvyle Peninsula - Standard

Your hosts for this evening run an historic country house hotel, situated on the Wild Atlantic Way in the wild splendour of Connemara on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

Leenane - Standard

Overlooking Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord, your accommodation enjoys what is considered to be one of the most scenic locations in Ireland.

Louisburgh - Standard

This family run hotel, offers a unique personalized service, from check-in through to departure.

Westport - Standard

Your last nights accommodation is in Westport offers a fusion of contemporary chic and classic elegance where you can relax and unwind in ultimate luxury.

Westport Average Temperature & Rainfall

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How to Get There

Live information on Rome2Rio. We can also arrange private transfers if you prefer, just ask us.

 

Galway

 

Shannon Airport 85km:

Shannon Airport to Galway | Bus Éireann | Travel time 1H50, leaving from outside the main terminal leaving every hour approx | Fare €22 one way.

 

Dublin Airport 215km:

Dublin Airport to Galway | Go Bus – Bus Éireann | Travel time 3H15 approx, leaving from outside the main terminal | Fare €17-€19 approx one way.

 

Dublin City Centre 208km:

Step 1: Dublin Airport to Dublin City Centre | Aircoach | Travel time 0H30, leaving every 15-30min | Fare €6 approx. one way.

OR

Step 1: Dublin Airport to Dublin City Centre | Dublin Bus – Bus No.747 | Travel time 0H40, leaving every 15min | Fare €6 one way. (NOTE: This bus also stops at Heuston Train Station).

Step 2: Once on O’Connell Street it is a short walk, tram or taxi ride to Heuston Train Station, Busaras Bus Depot or George’s Quay.

Step 3: Dublin City Centre (George’s Quay) to Galway | Go Bus | Travel time 2H30 approx, departing every hour | Fare €17 approx one way.

OR

Step 3: Dublin City Centre (Busaras Bus Depot) to Galway | Bus Éireann | Travel time 3H30 approx, departing every hour | Fare €20 approx one way.

OR

Step 3: Dublin City Centre (Heuston Train Station) to Galway | Irish Rail | Travel time 2h30 approx, leaving roughly every 2 hours | Fare €35 one way.

 

Westport

 

Ireland West Airport Knock 55km:

Knock Airport to Westport | Bus | Travel time 1H from outside the main terminal, departing every 3 hours | Fare €6 one way.

 

Dublin Airport 258km:

Dublin Airport to Westport | Bus | Travel time 4H00, departing every 3 hours roughly, from outside the main terminal,  | Fare €25 one way.

 

Dublin City Centre 251km:

Dublin Airport to Dublin City | Aircoach or Bus No. 747 | Travel time 0H30 leaving Dublin Airport for O’Connell Street every 15 minutes | Fare €6 one-way.

Dublin City to Westport | Bus | Travel time 5h30 from Dublin Central Bus Station (Busáras) on Store St to Westport (Mill St – Westbound Stop), leaving every 2 and a half hours | Fare €25 one way.

Dublin City to Westport | Train | Travel time 3H00 from Heuston Train Station, Dublin, departing every 3 hours | Fare €35 one way.

 

More information: 

Air Coach – Airport Transfer

Bus Eireann – Intercity Bus

Go Bus – Non Stop Bus Service

Dublin Bus – Dublin City Bus

Irish Rail – Train