Bicycling and Walking Vacations Since 1971 Call a VBT Tour Consultant: (800) 245-3868

Ireland: Galway & Connemara Coast

Discover the unique landscapes, ancient roots and colorful people of Ireland the best way—by bicycle—on this sweep of the country’s west coast, including The Burren, The Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands and Connemara.

  • 10 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy / Moderate
  • Daily Mileage: 18 - 38 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 5 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking Activity
  • Ideal for energetic beginners to more experienced riders.
  • Airfare Packages Available

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Ireland: Galway & Connemara Coast

There’s a lot more than emerald hillsides to the Emerald Isle, as you’ll discover on our spin past rocky cliffs, lunar-like landscapes, glittering beaches, and Ireland’s famous peat bogs. Along our route, we’ll sit down to dinner prepared by one of the country’s finest chefs, explore with a local historian, delight in the Irish brogues and traditional folk tunes you’ll hear at a local pub, hear the whispers of history in ancient Druid sites in the remote Aran Islands, and more—all on a discovery-packed vacation that doesn’t cost a pot of gold!

Cultural Highlights

• Thrill to the thunder of crashing waves at the Cliffs of Moher
• Discover The Burren’s otherworldly landscape with a local expert
• Enjoy a live performance of traditional Irish folk music
• View the medieval churches, Neolithic tombs, and sacred sites of Noughaval
• Visit Galway, an ancient harbor town that is now a thriving city
• Explore sacred Druid sites on the Aran Islands
• Cycle to rugged Connemara, Ireland’s “Wild West”
• Trace the unspoiled, tranquil Renyvle Peninsula
• View Kylemore Abbey, Ireland’s oldest Benedictine abbey
• Begin each day with a hearty Irish breakfast

What to Expect

This tour offers a combination of easy terrain mixed with moderate hills. Our VBT van support is always available for those who need assistance with the hills. Ideal for enthusiastic beginners to experienced cyclists.

Average Daily Mileage: 18 – 38 miles
Average Cycling Time: 2 – 5 hours

Climate Information

Average High/Low Temperature (°F) – Galway
Apr 53º/41º  May 58º/46º  Jun 61º/51º  Jul 65º/55º Aug 64º/54º  Sep 61º/51º

Average Precipitation (in.) – Galway
Apr 2.3  May 2  Jun 3  Jul 2 Aug 3  Sep 3

 

What’s Included:

Bicycle Vacation Only – without Air

  • 6 nights in 3- and 4-star Irish hotels and a guesthouse
  • 12 meals – 6 Irish breakfasts, 1 lunch, 5 dinners

Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • 8 nights in 3- and 4-star Irish hotels and a guesthouse
  • 14 meals – 8 Irish breakfasts, 1 lunch, 5 dinners
  • Transfers
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre-trip: Cork – 2 nights for only $345 • Post-trip: Dublin – 2 nights for only $345 

Both Vacation Options Include

  • FREE use of our custom VBT bicycle and helmet
  • Welcome reception
  • Service of two VBT Trip Leaders
  • Daily route directions and maps
  • Sightseeing and cultural activities
  • Full van support
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit to use on your next VBT vacation
  • Special Good Buy Discount
Dates & Prices
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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $395 | Land Only Single Supplement: $245

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2016/2017 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What’s Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

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Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart from home / Fly overnight to Shannon

Depart from home for Ireland. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

DAY 2: Arrive in Shannon / Transfer to Ennis

Upon arrival at the Shannon airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill in a PIR form before leaving the customs area; VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. Please note: Make certain that your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you.

As you enter the arrival hall, look for your VBT representative or driver, who will be holding a VBT sign. Please wait here while your representative helps make arrangements for your transfer to your hotel in Ennis (transfer time is approximately 30 minutes, depending on traffic).

In Ennis, take the rest of the day to explore the town and have dinner on your own.

Hotel: Old Ground Hotel

DAY 3: All guests meet in Ennis / Transfer to Lisdoonvarna

VBT No-Air Package guests: After an early lunch on your own, meet your VBT Trip Leaders at the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis at 12:30 pm (address: Ennis, County Clare, Republic of Ireland; Tel: +353 65 682 8127). To reach the hotel, you can take a taxi from Shannon airport to Ennis (approximately 50 euros) or travel on Bus Eirean (service number 51) from Shannon airport to Ennis Town (approximately 12.54 euros, departing every hour beginning at 7:55 am; for more details go to www.buseireann.ie). Your VBT Trip Leaders will be wearing VBT staff garments and carrying a VBT sign. Please note: Plan to eat lunch or a snack on your own before meeting your VBT Trip Leaders, as the next scheduled meal is dinner. If your arrival at Ennis is scheduled later than 12:30 pm or if you are delayed, you must transfer at your own expense (approximately 120 euros for a taxi; travel time approximately 45 minutes) to the first hotel, in Lisdoonvarna. Please contact your first hotel to advise of any travel delays or changes so the staff can pass the message on to your VBT Trip Leaders.

VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: You are free to relax or explore Ennis after breakfast this morning. If you like, visit its 19th-century cathedral or medieval friary. Plan to eat lunch or a snack on your own before meeting your VBT Trip Leaders, as the next scheduled meal is dinner. Meet your VBT Trip Leaders in the hotel lobby at 12:30 p.m. Your leaders will be wearing VBT staff garments and carrying a VBT sign.

Once the group has gathered, you’ll transfer by private motorcoach from Ennis to Lisdoonvarna via the famous Cliffs of Moher. Rising up to 600 feet (183 meters) above the Atlantic Ocean’s crashing waves, the Cliffs of Moher are western Ireland’s most dramatic vantage point. Then, continue on to Sheedy’s Country House & Restaurant in Lisdoonvarna (total travel time is approximately 1½ hours). This historic hotel is truly an Irish institution and one of Ireland’s best-loved small hotels and restaurants. Chef/owner John Sheedy, a seventh-generation owner, is considered one of Ireland’s finest chefs! After settling in, attend a group safety and bike-fitting session and take a warm-up ride. Later, get to know your fellow travelers at a welcome reception and dinner.

Hotel: Sheedy’s Country House and Restaurant
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 5 miles (8 km)

DAY 4: Discover The Burren and County Clare

Today, begin cycling west along the rocky coastline toward the ocean, enjoying views of Galway Bay. This region, known as The Burren (“rocky coast” in Gaelic), is one of the few places on Earth where arctic, Mediterranean, and alpine plants thrive side by side. You might also spot prehistoric monuments scattered throughout this otherworldly landscape, whose limestone plateau has been compared to the surface of the moon. You’ll ride around Black Head, a famous angling point.

After lunch on your own in the quaint harbor village of Ballyvaughan, continue to admire the rugged beauty of this region. During the day, meet up with a local expert for a walk and talk on The Burren’s archaeology, agriculture, and local history—delivered in a delightful brogue. After dinner at the hotel, enjoy live music in Lisdoornvarna, a center of traditional Irish folk music.

Hotel: Sheedy’s Country House and Restaurant
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 33 miles (53 km)

DAY 5: Explore ancient and mystical sights in Kilfenora and Carran / Discover Galway

Choose to cycle or shuttle by van to the City of Seven Crosses, Kilfenora, the site of a sixth-century monastery. Then pass over rolling hills, through green countryside, and past old stone walls on your way to Noughaval, where you may stop to visit medieval churches, Neolithic tombs, and sacred sites. Continue on to Carran. Its isolated Corcomroe Abbey was once home to Cistercian monks. The cross-shaped abbey, now in ruins, functioned for about 400 years.

From Carran, you’ll take a private motorcoach to Galway, an ancient harbor town that is now a thriving city. Your Trip Leaders can provide tips on favorite eateries, pubs, and shops. Eat lunch and dinner on your own in Galway. In between, walk to Eyre Square in the center of town to shop for woolens, classic books, and other treasures. Or choose to explore historic sites such as Lynch’s Castle, the Roman Catholic Cathedral, and other churches.

Please note: ATMs will not be available after Galway until you arrive in Dublin, so please ensue you have enough cash for the next few days of your tour.

Hotel: Park House Hotel
Meals: B
Daily Options: 21 miles (34 km)

DAY 6: Cycle and walk the Aran Islands

Eat a full, traditional Irish breakfast before catching the shuttle and ferry to Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran Islands. Bikes are supplied today by a local bike hire shop. Although not VBT bikes, they will be perfect for just your island stay. After an initial five-mile island ride, some guests enjoy this as a mainly non-cycling day, choosing instead to walk or hike around the island. Inhabited for centuries, the remote Aran Islands contain some of the finest prehistoric monuments in Europe. You’ll visit Dun Aengus, among the most remarkable Druid sites. This sacred site is at least 2,000 years old. While you’re here, wander among some of the other mystic Celtic stones, monuments, and holy wells. If you choose to explore the eastern end of the island near Kilronan Harbor, you may opt to visit its Ionad Aran, the island’s Heritage and Interpretive Center.

Lunch is on your own today. Lodging tonight is in one of the guesthouses on the island, and dinner is included. Please note: Plan to use your daypack for all of your overnight needs. Your larger luggage will not accompany you to the islands, but instead will be sent ahead and will be waiting in your room in Connemara.

Hotel: Kilmurvey Guesthouse
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 5 miles (8 km) plus various options

DAY 7: Ferry to Rossaveel / Shuttle or cycle to Connemara

The ferry takes you to Rossaveel, where you can bike or shuttle into Connemara, Ireland’s “Wild West.” In this rugged and magical countryside, framed by the Twelve Bens mountain range and Roundstone Bog, you’ll encounter glittering beaches, shimmering lakes and rivers, and Ireland’s famous peat bogs.

Later, arrive at your inviting hotel, set on the shores of Lough Inagh. Enjoy time to relax and freshen up before your small group gathers for dinner, prepared by the hotel chef.

Hotel: Lough Inagh Lodge
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 11 or 30 miles (18 or 48 km)

DAY 8: Cycle to Kylemore Abbey & Renvyle Peninsula

Cycle along Lough Inagh toward Kylemore Abbey—the oldest Benedictine abbey in Ireland. Built 350 years ago, today it is home to a community of nuns. Enjoy views of this iconic structure, and then roll past stunning coastal views of crashing surf, silver bays, and rocky coastlines as you trace the unspoiled, tranquil Renyvle Peninsula. Perhaps you’ll stop and wiggle your toes in the sand before an included lunch in a small hotel along the beach.

Pedal back to the hotel at your own pace, then relax a while before a festive farewell dinner.

Hotel: Lough Inagh Lodge
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 31 or 44 miles (50 or 70 km)

DAY 9: Transfer to Dublin / Free time / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: Transfer to the Dublin airport, arriving at approximately 1:00 pm. The tour ends here or you can continue to the Schoolhouse Hotel, Dublin, with the rest of the group. Important: Departures from Dublin airport prior to 4:00 pm are not recommended. If you depart earlier, you must make transfer arrangements at your own expense from the last hotel to the Dublin airport (travel time is approximately 4 hours; cost is approximately 550 euros for a taxi; we recommend Noel King for transfers, email: [email protected], Tel: ++353 87 958 2398). If you have a flight from Shannon airport, you must make your own arrangements (approximately 315 euros for a taxi, travel time approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes).

VBT Air Package guests: Depart by coach at 8:00 am for Dublin and the Schoolhouse Hotel (approximately 5 hours). There is no VBT representative on the coach ride. Important: Upon arrival at the hotel, please reconfirm with the hotel receptionist the time of your transfer to the Dublin airport for your return flight home. You have the remainder of the day free to take in a bit of the atmosphere of Dublin and to seek out one of the city’s many restaurants, pubs, or outdoor cafés for lunch and dinner on your own.

VBT provides you with a City Information Packet, which includes helpful tips and recommendations on what to see and do in Dublin.

Hotel: The Schoolhouse Hotel
Meals: B

DAY 10: Depart for home

After breakfast*, transfer to the Dublin airport for your return flight**.

* Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

** Please note: VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder.” VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport is at your own expense.

Meals: B

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Accommodations

Sheedy's Country House Hotel

Welcome to one of Ireland’s best-loved small hotels and restaurants! Located next to Ireland’s only natural spa at the scenic edge of The Burren, Sheedy’s Country House Hotel was built in the early 1700s and is now a true Irish institution. A 2002 renovation upgraded the hotel with thoroughly modern comfort while retaining its historic charm. The pubs in the center of the village of Lisdoonvarna are just a two-minute walk away—but you’ll also want to experience the tasty creations of John Sheedy, owner of the hotel and one of Ireland’s finest chefs!
Free WiFi Included

The Schoolhouse Hotel

A hidden gem close to the heart of the city, the Schoolhouse Hotel is just a 10-minute walk to Trinity College, the National Museum, Grafton Street, and other city attractions. Built in 1861, this charming boutique hotel takes its name from its early years as a school. Perhaps you’ll savor French and Irish specialties in the trendy restaurant set within former classrooms. Unwind in the spa, fitness center, and indoor pool. And retire to one of 31 en-suite guestrooms, each named for a famous Irish writer. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included

Park House Hotel

Your stay in Galway features the Park House Hotel, renowned for its warm hospitality, delicious cuisine, luxurious accommodations, and exceptional service. The hotel’s superb location puts you right in the heart of the lively city center. In your room, enjoy a rare sense of privacy in the city, as well as climate control, a TV, trouser press, and private bath with shower and hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included

Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel

On the shores of Connemara’s sparkling Lough Inagh, this elegant lodge boasts spectacular views. The warm hospitality you’ll enjoy is borne of the true Irish friendliness that is so typical of this region. After exhilarating cycling days, put your feet up in front of an open log fire in the library, or hoist a pint in the oak-paneled bar. Hikes, fly-fishing, and golf are also available. All 12 rooms offer a view of either the lake or the Twelve Bens mountain range and are furnished to the highest standards. Your room features a TV, private sitting area, and private bath with shower.
Free WiFi Included

Kilmurvey Guesthouse

This small, quaint, family-run guesthouse is located at the base of Dun Aengus, a famous Druid site. Its 12 cozy rooms are tucked away in an 18th-century stone house. You’re invited to call one of these rooms home while you explore the beautiful and historic Aran Island of Inishmore, off the Galway coast. Please note: Free WiFi is available in the lobby. WiFi is not available (free or at cost) in the guest rooms.

Old Ground Hotel

The Old Ground Hotel is a former manor house dating to the 18th century. Its magnificent ivy-clad exterior retains the splendor of a bygone age, while the interior boasts the conveniences of a modern hotel.
Free WiFi Included

The Imperial Hotel

This is one of Cork’s most exclusive properties. Historic architecture merges with contemporary design to create a magical environment. The Imperial Hotel has been serving Cork since 1813, when the Cork Committee of Merchants commissioned architect Sir Thomas Deane to design and build The Commercial Rooms. In 1816, the merchants requested Deane to extend the original building along Pembroke Street to serve as a hotel and coach yard. The Imperial Hotel, originally the place where merchants met to discuss business, remains the most popular business and social center in the city today.
Free WiFi Included
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When you introduce new travelers to VBT, you’ll receive $150 in travel credits toward your next VBT vacation when the person you refer to us returns from her or his first trip. You can also get cash bonuses when you make additional referrals. Your friends benefit, too, with a $100 discount on their first VBT trip.

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VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, 426 Industrial Ave, Suite 120 Williston, VT 05495
Talk to a VBT Tour Consultant: (800) 245-3868