“I burn fat not fuel!” Words of wisdom from cyclists buzzing around Ireland’s cities. They’re totally right, of course; there they are saving the planet, beating traffic and getting great exercise in a pleasant, wind-in-your-face, world-at-your-feet type of way.
And if you, too, are a committed member of the two-wheeled tribe, listen up. Our neatly-sized, gently-bumped and vividly-landscaped island makes quite the cycling destination. We have marked trails, races, city cycling tours and now free bike schemes to keep you pedalling for years!
Cities by Bike
Tommy Sheridan, keen cyclist and triathlete, has been cycling Dublin’s city streets for 10 years, and freely admits: “It’s the quickest and most enjoyable way to see the city.”
As a visitor, you’ve lots of choices: you can combine this speedy peddle power with sightseeing on a Dublin guided bike tour, which takes you on a sweep of the capital that walker’s legs just wouldn’t manage; and you can “burn fat not fuel” just like the locals with the Bike Rental scheme in Dublin. Cyclists can pick up their rentals at one of 40 stations, zip to the other side of town, and drop the bike off again – and if you manage that in half an hour it’s absolutely free.
Cycling in Ireland’s countryside
If getting out of the city and letting the grass fold beneath your wheels is more your buzz, we certainly can oblige. Tommy loves cycling the countryside for the “under-populated green landscapes, the quiet, the friendliness of people you meet on the roads, plus the camaraderie shown by other cyclists. Our mild, never-too-hot but never-too-cold weather also helps.”
So where to start cycling in Ireland?
There are plenty of vista-packed established trails to choose from. Northern Ireland has four signed cycle routes totaling over 770 miles that’ll keep you busy, including the Kingfisher Trail with its wide variety of scenery and terrain. Wild and rocky coastline comes no rockier or more spectacular than the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare; while the Ring of Kerry does views to knock your cycle shorts off. The lakes around Enniskillen are stunning – and, phew, level – you’ll be transfixed by how they mirror our dramatic skies.
Looking for a challenge? Meet our twisty Irish mountain roads
It’s not all easy riding here. There are some gruelling tours and races for the more experienced cyclists, of course. The 84-mile Sky Ride Etape Hibernia attracts over 2,000 competitors from Ireland and overseas every August; the Sean Kelly Tour, named after the famous cyclist who took the racing world by storm in the 80s, takes in his home training area in Waterford’s Comeragh Mountains, also in August; while The Finn MacCool 100 is, you guessed it, a 100-miler in September that snakes along some of Northern Ireland’s most stunning coastline, including the glens of Antrim and the famous Causeway coastline.
But, hey, if you broke into a sweat just reading that stuff, don’t worry, there’s a level for everyone to start at here in Ireland, even if it’s just rolling downhill to the pub (lock your bike up for the night and retrieve the next morning, of course)!
The beauty of cycling in Ireland is you can go wherever your wheels take you; up a mountain, down a city street, along a lake or right into that pub (to refuel after all that fat burning!) Enjoy…
Sign up for Dublin City’s bike sharing scheme