This was a great trip that I took on the roads of western Ireland with my 14 year old son. We had good maps and bicycles and the B & Bs were excellent. I recommend it highly to people like us who are not the most physically fit, but enjoy the outdoors.
Admiring nature while cycling with kids in Connemara.
We did this trip with our 3 children (6-12 years) and we loved every minute of it. The bikes were great, the maps and organisation really good. It did not feel that "lazy", with trips of 50 km and lots of wind and activities along the way. Nice were: the beaches, islands, pubs, abbey, sheep farm and swimming pool in one hotel. We all fell in love with the nature of this piece of the world!
Fabulous day and a half. An unfortunate accident resulted in a trip to the hospital. Wet grounds and inexperienced riding led to crash and 9 stitches. Great help by tour staff to get us from hotel to hotel to finish the route. We recommend warning riders of the risks of skids and to always wear helmet. BTW modify your brochure to show riders to wear helmets. It doesn't.
Beautiful bike ride but not a good value at the price.
This is a remarkable part of Ireland with an amazing history and a haunting landscape that is quickly changing as this part of Ireland attracts more visitors.
First the good parts: we were a family of six and had a wonderful biking vacation. The people at Connemara Adventure Tours were very helpful and kind. Specific thanks to Conor and Chloe who were so thoughtful as we arrived and set out on our first day. There were no issues with baggage transfers etc.
But here are a few critical things to consider before booking this trip.
1. Clifden is the only true town on this trip and yet only the first and last nights are spent here. If you are looking for music, as an example, it will be difficult (if not impossible) to find at the other destinations. In Clifden there are several pubs with music every night of the week and a much wider selection of eating options.
2. The idea of a Connemara Loop is nice in concept when looking at the map but the B&Bs we experienced were not at all consistent and a couple just seemed cheap considering what we paid. One happy exception was Connemara Country Lodge on our last evening. "Singing Mary", the host, was the epitome of Irish hospitality.
3. At €900 ($1000) this is not an inexpensive trip for six people. But if I had friends wanting to repeat this trip, I would suggest they find a good bike rental in Clifden (€100/week per person). Get a nicer B&B or house rental in Clifden and stay put and bike north and south from there. And then work with a local guide to plan daily loops that align with the ability and interest of your group. It would also be easier to manage the weather issue since this part of Ireland is often cloudy and wet.
4. The maps and assistance by Conor on routes and restaurants along the way were very helpful. But the condition of the bikes were just average. And when they charged for panniers and "souvenir" water bottles as we prepared to leave, I felt nickel and dimed. Note to Connemara: when a family pays more than $6k for a week of cycling, kick in the panniers and water bottles or price accordingly so basics are not being charged. Grrrr.
Our family biked through Normandy earlier in the summer and the bikes and hotels were far better for a minor increase in cost. The lesson for me is that our next bike tour will be direct with a local operator so costs, routes, equipment and expectations about hotels and restaurants are better aligned.
Responses from Biketours.com
Thank you very much for your feedback. I'm sorry you weren't fond of the route and many of the overnight locations. When I did this tour two years ago with a friend, we actually loved the route and where we stayed. Likewise, all clients who have rated this tour until now have given it 5 stars, including for route and hotels. But you're absolutely right that it's not the best route if you want music and nightlife each evening. It's more for those who prefer rustic settings. Preferences definitely come into play.
We're going to be in touch with Chloe at Connemara Adventure Tours and inquire why you were charged for the panniers and water bottles. To my knowledge, that has never happened before. If you send an email to me at email@example.com, I'll make sure we reimburse you for those costs.
You mentioned that next time you'd book directly with the local operator. As you noted, Connemara Adventure Tours was the local operator in your case. BikeTours.com serves as their representative, and we keep their pricing. We have similar relationships with about 70 local companies across Europe. So, while we were an intermediary, you traveled with the local tour company that designed and operated your tour. And we hope you'll continue to book your tours through us!
Awesome tour of the West Coast!
This bike trip was a great way to see the beautiful country in western Ireland. The route was easy to follow and there was a lot to see. I would highly recommend it.
We had only one day of rain, and two windy days. Those were probably the hardest days, because of the weather, not the route. Be sure to pack rain gear. We chose to stay in the bed and breakfasts, which I highly recommend. Most of the bed and breakfast were great, the hosts very friendly. It gave us a chance to get to know locals and ask lots of questions about what we were seeing.
Most of the bed and breakfasts were located near the town and pubs. The pubs had great food and friendly locals. We were not disappointed with any of the food on our trip. We saw lots of sheep, donkeys, cows, mountains, and the ocean.
The bikes provided were great, the maps and other information was also very easy to use and follow.
Cycling the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland
My wife and I greatly enjoyed our tour along Ireland's west coast. The slow pace allowed for many stops, great views, and meeting locals in B and B's and pubs. Mostly on back roads, we encountered very little traffic, and even when we did, the local drivers were well aware of us, slowed until they could safely pass, or expressed appreciation when we pulled over to let them pass. Our longest days were 45 and 38 km, and the rest closer to 30 km. We were in pretty good condition for the tour, though we do not bike these distances regularly, and felt comfortable with them each day, albeit a little saddle sore.
Weather was cool and cloudy, so good for cycling, and only occasional showers for which we were well prepared with rain gear. The bike were in good condition, and geared appropriately for the hilly terrain. Tools for adjusting seats and gear shifters were provided, and we made use of them. We would have preferred to sit more upright on the bikes, but this was not possible since handle bars could not be raised. With this exception, the bikes were comfortable. We rented one pannier between the two of us for rain gear and extra clothing.
Wind was occasionally a factor, especially when facing west toward the Atlantic, but as soon as we headed east or northeast, it was at our back and an asset.
The B and B hosts were friendly and helpful with advice. Most were well located near pubs for dinners, and all provided very hearty and tasty breakfasts. The pubs along the way were great for a generous bowl of seafood chowder and a beer--a good energy boost on cool days, as well a spots to dodge occasional showers.
The scenery was spectacular along the route, including seascapes and pristine beaches, lakes, farms, sheep, Connemara ponies, donkeys, the 12 Bens mountains, and small, friendly towns.
Beautiful Ireland West Coast Bicycle Trip
A great way to experience this wonderful region of Ireland. My wife and I decided on a late August tour and weren't disappointed, but be prepared for changeable weather each day, from rain and clouds to sunny and warm. Definitely rent some panniers to hold rain gear, jacket, etc. The bicycles performed well and we cycled through all the gears in the hilly countryside.
The Connemara Tour staff were friendly and very helpful.
Many of the B&Bs had fabulous views out to the sea and mountains and all rooms were comfortable and near town centers or other points of interest.
Beautiful Scenic Bike Tour
The perfect way to experience Ireland! My husband and I biked this tour in September 2014 and were totally taken away by beautiful Connemara region. Along the way, we enjoyed beer and seafood in local pubs and a smoked mackerel and champagne in Ballynahinch Castle. The bicycles were in good condition and the accommodation in B&Bs was fine for us. The hosts were friendly, the facilities clean and the Irish breakfast huge and delicious. I bought us all the rain-gear I could find, but we did not need it once. Some mornings were foggy but it only added to the charm of the countryside.