fbpx
Skip to content
The Beara Way in 10 Days

Cycling the West Cork Coast

Overview

This part of the Wild Atlantic Way begins in the harbour town of Kinsale and traverses the coastline of West Cork, around the region’s three unique peninsulas – Beara, Sheep’s Head and Mizen Head. Picturesque villages, ancient stone circles and some fine sandy beaches mark the meandering West Cork coastal route starting from Cork to Clonakilty and on to Skibbereen and Baltimore. The landscape is constantly changing around every bend in the trails – from the crashing Atlantic Ocean to the quiet of pristine lakes and peaceful river valleys. Bask in the colourful buildings of Bantry, experience the charm of Clonakilty and the famous hospitality of Skibbereen. Beautiful harbours, insanely tasty seafood, a buzzing city and stunning, remote coastlines – this cycling tour has all you need for the perfect escape.

  • The colourful village of Kinsale
  • The laidback way of life and the friendliness of the local people
  • The serpentine Healy Pass – some of the most spectacular scenery you are likely to see
  • The incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean
  • Gap of Dunloe and the stunning views of Auger Lake

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Cork

Arrive in Cork and check into your accommodation for the night.

Day 2: Cork to Kinsale | 47.9 km

Today’s cycling starts after breakfast, with some sections of the route on relatively busy roads. You will encounter some nice climbs and less road traffic once you pass Cork Airport. Arrive at the wonderful fishing village of Kinsale (Cionn tSáile). Narrow, winding streets lined with galleries and gift shops, lively bars and superb restaurants, and a handsome natural harbour filled with yachts and guarded by a huge 17th-century fortress make it an engrossing place to spend the rest of the day.

  • Cycling for the day: 47.9 km, ↑­­­­706 m ↓140 m
  • Accommodation: Sunrise B&B (Kinsale) or similar

Day 3: Kinsale to Clonakilty | 53.3 km

Stock with drinks and snacks before you leave Kinsale, as the shops along the route are a little unpredictable in their opening hours.The first half of today’s cycle takes you along the impressive coast to the “Olde Head of Kinsale”. From there you then cycle inland through forest and open countryside. There is some uphill cycling on this route, however it is generally a well paced day. Arrive at Clonakilty – a must-see town that’s full of charm, colourful shop fronts with masterful, handpainted signs and warm welcomes. Visit the historic buildings and try the local delicacies.

  • Cycling for the day: 53.3 km, ↑­­­­674 m ↓651 m
  • Accommodation: Duvane B&B (Clonakilty) or similar

Day 4: Clonakilty to Skibbereen 57.6 km

Leave Clonakilty behind you for a lovely trip to the town of Skibbereen. There is a direct route along busy roads, so we recommend you to follow our longer suggestion that passes by coast, forest and inland scenery – a perfect combination for a day cycling. There are some steep climbs, but they are achievable if you take today’s route at a relaxed pace. Cycle through the picturesque waterside villages of Glandore (Cuan Dor) and Union Hall, which burst into life in summer when fleets of yachts race in the sheltered inlet of Glandore Harbour. Travel back in time with a visit to the fascinating Skibbereen Heritage Centre and enjoy a fresh catch of the day in one of the local restaurants. Once in Bantry, stop by stately Bantry House to soak up incredible views across the expansive bay and later check out the incredible food scene.

  • Cycling for the day: 57.6 km, ↑­­­­777 m ↓800 m depending on the chosen route
  • Accommodation: Ilenroy House B&B (Skibbereen) or similar

Day 5: Skibbereen to Bantry | 43.6 km

Today you have two routes to choose from. The first one involves taking a ferry from Baltimore’s lovely village to the beautiful Cape Clear Island. From there, a second ferry will take you to Schull – the heart of the Mizen Peninsula. From Schull, you then cycle on to Bantry. The ferry costs are not included, and you will need to book your tickets in advance. The second option is via the brightly painted Ballydehob. The cycle distance is nearly the same, however, please allow 4 hours if you take the ferry (for the ferry crossing and visiting Baltimore and Schull).

  • Cycling for the day: 43.6 km, ↑­­­­731 m ↓713 m
  • Accommodation: Doire Liath B&B (Bantry) or similar

Day 6: Bantry to Kenmare | 42.2 km

One of the most impressive and picturesque cycles awaits you today. Again, there are two options for today’s cycle, and whichever you decide to take, the scenery along the route will be worth it. The longer option takes you on amazing cycling over the steep Healy Pass for stunning views of the Caha Mountains and the unspoiled Beara Peninsula. This route is challenging, so please only take this route if you are reasonably fit.

The alternate route is through the glorious Borlin Valley, which is less popular but equally beautiful. Both routes have places along the way for refreshments, however, make sure to bring some food along with you and plenty of water.

Your overnight today will be in Kenmare – an interesting and colourful market town, on the Roughty River banks where it opens up into Kenmare Bay.

  • Cycling for the day: 42.2 km, ↑­­­­686 m ↓698 m
  • Accommodation: Limestone Lodge B&B (Kenmare) or similar

Day 7: Kenmare to Killarney | 51.2 km

Start your day along backroads to the famous Molls Gap offering wonderful views over the spectacular Three Lakes of Killarney. Built in the 1820s to replace an older track to the east, the vista-crazy Killarney to Kenmare road winds between rock and lake, with plenty of places to stop and admire the views. About 22 km south is the summit of the pass at Moll’s Gap, which is worth a stop for great views, snacks and refreshments at the local cafe. From there, you continue cycling to the Black valley and through the renowned Gap of Dunloe – one of the most stunningly beautiful parts of County Kerry. Overnight in Killarney.

  • Cycling for the day: 51.2 km, ↑­­­­679 m ↓659 m
  • Accommodation: Abbey Lodge (Killarney) or similar

Day 8: Departure

After a final breakfast you leave the Coast behind. Extra nights and extensions available upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

*Note that hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation!

Meals

Full Irish breakfast each day. When no restaurant location is available on route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Evening meals can be enjoyed in the charming restaurants along the way.

Difficulty & terrain

The cycling is not hard, still, in order to enjoy the trip to the maximum, it is recommendable to have some cycling experience and be in good physical shape (read more about difficulty grades). You will be cycling on most parts on country roads and close to the coastline. We will email you the essential pre-departure info. Upon arrival, you will receive detailed travel information with route maps, route description and access to our exclusive GPS Navigation App.

When to go

This trip is available from April until October. Weather is best in June – August. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date in the season – so please indicate desired beginning date when booking.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airports for this tour are Cork (ORK), Dublin (DUB), Kerry (KIR), or Shannon (SNN).

By train or bus
  • Kerry Airport: Bus services via Killarney to Cork. Ryanair offers flights to Kerry from London and Manchester. On departure, take bus 14 or 40 to the airport for a 20 minutes journey.
  • Dublin Airport: Bus 704-x from the airport to Cork available (3h 30m). To get the direct train to Cork (2h 30 m), first, take the 747 shuttle to Huston station. From Killarney, take the train to Heuston station, followed by 747 bus to Dublin airport.
  • Cork airport: Routes 225, 226 and 226A operate every 30 minutes weekdays and every 60 minutes on Sundays and Public Holidays. The journey takes approx. 30 min.
  • Shannon airport: Route 51 from the airport to Cork (2h 30m). From Killarney take bus 300 to Limerick and then 343 to the airport.
  • See Bus Éireann, Dublin Coach and Irish Rail for details or use the Omio planner above.

Inclusions

Included

  • Accommodation in en-suite rooms (guesthouses and B&Bs)
  • Full Irish Breakfast each morning
  • Welcome briefing
  • Luggage transfer between the accommodations on cycling days
  • Detailed travel documents with cycling descriptions and maps of each cycling day (Please note that the info pack is emailed to you prior to departure and no printed documents are mailed or provided on-site)
  • Access to our exclusive GPS Navigation App
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request

Rental Bikes

  • Specialised Sirrus Sport Hybrid: The Sirrus Sport Disc with fitness geometry provides flat bar handling so you can ride faster on longer rides with stability and comfort. The hydraulic disc brakes mean you’ll have confidence to ride regardless of the weather or what you are carrying on your racks, perfect for Ireland where you get 4 seasons in one day. The Body Geometry Targa Sport saddle makes for a sporty and comfortable cycle.
  • BMC City Streamer: With its more upright riding position this is a very comfortable bike to ride and with 30 gears to choose from and hydraulic disc brakes so you can go down to a granny gear and save your knees, and you won’t have any problem on any climb or descent. The Fizik Rondine saddle has extra padding for a very comfy ride.
  • E-bike: You can tackle anything with the Giant Twist, no more groaning as hills are flattened, assisted pedal power is the future of uncomplicated mobility. The all-new Twist Lite features a new slimmer front hub motor, an ALUXX aluminium frame and internal power cable routing, control, speed and safety are quite literally no sweat.

Gallery

Reviews