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Biking Vacation Ireland: Galway & Connemara Coast ​

Activity Level: Easy / Moderate  |  Daily Mileage: 18 – 38 mi  |  Daily Biking: 2 – 5 hr
Pre-trip Extension:
Cork · 2 nights $295

Post-trip Extension:
Dublin · 2 nights $295
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Detailed Itinerary

Please note: For those traveling in 2013, your itinerary may vary slightly from what is presented below.  

Day 1 - Depart U.S. / Fly overnight to Shannon Airport

Depart the U.S. 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. (Please note: Also 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.

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) or travel on Bus Eirean (service number 51) from Shannon airport to Ennis Town (approximately €12.54, 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 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 pm. Your leaders will be wearing VBT staff garments and carrying a VBT sign.

Once the group has gathered, we 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. Sheedy's Country House & Restaurant recently was voted 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.

Day 4 - Discover the Burren and County Clare

Today, we 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. We'll ride around Black Head, a famous angling point.

Later, have lunch on your own in the quaint harbor village of Ballyvaughan, and 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 for traditional Irish folk music.

Day 5 - Explore ancient and mystical sights in Kilfenora and Carran / Discover Galway

Choose to cycle or shuttle by van to Kilfenora, known as the City of Seven Crosses and 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, once home to Cistercian monks who resided at the isolated Corcomroe Abbey. The cross-shaped abbey, now in ruins, functioned for about 400 years.
From Carran, we 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, churches and the Roman Catholic Cathedral.

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. Upon arrival on the island and after an initial 5-mile 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. Today, make an included visit to 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. Lunch is on your own today.

If you choose to explore the eastern end of the island near Kilronan Harbor, you may opt to visit the Ionad Aran, the island's Heritage and Interpretive Center. 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.

Day 7 - Ferry to Rossaveel / Shuttle or cycle to Connemara

The ferry takes us to Rossaveel, where we 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, we'll encounter glittering beaches, shimmering lakes and rivers and Ireland's famous peat bogs.

Later, we arrive at our inviting hotel, set on the shores of Lough Inagh. Enjoy time to relax and freshen up before we gather for dinner, prepared by the hotel chef.

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 views of ocean waves, silver bays and rocky coastlines along the unspoiled, tranquil Renyvle Peninsula. Perhaps you'll stop and wiggle your toes in the sand before having an included lunch in a small hotel along the beach.

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

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 for a taxi; we recommend Noel King for transfers, email: info@kingcabs.com, Tel: ++353 87 958 2398). If you have a flight from Shannon airport, you must make your own arrangements (approximately €315 for a taxi, travel time approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes).

VBT Air Package guests: Depart at 8:00 am on your coach transfer to the Schoolhouse Hotel, Dublin (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 to the U.S. 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.

Day 10 - Depart for U.S.

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.

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.

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