The Wild Atlantic Way runs the length of western Ireland’s coastline, over 2,343 km of surfaced roads with 23,000 m of climbing (1,455 miles and 75,459 feet).

If you’ve got the time and legs for it, cycling the Wild Atlantic Way is Ireland’s most epic cycling challenge.

For those with less time, the MizMal route from Mizen Head to Malin Head is a fantastic alternative that’s do-able in a week of holiday.

In this article we speak to Paul Kennedy, owner of Wild Atlantic Cycling Tours and the person behind MizMal. He shares what you need to know about cycling Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way and the MizMal alternative.

If you’re looking for inspiration for your 2023 cycling objectives, could cycling the Wild Atlantic Way (or MizMal) be it?!

1. Cycling the Wild Atlantic Way and MizMal route: an overview

Want to cycle across Ireland? These two routes down Ireland’s west coast are stunning and often listed as two of the best cycling routes in Ireland.

1.1 Wild Atlantic Way cycle route

The Wild Atlantic Way is a spectacular coastal route in western Ireland. It is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world. This breath-taking journey covers 2,343 km on surfaced roads. It starts in picturesque Kinsale in the south and finishes at the Inishowen Peninsula in the north. Signposting is clear and plentiful.

If you’re brave enough to tackle the entire route by bike, you’re in for a total elevation of approximately 23,000 m. Nearly three times the height of Mount Everest!

Wild Atlantic Way Cycle route map

Map of Wild Atlantic Way cycle route

1.2 Shorter versions of the Wild Atlantic Way (inc MizMal)

Riding the entire official Wild Atlantic Way route in one go would be a colossal undertaking.

Many choose to cycle the route in stages, or alternatively ride the Ireland End-to-End cycle route which runs from Mizen Head in the south, to the finish at Malin Head in the north.

This increasingly popular End-to-End was coined MizMal by none other than me and my team. It’s attracted a lot of press over the last few years and is quickly becoming a cycling institution to rival Britain’s Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG).

MizMal cycle route map (7 days)MizMal 7 day route
MizMal cycle route map (12 days)MizMal 12 day route

2. Why is cycling Ireland end to end a must-do?

The Ireland End-to-End has become a must-do for any self-respecting cyclist at the more serious end of the spectrum.

The west coast of Ireland is rich in awe-inspiring landscapes, fascinating characters and foot-tapping music.

Cycling Ireland from the most south-westerly point to the most northerly will leave you with rich memories, new friends and a thirst for more. Cycling is undoubtedly the best way to explore the wild beauty of this coastline.

2.1 Natural beauty

You’ll find spellbinding beaches and bays, mystical islands and towering cliffs. The landscape changes with every bend in the road.

You’ll experience the grandeur of the Cork and Kerry mountains. The lunar-like landscape of the Burren. The packed mountain ranges dominating the horizon of the Connemara National Park. The giant Sea Loughs of the Inishowen Peninsula. To top it all off your end-to-end journey has a breath-taking finish on the rocky promontory of Malin Head.

2.2 Traditions

Factor in old traditions, the warmth and joy of a night in a Galway pub and the Irish language and you can’t help but fall in love with Ireland as you pedal this unique corner of Europe.

2.3 Challenge

Don’t think that “coastal” means flat! The route from Mizen Head to Malin Head is wonderfully hilly. And of course, that means both challenging and hugely rewarding cycling. In fact we rate it as some of the best cycling to be found anywhere.

A cyclist cycling in Downhill on MizMal cycling routeDownhill into the Black Valley – the remotest village in Ireland
A local craft beer's signboard on Wild Atlantic Way cycle routeLive Music at the Porter House, Westport

3. Ireland end to end cycle routes: the options

So what are the options for cycling Ireland end to end? Which is the best Wild Atlantic Way route?

3.1 Wild Atlantic Way cycle route (in one)

The Wild Atlantic Way winds its way around all of Ireland’s wild and scenic peninsulas. Given that the full route is over 2,300 km, sign-posting is key! Each and every turn displays a sign with directional arrows to follow heading north or heading south.

Of course there are many opportunities to take detours and explore the attractions of surrounding towns and villages.

The typical cycling enthusiast might complete the full route in two to four weeks (given a fair wind and few mechanicals).

3.2 Wild Atlantic Way cycle route (in chunks)

Doing the full Wild Atlantic Way route in three sections may be a better option to maximise your enjoyment and minimise saddle sores!

For example, you could turn it into three separate trips and ride Cork to Clifden, then Clifden to Sligo and lastly Sligo to Derry.

3.3 Mizen Head to Malin Head cycle route

Alternatively, you can get the best bits of the Wild Atlantic Way via MizMal, the Ireland End-to-End our all-Ireland team have devised.

MizMal was inspired by the official Wild Atlantic Way and incorporates many of its best sections.

Launched in 2016

I launched MizMal as a fully supported, long-distance, point-to-point cycle event in 2016. This followed months of research and adaptations to ensure the route avoids busy roads where possible.

Until that point, many of the Mizen to Malin routes were charity-based affairs that basically swept directly from Mizen Head to Malin Head via the shortest route north, thus missing many of the jaw-dropping features of the west coast and even many of the fantastic inland sections.

The first tour on the official MizMal route took place in May 2016. Its original format was six cycling days of 120 km per day. This six day format got a raving review in the Guardian Bike Blog.

The route

The route is packed with awesome scenery and provides opportunities for overnight stops in authentic Irish hotels, quirky towns and bustling cities.

In 2018 we added an extra day which allowed us to explore deeper into County Donegal. This ensures we can explore the county’s Ox and Blue Stack mountains and other gems. The extra day also takes us through Glenveagh National Park on one of the tour’s most thrilling and enjoyable descents. It also takes in a “bit of a climb” too – from Lough Barra Bog that culminates with a fantastic view down the valley to Lough Beagh deep in the Glenveagh National Park.

Since then, various “hidden gems” have also been added to the MizMal route and we believe it is now the best way to experience Mizen Head to Malin Head on two wheels, whilst also experiencing the best of the Wild Atlantic Way.

How does MizMal compare with LEJOG?

Both these fabulous End-to-Ends have their own appeal. However, for sheer wildness, breath-taking beauty, unique culture and of course the best Guinness in the world MizMal is hard to beat! We regularly hear our customers say “I’ve done LEJOG before and this beats it in so many ways!”.

We find they also love the traditional and contemporary music scene in cities like Galway and enjoy the story-telling to be found in the back rooms of many Westport pubs.

Whilst on the subject of dipping, there are endless opportunities to ‘wild swim’ on MizMal. The tranquil waters of the Blue Pool at Glengariff, the rolling Atlantic waves at Spanish Point or Lahinch, the white sands of Clifden’s beaches – swimmers will not be disappointed!

A cyclist cycling on MizMal cycling route

Working hard on the climbs!

4. How long is the Wild Atlantic Way? How long is MizMal?

4.1 Wild Atlantic Way

The entire Wild Atlantic Way as a cycling route is a staggering 2,343 km with 23,000 m of climbing (1,455 miles and 75,459 feet). Even this is cutting out a couple of stages that are suitable for cars, but not cycles.

Who even thought this small island could have a western coastline that long?!

Riding 180 km per day, it will take you 13 days to complete.

Riding 100 km per day and you’ll be at it for almost a month!

4.2 MizMal

We have developed two versions of our MizMal Ireland End-to-End that are a bit more feasible for anyone with a day job (or who just doesn’t want to cycle for a month!).

The two trips suit two different riding styles of ‘Active’ and ‘Avid’ (you’ll find an explanation of the differences here). On long days, ‘Active’ cyclists are usually comfortable with 100 km and ‘Avid’ cyclists can usually manage around 180 km.

MizMal-12 – the ‘Active’ route

This covers 1,040 km averaging 87 km per day (or 646 miles averaging 54 miles per day). The total elevation is 9,708 m averaging 809 m per day (or 31,850 feet averaging 2,654 feet per day).

MizMal-7 – the more strenuous ‘Avid’ route

This covers 925 km averaging 145 km per day (or 574 miles averaging 90 miles per day). The total elevation is 8,534 m averaging 1,219 m per day (or 28,000 feet, averaging 4,000 feet per day).

You’ve seen the maps below before, but here they are again in case they’re useful!

MizMal cycle route map (7 days)MizMal 7 day route
MizMal cycle route map (12 days)MizMal 12 day route

5. Wild Atlantic Way cycling records

The Wild Atlantic Way cycle route has attracted record breakers, endurance cyclists and Audax fans alike.

5.1 Trans Atlantic Way

The route is used for the annual ultra-endurance challenge of the Trans Atlantic Way – a 2,500 km one stage self-supported road bike ride between Dublin and Cork via The Wild Atlantic Way. Personally, I would dread even the thought! But hey, if you’re into that kind of thing it would be one heck of a challenge offering a lifetime of bragging rights.

5.2 Malin-Mizen-Malin

Joe Barr, 61 who famously quipped “age is a red herring”, had a productive weekend on the bike in July 2020 when he “comfortably” broke his own world record while completing the 738-mile Malin-Mizen-Malin route finishing the gruelling challenge in 44 hours and 15 minutes, four hours and 25 minutes faster than the record he set in November 2017.

5.3 Wild Atlantic Way

It took two valiant attempts for the same man to complete his record attempt of the Wild Atlantic Way. In 2021 after one abandoned effort, he completed the entire 2,343 km cycle route in a staggering 127 hrs and 46 minutes. That’s under six days! Well done Joe!

You have our blessing to attempt to over-turn Joe’s record, however you may wish to add a little more enjoyment to the experience. Maybe even enough to lift your head and look around! Or indeed to sample the music, culture and cuisine along the way.

6. Highlights of the Wild Atlantic Way and MizMal routes

Honestly, there are so many highlights of cycling Ireland’s west coast! Here are a few parts of the trip that I think also offer some of the best cycling in Ireland:

6.1 The Mizen Peninsula and Barley Cove (on the Wild Atlantic Way and MizMal)

MizMal starts at Mizen Head and makes its way along the north side of the Mizen Peninsula. This avoids the tourist traffic to the south and makes its way along a truly magnificent and quiet road towards Glengariff. Barley Cove is perhaps the most beautiful beach of the Mizen Peninsula. An extensive landscape of sand dunes stretches far inland. The protected beach is enjoyed by both tourists and locals. Our route doesn’t descend to the beach, however the views from high above as you cycle the Mizen Peninsula are stunning!

Two cyclists cycling by quiet roads of the MizMal Peninsula cycling routeThe quiet roads of the Mizen Peninsula
Three cyclists take some selfies on MizMal cycling routePhoto Opp!

6.2 The Black Valley and the Gap of Dunloe (On the MizMal route)

Cycling through the Black Valley is like stepping back in time. It’s called Black Valley as it was one of the last areas of Ireland to be connected to electricity and telephone lines. You’ll find delightful descents and long uninterrupted stretches along the River Gearhameen.

Photos can’t do justice to this narrow mountain pass that separates the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountains from the Purple Mountain group. We’ll share the one lane road with old-fashioned pony and trap carriages and cycle down through the five lakes lined by gorgeous old stone walls.

Cycling Black Valley Ireland on Mizmal routeCycling in Ireland’s Black Valley
Cycling Gap of Dunloe on MizMal cycling route of IrelandCycling the Gap of Dunloe, Ireland

6.3 The Burren (on the Wild Atlantic Way and MizMal)

The Burren, in County Clare, is one of Europe’s most impressive and enjoyable Karst landscapes. We take the coastal route where the Burren’s lunar-like landscape stretches to the sea.

In the 1640s, a surveyor commissioned by Oliver Cromwell described it as ‘a savage land, yielding neither water enough to drown a man, nor tree to hang him, nor soil enough to bury’. Our route winds its way through this amazing and truly unique botanical environment in which Mediterranean and alpine plants rare to Ireland grow side by side.

Four cyclists take photos in Wild Atlantic Way cycle routeGoofing around at the Burren, County Clare
Doonagore Castle in Wild Atlantic Way cycle routeDoonagore Castle near the Burren – 16th-century tower house south of the coastal village of Doolin

6.4 Killary Fjord and the Sheeffry Pass (on the Wild Atlantic Way and MizMal)

Killary Harbour sits on the banks of the Killary Fjord, Ireland’s only true fjord.

From here we tackle one of the route’s best climbs: the Sheeffry Pass is a proper out-of-the-saddle, 500ft-plus brute that hurts if you do it in one go. The car park near the top isn’t the top, by the way.

After that you will have earned your Guinness and dinner in Westport, watching the sun going down over Croagh Patrick, the 2,500ft pilgrimage mountain that dominates the skyline.

Westport is a charming and authentically Irish town. It’s one of the best places on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Beautiful scenery of Killary Fjord on MizMal cycling routeThe Killary Fjord in Counties Kerry and Mayo
The Sheeffry Pass Hills road in Wild Atlantic Way cycle routeThe Sheeffry Pass, County Mayo

6.5 Mamore Gap  (on the MizMal route)

Our 7 day MizMal (the tougher one, not the 12 day easier route!) includes a mammoth climb on the last day to Malin Head.

Mamore Gap is listed as one of Ireland’s Top 10 climbs and often tops the chart.

The steepness of the terrain is cruel; even the sheep strain themselves up the hillsides. The ascent is 2 km long – relatively short. However, given that you climb 208 meters with an average percentage of 10.4 % this one is no walk in the park!

Once you reach the summit of Mamore you’ll be rewarded with incredible vistas of the coast below and to the west. This is an extraordinary place, remote and unforgiving like few other places in Europe.

There’s a great feeling of achievement and camaraderie as we cheer each other on to the summit. Once at the top you will be welcomed by cow bells and cheers and a cup of coffee with a slice of cake!

Are you up for the challenge?!

6.6 Malin Head (on the Wild Atlantic Way and MizMal)

A number of years ago the most northerly point of Ireland was a quiet place to visit.

Now people flock to its rocky bluffs, exposed cliffs and windy trails.

There is a car park and even a mobile coffee van. However the charm is still there and the sense of “we are at the end of something” is truly palpable.

Cyclists Celebrating their hill climbs on MizMal cycling routeCelebrating at the summit of Mamore Gap – one of Ireland’s toughest hill climbs

Some cyclist coming to the finishing point of the MizMal cycling routeMalin Head

7. What are the biggest challenges of cycling Ireland end to end?

7.1 Wind and weather

Let’s face it, if you are content with nothing other than wall to wall sunshine, then you probably won’t think of Ireland for your next cycling holiday!

The weather is changeable. The west coast attracts low pressures and it gets its fair amount of rain.

The beauty about changeable weather is that every day can be different. Clouds form overhead and completely change the look of the landscape. One hour you can be bathed in sunshine, the next you can be marvelling at the cloud shadows, colours and rainbows against the green fields, mountains and bluffs.

A challenging day of ‘less than perfect’ cycling weather can make you feel alive like nothing else! And you will definitely want to stick around in the pub to swap survival stories!

7.2 Getting to bed on time

Many of our stopovers have so much going on that you may be tempted to push the boat out a little too far!

Our hotels have great restaurants and bars. Some have swimming pools and spas.

Locations such as Killarney, Galway and Westport have some of the most vibrant and fun bars & cafés you could find anywhere! A night in Galway’s famous music bar – the Quays, will be one you won’t forget. Especially if our personal favourites, the Celtic Knights are playing!

Porter House and Matt Malloy’s in Westport will treat you to the best Guinness you will EVER experience (yes it does actually taste better over there).

A packed Tigh Chóilí music pub in Galway’s Latin Quarter is a colourful (and usually noisy) experience.

Killarney is awash with lively music and concert venues as well as smaller, more intimate establishments, each with their own intrigue and appeal.

7.3 Eating too much

Gone are the days when a 7 Course Irish Meal meant 6 pints and a potato! The cuisine in Ireland is now rich, international and varied. Whatever your tastes, you will find yourself catered for exceptionally well!

Breakfasts are also hearty, and of course continental style is on offer alongside the traditional “Full Irish Breakfast” of fried eggs, soda bread, tomato, mushroom, hash browns and black and white puddings. It’s common for MizMal completers to lament, “I was hoping to lose weight on this tour, but…”.

Cyclists enjoying their Wild Atlantic cycle tour in Westport pub

Enjoying the ‘Craic’ in Matt Malloys pub, Westport


8. Navigating the Wild Atlantic Way and MizMal routes

8.1 Is the Wild Atlantic Way signposted? What about MizMal?

The Wild Atlantic Way is well signposted whether you are travelling south or north. It also has a Passport where you can receive stamps from the many points of interest.

On our supported MizMal tours, you will receive route files to upload to your cycle computer.

8.2 What are the best maps to use?

Maps and guidebooks are plentiful.

“The Wild Atlantic Way Route Atlas” guidebook is packed with route descriptions and useful information. The flip-out maps are surprisingly detailed for their size.

There are a host of other visual guides.

For more detail you could try the “OSI Holiday Series | Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way”.

8.3 GPS routes

Routing using maps is not to everyone’s taste.

A handy alternative is to load up route files onto your bike computer such as a Garmin or Wahoo. You will need one that specifically caters for navigation rather than just recording stats such as speed, distance and climbing.

If travelling self-supported, you may wish to carry a battery pack to add a little extra charge if you are on a particularly long day.

On a supported tour such as MizMal with Wild Atlantic Cycling, you will be provided with accurate route files for uploading to your device. Depending on what you are using, and where you purchased your device, you may need to buy or download the background maps for Ireland.

A big signboard indicates the north and south direction of the Wild Atlantic Way cycle route

Hundreds of WAW signs direct you north or south along the entire route


9. Accommodation on the Wild Atlantic Way cycle route/MizMal

9.1 What are the options?

Accommodation and places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way (and west coast of Ireland generally) are rich and varied.

There are some larger hotels on the route, but there are many more intriguing, interesting and quirky options.

Family run hotels and guesthouses abound. We find these provide a more personal service. They will be run by locals with a wealth of knowledge of the areas you are staying in.

Bed and Breakfast accommodation is also very popular. These are often found in private homes. It’s easy to strike up conversations with the owners and soon you may become friends for life! Irish B&B operators are known for their chatty demeanors so don’t be put off by their questions – they are just ‘getting to know you’.

9.2 Breakfast

Breakfast is important when cycling. Breakfasts are usually Irish and continental. You will get plenty. Croissants, cold cuts, breads and fruit in abundance on the continental side and ‘Full Irish’ available – a feast for a king or queen.

An old motto says “Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” meaning it is wise to start the day with a large cooked typical Irish breakfast or Full Irish fry! Bacon, sausages with black and white pudding, eggs, vegetables and potato all fried in creamy butter. It is served with a generous helping of homemade Irish soda or brown bread for soakage and washed down with a strong cup of breakfast tea. Maybe try it once or twice, but I don’t suggest it as a meal for every morning!

9.3 Bike storage

As a cyclist you will want storage for your bike. Some hotels are ‘bike friendly’ and will provide lockups, pumps, cleaning materials and even tools. Smaller guest houses and B&Bs will always do their best to accommodate and where storage is just not available, it is usually possible to simply store your bike in your room for the night.

9.4 When to book

In the busy summer months, it is best to book your chosen accommodation ahead. This part of Ireland is hugely popular!

Larger hotels may book up months in advance. The hotels in popular areas like Cork, Killarney and Galway often cater for bus loads of tourists.

If you do get caught out, just go to the local pub and tell them your dilemma. A few phone calls from the pub Landlord and you are likely to have several options of somewhere to sleep!

Most accommodation providers use the popular internet booking engines so that’s a good place to start your search.

9.5 How much does it cost?

All budgets are catered for in this area of Ireland. However, low budget accommodation can be harder to find.

Hostels and bunk houses can be found in the likes of Galway and Cork but not so common outside the main cites.

The cheaper B&Bs will be more comfortable, but usually a little more expensive than hosteling in continental Europe.

9.6 Accommodation on MizMal

The sections of MizMal that aren’t on the Wild Atlantic Way may not be quite as busy.

9.7 Our accommodation

We use accommodation that we know and have stayed in ourselves for our trips.

There’s more on how we pick them and why they represent excellent value for money, below.

Imagine this – you rock up at the hotel entrance, pumped at the fantastic day of cycling. Receive a warm welcome from our tour guide. Directed to the bike storage. Handed your room key and luggage. And before you can say Shimano Ultegra, you are enjoying a warm shower or hot bath. Perfect!

10. What to pack for your cycling holiday in Ireland

10.1 Supported tours

A supported tour provides you with the opportunity to travel light on your bike. Your luggage will be carried in a van. Normally you will have access to a ‘day bag’ at lunch stops and throughout the day if required. In your day pack, you can pack things like spare clothing and any specific gels or bars you like .

We also carry water, squash and soft drinks in the van together with cereal bars, chocolate bars, nuts, crisps and other bike-friendly snacks. We opt for good quality coffee shops for our caffeine fix rather than flasks of just about hot liquid!


There’s no need to carry tools or spares; just a small saddle bag with enough to mend a puncture yourself is all you need. Of course, the support van will be there if you need help.

Which bike is best?

Most cyclists on our MizMal supported tour ride road bikes with dropped handlebars (usually the lightest one they can find so they can whip up those pesky hills!). Frame material isn’t really an issue; carbon, aluminium, steel, titanium … we get them all!

Many modern drop handle gravel bikes and hybrids with bigger tyres are becoming more popular to use on the road but road bikes with 25c + tyres are fine for this terrain as the route is on tarmac. For comfort some opt for slightly wider tyres these days as the newer bike wheel frames are wide enough to accommodate them and overall speed isn’t compromised due to their geometry.

Our support team are used to handling expensive bikes and we look after your babies during times of transit. However, you don’t need an expensive bike. Just a comfortable one that is in good condition (best to get it serviced before you come).

How fast do you need to ride?

Speed is not important. It is YOUR ride.

Most of our cyclists tend to average between 12 and 18 mph over a 50 mile route but we can accommodate support for those on either side of this. I think one of the attractions of riding MIZMAL with us is that you ride at your own pace.

Mechanical assistance

On the road we can help with minor mechanicals. The vans carry bike stands, tools, lubes, pumps and cleaners. For anything more major, we will pack you and your bike in the van and make arrangements with a local bike repair shop. Most areas have plenty of bike shops – in Westport for example, there are more bike shops than sheep! Well perhaps not quite. Normally you will be back on the road within a couple of hours.

The more common mechanical issues involve electronic gears, tubeless tires, broken spokes and broken chain. However, thankfully issues are few and far between. But it’s reassuring to know you are supported for all eventualities.

A man repairs the cycle ring for cycling in the MizMal cycling route

Matty offering some mechanical brilliance!


10.2 Self-supported and DIY

Self-supported / DIY trips will obviously mean you need to carry more gear on the bike.

Your choice of bike is important. Ride what you are comfortable with and what is designed for your style of travel. Both the Wild Atlantic Way and MizMal are road tours so there’s no need for very large tires or heavy suspension.

You will need a bike to which you can attach larger saddle bags or panniers. This of course adds significantly to the weight (the bike itself will be of a heavier design too). So when designing your own tour you need to adapt the daily mileage and climbing so you don’t over reach and burn out.

11. Best time of year

The months between May and September are the driest and brightest on Ireland’s west coast.

But don’t expect uninterrupted sunshine. There is a reason Ireland is so green!

Perhaps this quote from Brian who rode MizMal with us and wrote about his experience sums it all up:

“For our first three days from Mizen Head to Galway we were spoilt by wonderful weather, and the stunning wild beauty of that first day from Cork into Kerry will stay with me forever as we travelled over the Caha Pass, Moll’s Gap, into the Black Valley and then up and down the Gap of Dunloe. The west coast hit back on our fourth day into Connemara as rain and high winds meant we did not see Killary Harbour and Sheeffry Pass in all their splendid glory, but you know what – the true challenge of this adventure is experiencing all of the Irish weather, from blazing sunshine, through to pouring rain! You can have Majorca, Italy or France cycling holidays, with their reliable weather, as the sense of achievement doing MizMal exceeds all of them, with the added benefit of Ireland’s own wild and beautiful coastal scenery, warm Irish hospitality and pubs serving smooth Guinness!”

12. Tips for cycling the Wild Atlantic Way / MizMal

Before you head off to cycle MizMal or the Wild Atlantic Way, it’s easy to let the excitement take over, burst out of the blocks on arrival and return home exhausted! Try these tips to ensure you are prepared for your dream cycling holiday:

12.1 Ireland is cycling-friendly

Cycling in Ireland is popular. The country has a strong cycling culture and a keen interest in the sport – whether racing or touring.

We find that cycling two abreast is fine unless the road is particularly narrow or bendy. Ireland was one of the early adopters of the 1.5m rule – cars must give at least 1.5m when overtaking a cyclist.

Some areas such as Killarney attract many coaches which may take up more than their ‘fair share’ side of the road, but feedback from many of our customers is that vehicle drivers are generally courteous.

Killarney also has many a horse and cart and you may find yourself behind one or two on your approach to the town from the Black Valley. Patience! No-one is in a hurry here on a good day; least of all the horses!

12.2 Build up the miles

By building up the miles in your legs before your trip, you’ll enjoy your trip more and be able to get a greater benefit from your days in the saddle.

Most of us are too busy (or not motivated enough!) to be generally cycling long days consecutively.  But do what you can. Fit things around your work day or whatever you normally get up to. Simply extending your weekend rides in the lead up will help your body in its readiness for what’s coming and psychologically you’ll feel more prepared.

And remember it’s a holiday and not a race! If you are on a supported tour, the van or SAG Wagon (as they call it in America) is only a phone call away. You and your bike can hop in if you just need a rest.

Our blog post Am I fit Enough has more thoughts and tips.

12.3 Prepare your bike

Some people love tinkering with their bike. If you are like me, you just want to ride it! However, neglecting that noisy pedal or not trusting your tires or brakes isn’t the best idea! Your bike is going to see more wear on your days away than normal. The demands of long climbs and descents mean that you really want your gears and brakes to be in good working order. Service your bike (or get someone to service it for you!) before you go.

12.4 Saddle comfort

Long days make it important to have a seat that you know is bum friendly over endurance rides. Make sure you test it in advance. Good quality cycling shorts are a necessity and a great use of your budget. Don’t skimp on these. Many people swear by chamois cream too.

12.5 Take kit for assorted weathers

Weather on the Ireland End-to-End and the Wild Atlantic Way can vary considerably. Your core temperature will fluctuate on the climbs versus on the descents. Important items to consider include removable layers – arm warmers, leg warmers, packable jackets, gilets and a base layer that can wick sweat away on the climb so it doesn’t cool on your skin on descents.

A decent set of lights are a good idea, especially for wet or misty days. Lights aren’t just for when it’s dark!

12.6 Nutrition

Perhaps our top tip – on longer rides you need to fuel correctly. Keep your energy levels topped up by drinking and eating along the way. Don’t wait for coffee or the lunch stop. If you usually use energy drinks, bars, gels or recovery drinks, then take these with you, or replenish your stock on the way.

The hotels we use on our tours provide great breakfasts and most have lovely cozy restaurants and bars where you can relax and refuel at the end of the day.

Whilst on MizMal we suggest you consume no more than 10 pints of Guinness in each 24 hour period (that’s a joke by-the-way!).

12.7 Best direction to ride the Wild Atlantic Way/MizMal?

South to north is best as the prevailing winds are south-westerly. Riding this way means there is more chance of a tailwind than if you choose north to south.

Sod’s law does kick in every now and then ‘though and if your Ireland end to end week is full of north-easterlies don’t blame this paragraph please!

12.8 Logistics

The Wild Atlantic Way starts in Kinsale about 20 km from Cork Airport. If self-supported, then flying to Cork is advisable. Then load up your panniers and off you go.

At the other end the finish is close to the city of Londonderry which has its own airport. There are regular trains and express buses from Derry to the city of Belfast or its two airports – the International and the George Best City.

On a supported MizMal tour we provide airport transfers at the start and finish.

13. Wild Atlantic Way cycle route self-supported v supported

Cycling holidays in Ireland are a great idea – whichever way you choose to do it.

Many people enjoy the experience of packing their panniers and heading off without too much thought to the details. This can give real independence and also allows for some spontaneity and improvisation along the way.

A fully supported tour is a different proposition entirely. Some of the advantages of a supported tour include:

13.1 Logistics

Ireland may seem like a small island (afterall the United States is about 140 times bigger than Ireland!). However, getting to the most south westerly point to embark on a Mizen to Malin cycle ride can prove a step too far for even seasoned bike-packers. Mizen Head is the most south-westerly point of Ireland and Malin Head is a wild headland on one of the remotest peninsulas in one of the remotest counties of Ireland! For this reason, many cyclists choose to let an experienced team do all the hard work. Allowing you to just pedal and take in every beautiful mile of this gorgeous route on this intriguing island.

Imagine just packing your bike on the plane and knowing that when you land, everything is taken care of. Transfer to the hotel. Assistance with bike setup. Briefing. You and your bike are comfortably taken to Mizen Head for the start. It really does make things simple.

13.2 No kit to carry

All your luggage taken from hotel to hotel. Not only that, access to a ‘day bag’ at any point of the day. So when that unexpected rain shower comes in, you can just grab your jacket from the van, stuff a few bars in your jersey pocket and keep pedalling!

13.3 Route already researched

Just load up your bike computer with the route files that you receive and that’s you ready for the ride. Travelling with peace of mind knowing that the route has been thoroughly tried and tested. Main roads are avoided and all the things to see will be included. On the flipside, if you like to improvise on your route and make spontaneous decisions, then a supported tour will not offer the same flexibility. No duvet days!

13.4 Quality of hotels and suitability for cyclists and bikes

Accommodation in Ireland varies considerably. Not all hotels are set up for cyclists. Your supported tour will have all this sorted out and you can be assured of a great night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast to set you up for the day ahead.

13.5 Support van

Security in knowing the support van is ‘always there’. The sight of the support van is always a welcome sight. When riding in an unfamiliar country it is wonderful to know you can get help if you need it. Plus you will smile every time the van passes as we like to toot our little squeezy horn as we pass.

We have a system we brief you on at the start for you to wave us down if you need us!

13.6 Advice on coffee stops and lunches pre-arranged

Nutrition is really important on the road. A supported tour will usually include a designated lunch stop along with suggestions for coffee and cakes along the way.

13.7 Meeting new people

A group tour is a fantastic way to meet like-minded people. You will make friends for life and many of our customers meet up to do follow-on tours together all around the world.

13.8 Insider knowledge

Local knowledge of the route and the environment give an edge to your whole experience.

13.9 Pre tour training advice and kit list

Advice prior to your tour is available from the tour operator who is just an email or phone call away. No question is daft and you will have someone to chat through any concerns beforehand. We will also lighten things up with a few jokes and a little Irish banter to boot.

13.10 Value

Supported tours may sometimes appear expensive by comparison to self-supported. However, self-supported costs also rack up more than often anticipated. By the end of a supported tour you will appreciate how much value has been added to your whole experience by an attentive and experienced support crew.

14. Wild Atlantic Cycling Tours: why should cyclists travel with you?

What makes us different is that we don’t take shortcuts and we typically dedicate months of hard graft in planning a new tour. We always fill them because our customers return!

Some things that set us apart from our competitors are:

14.1 Tour consistency

All our tours are multi-day, point to point ‘epics’ loosely categorised as either “Avid” or “Active”. That makes it easy for you to find a tour that suits your style.

It also means that when we launch a new tour you will know it will be a fit.

Find out if you are an Avid or Active rider here.

14.2 Tour design

We are cyclists and know what cyclists want from their journey.

We invest a huge amount of time and resources into exploring and designing new experiences.

We ruthlessly focus on stunning routes and quiet roads where each day finishes in a location that will enthral and raise your cultural curiosity.

Our tour planning starts with desk research, then draft mapping, then driving then riding. We make adjustments as we move through the process.

As well as enjoying fantastic routes on quiet roads with great scenery, our customers like to unwind in the evenings. For some this is getting out and about and experiencing the local culture and cuisine. For others, it’s a quiet evening in the bar of a comfortable hotel. We design our tours so that stop-overs can be as compelling as you make them!

14.3 Support (with independence)

If you want support when you need it, but still a sense of freedom and independence on the road, then we are for you!

On a Wild Atlantic Cycling tour you ride how you wish. At your pace. You never need to feel ‘too slow’ or ‘too fast’.

14.4 Smooth logistics

We invest a huge amount of time into planning the details. Arrival days. Departure days. Pre-trip communications. Bike preparation. Bike box storage. Route information. We do the back work, so you can focus on your training, knowing that everything is seamlessly taken care of.

14.5 Personable

We are always ready to take a call and have a friendly chat. Queries and questions are welcome! And if you just want to talk to get an impression of us, then request a call here!

14.6 Accommodation and value

By far the biggest cost of a cycling journey is somewhere to lay your head at night (oh and a scrumptious breakfast!). We use accommodation that we know and have stayed in ourselves. Our hotels are of good quality with bars and restaurants. Some even have health suites, spa and pools! We believe our prices present great value for what you get.

14.7 Leadership style

We have a small team of tour leaders and support crew. The necessary practical skills are always there. However, we believe in ‘unforgettable cycling experiences’, not simply ‘great cycle tours’. A large part of this is down to leadership style. At least that’s what our customers tell us time and again! That means humour, fun, attentiveness and the ability to bring a sense of joy and lightness – even if it’s windy and wet.

14.8 Rewarding loyalty

We are certain you will want to come back and do another tour with us. You will enjoy a nice discount when you do (5% for returning customers and up to 10% if we’re offering a special offer or incentive).

15. Find out more about Wild Atlantic Cycling Tours

2023 is looking like the year for adventure! Humankind has been rocked to the core with the effects of Covid-19 and in the UK the Brexit fall out has been harsh on trade. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has affected all of our lives, even if only through our heating bill this winter!

But we cyclists are a hardy breed and as things improve, we are seeing more and more people wanting to make 2023 a year that really counts. And for many this means a cycling tour in Ireland.

We are a friendly and chatty bunch! As the leading Ireland-based tour operator we have lots of experience to share. The contact form on the website comes directly to the team so that’s a good place to start – the contact form is here.

We also have detailed brochures for many of our tours. Just request one today – or join the mailing list for updates and offers. Our pdf brochures are automatically despatched into your inbox when you submit the form.

16. You’ve done the Wild Atlantic Way bike route. What next?

Ireland has so much to offer adventurous cyclists. Once you’ve completed MizMal / the Wild Atlantic Way by bike, there are lots of other bike trips for you to consider too!

Many of our clients join forces after meeting on our tours and go on to take trips together all over the world including the US, Australia and the Far East. Our own tours are presently only on the European Continent, but as Europe is a pretty big place we’ve found that’s kept us busy enough this past couple of years!

16.1 Croatia

Cycling in Croatia is becoming especially popular.

The attraction of cycling on the quiet island roads in sunny climes has led many to flock to Croatia to sample the unique riding that the north and south archipelagos offer. With glittering seascapes on almost every climb and descent, delightful little harbour towns and the sheer variety of the islands (No, they are not all the same!) it’s an up and coming  destination for the discerning road (and gravel) cyclist.

We have developed a unique road bike tour that combines the height of luxury with an amazing cycling challenge. You can read our in-depth article about it here or find out more on the website, here.

Unlike many of Croatia’s bike tours, ours is a dedicated road bike tour that transports you from island to island in a small charming wooden gulet yacht. We take only 12 cyclists on this tour in ensuite cabins, half-board comfort with a dedicated crew of four plus two tour guides.

16.2 Spain

If you’re looking for something else beyond Ireland, our Andalucia Tour from Seville to Valencia is fantastic. You can read our in-depth article about it here or find out more on the website, here.

Or how about take a journey through the Pyrenees Mountains in northern Spain from San Sebastian to Girona / Cap de Creus. From the Atlantic to the Med. Cycle high mountain passes one day, lush green valleys the next. Quintessential mountain-top villages rising out of nowhere on the road ahead. Lose yourself on quiet, smooth roads meandering alongside steep river gorges. Enjoy warm people, wholesome food and cold beer. Glittering San Sebastián with its world-renowned Michelin-starred restaurants and tapas bars. Buzzing Pamplona, the ancient town of Jaca and mediaeval Girona. This is a truly epic experience for the discerning cyclists.

View of cycling pass in Croatia

Komiza, Croatia


The awesome look of hills of MizMal cycling route

Spain Coast to Coast

A huge thank you to Paul for sharing so much useful information about the inspirational Wild Atlantic Way and MizMal cycle routes. Definitely one for the bucket list!

Have you cycled Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way?

If you’ve been on a cycling holiday in Ireland or have tackled Ireland’s end to end routes, let us know about it in the comments below!

Did you know the Wild Atlantic Way is one of our pick of the best routes in the UK and Ireland. Check out the rest here.

And finally, for those coming to Ireland by plane, you might find this website useful – it shares an overview of all flight routes worldwide.


Got a question for Paul?

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Paul Kennedy

Paul says “A few years back when I turned 50, I registered the trademark ‘MizMal (a portmanteau of Mizen-to-Malin). I wanted to create an identity for this challenge – something akin to the increasingly popular British end-to-end challenge of Lands End to John O’Groats, but edgier, remote, a more real experience.

From Bangor, Northern Ireland, I worked in the software industry for many years before identifying that MizMal might be something special. I walked away from a comfortable lifestyle to spend time doing what I Ioved with genuine passion. I was a keen mountain-biker for years and in 2016 I got a few cycling pals motivated to cycle across Ireland. I did all the logistics and trained hard!

Somewhere between The Caha Pass and Molls Gap deep in County Kerry, I began wondering if I could make a business out of this. Two days after returning I registered a limited company. Then I dived straight in with  my fledgling company, Wild Atlantic Cycling Limited, offering bike tours in Ireland and particularly Wild Atlantic Way tours by bike.

My software background came in useful. Running cycling tours of Ireland is surprisingly technical. Think GPX files, websites, routing software, booking engines and credit card payments for starters. I still recall my first conversation with a ‘live prospect’ … and the questions that I hadn’t even thought of yet needed answers! I did the sums and set a goal of eight customers in year one to break even. To my delight 38 people completed Mizen Head to Malin Head in the company’s first year.

2020 and 2021 were very tough for reasons we all know. But here’s to the future and more ‘adventurous tours for intrepid cyclists’.”

The contents of this website are provided for general information purposes only. It is not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on it. You should carry out your own due diligence and take professional advice. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content on our website is accurate, complete or up to date. If you use any information or content on this website, download from, or otherwise obtain content or services through our website, it is entirely at your own discretion and risk. Epic Road Rides Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the information and content on this website. Find out more here.

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