Cycling the Slea Head Route in Ireland: The Wild Atlantic Way.

Distance: 55km (34 miles) | Elevation: 522m (1700 ft)

The Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland is known for its spectacular landscapes and cycling the Slea Head Route is a perfect way to experience them. The Slea Head Route is a circular cycling route that takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery on the Dingle Peninsula. It is a rewarding ride, with stunning views and the occasional steep hill. 

We suggest starting and finishing in the town of Dingle. The Slea Head Route takes you on a 55-kilometer journey through rugged landscapes, past picturesque beaches, ancient ruins, and small fishing villages. You will see traditional Irish cottages, grazing sheep, and rocky cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. There are many points of interest along the way, so you won’t be short on the opportunity to take a break. 

The route is well signposted, so you don’t need to worry about getting lost. You can cycle it in either direction, but most people choose to cycle clockwise. In the summer months, a one-way system is enforced to help manage vehicle traffic around the Slea Head loop which helps to limit traffic issues on narrow sections of the route with vehicles traveling in opposite directions. Riding in the same direction as the traffic is generally more pleasant. The clockwise system means you will have the ocean on your left-hand side for most of the route, giving you stunning views of the Blasket Islands and the wild Atlantic.

The first part of the route is relatively flat but as you approach Slea Head, the hills start to get steeper. This is where you will be rewarded with some of the most breath-taking views including the famous Gallarus Oratory, an early Christian church that has stood for over a thousand years.

As you continue, you will come across the Blasket Island Centre, where you can learn about the rich history and culture of the Blasket Islands, which were inhabited until the 1950s. From here, you will cycle up the steep hill to Dunquin Pier, which is a top stop to grab a picture before continuing your ride. 

The descent from Dunquin Pier is steep, so take it slowly and enjoy the views. You will pass through Ballyferriter, a small village with a few pubs and restaurants where you can stop for refreshments. The final stretch of the route takes you back to Dingle, passing through beautiful countryside.

Remember that the weather in this part of the world changes quickly so make sure you are ready to handle a rain shower or two along the way. The locals say, ‘It’s never a few minutes from being sunny again’ but likewise it’s never more than a few minutes until it rains again. So be prepared!

If you’re looking for a must do bike ride in Ireland (LifeCycle Adventures can help with the itinerary), the Slea Head Route is worth considering. The stunning scenery and the beautiful country roads will make for an unforgettable experience.