Last updated on February 6, 2024
Probably every motorcyclist has his or her home circuit at home. It’s a lot of fun, you can easily do it in a couple of hours, and you hardly need any luggage, except maybe your rain gear, because you’ll be back home in the afternoon…
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It can also make a lot of sense to include such “house rounds” on motorbike round trips.
You simply spend the night twice in the same accommodation and then you can do the round the next day with little luggage, because you will be back in the same accommodation in the evening.
In English, by the way, the loop is a “loop”. If it rains, you start later and do a smaller loop. And if the pillion rider prefers to take a break in the city, that’s no problem either. Good idea?
In the following, I have summarised the most beautiful motorbike circuits (loops) for you, which you can include in your round trip around the Irish island. You can easily look up all the places on Google Maps and plan your route there.
How do I know them? From my own motorbike trips. We have our second home in Ireland and I run a motorbike rental business there, south of Dublin, in the summer months, see: www.easycruiser.tours. We also offer nice guest rooms (www.the-view-accommodation.ie).
But let’s move on to my motorbike “loops” or laps for you:
1 Wicklow Mountains loop
The beautiful Wicklow Mountain National Park south of Dublin is my home turf. There are several beautiful routes there. I’ll give you one where you can get a nice overview of many highlights in one day.
Start and finish can be our easycruiser.tours Guesthouse, or another accommodation on the way.
Route: Glenmalure, Glendalough Monastery, Wicklow Gap, Lacken, Kilbride, Sally Gap, Glencree, Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Waterfall, Lough Tay, Sally Gap, Laragh, return.
Sights/Highlights: Glendalough, beautiful valley with medieval monastery and two lakes. Powerscourt House &Gardens. Powerscourt Waterfall.
2 Hook Peninsula Loop
This is also one of my “home loops”. The Hook Peninsula offers a beautiful drive along the south-east coast of Ireland.
Start and finish: New Ross.
Route: Dunbrody ship in New Ross harbour, Kennedy Homestead, Dunbrody Abbey, Dollar Bay, Hook Lighthouse, Fethard, Kilmore Quay harbour, Lady`s island, Carne Beach, Johnstown Castle off Wexford, Wexford harbour and pedestrian area, New Ross.
Sights/Highlights: Dunbrody ship, Kennedy Homestead, Hook Lighthouse, Kilmore Quay, Johnstown Castle.
3 Beara Peninsula Loop
The Beara Peninsula is one of my favourite peninsulas in southeast Ireland. It is very beautiful, see cover picture, and because of the partly small roads less touristy than e.g. the Ring of Kerry. Highlight for motorcyclists: The Healy Pass, definitely ride in both directions!
Start and finish: Kenmare or Glengarriff are possible, depending on whether you want to combine this with an island to the north or south. We’ll go with Glengarriff.
Route: Glengarriff, Adrigole, Healy Pass, Lauragh, Healy Pass again, Adrigole, Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Centre, Dursey Cable Car, Allihies, Eyeries, Glenbeg Lough, Lauragh, Kenmare, via N71 back to Glengarriff.
Sights/Highlights: Healy Pass, Dzogchen Buddhist Centre, Dursey Cable Car, Eyeries.
4 Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is quite beautiful, but also touristy. I personally find the mountains of Killarney National Park almost more beautiful and combine both in this loop.
Start and finish: Killarney.
Route: Molls Gap, Sneem, Staigue Stone Fort, Kerry Cliffs Portmagee, Caherciveen, Ballaghisheen Pass, Lough Acoose, Dunloe, Gap of Dunloe, Black Valley, Molls Gap, Killarney.
Sights/Highlights: Stone Fort, Kerry Cliffs, Balagisheen Pass, Gap of Dunloe.
5 Dingle Loop
Dingle is also a very beautiful peninsula! Touristy, but very varied and versatile.
Start and finish: Killarney. Tralee would also be an alternative.
Route: Killarney, Inch Beach (Surfer Café), Dingle town, Celtic Prehistoric Museum, Dunbeg Fort, Beehive Huts, Slea Head, Dunmore Head, Dunquin Pier, Gallarus Oratory, Dingle, Conor Pass, Stradbally Beach, Tralee/Killarney.
Sights/Highlights: Inch Beach is gorgeous with the mountains of Killarney National Park in the background. You can choose from several prehistoric sites on the peninsula, the Beehive Huts are a quick and beautiful option if you want to keep it short. Conor Pass is beautiful to drive with great views of the sea in both directions.
6 Loop Head Loop
Loop Head is hardly visited by foreign tourists because it is a little out of the way. The Loophead Lighthouse stands high above vertical cliffs – an amazing location! The drive along the small roads at Loop Head takes longer than you would expect, but is very beautiful.
Start and finish: Bunratty is a good choice, there was a great castle there.
Route: Bunratty Castle, along the Shannon via Killimer, White Strand (beach), Castle and Rhinevilla to Loophead Lighthouse. Follow the coastal road along the Atlantic to the Bridges of Ross and the Kilkee Cliffs to Kilkee. Always stay by the water! Follow the coast to Spanish Point and then you can return to Bunratty via Ennis.
Sights/Highlights: Loophead Lighthouse, Bridges of Ross, Kilkee Cliffs, Kilkee.
7 Connemara and Sky Road Loop
Connemara is super beautiful, but quite touristy. There are many bus tours through Connemara from Galway in summer. Nevertheless, I can recommend the following loop.
Start and finish: Galway.
Route: Aughnanure Castle, Ougtheraard, Ma’am Cross, Pines Viewpoint, R341 in an arc along the coast to Clifden, or N59 to Clifden. Sky Road Loop, Kylemore Abbey, Killary Fjord, Leenaun, R336 to Maum. then either back via Maam Cross to Galway.
Sights/Highlights: Aughnanure Castle, coastal loop off Clifden, Sky Road Loop, Kylemore Abbey.
8 A Round through Mayo
Mayo is just as beautiful as Connemara, but much less travelled. You can stay in the pretty town of Westport and drive through Mayo’s mountains one day and do Achill Island the next. Both are relaxed tours for a shorter driving day.
Route: From Westport, follow the coast road past Coragh Patrick and Old Head Beach to Louisburgh. Follow the R335 to Doo Lough and on to Delphi. Pass Aaslagh Falls to Killary Fjord to Clogh. The N59 brings you back to Westport.
Sights/Highlights: No specific sights, just enjoy the beautiful coastline and mountains!
9 Achill Island Round
This is the second leisurely day trip you can do from Westport. A small bridge makes the isle very easily accessible and it is a very beautiful little isle!
Start and finish: Westport.
Route: Westport, Newport, Burrishoole Abbey, Mallaranny, Achill, over the bridge onto the island and then left onto the L1405 along the south coast. Grace OMalleys Tower, White Cliffs of Ashleam, Dooega Bay Beach, Keel (Beach). Be sure to take the small R319 over the mountain to Keem Bay, or Keem Beach! Return via Slievemore Deserted Village, Heinrich Böll Cottage and Durgort Beach and back over the Achill Sound bridge.
Sights/Highlights: The coastal road in the south of Achill Island, Keem Beach and Deserted Village.
10 Donegal and Glenveagh NP
Donegal is situated in the very northwest of Ireland. In the interior of the county lies Glenveagh National Park, a very beautiful mountainous region. But before that, the tour goes along the coast to the highest cliffs in Ireland, the Slieve Leagues.
Start and finish: the small town of Donegal. Letterkenny would also be an alternative.
Route: Donegal, Killybegs, Fintra Beach, Teelin, Slieve League Viewing Platform, Silver Strand, Glencolumbcille and Folk Village, Glengesh Viewing Point (R230), Ardara, Dungloe, Gweedore, past Mount Errigal (R251) to the National Park Centre, possibly Glenveagh Castle on Lough Beagh, and then either via Church Hill and Cloghan or via Letterkenny back to Donegal.
Sights/Highlights: Slieve League Cliffs, Glencolumbcille Folk Village, Glenveagh Castle.
11 Fanad Peninsula Loop
Fanad Head Lighthouse is probably one of the most photographed sights in Ireland – but it is also really beautiful! The loop around the Fanad Peninsula offers many beautiful coastal roads and also a few beaches.
Start and finish: Letterkenny.
Route: Letterkenny, Ramelton. On the coast road to Rathmullan and follow the beautiful coast road to Portsalon. Just before Portsalon is a fantastic beach, Ballimastoker Beach. Continue along the coast to Fanad Head Lighthouse. Continue over White Shore Beach, over the Harry Blaney Bridge and into Carrickart. To Doe Castle and follow the coast to Dunfanaghy (Killahoey Beach and Tramore Beach). Continue to Falcarragh and then via the R256 to Glenveagh National Park Centre and possibly Glenveagh Castle on Lough Beagh. Return to Letterkenny via the R255 and N56.
Sights/Highlights: Fanad Lighthouse, Glenveagh Castle.
12 Malin Head Loop or Inishowen Drive
Malin Head is the northernmost point of the Irish island. There is a dilapidated radio station at the head, otherwise there is not much going on. But the loop around the Inishowen peninsula is really beautiful.
Start and finish: Londonderry/Derry.
Route: Via Bridge End and Fahan along the coast road to Fort Dunree. Be sure to drive over the Gap of Mamore, which is a beautiful pass with stunning views. Continue via Tullagh Strand and Malin to Malin Head. Then return to Derry/Londonderry via Culdaff, Moville and Quigley`s Point.
Sights/Highlights: Dunree village, Mamore Gap, coastal roads.
13 Causeway Coast and Antrim Coast Loop
The Causeway Coast is heavily promoted and the sights are fully developed for tourism. In contrast, the North Antrim Coast Road is a gem for motorcyclists, but comparatively unknown. My tip: Ride a bit of the Causeway and the full length of the Antrim Coast.
Start and finish: Belfast
Route: Via Antrim and Ballymena to Armoy and on to the Dark Hedges. On to Dunluce Castle. Via Bushmills to the Giant`s Causeway. Continue via Ballintoy Harbour to Carrick-a-Reede and then via Ballycastle to Torr Head. Follow the small coastal road south. Via Cushendun, Waterford, Carnlough to Larne and then back to Belfast.
Places of interest: Dark Hedges, Dunluce Castle, Giant`s Causeway, Carrick-a-Reede, Ballintoy Harbour and the coastal roads south.
So, that’s a lot of material for your travel planning. The best thing is to take a look at the described routes in Google Maps and then you can decide for yourself which of the laps/loops you would like to include in your motorbike holiday.
And if you are still looking for a rental motorbike for your holiday in Ireland, then you know how to find us: www.easycruiser.tours.
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Photo credits cover photo: Motorbike and rider on Beara Peninsula, photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (www.easycruiser.tours, www.the-view-accommodation.ie, www.irland-insider.de, www.ireland-insider.com)