That means no fuss, no traffic and nothing but miles and miles of exciting routes to explore, from an old railway track along County Waterford’s breathtaking Copper Coast to the quiet canal pathways of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.
Waterford Greenway, County Waterford
The Waterford Greenway is a 46 km-long route along a repurposed old railway line that links Waterford – said to be Ireland’s oldest city – to the charming seaside town of Dungarvan. On the way, you’ll traverse bridges, viaducts and you’ll even cycle through tunnels. But it’s the scenery that really wins the day, with the rolling Comeragh Mountains on one side and the sea on the other. If it sounds beautiful, that’s because it is!
A great midway stop-off is Coach House Coffee in Kilmacthomas, where you’ll find lots of spots to lock your bike, a menu serving up hearty breakfast and lunch options, and fresh coffee and beer on draught.
Bike hire is available at either end of the greenway in Waterford city and Dungarvan.
Royal Canal Greenway, County Westmeath
Royal Canal Greenway
The Royal Canal Greenway meanders its way for 130 km from County Kildare – just outside Dublin – through counties Meath and Westmeath and into Longford. It’s hard not to feel peaceful while gliding alongside the 18th century Royal Canal from which the greenway gets its name. The canal connects Dublin’s River Liffey to the mighty River Shannon out west, so this is truly a cross-country trail!
Top sights to see en route include the mystical Hill of Uisneach, which is revered as ancient Ireland’s sacred centre, and the National Famine Way, a poignant trail that lets you follow in the footsteps of poor tenants who made their way to Dublin to emigrate during one of Ireland’s darkest periods.
Great Western Greenway, County Mayo
Great Western Greenway
The Great Western Greenway in County Mayo lives up to its grand name with some of the most epic views on the Wild Atlantic Way. Starting in the colourful town of Westport, the 42 km route snakes its way along the coast of Clew Bay before finishing on Achill Island – the filming destination for The Banshees of Inisherin. As you might expect, the scenery on this greenway is simply spellbinding.
Achill Island is home to some of the finest beaches in Ireland, so we suggest going for a dip in the pristine waters of Keem Bay before returning to Westport for a fun night out.
Old Rail Trail, County Westmeath
Old Rail Trail
For 43 blissful kilometres in County Westmeath, the Old Rail Trail will whisk you away to a serene land of farmsteads, stone-arched bridges and restored railway station houses. We feel more relaxed already. Best of all, the start and end points are two of the most eclectic towns in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands – Athlone (home of Ireland's oldest pub) and Mullingar (hometown of a certain Niall Horan).
Our advice, start with a few days in Athlone, enjoy the journey along the greenway and finish up in Mullingar. In both towns, you’ll find great places to eat, excellent pubs and top trad music sessions. After all, they say happiness is a journey, not a destination, right? On the Old Rail Trail, the answer might be both!
Limerick Greenway, County Limerick
The Limerick Greenway is a 39 km route that takes in the market towns of Rathkeale, Newcastlewest and Abbeyfeale in lesser-spotted west Limerick. The old railway line here takes in a plethora of historic ruins from Norman castles to medieval abbeys.
Much shorter loop trails are also available in each of the aforementioned market towns, which are great options for families with small kids. Tullig Wood is a particularly beautiful section of the greenway; a dense forest of native trees and flowers surrounds you as you make your way through. It’s intimate and atmospheric, and makes for a great counterpoint to the more open sections of the track. Check out more key sections here.
Suir Blueway, County Tipperary
Our last greenway is also part-blueway, as a 21 km cycling and walking trail connects up with 32 km of waterways on the River Suir in County Tipperary, which can be explored by kayak or canoe. It’s called the Suir Blueway and it’s the ideal option for those looking to mix up their adventures on land and water! As you walk, cycle or paddle by idyllic scenes from rural Ireland, you’ll see why Tipperary is nicknamed “the Golden Vale”.
The route takes in two of Tipperary’s finest towns – Cahir and Clonmel. In Cahir, don’t miss Cahir Castle, one of Ireland’s biggest castles. It’s also featured in film and TV shows such as Excalibur and The Tudors! In Clonmel, the Tipperary Museum of Hidden History is fun for all the family, as immersive exhibitions and displays journey back in time through Ireland’s Ancient East!