• maneuveringwithmelissa

The BEST way to explore County Mayo, Ireland

Updated: May 27

**This post contains affiliate links. That means if you use them to make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission to help fund my PhD and more travel experiences, but mostly my PhD.

One of the main reasons our family trip to Ireland happened was because of our family's historical connection to the country. My dad has gone down the family line to uncover all kinds of fun connections to the Irish people and their eventual travel to the United States. Because of this, we wanted to take advantage of being so close to where many of our ancestors lived on the island, so we booked a self-led bike excursion through County Mayo.

Now I have mixed feelings about exploring by bike, as I have had both wildly successful experiences as well as days where I wanted to throw the rented bike to the pavement and run away. I'm learning more each time, but what I can say, is that County Mayo was the perfect area to explore by bike, even if you're inexperienced.

What makes a place suitable for biking in my opinion is:

  • Few to no cars or other vehicles

  • Large bike paths

  • Open scenery which can only be explored on foot or bicycles

  • Clear paths, which ideally loop around back to the start (reducing the chance of getting lost)

  • Friendly locals who don't mind people cycling past their houses/yards/living spaces

Now that we have set the scene, let's go into more depth about our exact travel plans, so you can recreate them. We had a "home base" in Galway, so we departed from the city in the morning and took a bus to Westport, Ireland. We utilized the website Rome 2 Rio to book this bus

In terms of packing, I would recommend bringing a small backpack which contains:

*affiliate links are to UK sites, message me for any affiliate links you'd like to link to US sites :)

  • an additional layer or two (light fleece layer here!)

  • rain jacket (comes in a ton of colors!) and waterproof trousers (these are men's, but they come in this crazy neon yellow which I am here for)

  • charged phone

  • portable charger if your battery doesn't last long (we use Anker for everything)

  • water

  • snacks

  • padded shorts or a bicycle seat pad if you want to be more comfortable (Padded cycling shorts here and seat pad here)

  • sunglasses for a sunny day! (I'm not going to link out to some sunglasses - you guys know how to find those!)

Once arriving in Westport, we walked to the Clew Bay Bike Hire shed and picked out our electric bikes. I wasn't sure initially if I wanted an e-bike, as it didn't really seem worth it, but in the end committed to the electric option, and I am glad I did! Using an e-bike may take some of the physical effort out of the journey, but as it was multiple hours long over some small hills, I was thankful that I didn't wear out before the rest of my family.

Clew Bay Bike Hire offers a shuttle service if you only want to bike one way and also offers roadside assistance if needed! We travelled from their Westport location to Achill Sound and then took a bus back to Galway from there.

The Great Western Greenway path was incredibly clear in terms of directions, and also had ever-changing views along the way. There were large bridges, rivers, mountains, lakes, and more. We traveled through some small towns and were always met by friendly locals - the Irish are the most lovely people!

All in all, the Great Western Greenway is a trail not to be missed. We got to explore the areas where our relatives once lived, all from the comfort of a well-marked path. This day out is not limited to those who are experienced cyclers, or to any certain age range! I would say the path was doable for most ages, and most of the bike hires have a variety of options in terms of adult bikes (electric or regular) and multiple sizes for children.

Alternative Options in the Westport Area:

Comment if you have any questions, and I will get back to you! Thanks for reading, and tag me in any of your Ireland journeys with the hashtag #maneuveringwithmelissa on Instagram.

Until next time,

x Melissa

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