Connacht, Leinster, Munster, Ulster

Greenways of Ireland: Top Trails To Get The Entire Family Active

From the Waterford Greenway to the Great Western Greenway, Ireland really does

From the Waterford Greenway to the Great Western Greenway, Ireland really does have it all when it comes to the great outdoors. With the good weather upon us and school nearly out for summer, it’s the perfect time to start planning fun-filled family day trips. 

If you’re hoping to limit device usage during the holidays, cycling is a great fresh air activity to encourage adventure and movement. Pack up the car and get the entire family moving.

  • Waterford Greenway

Ideal for families on staycation in Waterford City or the Dungarvan/Clonea Strand areas, the Waterford Greenway is a 46km cycling and walking trail offering a spectacular tour of Ireland’s Ancient East. In total, the cycle should take around 3.5 hours, allowing additional time for pit stops and if you have little starter cyclists within the family. You can return via your original cycling route or catch a bus ride back. The Waterford Greenway is a great choice for families, with a safe cycling trail. Endless scenery will ensure continuous stimulation and new things to see from viaducts, tunnels, sprawling countryside and sea views too! Don’t forget to stop off at the charming village of Kilmacthomas for an ice cream or a spot of lunch. The quaint old síopa style buildings will be a novelty for the kids.

  • Great Western Greenway, Co. Mayo

Stretching from east to north Clew Bay in Co Mayo, the Great Western Greenway is 44km of breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way scenery. It’s no surprise the route was voted in the top three cycle trails in the world by The New York Times. Pitstop along staycation hotspots including Westport, Newport and Mulranny which offer plenty of family activities and accommodation from luxury hotels to glamping. Saunter beneath the backdrop of Croagh Patrick, Nephin Beg Mountain and Clare Island to name just a few wonderous highlights. The flat path means this is rated an easy trail for all abilities and numerous bike hire companies offer pick up services at allocated points along the Greenway – an added bonus if you’re cycling with little ones whose legs may tire easily! 

  • Great Southern Trail, Co. Kerry

The old Tralee/Fenit railway line closed in the 1970’s has since been rejuvenated into a walking, cycling and hiking trail from west Limerick to north Kerry. The Great Southern Trail is 85km in length and joins towns including Rathkeale, Newcastlewest, Ardagh, Barnagh, Abbeyfeale and more. Enjoy views of dense woodland to sprawling countryside.

  • Grand Canal Way, Leinster

Canalside cycle routes are typically linear in design making this an ideal choice for those seeking a more relaxing jaunt. The easy trail is 117km in length and stretches from Lucan, West Dublin through Kildare to Shannon Harbour on the River Shannon in Co. Offaly, taking in sleepy towns and charming villages along the way. For young families, you may wish to break down this cycling route into more manageable excursions whilst being mindful of younger children cycling near water.

  • Royal Canal Way, Leinster

Boasting 18th century architecture including Ryewater Aqueduct, the Royal Canal Way’s grassy pathways run from Dublin to the River Shannon. A renowned wildlife corridor, a short cycle or stroll is perfect if you have smaller kids who will enjoy feeding the ducks and swans for an afternoon.

  • Boyne Greenway, Co. Meath

Boasting rolling hills and sprawling countryside scenery, The Boyne Greenway is a sight to behold. A shorter cycling trail, the path partially runs along a beautiful boardwalk on the banks of the River Boyne underneath the Bridge of Peace and directly to the site of the Battle of The Boyne.

  • Great Eastern Greenway, Leinster and Ulster

Beginning at the medieval town of Carlingford, the Great Eastern Greenway takes a leisurely hour to cycle passing access points at Newry, Dundalk and Omeath. Enjoy the refreshing seascape and abundance of wildlife along the shoreline.

  • The Old Rail Trail, Leinster

In the heartland of Ireland, the Old Rail Trail runs 43km from Athlone to Mullingar. Enjoy the leafy paths as you whizz past a mirage of biodiversity and heritage taking in restored station houses and charming stone arch bridges. A lovely family day out awaits to create treasured memories.

  • Cork Passage Railway Greenway

Starting from Blackrock Castle, with a slight part on the road, and back onto the Trail until you reach Passage West, the Cork Passage Railway Greenway is a very popular option with locals and tourists alike. Blackrock Castle is well worth a visit in it’s own right, as well as a delicious place for lunch or a snack.

  • Limerick Greenway

The Limerick Greenway is a 40km path through beautiful countryside. It follows the old Limerick to Kerry railway line, passing some of the country’s most historic sites. Families can enjoy it in one visit or explore it in shorter stages s a day trip. Local towns offer places to stop for a well-deserved break for food or accommodation.

  • Cork Harbour Greenway

Cork Harbour Greenway is a stunning trail from Carrigaline to Crosshaven. It is a wonderful opportunity for families to walk or cycle between two beautiful towns, with ample services on either end of the Greenway.

The Family Edit Top 5 Tips to Prep for Your Cycle:

  1. Check any kids bikes are still the correct size and adjust the saddle – they may have grown since last summer! 
  2. Ensure your bikes are roadworthy and in good condition, don’t forget to pump the tyres pre-road trip! 
  3. Don’t forget to bring helmets and high-vis vests.
  4. Bring drinks and snacks. Keeping energy levels up and staying hydrated is essential during the summer months. 
  5. Select a route that is suitable to your family’s fitness levels and pace yourselves. 

Have recommendations? We’d love to hear your tips for family cycling trails around Ireland. Submit your tips and reviews in the comment section below or share with us on Instagram @thefamilyedit 

*All images shared in good faith. Please let us know of any additional references.

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