Cycle Tour in Ireland’s Ancient East

self-guided biking tour

The region around Dublin, in the East of Ireland is rich in historic sites and has an unparalleled historical importance in Ireland’s history. It is also greatly unexplored and as far as roads and sites are concerned very quiet.

This trip is especially designed to visit the most beautiful spots in Counties Laois, Carlow and Kilkenny. Join us on a cycling tour in the beautiful Midlands.

Tour Itinerary



Arrive in the small town of Portarlington serviced by direct train from Dublin. The town was founded by French Huguenots and celebrates its French heritage with a French market (in July). Depending on your arrival time we will meet you in the evening or the next morning for your introduction to your bicycles and the week ahead.



Portarlington to Abbeyleix
A beautiful and gentle day firstly visiting Emo Court, designed by James Gandon in 1790 this stately house can be visited on a guided tour. The gardens extend to 35hectares of naturalistic landscaped grounds with giant sequoias, oak, beech, rare specimen trees, glades of azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons and a 20acre lake. You then continue to the small town of Stradbally and Timahoe with it’s beautiful 12th century round tower. It is the largest in the country nearly 30m high and 17m circumference and has a number of notable features. to the heritage town of Abbeyleix. It is one of the few planned towns after the deVesci family flattened the original town and built a beautiful and prosperous town.
55km/34mls – climb 309m – can be extended



Abbeyleix to Tullow
Leave Abbeyleix to cycle to the Heywood Gardens. Created in 1773 by Sir Edward Lutyen along European styles the formal gardens and the romantic parkland have French and Italian echoes. You are then entering county Carlow passing by Carlow Town for your destination the beautiful small town of Tullow.
56km/34mls climb 570m, longer options available)



Tullow to Kilkenny
Various options to choose from, cycle to Leighlinbridge idyllically located along the river Barrow. The attractive Valerian Bridge’s 7-arch structure was built in 1320 by Maurice Jakis and the castle which dominates the river is known as the Black Castle. Alternatively cycle to Borris where you may visit Borris House, primary seat of the McMorrough Kavanaghs, Kings of Leinster since the 1500’s.
Today’s target is the pretty and historic town of Kilkenny.
52km/32mls climb 560m/ 65km climb 460m



Enjoy a day out of the saddle whilst you visit all the many sites that Kilkenny has to offer. Once the medieval capital of Ireland, the city has a rich medieval heritage visible though its narrow streetscapes; its historical buildings and landmarks, such as he 12th century Castle, St Canice Cathedral and Round Tower, Kyteler’s Inn, Rothe House and many more.
Kilkenny’s craftsmen and women are world-famous and the Design Center brings them together in one easily accessible area for all to enjoy.
If you however prefer to cycle then there is a loop ride available.



Kilkenny to Durrow
Leave Kilkenny on wonderful quiet backroads to the small medieval town of Freshford. Arrive in the quaint village of Durrow for the night. The area has been inhabited since the Early Bronze Age. Durrow Castle, a magnificent manor house provided employment and prosperity to Durrow. Today it is one of Ireland’s finest castle hotels.
50km/31mls – 620m



Durrow to Portlaoise
The Rock of Dunamase dates back to an early Christian settlement known as Dun Masc and later became an important Anglo Norman fortification. It was part of the dowry of Aoife, the daughter of Diarmuid Mac Murrough, King of Leinster, when she was given in marriage to the Norman conqueror Strongbow in 1170.
44km/24mls – 244m



Breakfast, followed by farewell and departure for your onward journey.There are regular trains from Portlaoise to Dublin.


cycling tour Ancient East
Tour Details
Price 2024

From Off-peak €1,250pps; €1,300pps July and Aug

€350 single room supplement


gentle, some occasional climb, options available on most days

Starting Dates 2024

depending on travel restrictions – normally April – Oct

Luggage transfers

Stevens hybrid bicycle (upgrade to road bicycles or electric assist bicycles are available)

Accommodation & Meals

7 nights guesthouses, B&Bs, and hotels inclusive of 7 breakfasts


Detailed daily route notes, maps, and route notes, gpx files, personal meet and greet, emergency support

Arrival Location


Departure Location


Tour Accommodations

This self-guided bike tour in Ireland’s Ancient East is designed to stay in comfortable, friendly, wonderful guesthouses and small hotels such as underneath. Accommodations could be upgraded if you prefer.

guesthouse in Durrow

Ashbrook Arms

The building was originally one of the Bianconi coach houses built around Ireland where weary 18th century travellers could rest on long journeys. It was purpose built by Lord Ashbrook, proprietor of Durrow, in 1777. The building was lovingly restored in 2005 and returned to pristine condition as a guest house and restaurant by the Murphy family.

guesthouse in Kilkenny

Rosquil House

This beautiful charming house is located within easy walking distance of Kilkenny Castle. Enjoy the elegance, unrivalled hospitality and all the benefits of modern conveniences, like orthopaedic matresses, and free wifi.

Gallery of Tour Pictures