Western Ireland is the Ireland we imagine: lush green scenery, infinite sheep, cozy pubs, ragged coastlines, centuries-old castle hotels, and the friendliest of people anywhere.

And then there’s the golf. And the beer. And the whiskey. And the shake-up in the culinary scene that puts to rest all those clichés of old. And then, of course, there’s the wonderful history and those endless, windswept roads. Ireland was made for cycling.

Our favourite regions include the Burren, an hour south of Galway, with its distinctive exposed limestone scenery and stone dolmens. Gregans Castle Hotel is a great base for golf at nearby Lahinch or oysters at Monk’s Pub in Ballyvaughan. A 20-minute ferry ride from Doolin leads to the idyllic Aran Islands, where the prehistoric stone ring fort of Dun Aengus receives blissfully little attention. Further north, Ballynahinch Castle and Lough Inagh Lodge offer elegant accommodations close to the stunning Coast Road, beaches, and the village of Roundstone. In Clifden, the capital of Connemara, the seven-mile circular Sky Road offers views of Inishbofin and white sand beaches.

Further south of Killarney, between the Ring of Kerry and Ring of Beara, lies the small town of Kenmare, home to countless gourmet restaurants, lively pubs and cute boutiques. Located right in town, the Park Hotel Kenmare is the ultimate base to explore the winding countryside roads. Hoteliers Francis and John Brennan set the luxury bar high in this little haven of sophistication. After biking the unforgettable Healy Pass, head right to the hotel's SÁMAS Spa.