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Islands & Seafood in Ireland’s Rugged Southwest

food set out on a blue picnic table

Biking through the hills and mountains of Cork and Kerry on the Trek Travel Ireland Bike Tour, you are never far from the sea. Even when you can’t see it, you can probably taste the salty ocean on your lips and even hear its rhythms in the accents of the locals.

You can certainly choose to eat the sea’s abundant produce in any of the restaurants in Kenmare or Killarney; the local seafood chowder, mussels, and oysters are unmissable when you’re in this part of the world. In fact, Ireland has seen a recent surge in food culture and farm-to-fork cuisine, and the southwest regions of Cork and Kerry are leading the charge. But nothing beats a hands-on experience.

It’s one thing to eat a really lovely plate of seafood, but having the opportunity to pull the lobster pots and pick mussels yourself, while listening to the stories of the local men and women for whom the ocean provides their livelihoods, really brings your understanding of the Atlantic Ocean closer to home. Your seafood dinner goes from delicious to unforgettable.

Though there are many islands along the jagged shores of Ireland, particularly in Kerry and West Cork, some islands are more famous than others. But it is actually some of the least-known islands that are the most fascinating ones – and the best part is that you’ll likely have such places to yourself. Though these half-forgotten islands and coastal inlets are always amazing places to visit, the best way to get a sense of these tiny island communities is through the eyes of locals who call the coasts of West Cork their home.

Aaron O Sullivan is one such person. Aaron grew up in the small coastal town of Bantry, in the remote and wild region of West Cork, with his two brothers. Each morning, he woke up to views through his bedroom window that looked out onto the sparkling waters of Bantry Bay. His childhood was spent fishing off the rocks with his brothers and the other local children, exploring the craggy shores and windswept hills, and playing the traditional Irish game of hurling.

Today, Aaron is a school-teacher. When he’s not teaching, he uses his summer off to indulge in his passion for the sea by taking visitors out onto Bantry Bay on his Whaly boats – small open-air powerboats perfect for exploring the tranquil waters of the bay. It’s the perfect finish to your Trek Travel Ireland Bike Tour. Imagine – having traversed this beautiful corner of Ireland, you’ll swap bike for boat, heading out onto the sea with local fisherman Aaron to explore one of his favorite places in West Cork. Landing on the shores of Whiddy Island, you’ll find a glass of Guinness and a seafood tasting right on the beach.

Bantry Bay Boat Tour with Trek Travel

Speaking to Aaron, it’s plain to see his passion for Bantry and its people, the history of the region, and the role the sea has played in his life and the lives of everyone else that calls this salty, windblown corner of Ireland their home. Aaron’s own grandparents grew up on Whiddy Island, and the 16th-century Reenananig Castle ruins that stand proud on the island were even built by his own ancestors, chieftain Donal Cam O’Sullivan Bere. His ties to the area run deep, and his knowledge of the history and people of the place is overflowing.

From Vikings to WWII Allied forces, Whiddy Island has a long history. Island visitors can wander the grounds of the now-abandoned castle of Aaron O Sullivan’s ancestors, as well as other historical sites, including a church, graveyard, and holy well.

In January of 1979, Whiddy Island was the scene of Ireland’s greatest maritime disaster when an oil tanker exploded in the bay. While the incident did cause an oil spill, happily marine life recovered within a few years and the bay now has the highest grade possible for water cleanliness, an amazing story of rejuvenation and sustainability.

Which brings us back to the food! Mussels thrive here in Bantry Bay and along Whiddy Island. They need the minerals that come with such clean water, in which they grow more quickly and therefore become a more viable enterprise for the local fishermen like Aaron. The clean water and sheltered bay has also led to the area being named Ireland’s only ocean blueway.

And just like that, Whiddy Island and and Bantry Bay have become an ecological success story and a paradise for man and fish alike. And sitting out on the island in August, sipping a pint of Guinness after a magnificent bike ride through the soaring Caha Mountains, you’ll be forgiven for never wanting to leave this magical place.

5 Reasons to Visit Croatia

“Croatia is a hidden gem with so much beauty and history. Exploring it by bike allowed me to experience it in the best possible way.”
-Claire, Trek Travel Guest

Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast are some of Europe’s favorite luxury destinations. From Dubrovnik to Korcula to Hvar, there is so much to see and do in this historic and extravagant region. While there are countless draws to come here, discover our top 5 reasons to visit Croatia with Trek Travel.

1. The Adriatic Sea

Brilliant blue and shimmering, the Adriatic Sea will take your breath away. As you cycle along the Dalmatian coast, enjoy stunning views of the water below. Take to the water on a private boat to swim and soak in the sunshine.

Top 5 Reason to Visit Croatia

2. The Croatian Food

Croatia’s cities have delicious and delightful restaurants to choose from, but heading out into the countryside offers a whole new perspective on the local cuisine. Delight in a traditional Croatian feast at a family-owned “konoba” or taste locally made olive oil and jams at an olive oil mill. Make sure to try some of Croatia’s famous dishes during your visit, including Peka, a meat and vegetable dish that is slowly roasted under a cast iron bell.

3. The History

While walking, biking, and boating, discover the rich history of Croatia’s cities, including Korcula and Hvar. Partake in a walking tour of Korcula to learn more about the many rulers of the city, dating back to Greek rule in 6th century BC, or explore the 16th-century towers in the Hvar harbor as you stroll the chic surrounding town.

4.The Hotels

Soak in the luxury of Croatia’s best accommodations. Walk to Dubrovnik’s Old Town from Hotel Bellevue or enjoy views from the hotel terrace overlooking Miramare Bay. In Korcula, rest your head in a Relais & Châteaux property renovated from an 18th-century bishop’s palace. Relax in a rooftop pool or luxury spa at the boutique Hotel Adriana in Hvar. Each property offers beautiful scenery and exceptional amenities.

5. The Cycling

From lush valleys filled with vineyards, olive groves, and tangerine, fig, or mulberry trees to breathtaking limestone ridges set against the blazing blue of the sea, your senses will be alive while cycling through the natural beauty of Croatia.

What are you waiting for?

Discover our Croatia Bike Tour


Top 5 Reasons to Travel to Europe in the Spring

Traveling to Europe in the summer and fall can be great. Well, let’s be honest, traveling to Europe any time of the year is great-but going there in the spring can take advantage of some opportunities that the mass of tourists in the summer and fall miss out on. My last trip to Europe was in April when I was on our Portugal Explorer trip and I discovered the advantages to early season travel. Here are my top reasons to hit Europe in the springtime.

1. Fewer People

This is the no-brainer. “Off-season” travel means you won’t be held up by obnoxious lines at the ticket window, waiting endlessly to get that perfect picture, or turned away at the hot new restaurant. In fact, you’re more likely to have your choice of restaurant and reservation time by traveling in the spring. This even spills over to getting rooms at the best hotels with the best rates. In general, the hospitality industry will show their appreciation to tourists who visit outside of their peak months.

2. Airfare is Cheaper

Along with the hospitality industry, airlines will offer steeply discounted tickets to encourage people to travel outside of the peak months. Use this to your advantage! Have a few destinations in the back of your mind so when you see a deal pop up, you can jump on it and already have an idea of what you will do.

3. The Weather Might Suprise You

A common hesitation we hear about spring travel is the belief that the weather won’t be ideal. It’s a myth! There are plenty of days in July, August, and September that have lousy weather. Plus, the more mild temperatures in the spring are PERFECT for riding. And if your biggest fear is rain, rest easy. A few extra pieces of riding gear and a positive attitude will have you riding carefree and feeling like a kid again. Still not convinced? You can always skip the ride and spend some time at the spa or exploring some indoor attractions. Just let your guides know what you’d like to do and they’ll make it happen for you.

4. Everything is More Affordable

The savings goes beyond the airfare when you do Europe in the spring. Hotels, entrance fees, rental cars and even restaurants often have off-peak pricing to encourage tourism throughout the year. If your dream vacation and your budget don’t see eye-to-eye, traveling in the spring might finally bring the two together.

5. Meet the Locals

You might not notice it right away, but locals tend to disappear in the high travel months. I can’t blame them, their city is taken over and the prices on everything can go sky-high. They slowly return to the coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants throughout the winter. When you visit in the spring, you get to strike up conversations with them, learn about the best cafe in town, and they tell you where their favorite restaurant is that hasn’t made it on all of the travel blogs yet. These chance encounters are often left only to those who choose to travel when most others don’t. The locals recognize this, and you get a sense of their genuine appreciation for your visit and their vested interest in you getting to know the area. You see the pride they have for their city and often get a better look at the town than a book or blog could ever give you.

Find your European spring getaway.

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What is the Difference?

Ultimate Luxury:

Savor some of the most spectacular, 5-star properties in the world. Exuding luxury and elegance, these one-of-a-kind accommodations offer the chance to rejuvenate at award-winning spas, dine at Michelin-starred restaurants, and more.


Enjoy luxurious accommodations handpicked for a refined experience. From signature spa treatments to delicious local cuisine, you’ll be more than provided for; you’ll be pampered.


These handpicked hotels provide relaxation and fun in a casual and comfortable environment. Delicious cuisine and great service mix perfectly for a memorable stay.


On select cycling vacations, you’ll stay at a mix of hotel levels, from Explorer to Luxury to Ultimate Luxury. Rest assured, no matter which level of hotel you’re at, our trip designers carefully select every accommodation.

Activity Level

Level 1:

Road: 1-3 hours of riding. Up to 25 mi (40 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Gravel: 1-3 hours of riding. Up to 20 mi (35 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Hiking: 1-3 hours of hiking. Up to 5 mi (8 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Level 2:

Road: 2-4 hours of riding. 20-35 mi (35-60 km). Up to 2,500 ft (750 m).

Gravel: 2-4 hours of riding. 15-30 mi (25-45 km). Up to 2,000 ft (300 m).

Hiking: 2-4 hours of hiking. 4-8 mi (6-12 km). Up to 1,500 ft (450 m).

Level 3:

Road: 3-5 hours of riding. 25-55 mi (40-85 km). Up to 4,500 ft (1,500 m).

Gravel: 3-5 hours of riding. 20-40 mi (35-60 km). Up to 3,000 ft (900 m).

Hiking: 3-5 hours of hiking. 6-10 mi (9-16 km). Up to 2,000 ft (600 m).

Level 4:

Road: 4+ hours of riding. 40-70 mi (60-110 km). Up to 8,000 ft (2,400 m).

Gravel: 4+ hours of riding. 30-50 mi (45-80 km). Up to 4,000 ft (1,200 m).

Hiking: 4+ hours of hiking. 7-15 mi (11-24 km). Up to 4,000 ft (1,200 m).

What are your trip styles?

Classic - Reserve:

Savor the finer things as you relax in luxurious 5-star accommodations and wine, dine, and ride in some of the most unforgettable destinations around the world.

Classic - Signature:

Explore beautiful destinations by bike, enjoy extra inclusions, savor delicious local cuisine, and enjoy the perfect mix of accommodations.

Classic - Discovor:

Enjoy a casual cycling vacation with fantastic routes and comfortable accommodations.

Ride Camp:

Train like the pros in some of their favorite riding destinations.

Pro Race:

See the pros in action at the biggest cycling events of the year.

Cross Country:

Tackle an epic adventure that takes you point-to-point across mountains, countryside, and more.


Enjoy a bike tour on your schedule with just your chosen travel companions.

Single Occupancy

Sometimes it’s more convenient and comfortable to have your own room while on vacation. We understand and that’s why we offer a Single Occupancy option. The additional price guarantees a private room all to yourself