The Skellig Ring drive packs a punch. And it’s one of the more overlooked attractions in County Kerry.
The route is an extension to the Ring of Kerry and it stretches for around 18km, joining the towns of Waterville, Ballinskelligs, Portmagee and Knightstown (Valentia).
It follows quiet roads and boasts the kind of raw, wild scenery that clears the head in a way that few things can.
In the guide below, you’ll find a Skellig Ring map along with a full overview of the route so that you know what to expect.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Skellig Ring drive / cycle
The Skellig Ring drive / cycle isn’t as straightforward as you might think, unless you’ve a clear idea of what to see and do.
Below, you’ll find some things to know, a map with all of the stops and a full overview of the route along with what to see and do.
You’ll find the Skellig Ring, an extension of the better-known Ring of Kerry route, on the Iveragh Peninsula.
2. What it’s all about
The Ring of Skellig links the towns of Waterville, Ballinskelligs, Portmagee and Valentia Island and takes in countless hidden gems. This is a much less travelled route than the famous Ring. The scenery is wild, the towns are more quaint and route packs a punch.
3. How long is it
The Ring of Skellig stretches for around 18km and it takes roughly 1.5 hours to drive and 3.5 hours to cycle. However, you’ll want to leave twice that, at the very least, for stopping and exploring.
4. Is there much to see on the Skellig Ring
YES! The Ring of Skellig is home to some of the best things to see in Kerry, with everything from cliffs and quaint towns to viewing points and much more on offer (more below).
A map of the Ring of Skellig
Above you’ll find a Skellig Ring map with the various bits and bobs marked out. The pink arrows show the towns: Waterville, Ballinskelligs, Portmagee and Knightstown (Valentia).
The blue arrows show the various different things to see and do, from Skellig Michael and the Kerry Cliffs to some lesser-known attractions.
The Skellig Ring drive: A route to follow
OK. To give you an idea of what to expect, I’m going to lay out a full road trip route for you to follow.
Now, although you can start the Ring of Skellig route wherever you like, I’m going to start this one from Waterville.
When you arrive at Waterville, hop out of the car and head over to the beach. Before you hit the sand, peer around for the Charlie Chaplin statue.
Waterville was said to be one of his favourite places to go on holiday! If you’re feeling peckish, nip into one of the restaurants in the town (it’s had to beat An Corcan).
Here’s a guide to Waterville that tells you what to see and do along with where to eat, sleep and drink.
When you leave Waterville, aim for Ballinskelligs. It’s a 15-minute drive away along the coast. When you arrive in Ballinskelligs, hop out of the car.
You’ve Ballinskelligs Castle, Ballinskelligs Abbey and Ballinskelligs Beach to have a nosey around. Here’s a more detailed guide to Ballinskelligs to jump into!
3. Bolus Barracks Loop walk
If you fancy a ramble, the Bolus Barracks Loop walk is well worth heading off on. The starting point is around 10 minutes from Ballinskelligs and the walk takes just under 3 hours.
Although you can do a shorter route, too. Here’s a good guide to the walk if you fancy giving it a bash. The views, on a clear day, are out of this world!
4. Skelligs Chocolate
Our next stop, the Skelligs Chocolate Factory, is a short 5-minute drive from where the walk ended.
If you fancy it, you can take a tour of the factory and see how the Skelligs Chocolate gets made. There’s also a cafe on-site that’s open from Easter until September.
5. Coomanaspig Pass
Coomanaspig Pass (10 minutes from Skelligs Chocolate) is one of the highest points in Ireland that you ca reach by car. Driving up here is an experience and a half.
There’s space to park and the views are outstanding. The best part, in my opinion, is when you start to make the journey down the hill towards our next stop – the Kerry Cliffs.
6. The Kerry Cliffs
The Kerry Cliffs are right next to Coomanaspig Pass. If you’re tempted to skip these, don’t! You’ll be treated to views of some of the most impressive cliffs of Ireland here.
The cliffs here are over 400 million years old and they can be accessed via a private property. It’s only around €4 or €5 to enter and the cliffs really are stunning.
7. Portmagee and Skellig Michael
When you finish up at the cliffs, you’re a short, 5-minute spin from Portmagee. Now, you can grab some food in Portmagee, if you like.
Or, if you we’re very organised, you can take one of the Skellig Michael boat tours (book far in advance). The islands are accessible on either an Eco or a Landing tour.
Read our guide to the Skelligs to find out how to get to them and to see the different tours on offer.
8. Rounding off the Skellig Ring on Valentia
The Ring of Skellig drive finishes up on Valentia Island. Now, you could easily spend a day here – there’s heaps of things to do on Valentia Island.
From the Bray Head walk, to Geokaun Mountain and Fogher Cliffs to the Skellig Experience and much, much more.
The best part of the Skellig Ring scenic drive
The best part of the Skellig Ring scenic drive isn’t any of the attractions or towns that I mentioned in the guide above.
It’s roads like the one above that make this place special. Raw, wild beauty combines with a sense of remoteness to make the Skellig Ring a joy to explore.
Those that drive or cycle along this glorious route can expect an unspoiled peninsula with windy roads, gorgeous towns and a backdrop of mountains and islands that’ll make you want to stop the car (or bike) at every turn.
FAQs about the Skellig Ring scenic drive
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where the Ring of Skellig is worth doing to what there is to see on the way.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is the Skellig Ring drive worth it?
Yes! It definitely is. The Ring of Skellig tends to be quiet and the scenery is absolutely glorious. There’s plenty to see and there are lots of lovely little towns to stay in.
What is there to see on the route?
In the map above, you’ll find everything from mountain passes and islands to hikes, walks, historical sites and much more.
Where should I stay when doing the Skellig Ring?
If it was me, I’d stay in either Waterville or Portmagee, however, I know plenty of people that love the villages of Knightstown on Valentia Island and Ballinskelligs, too.
Thursday 23rd of March 2023
I’m staying in Cahersiveen and have to say it is absolutely lovely. It’s not far from Portmagee but it is a town well worth visiting. Stay five days so you can experience the liveliness of the people. Walk the town, drink in one of the many pubs, attend mass at Daniel O'Connell Memorial Church of the Holy Cross. Hire a taxi driver (ask at the Hardware Store for the best drivers) and hike the beautiful trails in the area. See the Cahers (Rings) up close or walk the Pilgrimage of Cnoc an Dobhar. You will love this beautiful town for sure but bring waterproof coats and waterproof hiking boots for sure if you are here in the month of March. Yes, it’s still green even when there’s snow on the ground!!
Sunday 19th of February 2023
Great stuff, mate. Esp little things like the Google map download and off-the-tourist route options. Thank you!
Saturday 29th of January 2022
I love love your guide to ireland. I’ve been planning a trip since a few years and yours is one of the best I’ve found. Thanks Cathi Mac
Tuesday 14th of January 2020
I love this road trip ! So glad that the tourist buses don’t run on this route