The Sky Road in Clifden is a spectacularly scenic 16km route that takes in some outstanding scenery.
The circular route takes you from Clifden onto the Kingston peninsula where provides panoramic views over Clifden Bay and its offshore islands.
There is a Lower and Upper Sky Road (take the Upper!) and both need to be driven with caution as the roads are narrow.
Below, you’ll find a map of the drive, what to watch out for and which of Connemara’s attractions lay just off the route. Cheers!
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting the Sky Road in Clifden
A visit to the Sky Road in Clifden is reasonably handy, but there are a few things that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
The most important point to note is the separation of the upper and lower Sky Road, so you can decide which one you’d rather take.
1. Location and length
The Sky Road runs for 16km on a circular route from Clifden. It takes you onto the Kingston peninsula, which is also part of the Wild Atlantic Way driving route, before heading back to Clifden via the N59.
2. An Upper and Lower road
The route separates into a lower and upper road. As expected, the upper road is the most popular as it gives you the most sweeping views over the area. There is also a car park at the highest point so you can stop to enjoy the view and take as many photos as you want.
3. Parking and viewpoint
At the highest point on the upper route, which is about 5.5km from Clifden, you will see a parking area which has plenty of room where you can stop and soak up the view. The road takes you back to Clifden via the N59.
4. Views, views and more views
It’s the viewpoint that makes this one of the most popular things to do in Clifden. From the elevated point, you can see over Clifden Bay, its offshore islands and the Connemara countryside.
How to get to the Sky Road in Connemara
Getting to the Sky Road in Connemara is straightforward enough. The one area where people tend to go wrong is when it comes to the spilt between the roads (see map above).
As you travel away on the Sky Road west of town, you will see the Castle Gates which is where the road separates into Lower Sky Road and the Upper Sky Road.
They eventually meet up a few kilometres down the road, so you can take either one you like, however, the views from the Upper Sky Road are more impressive.
At the highest point on the upper route, which is about 5.5km from Clifden, you will see a carpark area which has plenty of room to pull-in.
Things to see on your drive from Clifden to the Sky Road
Depending on what kind of view you want to get from the road, you can choose between the Upper Sky Road and the Lower Sky Road.
If you prefer to be closer to the ocean with better coastal views beside the road, then the Lower Sky Road will suit you better.
However, the Upper Sky Road is by far the most popular as it offers a more birds eye view across the area. Here’s some things to see on your way from Clifden to the Sky Road.
1. Clifden Town
The journey for the Sky Road begins in Clifden town. It’s a colourful little town that sits between the backdrop of the 12 Ben Mountains and the beautifully rugged coastline.
It’s considered the capital of the Connemara region, and is a great place to base yourself on your Galway Road Trip. Here’s some Clifden guides to make planning your trip easy:
- The best restaurants in Clifden
- 7 hotels in Clifden worth your hard earned €€€
- 11 brilliant B&Bs in Clifden that’ll feel like a home-from-home
2. John D’Arcy Monument
About 1km away from town, you will see a footpath marked with a signpost which will take you up to Memorial Hill. At the top of the hill there’s a monument commemorating John D’Arcy, Clifden’s founder.
The view from this hilltop is also incredibly spectacular with the mountains in the background. We couldn’t find a photo for this one, but it’s worth a visit!
3. Clifden Castle
We’re off to one of the most overlooked castles in Galway, next! As you continue on the Sky Road in Connemara, you will come across the Castle Gates on your left.
You can park your car here and walk the road (25 minutes each way) that leads to Clifden Castle ruins to have a closer look. Otherwise, you can also simply view it from a distance as you continue driving on the Sky Road.
4. The Viewing Point
At the highest point on the upper route of the Sky Road, there is a viewpoint point area. As you come up the hill, you will notice a wide parking area on the cliffside edge.
There’s plenty of room to park here and appreciate the panoramic views. It’s an especially popular place to head at sunset, when the golden light adds a bit of magic to the area.
5. Eyrephort Beach
If you continue straight, where the lower and upper Sky Roads reconnect, you will get to the end of the peninsula.
It’s here that you’ll find one of the most underrated of the many beaches in Galway. There is a beautiful beach here, covered in both white sand and smooth stones.
It’s an interesting area where a Viking sword and shield were discovered just over a decade ago along with a grave.
The Sky Road Walk (WARNING!)
An awful lot of travel blogs recommend that you walk the Sky Road in Clifden from the town centre – pleeeeeease don’t!!
The road has no path to walk on, there’s countless blind spots and it really isn’t safe to do so, especially as it’s a 1.5 hours/5.5km walk from the town.
If you haven’t got a car and you want to visit the Sky Road in Connemara, grab a taxi from the town and have them bring you there.
Places to see near the Sky Road in Clifden
One of the beauties of the Sky Road is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Galway.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Sky Road (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey is one of the most impressive buildings in Ireland. You can visit this Benedictine monastery and walled gardens, which was founded in 1920. It’s just 19km north of Clifden on the shore of Lough Pollacappul.
2. Diamond Hill
You’ll find Diamond Hill in the breath-taking Connemara National Park where it offers some of the best views in County Galway.
The 7km hike is one of the more popular Galway walks and it takes you up to the summit at 442m and rewards you with panoramic views over the coastline and surrounding mountains of the Connemara region.
3. Mannin Bay Blueway
If you’re after some water-based activities, Mannin Bay Blueway is a great place to head just southwest of Clifden.
FAQs about visiting the Sky Road Clifden
We’ve had a lot of questions about the Sky Road in Clifden over the years. The majority of which ask about with road (Upper or Lowe) to take.
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.
How long is Sky Road in Clifden?
The Sky Road Loops is 16km/10 miles in length. It starts from the town of Clifden (the ‘Capital of Connemara’) and takes in some glorious scenery over the course of 30 minutes.
Where is the starting point for the Sky Road?
You start the Sky Road Loop from Clifden Town. It’s a straightforward route but make sure to take the Upper Road rather than the Lower Road.
How high is the Sky Road?
The highest point of the Sky Road in Connemara is 400 ft about sea level. The elevation treats you to stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding islands and mountains.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.