A Guide To The Sky Road in Clifden (Getting There, Things To See + The Route)

sky road clifden
Photo left: Christian McLeod via Ireland’s Pool. Photo right: Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

The Sky Road is one of the most popular places to visit in Galway and is the most popular of the many things to do in Clifden.

The circular route takes you from Clifden onto the Kingston peninsula where it offers stunning panoramic views over Clifden Bay and its offshore islands.

There are very few places in Ireland which can rival the rugged beauty seen from the Sky Road, as you’ll discover below.

So, what are you waiting for? Here’s a guide to the breathtaking Sky Road in Clifden so you can enjoy it for yourself.

Some quick need-to-knows before visiting the Sky Road in Clifden

sky road in clifden
Photo by Andy333 on Shutterstock

A visit to the Sky Road in Clifden is reasonably straightforward, 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 option. 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 carpark area which has plenty of room for people to stop and take photos. The road takes you back to Clifden via the N59. 

4. Views, views and more views

From there, you can see over Clifden Bay, its offshore islands and the Connemara countryside. It’s not hard to see why it’s considered one of the most beautiful roads in the country.

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.

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 for people to stop and take photos. The road takes you back to Clifden via the N59. 

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

clifden town connemara
Photo by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

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:

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

clifden castle
Photo by Jef Folkerts on Shutterstock

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 that leads to the 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. Old Coast Guard Station

the old station
Photo via the Coastguard Station

Just after where the road splits into two, you will notice the 1875 Coast Guard Station to your left on the lower level. It has been remodeled now into vacation rentals and looks over the coastline of Clifden Bay. 

5. The Viewing Point

sky road clifden
Photo by Andy333 on Shutterstock

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 offers fantastic photos. 

6. Eyrephort Beach

eyrephort beach
Photo via Google Maps

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. But you’ll likely find it a quiet and secluded place to enjoy the ocean.  

The Sky Road Walk (WARNING!)

walking the sky road
Photo via Google Maps

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 many 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 a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.

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 Walled Garden
The walled garden (Photo by George Munday)

Kylemore Abbey is one of the most romantic buildings in all of 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

view from the hill
Photo by Gareth McCormack

You’ll find Diamond Hill in the breath-taking Connemara National Park where it offers 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. Connemara National Park

Photo by Andrei Zveaghintev on Shutterstock

No visit to Clifden is complete without a trip to Connemara National Park. One of the most naturally stunning parks in the country, you can hike or drive through the area. There’s an impressive 3000 hectares of scenic mountains, with a great Visitor Centre to begin your visit. 

4. Mannin Bay Blueway

mannin bay
Photo via Google Maps

If you’re after some water-based activities, Mannin Bay Blueway is a great place to head just southwest of Clifden. There is a small roadside beach known as Coral Strand, which is an ideal launching point for snorkelling and kayaking. 

FAQs about visiting the Sky Road in 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.

Which is the best route to the Sky Road in Clifden – Upper or Lower?

While both have their pros and cons, the Upper Sky Road is the best, in our opinion. Above, you’ll discover why and you’ll find where the road seperates (important!).

Can you walk from Clifden to the Sky Road?

You can, but you absolutely shouldn’t, in our opinion. Walking from Clifden to the Sky Road isn’t safe – the roads are mostly without paths and there are many bends, making walking dangerous.

Is the Sky Road worth a visit?

Yes – 100%! If you arrive on a clear day, the views from the Sky Road in Clifden are just sensation. Be warned, however – it gets very windy here at times.

Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.


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