The Sky Road drIve is considered to be one of the most beautiful drives in Ireland. Although let’s be clear, there are countless beautiful drives in Ireland! But, Sky Road definitely one of the most memorable in the Connemara region. The loop, starting and finishing in Clifden (Galway), gives wide-open views of the rugged coastline and nearby Islands of Inishturk and Turbot.
So, whether you’re planning on driving, cycling or walking the Sky road, keep reading for all you need to know:
Sky Road Drive Clifden
About the Sky Road Loop
How Long is the Sky Road route & where does it start?
The sky road loop is 15 km from start to finish. As mentioned already, it starts and ends in Clifden, which is known to some as Connemara’s Capital Town. The route is well signposted and will take you west of this friendly town and out along the coastline.
The road winds out as far as Kingstown Peninsula and veers right, eventually joining up with the N59, taking you back to Clifden again.
There are two routes on this Clifden Drive. Just a couple of km into the route (heading clockwise), you will be met with a decision. Just passed Clifden castle there is a divide in the road. You can take either the Lower Sky or Upper Sky Road. This is completely up to you but my advice is – take the Upper Road!
The Lower Sky Road
The lower route brings you much closer to the coast. However, because you are lower down you won’t get the same expansive views. You will also miss the best part of the drive – the viewpoint on the upper road.
The Upper Sky Road
In my opinion, the upper route is the one you want to take. It runs much higher in the landscape – as the name gives away! On this stretch, you will get a sweeping view over the coastline as well as nearby islands and the rest of the land. You will also pass the Wild Atlantic Way viewpoint by taking this route.
Further on the route, the two roads join up again and will continue on the coast back to the N59. Once you hit this national road, it is a short journey back to Clifden.
Places to Note on the Sky Road Drive
Clifden is known by some as the Capital of Connemara. This town in Galway is popular with tourists for its location in Connemara as well as it’s many pubs, restaurants, and cute shops. I love having a look around the quaint craft shops and galleries that are always dotted across tourist towns. In Clifden, my absolute favourite shops are Lughnasa (LOVE this place), Connemara Blue, Whitethorn Gallery and I got these gorgeous coasters in a shop; I think it may have been called Walsh’s Emporium.
The D’arcy Monument
Just at the start of the route is the D’arcy monument. It’s a memorial for John Darcy, the founder of Clifden town. However, the main reason this spot is so popular with tourists is that it’s the best place to look over and photograph Clifden. It is at the top of a small hill and takes a short hike to get up to the monument.
Clifden Castle on the Sky Road
Clifden Castle is a magical-looking ivy-covered castle ruin just outside the town. It was built in 1810 and was home to John D’arcy, who you’ll now know, established Clifden.
There’s a small parking area and a short walk down a narrow lane to reveal the castle.
Wild Atlantic Way – Sky Road Drive Viewpoint
At the highest point of the Upper Sky Road, you will come across the WAW viewpoint. You can’t miss it with the familiar Wild Atlantic Way sign towering at the edge of the car park. You can pull up, hope out and breathe in the fresh country air while enjoying panoramic views of the area.
What is the Wild Atlantic Way?
The Sky road loop follows along the Wild Atlantic Way. For those of you know don’t know, what is it? The Wild Atlantic Way is a route that snakes it’s way along the edge of the west coast, from Kinsale in cork to Malin head in Donegal. This route boasts the most rugged coastline and passes must-see attractions in the west of Ireland.
Old Stone Bridge
Near the end of the route, before joining back on the n59, here is a beautiful old stone bridge. You can find it just after Bayridge house. We stopped to take some photos here, I thought it was too pretty to skip!
My Experience driving Sky Road in Clifden
I drove the Sky road towards the end of summer. Although sadly, I did not have summer weather for it. Starting out in Clifden, Eoghan and I drove the route clockwise, going west out of town. I’m guessing most people do it this way and head out along the coast.
We chose the upper sky road route and stopped along the way at the Wild Atlantic Way viewpoint. While we were driving I found myself gasping and “Oh my goding” at the views.
After stopping to take pictures at the bridge, we decided to turn back the way we came. We had driven the stretch of the N59 so many times we preferred to seize the opportunity to try out the lower sky road. Not gonna lie, I didn’t find this road that impressive at all. It is very low down and at a lot of points, the hedge along the road went above the windows so we couldn’t see out much at all.
On the way back we stopped off at Clifden Castle. We took the short walk down to see it. It was great to stretch the legs after driving. The castle is so cool and the grounds are completely open to explore. We spent a while there looking around before getting back to the car. After that, there was time to stop off in Clifden for a bite before heading home.
Other Nearby Attractions
- Omey Island:
- Diamond Hill
- Kylemore Abbey
Things to note:
- Very narrow roads
Final Thoughts on The Sky Road Drive
Even on the overcast day we had, the route was stunning, with its far-reaching look over Galway’s west coast. If you’re going through Connemara take my advice, take the sky road, and the high road!
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