Skellig Ring: when to visit, what to see, and things to know

As the hidden gem of beautiful drives in Ireland, the Skellig Ring has unparalleled views and no traffic. Here is everything you need to know about the Skellig Ring.

As an extension of the infamous Ring of Kerry drive, the Skellig Ring is the most overlooked and beautiful drives in all of Ireland. This 32 km (20 mi) long drive spans across part of the Kerry peninsula offering breathtaking views.

This coastal drive gets its name from the views it offers of the offshore Skellig Islands, two remote islands.

Skellig Michael is the most famous of the two, and in the 6th-century, was home to a group of monks. More recently, Skellig Michael was used as a filming location for Star Wars

Skellig Ring was voted “Best in Travel 2017” by Lonely Planet, as one of the best destinations in the world for travellers.

The drive starts in Portmagee and continues until Ballinskelligs. Throughout the drive, you can expect jaw-dropping views, quaint villages, and other hidden gems.

When to visit – have the weather on your side

When to visit the Skellig Ring.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

While this magnificent drive is something one can complete at any time of the year, the best time of the year to visit is during the summer.

During the summer months, there is a better chance of having good visibility and better weather, thus making your drive and exploring more enjoyable.

As the winter months are the off-peak season, some of the attractions may be operating at reduced or restricted opening hours. It is always best to research the attractions before commencing your drive to not be disappointed.

What to see – sights galore

There is plenty to see.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

While the Ring of Kerry is unbelievably beautiful, the Skellig Ring tops that. The unspoilt sights combined with the windy country roads mean that the views around every corner are highly anticipated.

The drive is much quieter compared to the Ring of Kerry, meaning that you can bask in the peacefulness. 

Starting this beautiful drive at Ballinskelligs, keep your eyes peeled for Ballinskelligs Castle, a 16th-century ruins of a castle.

This castle is believed to have been built to protect the bay from pirates. Although it is in ruins, this castle is a must-visit for anyone driving the Skellig Ring because of its beautiful location next to a golden sandy beach.

Address: R566, Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry

Just outside the town of Ballinskelligs, you will be treated to spectacular views of the Skellig Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy the sight of Skellig Michael surrounded by the wild Atlantic Ocean. It really is a sight to behold. 

Be sure to make a pitstop at Skellig Chocolate Company, which overlooks the Skellig Islands.

This open-plan chocolate factory is the perfect place to become mesmerised, watching chocolate being made. They have a range of chocolate on offer, making for the ideal gifts to remember your drive along the Skellig Ring. 

Address: St. Finians Bay, The Glen, Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry

Stop at St. Finian’s Bay halfway around the Skellig Ring. This small beach is the perfect place to watch surfers with the Skellig Islands as its backdrop. There are strong riptides, so it is not suitable for swimming, but it is absolutely a must-visit.

Address: St. Finians Bay, The Glen, Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry

Towards the end of the Skellig Ring, you will be greeted by 1,000 ft (308m) tall sandstone cliffs. The Kerry Cliffs are not to be missed as they give you unique views over the Atlantic Ocean.

You hike to the edge of the cliffs that are home to hundreds of birds during part of the year.

Address: Skellig Ring, Foilnageragh, Portmagee, Co. Kerry

Near the Portmagee end of the Skellig Ring, you will be enticed onto Valentia Island by the alluring bridge.

This island is rich in culture and history and has countless beautiful places to be discovered. Enjoy lighthouses, pre-historic footprints, and subtropical gardens on Valentia Island.

Things to know – be prepared 

The Skellig Ring is a must visit.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Entry into the Kerry Cliffs is €4 per person, and there is a car park where you can park. We suggest giving yourself an hour to hike about here and enjoy all the mesmerising views.

Although the Skellig Ring drive isn’t incredibly long distance-wise, we feel that the average person spends between six and eight hours on the Skellig Ring. This gives people ample opportunity to enjoy the views, make some stops at some sights and get some food. 

As the Skellig Ring is on the Atlantic Ocean, the weather can be extremely changeable.

We suggest packing some layers and a waterproof jacket, so you are prepared for all types of weather. A good pair of runners or hiking boots will also be vital if you plan on doing a bit of exploring.

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