Lingering around WWW to find the best to do things during your staycation in Northern Ireland? Then paying a visit to The Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim can be your perfect vacation treat!
This UNESCO Heritage Site can make your trip fabulous or average, depending on the time you prep yourself to take a trip.
The place comprises countless basalt columns formed millions of years ago due to fierce volcanic eruptions that shifted the landscape permanently!
As the lava solidified upon cooling, it created a rupture pattern of geometric hexagonal columns.
So, I am here to offer you some insightful and interesting information that will surely make you fall in love with the place just like me.
No wonder it’s a popular tourist spot in all of Northern Ireland, infused with myths and with an exemplary reason. It’s simply incredible!
1. About the Giants Causeway
Bordered by the untamed North Atlantic Ocean and a terrain of picturesque cliffs, the Giant’s Caus is a geological astonishment and an abode to abundant history and legend.
Starting from your road trip to reach the Giant’s Causeway up there is a breathtaking experience. There is 120 miles stretch to click some spectacular scenery on the Nothern Ireland’s coast between Belfast city and Limavady.
Also, this route offers some fantastic activities to see and do before you get to the Causeway, as there are a couple of things newly installed to get some stunning vantage points.
Once you reach the Causeway, there is a remarkable newly constructed multi-million-pound interpretative centre that probes into the geology part and other stuff.
But the best part lies outside once you get down and tramp over the basalt column and click some obligatory photographs!
These tightly packed basalt columns tower at various heights. Some are found at the cliff’s foot, with the rest disappearing deep into the sea.
In general, you can find 40000 stone columns that are primarily hexagonal.
However, there are findings stating that there are four, five, seven and eight-sided stones discovered in the place.
And the most towering columns are nearly 40 feet high, and the cooled solid lava is 90 feet thick in some places of the cliffs.
Many Irish locals consider the Giant’s Causeway the 8th Wonder of the World.
With that said, here’s everything you must know about this Northern Ireland attraction, including when to visit, how to reach there, where to dwell, and some understanding of its history.
2. How was the Giant’s Causeway Formed?
Well, there always lies a narrative and a fact for the evolution of Causeway. The prime question is: Is it a natural or a manufactured wonder?
So, read on to learn what legends and history say about its existence…
2.1 Causeway Story from the Legends
Initially, I had mentioned that an ancient volcanic eruption created the Causeway. But do you really believe it to be true?
I mean, how can a volcanic eruption lead to calling it a Giant’s Causeway?
So, now I will fuel the real story surrounding this place that will make kids totally fall in love.
And the best part is that this place is most liked by kids to explore and reenact this beautiful story there in reality at the Causeway!
This is how the story goes…
It is said that the Causeway we see today is the leftovers of the original Causeway created by giants who inhabited the planet many years ago.
It began when the Irish giant Finn Mac Cool (or Fionn Mac Cumhaill) was challenged by the Scottish giant Benandonner for a fight. Finn accepted the challenge and built this Causeway in the Northern Channel to meet for the battle.
Now, here’s where the legend gets a bit blurry. One version states that Finn defeats the Scottish giant. Another version states that Finn hides in his house, fearing the might of the rival.
To save him, his wife disguises him like an infant and lays him in the cradle. When Benandonner glimpses the baby’s size, he presumes Finn is the greatest giant of all giants and escapes to Scotland ripping up the causeway behind him to stop Finn from following him.
Hence the remains of the Causeway are the two tail ends on Ireland’s Northern Coast and the Staffa Island in Scotland.
2.2 History of the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim
Drifting away from the legends and folklore surrounding the Giant’s Causeway, here is a less dramatic natural history of the place.
The evolution dates back to 60 million years ago when severe volcanic activity made the molten lava gush on a plaster basement. Upon contact with air and water, the lava cooled to give birth to the basaltic columns we see today in the Giant’s Causeway.
These distinct and cracked tile-shaped, interlocking columns are calculated to be about 40,000 in number. Its matrix pattern on the surface looks exactly like a honeycomb.
One such formation can be seen if you are actually there, and it’s called the Organ because the cut rocks resemble the pipes of an organ.
The tallest basalt pillar stands about 40 feet high. Unfortunately, the mass behind this high point is dwindling as the stones gradually disappear into the sea.
But their colossal, close to perfect, symmetrical appearance made the ancestors of Ireland believe that the place was landed here straight from another world.
At dawn and dusk, you might note that the place turns mystical, and visitors worldwide take a tour to comprehend the tales and legends spun around this place for centuries now.
So, what is your take on the evolution of the Giant’s Causeway? Is it a natural or a manufactured wonder?
3. Where is the Giant’s Causeway?
The Giants Causeway is located at the far end of the Northern Coast in North Ireland and takes the segment of the broader United Kingdom.
It is placed precisely inside the town of Antrim, along the Causeway Coast. The closest town is Bushmills, which is a few kilometres away.
Even Belfast is about 90 kilometres, and Derry is about 70 kilometres from the Causeway.
The Visitor Centre is a pretty popular spot to access the Causeway and is situated just a few paces away from the coast. You can take a short walk from here to reach the spot.
4. How to reach the Giant’s Caus?
Being a popular tourist hub, you don’t have to worry as there are numerous transport links and infrastructure offered by the United Kingdom.
There are several ways to reach the place, from public transport, private Giant’s Causeway tour, and driving.
If you are short of time and wish to maximise exploring Northern Ireland, then taking a group tour is the best option.
If you want some detailed information about the various modes to take you to the Causeway, scroll down!
4.1 Via Foot
If you wish to create your style of vacation, take a 53 km walk along the Causeway Coast to reach your destination. This coast runs between Port Stewart and Bally Castle.
And don’t forget to check this link on planning a walk to the Causeway!
4.2 Taking a Drive
This is the standard mode to reach the Causeway. And driving on Ireland’s North roads is relatively easy.
Just stick to this rule, keep to the left, having a speed limit of a mile per hour.
If you don’t possess a vehicle of your own, you can hire one from here!
Just stay on the B147 Causeway Road to reach the Causeway and the visitors’ centre. An onsite parking facility is available for reserved visitors visiting the Causeway via the visitor centre.
If you are driving from the North of Belfast, it’s a one hour and ten minutes’ drive.
From Londonderry, it’s an hour’s drive, and it takes up to three hours to drive from Dublin.
4.3 Via Train
You can find trains starting from Belfast or Londonderry to Coleraine regularly.
Now you must stop at Coleraine and take the Ultserbus Service 172 to reach the Causeway.
For more information, check the Northern Oreland Translink here!
4.4 Via Bike
Sounds quite absurd, right? But you can take a trip on your two-wheeler from the National Cycle Network, Route 93.
This route takes you to the coast from Newry to Ballycastle through Belfast and Bangor.
4.5 Via Bus
Bus services with a variety of options are available to reach the Causeway. But you must note that out of so many options, some are seasonal. So, ensure to take;
- Ulsterbus Service 172
- Goldline Service 221
- Causeway Rambler Service 402
- Open Top Causeway Coast Service 177
- Antrim Coaster Service 252 to reach the spot.
Here’s the Translink website to help you with all the information you seek!
5. Best Time of the Year to Visit Giant’s Cause
Planning your visit for summer when the weather is quite windy and when you can capture some great pictures with the ocean in front of you.
However, this is also the time when crowds generally tend to increase.
So, if you wish to avoid them choose the shoulder months like early fall or late spring.
Finally, if you wish to sightsee by day, reach early or late to avoid the 11 am to 3 pm crowds. You can stay beside the Causeway to be the first in the morning or sunset.
The opening times of the Causeway are from 09:00 am to 17:00 pm with the car park open throughout the day.
6. Giants Causeway Tickets
Visiting the Giant’s Caus is absolutely free!
If you wish to visit it via the Causeway Visitor Centre, access the onsite parking, guided tours and use the audio guide, its:
- £13.00 for adults
- £6.50 (under five is free) for children
- £32.50 for families
If you are a national trust member, tickets here are free.
You can also opt for a fantastic Giant’s Caus Clifftop Experience for £35.00 through guided trails to get some unique views of the coastal belt below!
But if you are NOT WILLING to access via the centre, you can access the car park just below the visitor’s centre for around £3.
Enquire about the parking away from the Centre to the polite staff to get to park your vehicle.
7. Tips Before Visiting the Causeway
- Have a waterproof jacket handy and dress in layers as the cliff sits just on top of the Atlantic Ocean that is always tossed by the winds.
- Wear comfy and non-slippery shoes to trample the irregular and wet surface of the terrain.
- Keep watch of the sea in front of you as there are chances for a highly roaring wave to hit the shore. Follow the indications provided by the operators to have a safe visit.
- Walk on the marked trails to preserve nature and avoid unnecessary mishaps.
8. Activity Checklist at the Causeway
Apart from gazing and getting yourself enthralled over the landscape, there are some other attractions you can pursue to keep yourself entertained throughout the day.
Some of them include visiting the;
- Dunluce Castle
- Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
- Bushmills Distillery
- The Dark Hedges
- The Camel
- The Granny
- Walking Trails
Another excellent option if you’re taking a tour is to opt for a Game of Thrones tour. Before stepping on the Causeway shores, this tour takes you along the Antrim Coast.
You will stop at places like the Nine Glens of Antrim, Carrickfergus Castle, the coastal town of Ballycastle, and HBO’s Game of Thrones filming (Magharmorne Quarry), which is the location of Castle Black.
9. Why is the Giant’s Caus Famous?
Apart from offering an exemplary visitor experience through its historically and culturally rich Centre, the real reason why it became a UNESCO Heritage Site (1986) is due to the following reason;
9.1 Rich Wildlife in the Causeway Coast
Apart from offering some stunning views, this coast is home to various animals, rare plant breeds and unique rock formations.
It includes seabirds like petrel, fulmar, shag, cormorant, and more to the rare plant species found under the unique rock formations like the hare’s-foot trefoil and sea spleenwort.
9.2 Unique Rock Shapes and the Astounding Scenery
Remember the tale we encountered before? You can see the Irish giant’s boot there as he fled, thinking about the length of his foe.
Specialists say that the boot is around size 94!
9.3 The Grand Causeway
This is the prime area where tourists can tread their foot on. It is a lengthy stretch of basalt rocks formed during the 60 million years ago volcanic eruptions.
9.4 Chimney Stacks
Being a wonder to behold, these basalt stacks have up to 8 sides and tower to great heights.
9.5 The Wishing Chair
A must-visit place for any tourist on the shores of the Causeway. This is the ultimate naturally formed throne that is neatly arranged on a particular column.
Want to get the feel of a king? Then try sitting on it.
Giant’s Causeway Facts: Did you know? There was a time when women were not allowed to sit on it!
Now don’t marvel over these places just by reading about them. You can add it to your to-do list at the Causeway to the activity list we just went through earlier!
Typically, you can find a Causeway tour taking you up to 3 hours based on the tour company you have chosen, what is included in the itinerary, and additional stops.
Now you’re all set to take the next trip to Ireland solo or with your family and create some fantastic moments for your soul and journals.
Check here to obtain some exciting stuff to keep you interested and motivated!