Giant’s Causeway: 10 Ultimate things you need to know

Hexagonal rock formations on a coast with dark clouds rolling in

No matter where you go in Ireland you are likely to hear a folklore story or two and the Giant’s Causeway is no different. Sadly, Northern Ireland is often missed on the typical “Irish” road trip. Whilst, Northern Ireland is a separate country to Ireland, the beauty is just as impressive.

The coastline, especially the Causeway Coast, of Northern Ireland is beautiful and is a must on any “Irish” road trip. One of the best stops along the Causeway Coast is the Giant’s Causeway, and of course their is story just as impressive as the Giant’s Causeway it’s self.

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Giant's Causeway Pinterest Graphic

Planning a trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland? Check out the resources below
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The Complete Guide to Visiting the Cliffs of Moher
The Best Guide to Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula

What is the Giant’s Causeway?

The Giant’s causeway is located in Country Antrim on the North Coast of Northern Ireland about about 5km from the town of Bushmills.

The Giant’s Causeway forms part of the causeway coast that is made up of 40,000 hexagonal interlocking basalt columns. Today, the Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO world heritage site. The columns that you see at the Giant’s Causeway were caused by ancient volcanic fissure eruption.

The Story Behind the Giant’s Causeway

I mentioned the ancient volcanic eruption, but is that true story behind the Giant’s Causeway?

I mean, why would a place caused by a volcanic eruption be called the Giant’s Cause? Let me fill you in on the real story….

The causeway that we see today is what remains of a causeway built by giants. Irish Giant Fionn mac Cumhaill was challenged to a fight by Scottish Giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built a causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could be meet for the battle.

This is where things get a little blurry. In one version of the legend Fionn defeats the Scottish giant. In another version of the legend, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises how big his rival is. Fionn’s wife, disguises him as a baby and puts him in the cradle. When Benandonner sees how big the baby, he assumes Fionn must be the biggest giant of all giants and flees back to Scotland.

Is there a Causeway in Scotland?

Yes! In Scotland, across the North Channel there are identical basalt columns at Fingal’s Cave on the isle of Staffa. The basalt Columns at Fingles Cave are part of the same ancient volcanic fissure eruption…..or the same causeway built by the Giant’s.

Here is the complete guide to visiting the Giant’s Causeway

Getting to the Giant’s Causeway

By Foot
If you would like to walk to the Giant’s Causeway you can walk the incredible 53 km Causeway Coast. The Coast runs from Port Stewart to Bally Castle. If you would like to walk the Causeway Coast plan your trip here

By Car
The most common way to reach the Causeway is via car. Driving in Northern Ireland is quite easy, just remember they drive on the LEFT and the speeds are in miles per hour. If you don’t have a car you can easily hire one.

The Giant’s causeway and the visitors center are located on the B147 Causeway Road. There is parking onsite but it is reserved for visitors who access the Giant’s Causeway through the visitors center.

The Causeway is located one hour and ten minutes North of Belfast, an hour from Londonderry and 3 hours from Dublin.

By Train
Trains run regularly from Belfast or Londonderry to Coleraine. From Coleraine take the Ultserbus Service 172 to the Causeway.

More information can be found at Northern Ireland Translink.

By Bike
If you would rather cycle to the Causeway you can take the National Cycle Network, Route 93. The route follows the coast from Newry to Ballycastle via Bangor and Belfast.

By Bus
Finally, you can also catch the bus to the Giant’s Causeway. There are many options for buses, be mindful that some may be seasonal.  Ulsterbus Service 172; Goldline Service 221; Causeway Rambler Service 402; Open Top Causeway Coast Service 177; Antrim Coaster Service 252.

For more information check out the Translink website.

Entry to the Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre.

To enter the Causeway and Visitors center you need to pay an admission fee. For adults £13.00, children £6.50 (under five is free) and families are £32.50.

Your admission price includes, on-site parking, access to the Visitor centre, a guided tour or the use of an audio guide.

How to visit the Giant’s Causeway for free

It is free to visit the Causeway. The fees above are to access the Visitors center and the car park. There is a carpark located just down from the visitors center and parking is approximately £3.

There are staff at the car park directing people and if you, politely, ask them where you can park (away from the visitors centre) they will direct you.

Things to do at the Giant’s Causeway

Visit the Visitors center and explore the interpretative exhibition area, and order from the cafe. Of course, there is a gift store!

Walk along the Red Route to get the best views of the Causeway.

Participate in the Cliff top Experience. Join the tour company “A wee walk away” and go on a guided hike of the Giant’s Causeway. The tour starts at Dunseverick Castle and covers 5 miles.

How long to spend at the Giant’s Causeway

To fully experience and explore the Causeway, I suggest you spend at least 2 – 3 hours. This will give you time to walk the mile to the Causeway and you will spend more time clambering over the basalt columns than you think!

Best time to Visit the Giant’s Causeway

Sunset at the Causeway it gorgeous. I suggest arriving just before sunset to have the best of the day time and the sunset. Just mindful, of walking back up towards the Visitors center and/or carpark if it is getting dark.

Tips for visiting the Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is the second biggest “attraction” in Northern Ireland and can be quite busy during peak hours. I recommend visiting before 11am or after 4pm.

The ground is not flat so make sure you are wearing proper and comfortable shoes.

It can get very windy, so make sure you have a jacket

Skip the visitors center and spend more time exploring the Causeway itself.

Pack some snacks and drinks and have a picnic at the causeway

Best places to say when visiting the Giant’s Causeway

Bushmills is the closest town to the Causeway and one of the best places to stay if you don’t want to drive back to Belfast or Dublin.

Some of the best places to stay are Causeway Hotel, Ballylinny Holiday Cottages, The Smugglers Inn or the Giant’s Causeway Holiday Cottages. If you would rather stay in a hostel there is the Finn McCools Giant’s Causeway Hostel

Tours to the Giant’s Causeway

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Have you visited the Giant’s Causeway? Let me know your experience in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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Comments

  1. We hiked the Coastal trail past the Giant’s Causeway and loved seeing it from different angles. Staying along the trail was a fabulous way to see it as we could be there early in the morning before anybody showed up.

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