The Giant’s Causeway
Today was a busy day, leaving Derry/Londonderry behind and making our way to Northern Ireland’s Capital city, Belfast. En route though, we had plans to hit 4 places – Dunluce Castle, the Giant’s Causeway, the Dark Hedges (from the Game of Thrones), Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and then to Belfast via the scenic route, following Northern Ireland’s AMAZING ‘Causeway Coastal Route‘. A busy day indeed, but one of the best you can ask for. You can see our route here below:
As we left Derry behind, we headed towards the Giant’s Causeway, en route though is a little bonus sight, Dunluce Castle. So we swung by there for 30 minutes or so first (£6), it’s literally 15 minutes from the Giant’s Causeway so it’s worth the minor detour.
After that we made a beeline for the main event, the Giant’s Causeway.
GIANT’S CAUSEWAY TICKETS AND OPENING HOURS
Tickets for the Giant’s Causeway are £9 and the opening hours are from 9am to 7pm. I MASSIVELY recommend getting there before 10am, the Causeway will be jammed full of tourists in the mid afternoon and the gorgeous sights aren’t quite the same with a million strangers blocking the view.
From the visitor centre there’s a beautiful 15 minute walk down the hill to the Causeway, and then of course back up again. You can take a shuttle for £1 each way if you prefer though. There are also walking tours every hour on the hour so if you’re into all the info about rock formations etc, that’s the way to go!
WHAT IS THE GIANT’S CAUSEWAY?
The legend goes that an Irish giant named Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn McCool) wanted to prove his superior strength and status. So he challenged the giant across the Irish sea, the Scottish giant Benandonner, to a fight but there were no boats large enough for him to get across the Irish sea. So he started making a pathway of stepping stones from Ireland to Scotland, and off he went, without getting his feet wet.
When he made it to Benandonner’s place, he saw how big Benandonner was before Benandonner noticed him. So he sprinted back to Ireland in fear, ran into his house and crawled into his crib! When Benandonner noticed the causeway was finished, he ran across the water to challenge Fionn Mac Cumhail, he knocked on the door and Fionn’s wife told Benandonner not to wake ‘the baby’. When Benandonner saw how big Fionn Mac Cumhail’s ‘baby’ was, he was terrified and sprinted back to Scotland, tearing up the causeway as he crossed the Irish sea. Leaving what we now recognize as the Giant’s Causeway.
The reality is something more aligned to some 40,000 large black basalt columns which protrude from the sea. It formed when molten rock was forced up through fissures in the earth to form a lava plateau.
How to I get to the Giant’s Causeway?
If you don’t have your own transport, you can take day trips from Belfast. The Giant’s Causeway is about 2 hours from Belfast. There are also lots of your companies running day trips from Belfast too, normally price around £30. If you’re taking public transport, make your way to Portrush or Coleraine. From these 2 towns, it’s a £5 bus ride.
Growing up in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway was our international tourism claim to fame and it is pretty cool. Having spent the last 10 days or so visiting The Rock of Cashel, the Aran Islands, Skellig Michael, Slieve League, the Cliffs of Moher etc it put it a little more in perspective. It’s an amazing piece of natural beauty, and the surrounding views of the Causeway Coastal Route are spectacular so for sure every visit to Northern Ireland should included it, and it is indeed a ‘must see’, I would rate a few of the other sites I’ve visited in the last week or so higher, best solution is to see them all!
After the Giant’s Causeway we went to Northern Ireland’s newest tourist attraction, the Dark Hedges, made famous by the Game of Thrones which blew my mind (it gets a separate blog post because it was so cool!), and then onwards to the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.
Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge
The Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge is a small bridge linking Carrick-a-rede island to Ireland mainland, 30m above sea level and built 350 years ago! It has since because a huge tourist attraction with over 350,000 people coming to it each year.
The Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge is often done in conjunction with the Giant’s Causeway due to its proximity (8 miles/15 minutes). Just note that tourism in Northern Ireland is booming, so if you want to cross the Rope Bridge you have to buy a ticket on the hour every hour (£7). I actually arrived around 3.55pm and missed the 4pm deadline AND the 5pm tickets were also sold out, so be aware! To be honest though, it’s worth going to the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge and not crossing, the views of the Causeway Coastal Route are worth the drive anyway.
From there you can head straight to Belfast, or if you have an extra hour or so to spare, huge the coastline along the Causeway Coastal Route and be rewarded with some of Northern Ireland’s most impressive, rugged views.
Less than 2 hours later, you’ll be in Belfast. Northern Ireland’s capital is a city waiting to burst with opportunity, culture, bars and clubs. It’s a great city, and one you shoul dallocate at least 2 nights too on your trip. More on that in the next post.