Giants Causeway & Northern Ireland Travel Guide

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Giants Causeway is a magnificent, mysterious geological formation on the North East coast of County Antrim.

Giants Causeway And The Antrim Coast

Best Tips for your Northern Ireland Holiday So you are planning a trip to Northern Ireland, maybe you want to explore the Giants Causeway? Here are some useful tips and advice on how to plan your trip, so that you can get the best out of it. Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland has been voted one of the top travel destinations in the world by Conde Nast Traveler readers. 

You can visit this place by taking a private tour trip. The Causeway Coast area is home to many beautiful attractions, many of which are well known such as the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, where you can walk over the ocean on a rope bridge. Another attraction is Dunluce Castle, which has been abandoned since the 16th century, when it was destroyed during the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and is said to be haunted. 

There is also Old Bushmills Distillery where you can witness whiskey being produced in a traditional way. And not to be missed The Dark Hedges one of the most popular natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. How to get there: Getting around Northern Ireland is easy if you have a car or take a private tour.

This blog post will help you plan your next holiday in Northern Ireland, You will find out lots of information that will help you plan your next trip, activities during your holiday and when is the best time to visit.

What is the Giants Causeway?

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Giants Causeway and Titanic Belfast Tour 2

The Giants Causeway is the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Northern Ireland. Situated on the beautiful North coast, in an area of outstanding beauty, with breath-taking views, this is a must-see for anyone traveling to Northern Ireland. Often called the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Giants causeway is a magical, mythical and mysterious place to visit.

The Causeway lies at the foot of the basalt cliffs along the sea coast on the edge of the Antrim plateau in Northern Ireland. It is made up of some 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea. These geological formations were formed 50–60 million years ago during Tertiary volcanic activity, and are a major tourist attraction.

Why visit the Giants Causeway?

The is a beautiful area to explore while you’re in Northern Ireland. It’s a fantastic place to see how nature and science can work together as you come face to face with thousands of large basalt columns standing in the sea, So when you come to Northern Ireland, don’t miss out on a visit to the Giants Causeway where you can see a huge rock formation that was created by lava. 

The Giants Causeway is a place of natural beauty, and it was here millions of years ago that some of the most amazing landscapes were created. This breathtaking site shouldn’t be missed while you’re in Northern Ireland. From the moment your eyes first set on it, the Giants Causeway stuns. To fully appreciate its beauty, you need to see it in person.

drive from Belfast to the Giant's Causeway

There are 3 ways to get from Belfast to Giants Causeway: by train, bus or by car. The key stops on the way are Cushendall, Bushmills, and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge for those who wish to see it. Picking up a hire car at Belfast International Airport and driving here maybe your best option as it gives you some of the best scenery on this route and you can really enjoy it. If you’re short on time or would prefer not to drive in busy traffic, then booking a private tour may also be an option. 

There are two driving routes to get to Giants Causeway from Belfast. The first is a spectacular coastal scenic route that goes from Belfast to Giants Causeway. The alternative is to take the motorway which is a faster way of getting there.

Belfast to The Giants Causeway By train

if you are on a budget your best bet would be via train from Belfast Central Station to Coleraine and then a bus to the Giant’s Causeway (you can find the timetables on the Translink site. unfortunately, this means you will miss the beautiful Antrim Coast but public transport via this route takes almost 3.5 hours!

From Belfast’s Great Victoria Street, take the train to Coleraine. The journey should last about 1 hour 15 minutes. When you arrive in Coleraine, get either the 170 or 420 bus, both of which run directly to the Causeway.

Taking a combination of train and bus is a more scenic way of getting from Central Belfast to Giant’s Causeway. The first leg of the journey involves taking a train from Belfast to Coleraine Train Station, which takes around 1hr20m. From here, take the Ulsterbus Service 172 which goes to Giants Causeway. The prices of bus and train tickets vary, but normally work out costing more than taking a tour or direct bus.

Geology

Around 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleocene Epoch, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive volcanic plateau. As the lava cooled, contraction occurred. Horizontal contraction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillarlike structures, which also fractured horizontally into “biscuits”. In many cases, the horizontal fracture resulted in a bottom face that is convex, while the upper face of the lower segment is concave, producing what are called “ball and socket” joints. 

The size of the columns was primarily determined by the speed at which lava cooled. The extensive fracture network produced the distinctive columns seen today. The basalts were originally part of a great volcanic plateau called the Thulean Plateau, which formed during the Paleocene.

Tour from Belfast to Giants Causeway

The best and most convenient way to get there is by private tour, which travels along to the Antrim coast and stops many top tourist attractions on the way to the Giants Causeway.

There are many tours that depart daily from Belfast and Dublin to Giants Causeway. Some of these tours only visit Giants Causeway and the nearby Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Others will spend less time at Giant’s Causeway but include stops at nearby attractions such as the Game of Thrones filming locations.

There are several bus companies that offer scheduled services daily on these routes but taking a private tour offers more personalized service and you will get to see places that aren’t mentioned in the regular bus tour.

For all your Belfast day trip needs, Private Tour is an excellent choice. If you are looking for a more personal experience of the Giants causeway and the Antrim coast private tour is the best option to have an unforgettable day trip from Belfast with Belfast Tours NI

A private day trip from Belfast can be a great experience to enjoy a different side of the Antrim coast. You will be visiting Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, and Causeway coast which are all located in County Antrim.

The picturesque drive takes you to the beautiful North Antrim region of Northern Ireland and the most popular tourist attractions. This drive takes you through some very picturesque areas of Northern Ireland and exposes you to some fascinating sites along the way.

Popular Tours From Belfast Northern Ireland

The best tours in Belfast are those that make you feel like the city is yours. You can be a local and go wherever you please with a little help from your guide. Here, we’ve put together some of the best private tours in Belfast, so that you can get out there and explore the city as if you were a native.

With these Belfast private tours, you’ll get to see all of the tourist hot spots: Stormont, Titanic Belfast, and St George’s Market to name just a few. But that’s just scratching the surface of what Northern Ireland’s capital has to offer: these tours will take you off the beaten track, introducing you to places that most tourists never see.

Luxury Tailor-Made personal tours in Belfast and the surrounding areas of Northern Ireland and beyond.

Travel tips and info

The weather never has extremes and is always temperate. The most attractive time scenically is the spring (late March to early June) and the fall (September to October). They are usually warm and dry with blossoms in the spring and colors in the fall. The summer (late June to the end of August) is a busy period.

As part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland’s currency is the pound sterling (£). 

Most US, UK and Australian debit and credit cards should be usable in Ireland. Visa, Mastercard (Cirrus and Maestro) and American Express are all widely accepted. However, you may have a little more trouble using a Diner’s Club card, and Discover isn’t often accepted in Ireland.

Ireland’s main currency is the Euro. Because most places you visit will be able to take your credit or debit cards, you don’t need to take much cash. In fact, there is really no reason to get Euros before you leave the US.

Yes, depending on where you go. When measured as more than 1mm of rainfall a day, the average rainfall in the South and East of the Country is about 150 days of rain a year, while the West Coast gets about 225 days a year. This is rarely torrential and is usually mild.

Belfast is a very safe city – especially in the central area of the city, which is home to great shopping destinations, hotels, bars and restaurants. The atmosphere will feel like a small village in a metropolis, and the people are traditionally friendly and helpful. While it may be quieter than some major cities in the UK, it’s generally a safe place to walk at night, even in small groups. You should be cautious when travelling to any city destination, but Belfast is no cause for concern!

Belfast is the capital and largest city in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. Belfast is situated on Northern Ireland’s eastern coast, It’s lies between latitudes 54.58 and longitude -5.93.

Belfast Map

St George’s Market: St George’s Market is the last surviving Victorian covered market in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is located on May Street, close to the River Lagan and the Waterfront Hall. Belfast Corporation commissioned the building of St George’s Market, which was built in three phases between 1890 and 1896.

Belfast City Hall:  One of Belfast’s most iconic buildings, Belfast City Hall first opened its doors in August 1906 and is Belfast’s civic building. This was designed by architect Sir Alfred Brumwell and was opened in 1906.

Falls Road International Wall Murals:  Murals in Northern Ireland have become symbols of Northern Ireland, depicting the region’s past and present political and religious divisions. Northern Ireland has become famous for the murals painted in almost every area of the country.

Bobby Sands Mural: The 1981 Irish hunger strike started with Sands refusing food on 1 March 1981.

Clonard Monastery: Clonard Monastery is a Catholic church and monastery, located off the Falls Road in Belfast, Northern Ireland, home to a community of the Redemptorists religious order.

Bombay Street:  In 1969, a sectarian mob burned 1,500 residents from their homes on Bombay Street, Belfast Around 1,500 Catholic families were left homeless. 

Peace Wall:  The first peace lines were built in 1969, following the outbreak of the 1969 Northern Ireland riots and the Troubles They were built as temporary structures meant to last only six months.

Shankill Road and Murals:  The Shankill Road (from Irish, Seanchill, meaning “old church” is one of the main roads leading through west Belfast.

Crumlin Road Gaol / Jail:  Crumlin Road features two imposing structures of Belfast’s criminal justice system. Crumlin Road Gaol first opened its gates to prisoners in 1846 and for 150 years was a fully operational prison. On March 31, 1996, the Governor of Belfast’s Crumlin Road Gaol walked out of the fortified prison and the heavy air-lock gates slammed shut for the final time Please note tickets for touring the Jail are not included but are optional.

Belfast Castle:  Situated in the north of the city on the slopes of the Cavehill Country Park the castle sits 400 feet above sea level offering beautiful views of the city. You can take a short break at the Belfast castle if you like and enjoy a nice cup of tea and freshly baked scones.

The Crown Liquor Saloon: This pub in Great Victoria Street is one of the best known in Northern Ireland.  Dating back to the 1880s, The Crown is a gem of the Victorian era. Formerly known as The Liquor Saloon in Great Victoria Street, Belfast, our ageless and priceless pub was one of the mightiest Victorian Gin Palaces in the city, and still boasts many of its original features, including gaslighting.

Ulster Museum: As Northern Ireland’s treasure house of the past and the present, the Ulster Museum is home to a rich collection of art, history, and natural sciences and is free to all visitors. Delve into the history of the people of the north of Ireland from earliest times to the present day, get face to face with dinosaurs and up close to the famous ancient Egyptian mummy, Takabuti, and learn about how she came to arrive in Belfast in 1834.

Botanic Gardens: Botanic Gardens was established in 1828 by the Belfast Botanic and Horticultural Society, in response to the public interest in horticulture and botany. Originally known as the Belfast Botanic Garden, the site contained exotic tree species and impressive plant collections from the southern hemisphere, many of which can still be seen in the park.

Queen’s University: Queen’s University is a highly respected, world-renowned academic institution. It’s the main building, the Lanyon Building, which was designed by the English architect, Sir Charles Lanyon, and the university is spread across what has come to be known as the Queen’s Quarter and beyond.

Lunch Stop: We can stop for lunch in a nice Irish pub to sample our good food and maybe a cheeky pint of Guinness. Or you can sample some locally caught fish in one of the best fish and chips shops and of course not forgetting the mushy peas.

Kelly’s cellars: When socializing in the 1700’s lower classes would meet up at taverns & public houses. Oftentimes there’d be musicians working their trade, or a local person who could sing or play, and that sometimes led to dancing. 

Not much has changed at Kelly’s since then. Built-in 1720 much of the original features have been retained. So, if you’re looking for a laid-back venue rich in history, local produce and craic choose Kelly’s Cellars.

St Anne’s Cathedral and Cathedral Quarter:  Belfast Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of St. Anne, has stood for over 100 years as a place of Christian worship in the heart of Belfast. The foundation stone of the Cathedral was laid in 1899 and the building itself, Romanesque in style, continued to grow over the years. Located in the Cathedral Area of Belfast now a very trendy area with numerous restaurants and bars.

Titanic Museum and Titanic Quarter: Titanic Belfast, named the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the prestigious World Travel Awards in 2016, is located beside the Titanic Slipways, the Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices, and Hamilton Graving Dock, the very place where Titanic was designed, built and launched in 1912.

The self-guided Titanic Experience extends over nine interpretive and interactive galleries, which explore the sights, sounds, smells, and stories of RMS Titanic, as well as the city and people who made her. Please note tickets for touring the museum are not included but optional.

SS Nomadic: SS Nomadic is most famous for the part she played in the Titanic story when she ferried first and second-class passengers to Titanic from Cherbourg, but this was only the beginning of her extraordinary journey that stretches over 100 years. 

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giant's causeway Story and legend

There are some who will try to tell you that the Giant’s Causeway was built by volcanoes, claiming that 63 million years ago, in Ireland, or Northern Ireland at least, was on fire with volcanoes, spewing lava constantly into a chasm that existed between there and Scotland. All of these eruptions kept the magma in the chasm hot. Then a long slow cooling process allowed there to chill and to crack into the crystalline columns that you’d see there today. 

These columns extend under the sea all the way from the North-eastern tip of Northern Ireland over to the west coast of Scotland, emerging at Fingals Cave on the Ireland of Staffa, just off the west coast. This is the largest example of its kind in the world and, therefore it’s Northern Ireland’s only heritage site.

Another more interesting story that tells that it was built by giants. A long long time ago, in the North of Ireland lived the giant called Finn McCool. Finn McCool was a kind and peaceful giant. He looked after his land and his people well. He was, however, constantly under threat from a giant from Scotland. That giant’s name was Benandonner; the name itself means ‘mountain of Thunder’. Benandonner wanted to go to Ireland to kill Finn McCool and charge high taxes on the people that lived there. 

The only thing stopping him, the expanse of water in between, which was too wide and too deep; and Benandonner could not swim. The two giants, Scottish and Irish, had never met. They had never even seen each other. They lived too far apart, but they had heard each other on a daily basis, yelling, shouting, bawling, coursing, and threatening over the seas.

One morning, Finn McCool, sick, tired, and weary of listening to the threats of Benandonner, roused early and he built a causeway between Northern Ireland and Scotland. Using strange hexagonal columns of rock, he pushed them into the ground and into the seabed with his bare hands. When the causeway was finished, Finn McCool stood up at the Northern Ireland side and called over to Scotland, telling the Scottish giant Benandonner to come and fight for the lands, whenever he could find the courage to do so.

This was the biggest mistake that Finn McCool had ever made in his life for now as an angry Benandonner could be seen striding across this new Giant’s Causeway, Finn McCool seeing him for the first time could now clearly see that the Scottish giant was twice as big as he was. Terrified, he run to his wife and told her to pack all their belongings. ‘Get ready to leave, he said: ‘Leave now and we’ll leave with our lives; wait a moment longer, Benandonner will come and he’ll kill us, both’.

Oonagh, Finn’s wife, was just a bit more cunning and certainly a lot more intelligent than Finn McCool. She poured a large bottle of sleeping potion into Finn McCool’s early morning bottle of beer, and when he drank the beer, he drank the sleeping potion. As he did so, he fell sound asleep, and as he slept, Oonagh stripped him naked and then dressed him again just like a baby; she even placed a baby’s bonnet on his head. 

She start manufacturing a giant cradle, and lifting Finn McCool, she placed him in the cradle and stuck his thumb in his mouth… just in time for the door to knock. It was Benandonner. He’d arrived and he was furious. Where was this Irish upstart who had the audacity to challenge him?

Oonagh answered the door and smiling into the ugly Scottish giant’s face, she told him a lie. She told him that her husband, Finn McCool, had forgotten all about the threat. He’d gone off to the fields to work. It must have meant so little to him that it completely slipped his mind and he’d gone away to the fields. 

Benandonner was welcomed to come in and wait if he wanted, although he had best probably make his way back to Scotland and save himself for a severe beating. But if he did decide to come in, he had to promise not to make a fuss and wake the sleeping baby.

Of course, Benandonner did not wish to appear to be a coward, so he agreed to come in. But on entering the house he saw the size of the cradle in the corner. Peering inside, he saw Finn McCool lying there with a great big ginger beard; snoring loudly, breath stinking of stale beer.

“Are you telling me that’s the baby?”. “Oh yes, said Oonagh, that’s Finn McCool’s baby alright. Take a seat, I’ll bring you a nice cup of Irish tea”. “There’ll be no need for your hospitality”, said Benandonner, “I’m not waiting here to meet the father of something as gigantic as that”. And with that, he ran away back to Scotland again. But using his club, he smashed up the Giant’s Causeway in between Northern Ireland and Scotland to make sure that this Finn McCool, should he return from work, should not be able to follow him and do him injury.

But Finn McCool, lying sleeping in the cradle, heard the noise of the causeway breaking up, and it woke him up, and in a fit of anger at seeing his handiwork being destroyed he, ed with his bare hand a sod of earth from the north of Ireland and threw it after the retreating Benandonner.

Now, the sod of earth that Finn McCool — ed from the ground left a hole, a hole that can still be seen today even though it’s filled with water. It’s called Lough Neagh. It’s the largest inland waterway in the United Kingdom. Not only bigger than Logh Ness but bigger than Logh Ness and all the lakes of the English Lake District all put together.

But what happened to this sod of earth from the ground by Finn McCool’s hand and thrown after the retreating Benandonner? Well, Finn McCool was still a bit drowsy from the sleeping potion. He was still a bit drunk from the beer, and ++++ all that, Finn McCool in his whole life had never been a great shot with anything. So the sod of earth missed Benandonner and went flying through the air and landed with a mighty splash right in the middle of the Irish Sea, and today we call that The Isle of Man.

You may think that first story was the truth and this of giants was a lie. But let me put it to you like this: Should you visit the north of Ireland and look closely, you will see no volcanoes, but take a look at a map of the United Kingdom and compare the size, the shape, and the area of Lough Neah to the size, the shape and the area of the Isle of Man, and even to the untrained eye, you will have to admit there are certain striking similarities. So I put it to you that what you see there today is no geological formation at all, but truly was built by giants.

photos of Giants Causeway

giants causeway - FAQ

From Belfast’s Great Victoria Street, take the train to Coleraine. The journey should last about 1 hour 15 minutes. When you arrive in Coleraine, get either the 170 or 420 bus, both of which run directly to the Giant’s Causeway.

51 miles
 
How far is it from Belfast to Giant’s Causeway? The distance between Belfast and Giant’s Causeway is 51 miles. The road distance is 60.9 miles.

The Giant’s Causeway itself is free to enter and it is possible to do a self-guided tour around the area. The main attraction is undoubtedly the causeway’s 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns, and natural rock formations such as the ‘Giant’s Boot’, the ‘Organ’ and the ‘Wishing Chair’.

Visiting the Giant’s Causeway needs some consideration if you are not at least of average fitness. The visit includes a roadside climb down to the rocks but more importantly the steep climb back up. Allow at least 2 hours on a fine day to explore the site. or you can your Chauffeur Service which is better way to see Causeway Coast.

You Can Visit the Giant’s Causeway Without Paying

To skip the fees simply park away from the visitors centre. The lot at Giant’s Causeway & Bushmills Railway is just a few pounds and a short walk away. You may also find a local farmer who will let you park and walk from his land for a small fee.

To walk onsite to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre and Causeway Hotel, you can park in the nearby seaside village of Portballintrae and walk part of the Causeway Coast Way, (called the Yellow Trail on our maps) and then the Green Trail which links to the Red Trail.

Tourists began to flow to the Giant’s Causeway during the nineteenth century. After the National Trust took over its care in the 1960s and removed some commercialism, the Causeway became a well established tourist attraction. Visitors were able to walk over the basalt columns right at the edge of the sea.

It’s easy to reach the Giant’s Causeway – it’s just 60 miles north of Belfast. … You can wave to Scotland en route – the Scottish mainland is just 13 miles away in some parts, such as Tor Head in Northern Ireland to the Mull of Kintyre.

There are two ways to experience the Giant’s Causeway. Admission prices.
 
 Online priceStandard price
Adult£13.00£13.50
Child£6.50£6.50
Family*£32.50£32.50
Under 5sFREEFREE

giantscausewaytickets.com/admission-prices

Visitor info | Giant’s Causeway Admission prices

Tours to Giants Causeway

Join us on the Top Northern Ireland attractions for a full coastal adventure and travel along the North Antrim coast road, the famous Causeway Coastal Route, voted one of the world’s best drives. Marvel at the gorgeous Glens of Antrim and the unpredictable Irish Sea as you travel the North Antrim Coast, stopping in villages steeped in history and folklore. For an additional thrill, cross the Rope Bridge, if you dare!

Experience The Best Ireland attractions with Private Tours From Belfast and the natural beauty of Northern Ireland with Belfast Tours NI. Book a Private guided The Giant’s Causeway Tour from Belfast and explore the wonders of nature and its magic. 

Belfast Tours NI also Provides Private Luxury Game of Thrones Tours From Belfast as well as other Belfast City Sightseeing tours. Also, check out the wonderful street art with the Belfast Murals tour and other top Belfast attractions tours with us. Providing Luxury Tailor-Made Personal Tours From Belfast and the Surrounding Areas of Northern Ireland and beyond.

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Explore Belfast Street art’s, Murals, and the political history of the recent conflict in Belfast with a professional local guide in a personal Private Tour…

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Travellers' Choice and Certificate of Excellence awards

We at Belfast Tours NI are proud to have received the 2020 Travellers’ Choice award from Tripadvisor! The only travel industry awards based on millions of reviews and opinions from Travellers around the world, these annual awards reflect “the best of the best” for service, quality, customer satisfaction, and Private Luxury Tours.

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