The Giant’s Causeway
Welcome to one of the most amazing places on the planet; The Giant’s Causeway. The Giants Causeway comprises around 40,000 thousand, mostly hexagonal basalt columns descending gently into the sea. Depending on who you believe, the stones were formed either by an underwater volcano’s geological actions or by a giant named Finn McCool, who lived and battled along the north Antrim Coast.
Make your trip memorable by spending a day on a tour of The Giant’s Causeway from Ballymoney, Belfast or even Dublin. You will enjoy a comprehensive visit to Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage site and visit nearby famous attractions. There’s no need to read about the rich history; let our tour guide provide the facts and figures while you focus on taking in its beauty.
Travel along the iconic Giant’s Causeway Coast Route in comfort, and let yourself be enchanted by the gorgeous locations on the Antrim Coast, the lush beauty of the Irish landscape, and of course, the Giant’s Causeway itself. Take away the hassle of checking maps, and stopping to ask for directions, and we will ensure you see the best spots and get plenty of time to explore the Giant’s Causeway.
History of the Giant’s Causeway
Despite the Giant’s Causeway being formed over 60 million years ago, the 40000 or so basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway only came to be known by the broader public from around 1690 when it was “discovered” by the Bishop of Down and Conor, William King. Here you can discover more about the Giants Causeway’s history and how it became a world heritage site.
Geology Of The Giants Causeway
“When the world was moulded and fashioned out of formless chaos, this must have been the bit over—a remnant of chaos!” William Thackeray Tweet Thackeray’s
The Giant’s Causeway has some of the most amazing geological experiences on the Causeway Coast and in Northern Ireland. Visitors of this popular tourist spot have more than just the stones to view, with many natural phenomena such as the Giant’s Boot, the wishing chair and the Giant’s Organ.
The coastal walk to the stones takes in many of these offerings and the opportunity to get the obligatory selfie on the giant’s boot
Myths & Legends of the Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway, near Bushmills, has been drawing thousands of tourists from near and far with its mystery and rare geological formations; however, according to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant Finn McCool. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), from the Fenian Cycle of Gaelic mythology, was challenged by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel to meet the two giants. The legend of Causeway Giant’s Finn McCool and Benandonner battle is told on the big screen in the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, which the National Trust runs.
THE VISITOR CENTRE
In 2012 the new architecturally designed bespoke Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre opened, replacing the original building built in 1986 when UNESCO added the Giant’s Causeway to its coveted list of exceptional interest and universal site value.
The new centre is the gateway to the famous Giant’s Causeway, semi-hidden in the hillside. It offers various ways to learn more about myths, legends, social history, wildlife and conservation. There are large screens for shows, a shop (selling souvenirs and local crafts), and a cafe that supplies books, pamphlets, tourist information, and multi-lingual audio guides.
The National Trust runs the Causeway Visitor Centre, so it’s free to enter with a National Trust Membership.
Find out more and see opening times here.
Getting To The Giants Causeway World Heritage Site
The Giant’s Causeway lies about 20 minutes north of Ballymoney, an hour’s drive north-west of Belfast, and three hours drive north of Dublin. We recommend you take the fabled Causeway Coast Route drive to get here. The closest towns are Bushmills, with its world-famous distillery, the holiday destination of Portrush and the County Town of Coleraine. You can get to the Causeway by Rail, Bus or Coach, each having an excellent scenic route.
Once you arrive at the car park and have been through the visitor centre, you have two options to visit the stones. You can get the bus run by the National Trust or walk.
The walk is about half a mile or a kilometre from the Visitor Centre along the coast, heading eastward, and the area is well marked with signs and information plaques.
The walk is reasonably straightforward, with a consistent slope down to the causeway level on a tarmac path, with plenty of places to stop. The walk takes you around the first headland, where you’ll get your first glimpse of the Giant’s Causeway in the distance. You will also be able to take in the stunning landscape and cliff array of ancient volcanic artefacts.
The Giant’s Causeway Coast
The coastline of County Antrim in Northern Ireland is renowned for its scenic beauty, possibly the world’s best-driving route, the Causeway Coast Route, clinging to its edge. The Giant’s Causeway, sitting at the northern end, takes centrepiece as the crown’s unique jewel, known as the 8th Wonder of the World to many here in Ireland and beyond. The famous jagged promontory of around 40,000 neatly packed columns of hexagonal volcanic basalt columns was created some 6 million years ago by a basaltic lava flow.
The Giant’s Causeway is a place where myth and science meet. Were the spectacular basalt columns formed through the rapid cooling of lava from an underwater volcano, or, as some may say, created by the legendary mythical Irish Giant Finn MacCool?
For centuries countless visitors have explored the Giant’s Causeway and marvelled at its unique rock formations. Situated on one of Worlds most spectacular coastlines, its unique rock formations have stood as a natural rampart for nearly sixty million years against the unbridled ferocity of the North Atlantic storms. The rugged symmetry of the columns never fails to intrigue and inspire our visitors. To stroll on the Giant’s Causeway is to voyage back in time.
Walks at the Giant’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway has several fun walks, allowing you to spend hours soaking up the mystery, mythology and geology of these ancient volcanic surroundings.
Our favourite is the Red Trail, a 2-mile walk east from the Visitors Centre along the cliff’s top and then descending a (fairly steep) staircase carved into the cliffs, bringing you out beyond the Giant’s Causeway to the coastal path and the Blue path. You experience and fantastic bird’s eye view of the coast from here, and it is a breath-taking experience and worth the effort for the giant view alone!
Blue Trail: The Blue Trail is the main walking path from the National Trust visitor centre, past the cliffs and the Giant’s Causeway.
Yellow Trail: The Yellow Trail follows the World Heritage Site’s perimeter, starting at Runkerry Head and ending at Hamilton’s Seat. The Yellow Trail joins the Green and Red Trails in parts.
Green Trail: This trail is perfect for walking the kids along, its wheelchair and buggy-friendly. It’s also fenced off the clifftops, so little ones can roam free in plain view along this path.
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Similar Structures Around The World
The Giant’s Causeway is not as unique as you’d think. Similar sites worldwide are home to impressive hexagonal columns like those found on the North Antrim Coast. The nearest is just across the water on a Scottish Island Called Staffa Flow, where Fingals Cave is lined with large basalt columns. You can see similar structures in Isreal, Iceland, Mexico and Russia….but obviously, none are as fantastic as The Giant’s Causeway.
Flora & Fauna
The Giant’s Causeway isn’t just home to incredible rock formations. The Giants Causeway and the Causeway Coast are a haven for sea birds such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank guillemot and razorbill. Simultaneously, the weathered rock formations host several rare and unusual plants, including sea spleenwort, hare’s foot trefoil, vernal squill, sea fescue and frog orchid.