Northern Ireland’s Popular Destination; The Giant’s Causeway / Causeway Coastal Route

The Giants Causeway

Updated On: February 25, 2024 by   Ahmed SamirAhmed Samir

Northern Ireland is a land of captivating beauty, steeped in history and culture. The Giant’s Causeway is a unique and mystical destination among its many natural wonders. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the Causeway Coastal Route, draws visitors from around the globe with its stunning geological formations, dramatic cliffs, and enchanting folklore. This article will delve deep into the beauty and history of the Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway Coastal Route, taking you through this remarkable corner of the United Kingdom.

The Formation of the Giant’s Causeway

The Giant's Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is a geological marvel that has captivated visitors for centuries. It is renowned for its hexagonal basalt columns, formed millions of years ago through a remarkable natural process. The story behind its creation is both fascinating and awe-inspiring.

Around 60 million years ago, Northern Ireland was subjected to intense volcanic activity during the Paleogene period. Molten lava flowed onto the surface, creating a vast plateau known as the Antrim Plateau. As this lava cooled and solidified, it contracted and cracked into the distinctive hexagonal shapes we see today.

The Giant’s Causeway is particularly intriguing because of its unique geological features and the legends and myths surrounding it. One of the most famous tales involves the legendary Irish giant Finn McCool.

Legend of Finn McCool

According to Irish folklore, Finn McCool, a giant of extraordinary size and strength, resided on the Antrim coast. Across the sea in Scotland, there lived a rival giant named Benandonner. Finn and Benandonner decided to settle their feud through a test of strength and wits.

Finn McCool built the Giant’s Causeway as a pathway across the North Channel to Scotland, hoping to challenge Benandonner. However, upon reaching Scotland and encountering the colossal size of his Scottish counterpart, Finn realized he was outmatched.

Finn’s clever wife, Oonagh, disguised him as a baby to save himself and placed him in a cradle. When Benandonner saw the size of Finn’s “baby,” he was terrified of facing the giant father and fled back to Scotland, destroying the causeway behind him to prevent pursuit.

While the legend of Finn McCool adds a whimsical element to the Giant’s Causeway, the geological wonder is the show’s true star. The regularity of the hexagonal columns and the polygonal basalt formations make this site a true marvel of nature.

Exploring the Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway

Visiting the Giant’s Causeway is a breathtaking experience that immerses you in the wonder of the natural world. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind when planning your visit:

  1. Visitor Center: Start your journey at the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, which provides essential information, exhibitions, and facilities. You can learn about the area’s geological history, legends, and wildlife here.
  2. Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour to gain a deeper understanding of the geological processes that formed the Giant’s Causeway and to hear captivating stories about its history.
  3. The Causeway Stones: Walk down to the shoreline, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the iconic hexagonal basalt columns. You can explore these formations, touch the ancient stones, and marvel at the intricate patterns created by nature.
  4. Clifftop Experience: Walk along the clifftop paths to enjoy panoramic views of the North Atlantic Ocean and the rugged coastline. These paths provide excellent vantage points for photography and contemplation.
  5. Wildlife and Flora: The Giant’s Causeway is not just about geology; it’s also a haven for wildlife and plant enthusiasts. Watch for seabirds, puffins, and various unique plant species that thrive in this coastal environment.
  6. UNESCO Interpretive Panels: Throughout the site, you’ll find UNESCO interpretive panels that offer educational insights into the geological significance of the Giant’s Causeway.
  7. Souvenir Shop and Café: The Visitor Centre offers a souvenir shop where you can purchase mementoes of your visit and a café where you can enjoy a meal or a hot beverage with a view.

The Causeway Coastal Route

The Causeway Coastal Route

While the Giant’s Causeway is undoubtedly the jewel in Northern Ireland’s crown, the Causeway Coastal Route offers a journey filled with natural wonders, historic sites, and charming villages. This scenic route spans approximately 120 miles, stretching from Belfast to Derry-Londonderry, and is widely considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world.

Key highlights along the Causeway Coastal Route include:

  1. Carrickfergus Castle: Begin your journey in Belfast with a visit to Carrickfergus Castle, a well-preserved Norman fortress that dates back to 1177.
  2. Glens of Antrim: As you head north, explore the nine Glens of Antrim, each with its unique character and natural beauty. These glens are a haven for hikers and nature lovers.
  3. Cushendun Caves: These caves, formed by the sea’s erosion, are a geological wonder and a filming location for the popular TV series “Game of Thrones.”
  4. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge: Dare to cross this exhilarating rope bridge that spans a 66-foot chasm, providing stunning views of the rugged coastline and Rathlin Island.
  5. Dunluce Castle: Perched dramatically on a cliff’s edge, the ruins of Dunluce Castle are both haunting and picturesque. It’s a perfect spot for history enthusiasts and photographers.
  6. Bushmills Distillery: Discover the secrets behind the world-famous Irish whiskey with a tour of the Old Bushmills Distillery, one of the oldest licensed distilleries in the world.
  7. Mussenden Temple: This neoclassical temple on the cliffs offers a spectacular view of the Downhill Strand and the North Atlantic Ocean.
  8. Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House: Explore the expansive gardens, ruins, and historic Hezlett House in this picturesque estate overlooking the sea.
  9. Roe Valley Country Park: For a peaceful break, stroll through the serene landscapes of the Roe Valley, where you can enjoy woodland walks, riverside paths, and cascading waterfalls.
  10. The Walled City of Derry-Londonderry: End your journey in this historic city, which boasts well-preserved city walls and a rich cultural heritage. Explore its museums, galleries, and lively pubs.

While the Giant’s Causeway is the centrepiece of the Causeway Coastal Route, the combination of these attractions and the stunning scenery makes this road trip an unforgettable experience.

Practical Information

The Giant’s Causeway

Before embarking on your journey to the Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway Coastal Route, here are some practical tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit:

  1. Admission Fees: Entrance to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre may require an admission fee, which helps support conservation efforts and visitor facilities. Pricing may vary for adults, seniors, children, and families.
  2. Weather: Northern Ireland’s weather can be unpredictable, so dress in layers and be prepared for rain, wind, and sunshine. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended for exploring the natural terrain.
  3. Tickets and Reservations: Consider booking your Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre tickets online to avoid long queues and secure your spot.
  4. Transportation: The Causeway Coastal Route is easily accessible by car. You can also join organized tours departing from Belfast or nearby cities, offering a hassle-free way to explore the area.
  5. Accommodation: There are numerous accommodation options along the Causeway Coastal Route, ranging from charming bed-and-breakfasts to luxury hotels. It’s advisable to book accommodations in advance, especially during the peak tourist season.
  6. Duration of Visit: Plan to spend at least a half-day exploring the Giant’s Causeway and surrounding attractions. If you’re driving the entire Causeway Coastal Route, allow several days to appreciate fully all it offers.

Last Words

The Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway Coastal Route are gems of Northern Ireland, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, history, and culture. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking breathtaking scenery, this region has something to offer everyone.

As you wander amidst the enigmatic hexagonal columns of the Giant’s Causeway, traverse thrilling rope bridges, and soak in the tranquillity of the Glens of Antrim, you’ll not only witness the grandeur of nature but also become a part of the rich tapestry of legends and history that has shaped this remarkable corner of the United Kingdom.

Plan your visit to Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway Coastal Route, and let the magic of this land captivate your senses, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re following in the footsteps of giants or simply seeking an unforgettable adventure, Northern Ireland awaits, ready to reveal its treasures to those who seek them.


What practical tips should visitors remember when visiting the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coastal Route?

Visitors should check opening hours, consider booking tickets online in advance, dress for variable weather, plan accommodations, and ensure they have sturdy walking shoes for exploring natural terrain.

Are there any safety precautions to be aware of when exploring the area?

Visitors should be cautious near the cliffs and follow safety guidelines when crossing attractions like the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. It’s also important to check the weather forecast, especially during coastal walks.

Are there any local festivals or events that coincide with a visit to the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coastal Route?

Northern Ireland hosts various events and festivals throughout the year. It’s a good idea to check the local event calendar to see if any festivals or cultural events are happening during your visit.