One of the top ranked tourist sites in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is a dramatic sight; some 40,000 massive black columns jutting out of the sea at the foot of basalt cliffs along the edge of the Antrim plateau.
This natural wonder has inspired local legends for centuries; of giants who built it to stride over the sea to Scotland. Though geological studies show that this striking landscape was caused by volcanic activity during the Tertiary, some 50–60 million years ago.
Now supervised by the National Trust, the Giant’s Causeway is a well preserved historic site, incredibly popular among tourists. Many bus tour companies bring in visitors daily, so to help you decide whether you want to join a bus tour, or independently explore, we have put together the following guide.
Visiting the Giant’s Causeway: Options for Independent Travel & Bus Tours
Getting To The Giant’s Causeway
There are many different options for getting to the Giant’s Causeway. You can rent a car and self drive, catch the train, cycle, travel through private transport or choose a guided bus tour.
The Giant’s Causeway and Visitor Centre is located on the B147 Causeway road. It is 2 miles from Bushmills village, 11 miles from Coleraine and 13 miles from Ballycastle.
There are 3 parking lots, so even though it’s a popular attraction there is always parking available if you’re planning on renting a car. Of course, remember to budget for the parking fee.
The parking fee is reasonably expensive, and it is per person, not per car! It’s easier if you can find somewhere else to park and walk in for free….although it’s a pretty far walk to the nearest parking lot, so might not be worth it if you’re tight on time.
Regular train services operate from Belfast or Londonderry to Coleraine, then change to bus connection Ulsterbus Service 172. Visitors travelling this way receive a ‘green discount’ at admission to Visitor Centre.
By Bus Tour
If driving yourself isn’t your thing, you can easily hire a private car to take you, however this is usually very costly and you would be better off booking a bus tour where the fee is split between everyone on board.
Otherwise public bus services are available (some seasonal) like the Ulsterbus Service 172; Goldline Service 221; Causeway Rambler Service 402; Open Top Causeway Coast Service 177; Antrim Coaster Service 252.
Route 93 of the National Cycle Network in Northern Ireland runs round the coast from Newry to Ballycastle via Bangor and Belfast. Visitors travelling this way receive a ‘green discount’ at admission to Visitor Centre.
What To Do Once You Arrive
Once you’re at the Giant’s Causeway, there are many incredible sights. “The most characteristic and unique feature of the site is the exposure of some 40,000 large, regularly shaped polygonal columns of basalt in perfect horizontal sections, forming a pavement.”
Photos of the Site
Things to See
There’s the Grand Causeway, which is the largest of three rock outcrops which make up the Giant’s Causeway, and the Giant’s Boot, which can be reached by taking a small path leading towards the sea.
Make sure you don’t miss the Wishing Chair; a natural throne formed from a perfectly arranged set of columns. It has been sat on so often, the basalt stones are shiny, smooth and very comfortable!
If you’ve traveled on a bus tour, you’ll have a dedicated guide who will escort you through the visitors center and be available to answer questions about the site. Tour guides seem to have perfected the art of elaborate storytelling, and you’ll learn about history and the local legends inspired by the site.
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