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All photos by Giuseppe Milo via Flickr

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

Giant’s Causeway

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.

Self Drive

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.

By Train

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.

Northern Ireland Railways information.

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.

By Cycling

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

Giant’s Causeway

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

 Photos by Giuseppe Milo via Flickr

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.

OUR FAVORITE IRELAND GUIDES. CLICK BOOK TO LOOK INSIDE ↓

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Rick Steves Ireland Travel Guide

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

    28 Comments

  1. Visiting the Giant’s Causeway is definitely on my bucket list. How amazing is the planet we live on to create such amazing formations. I love the lore the early people created around this amazing natural site. Will Definitely have to find the Wishing Chair. Never heard of that before..how cool!
    I think if we went I would love to take the train..bonus on receiving a discount too!

    • Glad we could inspire some wanderlust Eric! The Giant’s Causeway is a marvel – I agree, it’s so incredible to think of the wonders nature has created over many thousands of years.

      I hope you do have the chance to travel at some stage; and the nice thing is it’s very easy by train :)

  2. I had the chance to visit WAY back in 2003!! I can’t believe it’s been that long. I too did a bus tour. There were a lot of day trip ones and it made our visit really easy. It also stopped at a few other minor points along the way – great opps for photos and such that normally I wouldn’t have exerted myself to track down but really made my trip all the more interesting in the end.

    • So glad you enjoyed your time at the Giant’s Causeway, and that it’s been a memorable trip to this day! Yes, the bus tours are really easy if you’re looking for a no hassle, convenient trip. Glad to hear you got some fabulous photo opps on the way too :)

  3. We have visited Ireland several times already thanks to the fact that we have friendly living there, but we still haven’t made it to the Guant’s Causeway. We’d definitely go with a rented car, it’s good that there are so many parking lots!

    • If you do have the chance to return to Ireland, can highly recommend stopping into Northern Ireland for the Giant’s Causeway. Lots of parking so that won’t be an issue for you. Plus, amazing country for a road trip!

  4. These photos are absolutely stunning! The Giant’s Causeway actually wasn’t really on my radar until I read your post. While I usually can’t get all that excited about bus tours, I do like to get some history and “storytelling” along the way so this may be the ideal way to go. Do you know how close you can get? Are the rocks more or less roped off or do people sort of scramble around all over? It looks so peaceful in the photos but I imagine they are teaming with visitors most of the time. Looks amazing and great write-up on what to expect when visiting!

    • Aren’t they! Photos are by Giuseppe Milo, he’s a fabulous photographer :) Glad we could put the Giant’s Causeway on your radar and inspire some wanderlust – can highly recommend it if you’re in the area of Ireland / the UK.

      One thing you do have going for you on Irish bus tours, is that the Irish are some of the most entertaining storytellers in the world, so the personalities of the guides usually make it a very memorable day!

      You can scramble all over the rocks which is really cool; if you’re heading with a bus tour, yes, you’ll probably be there during the busiest times of the day so there will be a reasonable amount of people there to share the view with. To get the photos with 0 people in them, best to try and travel independently and rock up right on opening or towards sunset.

      Hope you do have the chance to take it in!

  5. Aaaaand…I was just here! It was amazing and definitely shouldn’t be missed when going to Northern Ireland. We did the self drive option. One thing to note – the parking fee is pretty 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.

    • Amazing place isn’t it! Thanks for the further info on the parking fee – that’s a really good thing to take into consideration so I’ll add it to the post :)

    • What is the cost on the parking fee?

    • Hi Bonnie, at the moment they’re charging visitors £10.50 per adult in your car. I would also double check on it before you arrive, because they seem to randomly implement price hikes – the information can be found here on their website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway

  6. I must make a trip to the Giant Causeway soon. I visited Ireland a few years ago and have so much still to tick off the list and this is one of them! I would love to have a guide so I could hear about the legends of the area too. I know the Irish are fantastic story-tellers!

    • If you are heading back to Ireland in the future, a trip to Northern Ireland for the Giant’s Causeway is definitely worthwhile. The Irish really do have a talent for storytelling!

  7. The Giants Causeway look incredible. 40,000 massive black polygonal columns jutting out of the sea is a huge number and they look so perfect to form a pavement. The Wishing Chair; a natural throne formed from the basalt stones is another lovely attraction. I would love visiting it, so going to add it to my bucket list.

    • Glad we could inspire some wanderlust Suruchi – it is indeed an incredible natural marvel, and I can highly recommend a trip :)

  8. We absolutely loved the Giant’s Causeway! We ended up road tripping and drove ourselves, and we had a lot of fun checking out all the sport around the way-driving on the opposite side of the road from normal was a bit tough though, lol! Never thought about getting there by train-would be a convenient way to go. I think we missed the Wishing Chair! How sad-would have been fun to see that, lol. Guess we just need to go back! :)

    • So glad to hear that Jenna, it’s a magical place! Such an amazing country to road trip though :)

      Maybe if you head back you can keep an eye out for the Wishing Chair :D

  9. Oh, I’m dying to visit Giant’s Causeway! I love rock formations, especially along beaches. I would have to go for hiring a car though. I’d love to bike it, but I’m not in shape for that kind of thing! haha Thanks for sharing a great, comprehensive guide.

    • If you love discovering natural formations, the Giant’s Causeway is definitely one to have on your list. Such a beautiful county to road trip through too if you’re renting a car.

      Hope you have the chance to visit soon!

  10. I am sold, just looking at your photos! Not that I haven’t seen photos of this place before, Giants Causeway is one of the popular places in Ireland and I really want to visit this year, I am planning for this June. What a lovely place, thanks for all the tips about how to get there. I am most likely going to be driving.

    • So glad you enjoyed the photos – they’re incredible aren’t they! By the very talented photographer Giuseppe Milo, I love his shots :)

      Hope you have a fabulous time in Ireland and Northern Ireland in June – such a fabulous destination for a road trip, give yourself extra time on all driving routes – I found we stopped so many times to take photos because the scenery is the best!!

  11. Is there a place nearby that rents scooters or something such as that to get around while there?

    • Hi Bonnie, unfortunately I don’t have personal recommendations of where you could rent scooters, but I think your best bet would be looking for a motorcycle rental place in Belfast, of which it looks like there are a few. The Giant’s Causeway is then a little over an hour from Belfast so easy enough to get to :)

  12. Could you tell me which settings you had on your camera?
    Those pictures are stunning!!

    • Hi Giel, so glad you enjoyed the images :) All photos here have been taken by Giuseppe Milo. Check out this link to find all of his Giant’s Causeway images, and then if you click into each individual one, Flickr displays the camera settings it was taken on :)

  13. Great Job!

    • Thanks Eric, glad the post was helpful for you :) Enjoy your time in Northern Ireland!

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