The Giant’s Causeway know before you go – How to get there? Where to stop? Where to park? What’s the science/legend behind it? If these are things you’re wanting to know we’ve got you covered. It helps that one of us is in fact a born and bred Northern Irishman… guess which one! We were also super lucky to have a friend as another even more local guide, she’s also an incredible professional photographer and all of the photos that follow are hers: check her out on Facebook: @LoreenKatherinePhotography and/or Instagram @loreenkatherine. First up though (just checking…) you do know the Giant’s Causeway is located in Northern Ireland on the coast of County Antrim right? Alright let’s begin then!
The Giant’s Causeway Know Before You Go – 7 Things to Know
The Giant’s Causeway Know Before You Go: Self Drive
No need to join a tour group to see the inimitable UNESCO World Heritage listed Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. You can self drive to the Giant’s Causeway from Belfast in just 1 hour and 10 minutes, if wishing to get there directly, and perhaps on to the Bushmills Distillery straight afterwards. If you’re an early riser you can in fact do both of these and more by driving to the Giant’s Causeway from Belfast via the Antrim Coast Road (A2) also known as the Causeway Coastal Route in just over 2 hours, albeit with a lot of stops along the way! For more on all the possible stops see our Northern Ireland Self Drive Itinerary.
The Giant’s Causeway Know Before You Go – First Stop: Ballintoy Harbour/Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
This is two stops in one, or two stops to divide and conquer should a number in your party be afraid of heights! The Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge is not for the fainthearted, particularly on gusty days when it is buffeted around. On some days the winds are so strong this attraction actually closes. But fishermen have been building bridges like this since 1755 here to connect to Carrick Island so they must’ve happened upon a safe design by now right!? The Ballintoy Harbour is picturesque in its own right as a small ancient harbour serving the small fishing and farming village of the same name. However it is best known as a Game of Thrones location! Worth a visit either way!
The Giant’s Causeway Know Before You Go – Second Stop: The Giant’s Causeway
The main event! First things first, park for free at the Nook, a neighbouring pub with a carpark that sits adjacent to the official and far more expensive attraction car park. I say for free but really it’s for customers only, so be sure and grab a takeaway coffee. Parking paid and your hands will thank you once you head down towards the gusty Giant’s Causeway! Grab your tickets at the visitor’s centre and head on down to the Causeway. The famed attraction is about a 1 kilometre walk from the visitor’s centre, and whilst free buses run every 15 minutes there’s no need to wait for one, the walk itself is super picturesque!
The Giant’s Causeway Know Before You Go – The Scientific Explanation
The Giant’s Causeway is so well-known and incredible to see for it’s hexagonal shaped stepping stone style rocks. These rocks are in fact approximately 40,000 basalt columns that shot up out of the ocean floor as a result of a sub-oceanic volcanic eruption during the Pleistocene period and the physics of the hot liquid basalt then cooling in the cool sea… That’s the best I can do as a non-scientist. Top tip though: a photo of your group’s feet on one of these hexagonal shaped basalt columns is classic must-snap whilst you’re here! Plus keep your eyes peeled for some rarer non-hexagonal shaped columns!
The Giant’s Causeway Know Before You Go – The Legend of the Giant’s Causeway
This is published all over the internet, but in case we are the only source you’re consulting (aw shucks!) we’ll pop it here too: The Giant’s Causeway is so named for the legend of it’s mythological construction by the 54 foot tall giant Finn McCool. Finn McCool built the Giant’s Causeway to be able to walk over to his rival in Scotland, the giant Benandonner. He walked over once it was built but when he got close he then turned and fled at the sight of this far more fearsome giant. And he lost one of his boots on the Northern Irish shore and it still sits there today: Finn McCool’s Boot. And you simply must get a photo in it whilst you’re here!
The Giant’s Causeway Know Before You Go – Third Stop: Old Bushmill’s Distillery
After a no doubt cold and blustery visit to the Giant’s Causeway you’ll be wanting to warm up! Nothing quite like a hot whisky to do the trick! Head up the road 7 minutes driving to the Old Bushmill’s Distillery – home of Ireland’s oldest whiskey! If you’re a Bushmill’s or a whisky fan in general you may want to take the distillery tour for which the last one runs at 3.30pm in winter or 4pm in the summer season. Either way you can and should grab a hot whiskey in the distillery bar until 4.45pm daily.
The Giant’s Causeway Know Before You Go – Fourth Stop: Portrush
If you aren’t needing to get back to your accommodations in a hurry make a fourth and final stop on your 1 day tour of the Giant’s Causeway. Drive from Bushmill’s down to Portrush in 25 minutes to watch the sunset over the water whilst you grab some fresh seafood for dinner. This seaside town has been a holiday resort for the Northern Irish for many years and features many excellent restaurants, a theme park and a water park if you are so inclined!
That’s our list for the Giant’s Causeway know before you go, we hope you enjoyed it and feel forearmed and ready to do battle with the raw beauty of this incredible Northern Irish attraction! Until next time, Slainte! (Cheers), Erin & Ryan