On Ireland's northern coast, in the County Antrim, is one of Ireland's most intriguing natural landscapes. The Giant's Causeway is a concentration of basalt columns that steps from the base of steep cliffs into the often rough Irish Sea.
As legend has it, the giant Fionn mac Cumhaill built the causeway to fight an enemy giant in Scotland.
There is, of course a visitor's center, and a bus is available to bring you down right to the causeway, but if you are able, walking will be a more rewarding experience.
We walked down the paved road, admiring sites and reading informational plaques along the way. I was actually underwhelmed by the causeway itself, maybe because I always saw pictures of it against a raging see, and the day we went was calm. After climbing around on the basalt columns, we opted to take the scenic route back up, which is a fun trail that switchbacks up the steep cliffs and passes by the Giants' Organ, which are very high basalt columns nestled in the steep walls. There are remarkable views along trail and at the top.
I recommend packing a picnic, as there are some nice spots to sit and eat.
I love this place and have never seen anything so amazing before. Due to some volcanic eruption decades ago that formed this amazing structure. We rent a car from Dublin at the airport (EUR15 per day) and drove all the way for 5-hrs to Giant's causeway, crossing Belfast. They used British pound here so remember to bring some extra notes here. You can either take the coach (EUR 2 one way) or a bit of walk from the visitor's centre to the Giant causeway area.
Its a beautful part of Ireland, with no other place in the world having landscape like this! Make sure you wear good shoes as the rocks can be slippery, and if you can, wear a rain coat, as the waves crash, foam flies through the air and it rains getting you wet..!
Giant Causeway is an interesting place to visit in Northern Ireland, close to Portrush in County Antrim : millions of Basalt-octagons of vulcanic origin are covering a small part of the coastline. Millions of years ago that Basalt was pressed out of the vulcany by such a high pressure, that it made these more or less regular octagons that you may see still today.
Giant Causeway is a mayor tourist-attraction and you will hardly ever be there alone.
You will need about 2 hours to explore all of that area, climb up and down the small hills at the coast, search for the best places to take your photos etc.
About 100 km north of Giant Causeway there is an equivalent basalt-island : Staffa
It became famous after the visit of the composer Mendelson-Bartholdy.
Read more about it at my Staffa-page !
The Giant's causeway is a strange place with its bizarre six-sided basalt columns and of course this lends itself to legends. One of the most popular is of the giant Finn MacCool which tells that he made the causeway so that he could cross the sea to the Isle of Staffa (where the same sort of basalt blocks are found) to visit his lady love. Finn MacCool was a warrior and leader of the Fianna. This was an elite group of troops, they were chosen for their bravery and strength and they defended Ireland against foreign forces. Finn though was not only brave and strong he also had powers of seer - getting great wisdom by sucking his thumb!! Over time Finn also became remembered as a giant.
The causeway was founded is the result of million's of years of geological activity. most of the columns are hexagonal but some have 4,5,8,or even 10 sides. It has been estimated that there are 37,00 columns extending from the cliffs into the sea. A high iron content in the rock gives the columns their rich ochre colour.
Be careful when posing for photos on the causeway as some people have had a very lucky escape when the water came in quicker than they thought it would.
Near the Giant's Causeway is the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. On a clear day you can see Scotland. (in the distance here, though you can't see the bridge) There are many sea birds nesting along the cliffs as well. Entry fee was 2 GBP; only 1if you were with a coach tour.
In this section I will try to pick one place that I particularly enjoyed from each county that I visited. The counties will be alphabetical order, so I'll start with Antrim:
The most popular tourist attraction Northern Ireland is the Giant?s Causeway on the Antrim coast, which is a World Heritage Site. It is smaller than I expected it to be after reading about it in some guide books, but it is still a fascinating place. The hexagonal stones were formed by lava, but that is the boring scientific explanation. This is how it REALLY came into existence:
The legendary Finn MacCool was challenged by a Scottish giant who shouted over from Scotland that if only he could get his hands on Finn he would surely win a fight with him. Finn should count himself lucky that he (the giant) could not swim over. Finn was not too happy about being teased like that and started building a causeway to Scotland so that the giant had no excuse for not coming over to fight him. But as Finn was rather tired from building the causeway he did not feel quite up to a fight and resorted to Plan B. He built a huge cot, climbed in and waited for the giant. When he arrived he was quite horrified to see this enormous "baby", which was even bigger than himself, and the thought of having to fight the father sent him back to Scotland in no time at all, destroying the causeway behind him as he went along. Now, which one do you prefer: the lava or Finn MacCool?
The Scottish end of the Giant?s Causeway can be found on the island of Staffa, by the way (see my Staffa page).
HIRE A CAR and drive to Northern Ireland: a real revelation! Visit the Giant's Causeway and more......beautiful scenery, kind and very hospitable people and more.....so much more.....
The freedom and space of the green glenns, greener than green, real Irish green, which is a very special colour!
Don't miss the Giant's Causeway in Co Antrim if you're going into Northern Ireland. This is a strange (actually, come to think of it, as amazing as the Burren in a way) rockformation created 60 millions yrs ago. Lava flows rapidly cooled down, and due to the crystal bindings in the rock, these basalt pillars formed. And the giants have used these as stairs walking over to Scotland ever since...
Natural lego gods at play??!! I've seen it listed as a tourist trap here..and it can be. But being obsessed with rushing water and sneezing sheep, I loved the 4-5 hr hike along the Causeway Coast from the Giant's Causeway to Carrickarade Island. That and trying to navigate alone with a muddy geographical survey map, made for good times! Great beaches along the way.
For many of our family, this was the highlight of the two week trip. The scenes are breathtaking and the venue is so unique. My son particularly enjoyed climbing around the rocks.
In March 1999, the Giant's Causeway was a definite must-see for me. It's very impressive and it was really windy the day we were there.