The Giant’s Causeway is spectacular. It is so unique in its appearance that it is hard to believe it is real. A stretch of coastline with perfectly formed hexagonal columns, all massed together at the water’s edge…it’s an amazing sight to see.
It is worth coming to Northern Ireland just to visit Giant’s Causeway. It’s that impressive.
What Is the Giant’s Causeway?
The unique look of the causeway was formed by volcanic activity 60 million years ago. It was the oozing up of basalt lava through the chalk beds and then the subsequent cooling that formed these pillars.
Or, you could choose to believe the more interesting tale that the causeway was built by the Irish giant Finn MacCool. When challenged by the Scottish giant Benandonner, Finn built the causeway as a bridge to join Ireland and Scotland. After Finn outwitted Benandonner, Benandonner fled back to Scotland, destroying the causeway so Finn could not follow. There are more basalt rock columns in Scotland to support this legend.
Now, the Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a nature reserve.
Photo Tour of Giant’s Causeway
I took a lot of photos! Here are some of the best.
The view on the blue trail as you approach Giant’s Causeway.
Our first view of the causeway.
Stacks of columns
Tim on the rocks
The causeway and the cliffs
Doesn’t this look like so much fun for kids?!
More dramatic coastline within view of the causeway
Tim photographing the rocks
Love this one!
Another amazing view
Silhouette on the rocks
What an amazing place. It’s just asking to be explored…
Sunset in Northern Ireland
Visiting Giant’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway is located on the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland, between Portrush and Ballycastle.
Best Time to Go
The best times to visit are early in the morning (if you get lucky you will have the causeway to yourself) and at dusk. The primetime for photographers are these same times. In the morning, the causeway can be covered with a low level of fog, creating a mysterious effect. The lighting just before sunset is a favorite of photographers.
The busiest hours are midday. Expect huge crowds here midday, especially during the very busy summer months.
Hours of Operation
The causeway is free to visit and it is always open.
There is a visitor’s center for those who are interested. Hours vary depending according to the season, but the center always opens at 9 am and closes between 17:00 and 21:00.
Ticket prices for the visitor center are £8.50 for adults, £4.25 for children, and £21.00 for a family ticket. The ticket includes an audio guide and access to the café and gift shop.
Getting Around the Giant’s Causeway
There are several options for getting from the main gate and visitor’s center to the causeway.
There is a minibus that will take visitors the half mile to the causeway. Tickets cost £1 one way.
There are three hiking trails at the Giant’s Causeway.
Blue Trail. The blue trail is not a hiking trail. It is a wide, asphalt road leading down to the causeway. This is the quickest and easiest way to get to the causeway by foot. It is a ½ mile downhill walk from the car park to the causeway. Allow 10 to 15 minutes walking time one way.
Red Trail. The red trail snakes along the upper cliffs, giving you a view down onto the coastline. It is a 2 mile hike, one way. At the end, you can join up with the blue trail to explore the causeway and then walk up to the car park.
Yellow Trail. This hiking trail follows the entire causeway coastline. Taking hikers from Runkerry House to Hamilton’s Seat, expect this hike to take several hours.
For more details on the Giant’s Causeway hiking trails, visit the National Trust website.
What We Did
We arrived at the Giant’s Causeway at dusk. We parked in the car park and walked the blue trail directly down to the causeway. The sun was setting so we did not have enough time to hike the red trail.
The four of us spent an hour on Giant’s Causeway, enthralled with this place. There were a few other groups of visitors, but for the most part, the Giant’s Causeway was relatively empty. To be here at sunset was awesome. Even Kara could not stop taking photos!
Other things to do in the area
Other popular sights just a short drive from the Giant’s Causeway are Dunluce Castle, Bushmill’s Distillery, and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. There are also numerous Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland that attract a lot of visitors.
Where to Stay
The beautiful, coastal town of Portrush is just 20 minutes away by car. There are many options for accommodations and restaurants, making Portrush a great home base for exploring the area.
We stayed at the Albany Lodge, a mid-range hotel in Portrush. We had two large rooms and a home cooked breakfast in the morning.
Looking for a good restaurant in Portrush? Try Ramore. They have several different options for dining. We ate at The Mermaid, a casual restaurant serving mostly seafood. From the The Mermaid, the views of Portrush are stunning. Definitely call ahead of time to make a reservation. This is a very popular place!
Other Places in the World with Hexagonal Columns
Did you know that this geological phenomenon occurs in countries all around the world? Some of the most notable are Devil’s Tower in the USA, Organ Pipes National Park in Australia, Fingal’s Cave in Scotland, and Hexagon Pool in Israel, just to name a few. And there is even evidence of similar columns on Mars.
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