Julie Ireland, Northern Ireland 8 Comments

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.

Giant's Causeway in August

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.

Northern Ireland Giants Causeway

The view on the blue trail as you approach Giant’s Causeway.

 

When to go to Giants Causeway

Our first view of the causeway.

 

Giants Causeway stones

Stacks of columns

 

Giants Causeway Silhouette

Tim Rivenbark Giants Causeway

Where is Giants Causeway

The causeway and the cliffs

 

Giants Causeway with Kids

Doesn’t this look like so much fun for kids?!

 

Northern Ireland Coastline

More dramatic coastline within view of the causeway

 

How to Visit Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway Hexagons

Tim Photographing Giants Causeway

Tim photographing the rocks

 

Giant's Causeway at Sunset

Giants Causeway Rocks

This is one of my favorites

 

Giant's Causeway Northern Ireland

Another amazing view

 

Giants Causeway Silhouette

Silhouette on the rocks

 

Earth Trekkers Kids

Best thing to do Northern Ireland

What an amazing place. It’s just asking to be explored…

 

Northern Ireland Sunset

Sunset in Northern Ireland

Visiting Giant’s Causeway

Where is the Giant’s Causeway?

The Giant’s Causeway is located on the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland, between Portrush and Ballycastle.

Best Time to Visit the Giant’s Causeway

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

There is a visitor’s center for those who are interested. Hours vary depending according to the season, but the center opens at 10 am and closes between 17:00 and 21:00. Get updated hours here.

Ticket prices for the visitor center are £13 for adults, £6.50 for children, and £32.50 for a family ticket. The ticket includes an audio guide and access to the café and gift shop.

If you pre-purchase your tickets online, you can save £1 – £2 per person. Click here to learn more.

Getting Around the Giant’s Causeway

There are several options for getting from the main gate and visitor’s center to the causeway.

Minibus

There is a minibus that will take visitors the half mile to the causeway. Tickets cost £1 one way.

Hiking Trails

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. It takes hikers from Runkerry House to Hamilton’s Seat, so 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 in early August. 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!

Watching the Sunset

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.


If you have questions about how to visit the Giant’s Causeway, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about Northern Ireland & Ireland

IRELAND ITINERARY: In 10 days, you can go on a road trip through Ireland and Northern Ireland, visiting the highlights. Get the full details in our 10 Day Ireland Itinerary.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Northern Ireland was a big filming site for Game of Thrones, but there are some things to know before you go.

TOP EXPERIENCES IN IRELAND: Our favorite things to do in Ireland include walking the Cliffs of Moher, driving the Dingle Peninsula, and visiting Skellig Michael.

EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe. You can also get more travel ideas in our 10 Days in Europe itinerary, which has 10 great itineraries for your next trip to Europe.

 

Planning a trip to Northern Ireland and Ireland? Read all of our articles in our Ireland Travel Guide.

Giant's Causeway Northern Ireland Guide

 

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Comments 8

  1. Avatar for mark
    mark

    Please note that the entrance fee relates solely to the Visitor Centre YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY TO ENTER THE CAUSEWAY (the free entrance is to the right of the Visitor Centre – just walk round to it and avoid the visitor centre altogether – from memory I think there may also be a public toilet in this area). This is not highlighted by the National Trust as they want to maximise income from the centre.

    It is possible to continue walking east towards Balintoy Harbour – take the path along the to of the cliffs. It is a dramatic linear walk – you will have to walk back the same way if you have left the car at the Causeway (or alternatively there is a bus service from Balintoy Village (not the Harbour) back to the Causeway (service 402 approx every 2 hours).

  2. Avatar for Ed R
    1. Avatar for Patty
  3. Avatar for Sinead Camplin
  4. Avatar for Indira
    Indira

    Hi Julie,

    We are driving to Portrush from Sligo. I heard the Giant Causaway is free to visit – is that true ? I heard the visitor center experience is not worth the cost. Where do you suggest we can park without having to go to Visitor center and how to get to the blue trail ? Is the trail marked and easy to find ?

    Thanks in advance !
    Indira

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Yes, we visited for free (and we did not go into the Visitor Center). We actually visited the Giant’s Causeway in the late evening, after the visitor center was closed. It worked out great because there were only a handful of people here and the lighting was amazing. If you can visit around sunset, I highly recommend it. We parked in the parking lot for the visitor center. I don’t recall another parking lot and I do not think you have to pay to park here, even when the visitor center is open, but I am not 100% about this. The “blue trail” is the wide asphalt trail that leads from the parking lot down to the causeway and it’s impossible to miss. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Dave
    Dave

    There’s also Devils Postpile National Monument in Eastern Sierra Nevada of California, by Mammoth, and I believe quite a bit of it along the Columbia River in Oregon & Washington!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author

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