The Giant's Causeway is a cluster of approximately 40,000 basalt columns rising out of the sea on the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the area draws thousands of tourists each year who come to marvel at and photograph this natural wonder.The Basics
While the legend surrounding Giant’s Causeway makes for an interesting story, geologists have a different explanation for the creation of the Giant's Causeway: volcanic activity. It’s said that millions of years ago, a volcanic eruption produced a lava flow that cooled quickly from both the top and sides, shaping the lava into hexagonal columns. Over time, the elements have continued to sculpt these columns into various shapes, and some are known to resemble objects. Notable formations include the Chimney Stacks, Giant's Harp, and Honeycomb, all of which are favorites of visiting photographers. Spot these formations and other stunning views framed by the windswept cliffs on your walk over the columns to the edge of the sea.
Although it’s possible to self-drive, many visitors choose to take a round-trip tour from Dublin with transportation and entrance fees to the Visitor’s Center included. Guided Causeway tours, with upgrades such as private tours or luxury coaches, often include stops at other nearby attractions such as the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, the Bushmills Distillery, and Dunluce Castle.
How to Get to Giant’s Causeway
- Wear sensible clothing and footwear, as the stones can be slippery.
- An outdoor audio guide is available, in addition to another guide for visually impaired visitors.
- The site includes three parking lots and a park-and-ride area.
- Paths down to the causeway are partially accessible, as are the grounds.
- The Visitor’s Centre features a number of interactive exhibition; admission fee required.
The Causeway Coastal Route, a popular scenic drive between Belfast City and Londonderry, is a self-drive option through County Antrim that includes a stops at Rathlin Island, Ballintoy, and the Giant’s Causeway. The causeway is about three hours drive north of Dublin and 1.5 hours north of Belfast by car; a variety day trips are available from both departure locations.When to Get There
Opening times vary seasonally; check the Giant’s Causeway website for opening hours, including the Visitor’s Center opening hours. Expect wind and rain during winter.Irish Folklore
These rock formations get their name from an old legend stating that Irish warrior Finn McCool built the path across the sea to face his Scottish rival, Benandonner. There are several variations of the story from this point, but each one ends with Finn dressing as a baby and scaring off Benandonner, who thinks the disguised Finn is actually the child of a giant and is too afraid to face his opponent. On his way back to Scotland, Benandonner tears up the path behind him, leaving just what exists today on the Northern Irish coast and the Scottish island of Staffa, which has similar rock formations.