The Giant's Causeway, County Antrim
Fee-Paying Tourist Attraction in Ireland #15
The Giant's Causeway in Antrim is a landscape of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns caused by ancient volcanic eruptions, the result of which is staggering. The Causeway was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986 and is regarded as one of Europe's greatest natural wonders.
The columns of rock are mostly hexagonal and form a pathway down the cliffs to the sea below. The Giant's Causeway is easily the most popular tourist attraction in Ulster and is served by a modern interpretive centre that is set into the ground so as to minimize its impact on the landscape.
The visitor centre has an interactive exhibition exploring the Giant's Causeway history and offers outdoors audio guides. There is a cafe and plenty of car parking available. The site is 2 miles from Bushmills village, 11 miles from Coleraine (the biggest town in the vicinity of the cliffs), 13 miles from Ballycastle and about 163 miles from Dublin City Centre. There are regular buses and trains to Coleraine from where a further bus or tour can deliver you to the Causeway.
There are day-trips from Belfast and Dublin to the coast but if you plan to stay for a few days you can consider taking the fine walk of 7 miles from the town of Portrush, passing Dunluce Castle and the Giant's Causeway to Bushmills.
The Giants causeway is truly a marvel. Be wary of the weather though and try to plan your trip accordingly. This is the very northern part of Ireland where it can rain at any time! Winter visits will obviously be colder and wetter but also less busy. If you do manage to get an interlude of fine Winter or Spring weather then a walk along the cliffs would be well worth the effort. Indeed walking and hiking are one of the great attractions of this part of Ireland.
You could plan a great walking trip from Portrush along the northern coastline to be rewarded with a visit to the cliffs and finishing in Bushmills town. Regular visitors to the cliffs recommend starting above and climbing (carefully!) down to the sea below.
The weathering of the volcanic basalt over millions of years has resulted in many unusual structures being created. The 'Giant Boot' and 'The Organ', 'The Shepherd's Steps' and 'Chimney Stacks' are among the colorful names given to these naturally created wonders.
This is really not a place to just 'hit and run' - certainly many people do exactly that and take a quick bus tour, walk around the cliffs and then head home again. But having made the effort to get to the tip of the island surely you must consider spending a few days there, drinking in the atmosphere, the local legends about Finn McCool, the scenery and even the ever-changeable weather.
The famous Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge is only a short hop away at Ballintoy while the Old Bushmills Distillery is even closer to the Giants Causeway. With a little planning you could include the Belfast Titanic experience or the Walled City of Derry in your itinerary for exploring this part of the island of Ireland.
So does the Giant's Causeway live up to the hype? The vast majority of visitors think so.
Find out more here: http://www.giantscausewayofficialguide.com/AbouttheCauseway/Introduction.aspx
Video about The Giant's Causeway, County Antrim
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