Choosing the Ultimate Giant’s Causeway Tour

When you visit one of the highlights of Northern Ireland, the unique natural wonder of the Giants Causeway in County Antrim Northern Ireland you can picture in your mind’s eye the Irish giant Finn Mccool striding those basalt cliffs and columns determined to finish that bridge to Scotland and best the Scottish giant Benandonner. This is one of the world’s most incredible natural wonders on the Causeway Coastal Route, in Northern Ireland.

Giant's Causeway tour view up the hills with the basalt columns

The Giant’s Causeway is located on the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland, between Portrush and Ballycastle. The Giant’s causeway and Causeway Coast is Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist destination. A Giant’s Causeway tour is the dream trip for many a tourist visiting Belfast and Northern Ireland.

From the Game of Thrones series that used the stunning landscapes of the Antrim Causeway coast as locations to the legends and myths of the Giant’s Causeway folks are drawn to this place of outstanding natural beauty. Walking the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, seeing the romantic ruins of Dunluce Castle visiting many of the prettiest villages and towns in N. Ireland or even spending Christmas in Belfast.

Giants Causeway the hexagonal shaped black and grey pillars of the causeway with the North sea in the background and the hills of Antrim

Exploring Ulster Scots Heritage: Northern Ireland

The Giant’s Causeway Facts and History

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What is the Giant’s Causeway?

Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway Coast is regarded as “a spectacular area of global geological importance”. Over a million visitors a year arrive on a Giant’s Causeway Tour to come and marvel at this natural phenomenon.

The Giant’s Causeway is 18 miles of coastline made up of perfectly interconnected polygonal basalt columns created by volcanic activity. There are over 40,000 of them on this part of the Antrim Coast. 

The Ultimate Tour of the Giant's Causeway 

How was the Giant’s Causeway formed?

The scientific explanation of the geology of the Giant’s Causeway was formed somewhere around 50 to 60 million years ago This region of Northern Ireland was subjected to intense volcanic eruptions. When the molten basalt lava was thrown up through Antrim’s chalk beds it formed a lake of lava.  When the lava cooled and contracted the cracks formed the neatly packed columns of hexagonal stones and pillars known as the 8th Wonder of the World that we see today.

These hexagonal patterns as you see them at the Giant’s Causeway are found around the globe and include the Devil’s Postpile in the US, Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa in Scotland, Swartifoss Waterfall in Iceland, and Los Prismas Basálticos in Mexico to name a few.

These hexagonal patterns as you see them at the Giant's Causeway are found around the globe and include the Devil's Postpile in the US, Fingal's Cave on the Isle of Staffa in Scotland
Staffa Island caves

Giants Causeway Legend

At the dawn of time in Ireland there lived an Irish giant Finn Macool (Fionn mac Cumhaill or Finn McCool) he was a massive 54 feet tall and said to have the strength of 500 men. He was married to Oonagh and lived happily on the Antrim Coast.

Across the waters in Scotland lived a giant known as Benandonner who believed he was the strongest giant in the world. Benandonner would harass and taunt Finn across the waters and one day he just pissed Finn off so much that Finn picked up a lump of earth and threw it at him. The lump missed and fell into the Irish Sea creating what came to be known as the Isle of Man and the hole left by the earth lump became Lough Neagh.

Finn got sick and tired of all the harassment and built the causeway to Scotland so he could fight Benandonner once and for all. The Causeway path Finn laid down was joined by the path that Benandonner built from Scotland. For weeks the giants toiled building a path to each other.

Finally, the two paths met and Finn saw Benandonner coming across the causeway and was shocked by the huge size of the Scottish giant. Since Benandonner had not yet seen Finn he ran back to his house and asked Oonagh to help him hide. Being a very smart woman she disguised Finn as a baby and put him into a huge cradle. When Benandonner knocked on the door Finn pretended to cry. Benandonner spotted the ‘baby’ and thought to himself if the baby was that gigantic how big was Finn himself? So Benandonner turned and ran back to Scotland destroying the causeway behind him so Finn couldn’t follow him.

Where is the Giant’s Causeway?

The Giant’s Causeway is on the Antrim Coastal Route, which is a mere 5-minute drive from the village of Bushmills – yes the famous Whiskey producing village. It’s about 10 minutes from Dunluce Castle and 15 from the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. The Causeway Coast is or rather was a prime location for all the Game of Thrones filming sites and there’s many a pub or restaurant on the route showcasing the Tour of Doors which are the carved tours that fell from the trees in the Dark Hedges.

many a pub or restaurant on the Giants Causeway tour showcasing the Tour of Doors which are the carved tours that fell from the trees in the Dark Hedges

What is a Giants Causeway tour?

A Giants Causeway Tour is a guided excursion that takes visitors to one of Northern Ireland’s most popular attractions, the Giants Causeway. The tour typically includes transportation from Belfast or Dublin, a knowledgeable tour guide, stops at other attractions along the Causeway Coastal Route such as Dunluce Castle or the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and a chance to explore the unique basalt columns of the Giants Causeway.

Giants Causeway tour from Belfast

If you have rented a car and want to drive to the Giants Causeway from Belfast City Giant’s Causeway tour is an easy drive – if you rent a car the drive is around 51 miles and takes an hour and a half.  If you drive you can park at the Giant’s Causeway Railway Park which goes just outside Bushmills Village. The journey takes 20 minutes on the old Giant’s Causeway Tram. Parking is free if you take the tram and the fees are Fares Adult Ticket £5.00 and Children £3.00.

Giant's Causeway Railway Park which goes from just outside Bushmills village. The journey takes 20 minutes on the old Giant's Causeway Tram.

You can also park at the Giant’s Causeway Railway park where the tram terminates and that cost is only £6.00 per car per day and you can walk to the stones for free.  

What is the best time to book a Giants Causeway tour?

The best time to book a Giants Causeway tour is during the summer months of June through August when the weather is typically warmer and drier. However, the attraction can be busy during this time, so it’s recommended that you book your tour in advance to ensure availability.

What is the Causeway Coastal Route?

The Causeway Coastal Route is a scenic roadway that stretches along the northern coast of Northern Ireland. The route includes several attractions such as the Dark Hedges, Dunluce Castle, and of course, the Giants Causeway.

What other attractions are typically included in a Giants Causeway tour?

In addition to the Giants Causeway, most tours will make stops at other popular attractions along the Causeway Coastal Route. These may include Dunluce Castle, Carrickfergus Castle, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and the Bushmills Distillery.

How long does a Giants Causeway tour typically last?

A typical Giants Causeway tour is a full-day excursion that can last anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. The exact duration will depend on the tour company, itinerary, and any additional stops along the way.

How long to spend at Giants Causeway?

If you are doing a self guided tour you will probably need around 3 hours on a good day. This of course depends on whether you plan to hike the paths or simply take the shuttle bus down to the site.

Are Giants Causeway tours guided?

If you book an organized tour all Giants Causeway tours are guided by an experienced tour guide who will provide information about the attraction, the surrounding area, and answer any questions you may have.

What is the cost of a Giants Causeway tour?

The cost of a guided Giants Causeway tour will depend on the tour company, the itinerary, and any additional stops included. Prices typically start at around £25 per person for a basic bus tour. More luxurious or private tours can cost anywhere from £100 to £300 per person.

Giant’s Causeway Tour from Belfast

Discover the magic of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Giant’s Causeway on a full-day trip from Belfast. Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, travel by luxury coach through Northern Ireland’s spectacular countryside. Then arrive at the Giant’s Causeway and admire the scenic splendour of the surroundings.

Read more about Giant’s Causeway Day Trip from Belfast

Day Tour from Dublin to the Giant’s Causeway

If you drive from Dublin Ireland it will take you around 3 hours to get to the Giant’s Causeway but you can also book many tours of the Causeway Coast from Dublin.

A Northern Ireland Highlights Day Trip Including Giant’s Causeway from Dublin

Explore Northern Ireland’s biggest draws—Belfast, Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge—on a day trip from Dublin. In a traditional black cab in Belfast, you’ll explore sites of the capital’s conflicted history: the mural-strewn streets of the Falls and Shankill neighbourhoods and the Belfast Docks. Then course along the Antrim Coast to experience one of Ireland’s great geological marvels, the UNESCO–listed Giant’s Causeway, followed by a stop at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Marvel at the surrounding headlands that were also used as a filming location for many “Game of Thrones” scenes. Note: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is currently closed to the public. This stop is replaced by a visit to Dunluce Castle, the real-life House of Greyjoy from the “Game of Thrones”, until further notice.

Read more about Northern Ireland Highlights Day Trip Including Giant’s Causeway from Dublin

Giant’s Causeway Visitor Experience Centre

In 1986 a National Trust Visitor centre was opened at the Giant’s Causeway to coincide with the addition by UNESCO’s world heritage centre to its coveted list of world heritage sites, this was unfortunately damaged some years later in 2000 by a fire but a new state of the art educational visitor centre was built,which opened in July 2012. 

Do you have to pay to see the Giant’s Causeway or how to visit Giants Causeway for free? The Giant’s Causeway is free to visit and you do not need to pay the car park fees at the Causeway Visitor Centre which actually gives you parking and access to the Centre, not the Causeway.

How much does it cost to go to the Giants Causeway? If you wish to use the Visitor’s Centre and its parking you will be charged per Adult £13.50, and per Child £6.75.

The National Trust Giant’s Causeway visitor centre is not part of the Giant’s Causeway and is built around a mile from the Causeway itself. Many visitors are fooled into believing they can only park here and pay for the privilege of seeing the Causeway. I will always recommend avoiding the Causeway visitors centre because it doesn’t support the locals and it charges far too much to see the Causeway.

The National Trust Giant's Causeway visitor centre is not part of the Giant's Causeway and is built around a mile from the Causeway itself. Many visitors are fooled into believing they can only park here and pay for the privilege of seeing the Causeway. I will always recommend avoiding the Causeway visitors centre because it doesn't support the locals and it charges far too much to see the Causeway.

The cost of parking at the Visitors Centre is an extortionate £13.50 per person and 6.75 per child in the vehicle so it isn’t a one-off fee per car.

How to get into Giants Causeway for free

If you are a hiker you can take the trail from Portballintrae and walk the coast to the Causeway which passes alongside the tram line.

The Nook Pub where you can have a fabulous lunch in this old Irish pub  beside the Giant's causeway

Giant’s Causeway free parking

You can enjoy the hospitality of The Nook pub right beside the Causeway and if you ask nicely they will let you park for free. We had a fabulous lunch at the Pub and enjoyed the warmth of the open fire before we strolled down to the Causeway. From The Nook it’s a short walk to the tunnel behind the visitor’s centre where you can catch the bus down to the Causeway.

The Ultimate Tour of the Giant's Causeway 

How long does it take to see the Giant’s Causeway?

It really takes around 2-3  hours to explore the Giant’s Causeway. To save your feet take the small bus that stops behind the Visitor’s Centre just after the tunnel. It costs £1 to go down to the Coast and the same again to get back up.

The Ultimate Tour of the Giant's Causeway 

Giant’s Causeway Weather

Well, that’s a little difficult to say, I’ve been there in blustery freezing-cold winter weather and in bright sunny weather – sometimes both on the same day. I would venture to say the best time to visit the Giant’s Causeway is in the shoulder season early to late spring or in early to late fall. That way you avoid the majority of the tourist hordes and you can get some beautiful weather.

What to see at the Giant’s Causeway

When you tour the Giant’s Causeway Coast route you can hike or walk to the Giant’s Causeway and within it and are four walking trails within the site that are suitable for all abilities and ages. When you head through the tunnel follow the roadway down the steep slope and you will arrive at the Stookans or Windy Gap as it is known. You will know when you reach it because it is completely exposed to the elements.

The Ultimate Tour of the Giant's Causeway 

The Giant’s Causeway is made up of three areas Little Causeway, Middle Causeway is also known as the Honeycomb where you can see the stunning famous black basalt hexagonal columns.

Giant’s Causeway, The Organ Pipes

The Pipe Organ is a similar rock formation on the side of a cliff above Port Noffer; the columns of this feature are especially tall and straight, reminiscent of organ pipes. It can be seen by following the path for a few hundred metres beyond the Causeway.

The Ultimate Tour of the Giant's Causeway 

The Grand Causeway features the Wishing Well, Wishing Chair and the Giant’s Gate which are all part of the Giant Macool’s legend.

The Ultimate Tour of the Giant's Causeway 
©Museum of Northern Ireland

 From here head to Port Noffer which is a very different environment due to being sheltered. This is a salt marsh that is rich in birdlife and vegetation.

Giant’s Causeway Boot

From the Giants Boot, you can climb the small slope to the Organ and admire the massive columns. Moving along from the Organ you will come to the headland where you will find a viewing platform called the Amphitheatre. From here you can take in the stunning landscapes of Antrim and look towards Rathlin Island and the North Atlantic.

The Ultimate Tour of the Giant's Causeway 

Did you spot the Giant’s Harp and eyes?

If you take the time to climb the very steep path with its many steps (162) you can follow this Shepherd’s Path to the North Antrim Cliff Path and within half a mile you will be back at the Visitors Centre.   

The Ultimate Tour of the Giant's Causeway 

Best time to visit the Giant’s Causeway?

I like to go to the Causeway in the spring and fall, you will find plenty of tourists but it isn’t terribly crowded with busloads of them. I also enjoy the area in the months of January and February it can be brutally cold and windy but the rough roar of the Atlantic as it crashes on the rocks is mesmerizing.

NORTHERN IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 14, 2016: Giant's Causeway in a beautiful summer day, Northern Ireland

If you are driving the North Antrim coast in the summer months from May to September you will find it easy to get to the Causeway coast either early in the morning as the sun comes up at around 4″30 am for those brilliant sunrise shots. You can stay much later as well since the sun doesn’t go down until around 10 pm.

Causeway Hotel

If you’d like to explore the Giant’s Causeway, you can’t stay any closer than the Causeway Hotel. During your stay, you can discover this UNESCO World Heritage site for free all from the comfortable base of this Grade II listed hotel.

The inception of the Causeway Hotel traces back to 1836 when Miss Elizabeth Henry undertook the construction, establishing a pioneering lodging destination that granted travelers a vantage point to behold the renowned rock formations.

The Ultimate Tour of the Giant's Causeway 

Presently, one can relish the awe-inspiring panorama of this remarkable terrain while indulging in the hospitality of the Causeway Hotel. Boasting 28 well-appointed rooms, each equipped with an en-suite facility, guests are treated to breathtaking vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. Alternatively, they may opt for accommodations featuring a private terrace, where they can bask in the enchanting spectacle of the sun descending over this magical landscape.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s top tourist attraction and a visit to the Giant’s Causeway is a truly awe-inspiring experience that should not be missed. A DIY Giant’s Causeway tour offers a wonderful opportunity to witness the natural beauty and geological wonder of the area, as well as learn about the history and legends associated with it.

Walking along the hexagonal columns, listening to the sounds of the crashing waves, and breathing in the fresh sea air is a magical experience that stays with you long after you leave. Whether you are a nature lover, a history buff, or simply seeking adventure, the Giant’s Causeway tour is a perfect way to spend a day and create unforgettable memories.

Living in Ireland allows me to travel to this beautiful country from end to end. If there is any question or place in Ireland – North or South you may have feel free to contact me.

Is there anywhere in Ireland that you would like to see an article on let me know, and here are a few articles you may find interesting.

101 Landmarks in Northern Ireland

Travelling in Ireland without a car

60 Best Northern Ireland tourist attractions

Unique Gifts from Ireland – 32 of the best souvenirs of Ireland


  • Faith was born in Ireland raised in Canada and has lived in over 10 countries in Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Wales, along with Mexico, Antigua, the US and has slow travelled to over 40 countries around the world. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies Faith is a student of history, culture, community and food and has written about these topics for over 40 years.

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