In the Shadows at the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway in Bushmills, Northern Ireland was among my son’s number one tourist attraction to see on the whole European summer holiday. The Giant’s Causeway is an area of forty thousand basalt columns that were formed by a volcanic eruption that occurred some fifty to sixty million years ago. We enjoyed a full experience the Giant’s Causeway. Read on to see the details of our visit.
This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: Portugal, the United Kingdom, Ireland via TAP Portugal and British Airways Business Class.
- A Positioning Flight: Air Canada Vancouver – Toronto
- TAP Portugal Business Class: Toronto – Lisbon
- Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa, Lisbon, Portugal
- The First Steps in the Hilly Capital City of Lisbon, Portugal
- Exploring the Turrets of Castelo del São Jorge, Lisbon, Portugal
- The Seaside Town of Belem and the Jerónimos Monastery, Portugal
- The Lisbon Cathedral and Iberico Ham at Time Out Market, Lisbon, Portugal
- TAP Portugal Premium Business Lounge, Lisbon, Portugal
- TAP Portugal Business Class: Lisbon – London Heathrow
- Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge: London Heathrow Terminal Two
- The Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington, United Kingdom
- Walking Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, London, United Kingdom
- Churchill’s War Rooms & Westminster Abbey, London, United Kingdom
- Touring the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, London, United Kingdom
- Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
- De-Cyphering the Rosetta Stone and Camden Locks, London United Kingdom
- Day Tripping to Stonehenge, Salisbury, United Kingdom
- The Moxy London Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom
- The Plaza Premium Lounge, London Heathrow Terminal Two
- Aer Lingus: London Heathrow – Dublin
- Aloft Dublin City, Dublin, Ireland
- Discovering Temple Bar District, Dublin, Ireland
- Calling on the Guiness Storehouse and Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
- The Shertaon Athlone Hotel, Athlone, Ireland
- Drinking at Ireland’s Oldest Bar, Athlone, Ireland
- Hiking Along the Cliff’s of Moher, Ireland
- Crystal Springs Bed and Breakfast, Killarney, Ireland
- Circling The Skelling Islands and Driving the Ring of Kerry, Ireland
- Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, Cork, Ireland
- AC Hotel by Marriott, Belfast, Northern Ireland
- Experiencing the Tragedy of the Titanic at the Titanic Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland
- In the Shadows at the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
- Terminal One T1 Lounge, Dublin Airport, Ireland
- British Airways Club Europe: Dublin – London Heathrow
- Cathay Pacific Business Lounge, London Heathrow
- No1 Lounge, London Heathrow
- British Airways Club World Business Class: London – Vancouver
Activity: In the Shadows at Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Northern Ireland
Our next coveted attraction on the list to visit in Northern Ireland was a visit to the Giant’s Causeway in Bushmills, Northern Ireland. For some reason, WT73Jr had his heart set on visiting this attraction and had researched it well before our visit. The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Irelands; only UNESCO site. It’s a vast expanse of hexagonal rocks and shapes set out like only Giant’s could have created it.
We checked out of the AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast and headed up to Bushmills in the rental Volvo. The Giant’s Causeway was located about 90 minutes out of Belfast and it was a pleasant country drive up to it.
The drive included pretty British cottages along with European traffic signs. Along with the rest of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the driving continued to be “on the left”.
Visiting the Giant’s Causeway:
The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. It is a UNESCO Protected World Heritage Site and a National nature reserve in the United Kingdom.
The Giant’s Causeway is free to visit, with a payment for the car park only. The Giants’ Causeway is located a short distance from the visitors centre along a waterfront coastal zone that stretches for several kilometres.
After getting organized and bypassing the visitor’s centre for the way back, we joined the track and started the walk down towards the rocks. It was a very pleasant walk down to the rocks.
The walk to the Rock’s themselves were longer than I was anticipating. However, the area was very pretty and it was pleasant to see the coastal region in this northern part of Northern Ireland.
We eventually got to the Basalt Column Rocks. The rocks and beach area themselves were super neat to clamber over.
The neatness of this place immediately became apparent as we arrived to the main event. These large hexagonal rocks were everywhere! The official count was that there were over forty thousand of them.
Most impressive were the views back towards land and the open expanse pathways that these hexagonal rocks shaped.
Climbing the Shepards Steps:
After we had throughly examined the Giants’ Causeway coastal zone, it came time to head back to the visitor centre. Taking a different route, we eventually wandered over towards a cliff climb up to Shepards’ steps. We were treated to more of a coastline view, along with a great view from the top.
From the top of Shepards’ Steps, it was a short walk back to the visitor centre along the ridge line and the car park. We had views over English ( or Northern Irish) fields.
The Giant’s Causeway was one of the more impressive attractions that we had seen during our trip to Ireland. The pictures don’t do it justice as to the size and breath of the rocks. Thanks to the weather, which held out without rain for our visit, it made it a very pleasant afternoon.
Travelling Back to Dublin:
From the Giant’s Causeway, it was about 3 hours drive back to Dublin. We hit the highways on a pleasant mostly sunny day.
The international border crossing from Northern Ireland into the Republic of Ireland was equally as routine as we arrived. There was only a small highway sign marking the occasion.
After a three hour drive, we arrived into Dublin. For convenience, familiarity and Marriott Bonvoy status night credits, we stayed back at the Aloft Dublin City. We happened to receive a soft upgrade back into the same larger Double Double family room that we had stayed at a week prior on our way into Ireland.
A Last Walk through Dublin:
For nostalgia’s sake, and to complete the trip, after we had packed our bags for departure the next day, we walked into Temple Bar area for one last goodbye. It was Saturday night so it was quite busy in town.
We had a fast paced but fulfilling trip taking in the sights of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Most importantly, we were able to complete almost all of the items on my son’s must visit list.
My Thoughts on the Giants Causeway and our week in Ireland and Northern Ireland:
Our trip around Ireland and Northern Ireland was pretty fast paced. While the country is really easy to get around in, we could have spend several weeks enjoying the country and participating in the activities that it has to offer. Despite our self inflicted pace, we got in a lot of what my son wanted to see. My son rated the Giant’s Causeway as his number one attraction on the whole European Trip, followed by seeing Skelling Island and our day in the Ring of Kerry as his number two and number three attractions. It’s clear that Ireland and Northern Ireland have a lot to offer so make sure if you visit that you plan a lot of time.