the giants causeway - Tips for Exploring the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

Last week I ticked another item off of my ever growing bucket list as I had the chance to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway is a unique rock formation that juts out into the ocean on Northern Ireland’s east coast. Fact will tell you that they are 60million year old rock formations created by volcanic activity in the area. Irish Folklore will tell you it was part of a bridge to Scotland created by a giant named Finn MacCool. Either way its really cool rock formations that you should visit too.

My itinerary had me scheduled to be there for about two hours before a big day full of driving to castles, rope bridges and scenes right out of a TV show, literally. However I ended up going to the Giant’s Causeway earlier than planned and in total I probably stayed for 4 or so hours.

Cailin of TravelYourself.ca explores the Giant's Causeway - Tips for Exploring the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

That to me was still not enough time and I still didn’t get to see everything there. Granted I was filming and taking a zillion photographs, so to the average person you might not need that much time, especially if you find rock formations boring. You could very well visit, take a picture ~click~ and be on your merry way. Or you could be like a kid in a playground and stay forever and not want to leave. Like me.

To make the most of your time whether you have 5 minutes or a full day here are some of the best tips that I learned on my visit for visiting the Giant’s Causeway:

The Causeway Hotel - Tips for Exploring the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

1. Stay overnight nearby

The Giant’s Causeway is easily reachable from Dublin in just a 3 hour drive or Belfast in just a 1 hour drive by either tour bus or your own rental vehicle however in my opinion spending the night in the Irish countryside near the Giant’s Causeway is a much better option. This way you get to enjoy the countryside and you aren’t rushed to get anywhere and you can go at your own pace.

While visiting I stayed at The Causeway Hotel and you literally can’t find a place to stay any closer than that. It is located right next door to the Giant’s Causeway Information centre and the trail that leads down to the beach to get to the Giant’s Causeway. Staying here also saves you money because parking and park entry along with a tour or audio guide are included in your stay.

crowds of people visit the giant's causeway - Tips for Exploring the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

 

2. Get there early to beat the crowds

Since my hotel was so close I decided to wake up early and head down to the Giant’s Causeway at 7:30am so that I could enjoy it to myself. I didn’t head straight down though, rather I took one of the trails that goes above and around, stopping to film and take pictures so I probably didn’t get down to the actual shore until 8:30am or so. Surprisingly at that time in the morning there was already 1 or 2 other people down there exploring with me.

When I was there later in the morning the crowds were never annoyingly gynormous, the weather also wasn’t the best that day so it could of been keeping people away but I would say there was roughly 30-60 people around there at any given time. Also I was visiting in mid-May so I would assume the crowds might be bigger in the summer months.

However to get some good shots without a ton of other people in them, the earlier you go the better.

red trail best trail at the Giant's Causeway - Tips for Exploring the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

 

3. Take the red trail first

At the information centre they hand out maps which show the various trail options in the area. There are two main trails to take to get to the Giant’s Causeway. Your first option is the Blue Trail which takes you straight down along a paved road and sidewalk. The second option is the Red Trail which takes you along the cliff tops above and past the Giant’s Causeway and then leads you down a set of 162 steps, a long winding trail and then eventually to the rocks.

In my opinion I highly suggest taking the red trail first not only for the gorgeous views from above but also so that you can go down the large steep steps instead of going up them later if you decide to take the red trail back.

Taking the red trail first then the blue trail back also gives you a nice little circle route to follow.

slippery rocks at the Giant's Causeway - Tips for Exploring the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

 

4. Be smart

Don’t rush over the rocks, watch your step, don’t climb too high and don’t get too close to the water’s edge. These are all rules that should be posted around somewhere at the Giant’s Causeway but they aren’t. However be smart and use your common sense, especially if it has been raining and the rocks are wet. There are staff in the area trained in first aid who also warn you if you are getting to close to the water or going too high that will help you if needed.

Unfortunately while I was there an older gentleman fell and slipped on the rocks and smashed his face giving him a bloody nose but the trained staff were there to help him right away. They told me some days there aren’t any incidents and other times there could be 5 or 6 trips and falls so be careful!

crazy weather hail storm at the Giant's Causeway - Tips for Exploring the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

A freak hail storm

5. Dress warmly

While walking the red trail and exploring the rocks I experienced every kind of weather from warm sun to hurricane force winds, rain and even hail! (Again I was visiting in mid-May.) This was definitely one of those days where the Irish say you experience 4 seasons all in a matter of minutes. Be prepared with a jacket, maybe a scarf, and even rain gear depending on how long you are planning to visit. FYI an umbrella would pretty much be useless here.

A rock formation at the Giant's Causeway known as the giant's boot - Tips for Exploring the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

Aside from just seeing the main formation of rocks there are also a few other unique things to see when visiting, like the Giant’s boot rock formation and another area on the cliffside with rock pillars known as the amphitheatre.

To learn more from my time there watch my newest video and tour the Giant’s Causeway with me! 

 

 

Like my scarf that I am wearing in this video? It is a Speakeasy Travel Scarf and it has a secret pocket to stash my passport, money, and even fits my phone! They come in many colours, if you are interested in buying one for your travels click HERE!

Special thanks to Tourism Ireland for hosting me on this trip. As always all opinions and views expressed are my own.