There is accommodation for every budget, from boutique guesthouses with panorama and luxury hotels to rustically styled glamping and campsites.
The Causeway Coastal route in Northern Ireland offers an abundance of exciting things to do, historical sites, geological wonders such as the Giant’s Causeway – UNESCO World Heritage Site, cosying cafés, vibrant bars and mouthwatering restaurants. You could easily spend days exploring every nook and cranny along this beautiful coast.
But if you’re short on time, why not make the most of the weekends? With plenty of accommodation options to choose from, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice. So whether you fancy glamping under canvas or staying in luxury lodges, you can guarantee you’ll get the best deal along this stunning coastal route.
Here are our favourite places to stay near the Giant’s Causeway:
The Causeway Hotel
You can’t stay much closer to Giant’s Causeway than at the Causeway Hotel. The Causeway Hotel is located right near Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre and just a short walk to the head of the footpath that winds its way down to the hexagonal rocks.
Both the Causeway Hotel and the Giants Causeway Visitor Centre are run by the National Trust for Northern Ireland North Coast
The Giants Causeway hotel itself is a little piece of history, too. Now a Grade II-listed building, it was first constructed in 1836 and was the first and still one of the best hotels near where visitors to this stretch of coastline could stay.
Rooms facing the Atlantic best have panoramic views across the north coast past Dunluce Castle and Portrush toward Portstewart Strand for their sunset coastal sea views.
The hotel offers free parking, which is handy when it’s normally $8.50 per day to park in the visitor Centre, free wifi and is only a stone’s throw from the main event making the Causeway Hotel the perfect location for visiting the Giants Causeway or just Northern Ireland in general.
Bushmills Inn, Bushmills
Just a short trip down the road from the Giants Causeway hotel is one of the most well-known hotels in Northern Ireland. The Bushmills Inn is a historic building which has been updated into an upmarket boutique hotel. The current owners have created rooms that retain their original features from its days as coaching inn in the 17th century.
The name Bushmills may well precede it, thanks to the town’s well-known Bushmills whiskey distillery, just a short walk up the road. Try a tipple at the classy wood-panelled bar of the Bushmills Inn, Rooms range from a hayloft snug double room to larger rooms with four-poster beds. The inn even has its cinema.
Blackrock House, Portrush
Price: From £145 per night (3-night minimum stay)
In the bustling city of Portrush, BlackRock House provides boutique bed & breakfast accommodations that fuse modern style with laid-back coastal life. This is the perfect relaxing retreat after a busy day, boasting panoramas of the golden beaches across the wild Atlantic ocean. Hearty breakfast is served to refuel you for a busy day tomorrow, while the cosy lounge is the perfect place to curl up with a good read when you return home. And as for your private balcony in summer, it’s the ideal spot for sunset drinks!
The Carrick, Portrush
The Carrick sits in the beautiful seaside town of Portrush, on the stunning North coast of Northern Ireland. The Edwardian townhouse dating back to 1905 has been sympathetically renovated to the highest standard to create this Luxurious B&B. With many of the building’s original features maintained while incorporating every possible modern convenience, we guarantee you a wonderful stay and the perfect spot to explore everything the North coast offers, including The Giant’s Causeway and nearby Game of Thrones film locations. Only 1.2 miles from Royal Portrush Golf Club, home of the 148th Open Championship. Bookings can be made directly with the property or via the website.
Elephant Rock, Portrush
Price: From £120 per room per night
This beautiful 18-bedroom Victorian terrace was built in 1920. It features stunning sea views and has been extensively refurbished to create an elegant, sophisticated, glamorous atmosphere. It’s located in the centre of Portrush, so it’s also home to one of the best restaurants- open for breakfast, lunches and dinners.
The Salthouse, Ballycastle
Price: From £160 per night
This five-star hotel offers 24 stylishly decorated rooms and suites, a relaxing spa and laid-back bar, and a fine dining restaurant.
Located in its private grounds in the heart of the beautiful Antrim coast, The Salthouse overlooks the rugged cliffs of Ballycastle, the picturesque town of Fairhead, and beyond.
Bayview Hotel, Portballintrae
Price: From £169 per night
The Bayview Hotel is located in the picturesque village of Portballintrae. It has an open fire and an expansive view from the balcony. Its Porthole Bar and Restaurant is ideal for relaxing after an adventure along the Causeway Coast.
Me & Mrs Jones, Portstewart
Price: From £150 per night
Located in the seaside town of Portstewart, this boutique guesthouse offers comfortable accommodation for guests who want to enjoy the sights and sounds of the area. It also serves up a delicious meal at its award-winning restaurant. Overlooking the “Prom” towards Portstewart Strand beach, this is the perfect base to explore Portstewart after your trip to the Giants Causeway
Ballygally Castle, Ballygally
Price: From £119 per night
Perched on the edge of the famed Causeway Coastal Route lies Ballygally Castel, an impressive 17th-century fortress overlooking Ballygally bay. Said to be haunted by a ghostly presence, the accommodation is home to a spooky Ghost Room and Dungeon. Other parts of the building offer beautifully appointed guest suites with stunning ocean vistas. The Garden Restaurant overlook the gardens and serves excellent food.
Carnside Guest House
Carnside Guest House is on an elevated site with spectacular views of the Giant’s Causeway (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Portrush and Donegal. 10-minute walk to Giant’s Causeway and three restaurants.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle and Bushmills Distillery are nearby. This area is a walkers paradise, and Carnside is an ideal base for a three-day walking holiday or for those wishing to have a relaxing holiday.
Ballyvoy Camping Barn
Price: £25 per person per night
This is the perfect place for those who are on a tight budget. This cute little Barn in the tiny hamlet of Ballyvoy is much better than staying in a regular hostel. Each room has a comfortable bunk bed and ensuite bathrooms, while a large kitchen/dining room is the perfect place to hang out with friends.
Or, you could just head across the street to Hunter’s Restaurant, where they serve delicious food at affordable prices. And Barnish Cafe is right next door, so you can grab something to eat after your hike.
Price: £140 per night
It’s on the Causeway Coastal road, from Larne to the Giant’s Causeway. It’s a lovely place to stay if you want peace and tranquillity. You can take walks in either direction, visit the Giant’s Causeway and the nearby town of Ballycastle, or even go surfing!
The cottage has two bedrooms – one double and one single. It converts into a king-size bed.
The restaurant located next to the Giants Causeway Visitor Centre, overlooking the Causeway Coast, serving contemporary dishes, and local food from northern Ireland’s local produce from farm shops.
The Causeway Hotel gave off an inviting atmosphere and made us want to linger for longer than usual. It felt very fancy fine dining and made me feel very spoilt for Sunday lunch or traditional afternoon tea
The decor fits in beautifully with the history of the building, which dates back to 1842 – including tall window panes, antique brass light fixtures, ornate mantles, high-backed chairs, and delicate chandeliers dangling from the ceiling. The rooms we stayed in felt like they belonged in a castle but still exuded that sense of home.
The kids’ menu with a fun title, “Little Giants.” If you’re familiar with me, you’ll realise I’m a big fan of these small details. It’s such an adorable name for a children’s menu when visiting the Giant’s Causeway.
When we ordered for our kids, they were offered some colouring books and felt pens to keep them entertained until their food came.
It was so lovely! The whole place had such a cosy feeling – the beautifully soft leather sofas and wonderfully purple high-backed armchair were inviting. I think you could chill out here for a bit after a long hike from the Giant’s Causeway without any doubts.
The Smuggler’s Inn is situated in an idyllic countryside setting only two kilometres from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Giant’s Causeways and Causeway headland and two kilometres from Bushmill’s distillery.
Our inn is within easy reach of the historic town of Dunluce castle and several local golf courses, including Portballintraig (Bushfoot), Royal Portrush and Port Stewart.
Whether you’re staying for a short break or extended holiday, we offer comfortable accommodation and friendly service. We provide a range of facilities, including wireless internet access, TV, DVD player, games room, children’s play area and secure off-road vehicle storage. You can also enjoy a meal in one of our restaurants or take advantage of our bar menu.
MINI MAEGDEN, BUSHMILLS
It’s hard to beat a good grilled cheese sandwich at any time, but if you’re looking for a particularly delicious one, look no further than Maegden. Served from a 1950’s caravan pitched up in a field a stone’s throw from the Giant’s Causeway and one of the best places to eat after your walk down to the stones. Using
Maegden (pronounced May-den) produce absolute perfection when it comes to toasties sandwiches/grilled cheese that is made with love and flavoured with some of the best local produce from Northern Ireland, the two girls produce absolute perfection when it comes to toasties.
There’s plenty of seating and site parking at Maegden for you to relax and take time out on the causeway coast. It opens every day from March to October between 11:00 and 17:30 but closes on Tuesday afternoons.
We recommend leaving space between the last bite of a toastie and the first sip[ of Bushmills whiskey on the distillery tour
Dogs accepted as well, with facilities catering dogs and other pets
The Bilberry Mill Cafe in Bushmills High street, just across from the park and ride to the Giants Causeway, is one of our Favourite places to eat. They have a great selection of tasty treats with traditional and contemporary dishes.
On a damp day, its a great place to get a cuppa and a bite to eat before heading to the Causeway and on sunny days, you can enjoy the sun on your face outside in their pavement seating area and watch the world go by.
You’ll be glad to know dogs accepted here, and you will find the restaurant owners full of Irish hospitality for your whole family.
Visitors will enjoy the Irish charm at Bushmills Inn. Still, they might also want something different than oak-panelled walls and peated wood fireplaces. Next door is the light and airiness of the French Room restaurant.
Undoubtedly one of Northern Ireland’s best places to eat for food lovers, stop on the causeway coastal route. With a mix of fine dining, Sunday lunch, afternoon tea and sample some of Northern Ireland’s and the causeway coastal route fine food and local produce
The French Huguenot community has left its mark on the area by contributing to the local economy. It would be lovely to visit again for a cup of tea or coffee and some cake.
On the way along the causeway coastal route to Ballycastle, the Glens of Antrim, stop by Broughgammon Farm outside Ballycastle. The owners, Becky and Charlie Cole, run their farm shop and cafe, a hidden gem that sells locally sourced meats and local produce. And they have a blog where they share tips about seasonal living on their county Antrim land.
Make sure to visit their goat herd in their barn, where they had lots of fun and mischief, chewing my hands and looking at me with curious gazes. It was great for all the family.
Artisanal farmers like Becky and Charlie in northern Ireland sell their products at local marketplaces, farm stores, and delis along the causeway coast.
They offer cookery courses and classes for people who want to learn about farming, cooking, and growing vegetables.
Set on the dock in Portrush Harbor, smack dab in the middle of the harbour, in an old Lifeboat Station, is the perfect place to rest your feet after a day spent exploring the Causeway Coast. This isn’t your average coffee shop offering good food in northern ireland.
This café takes what they do seriously and puts it in a location where people can enjoy it without going far. With Koppi being the roast of choice here for owner Georges Nelson and his staff, its the best option in port if you want something delicious and fresh with a spot of Irish hospitality.
They also serve breakfast and lunch, so you can grab a bite before or after your walk around the area.
You can also find facilities catering dogs outside
There’ll be one for everyone at the Ramore Group’s harbour event. Six different restaurants and bars catering to different tastes, but most importantly: Bringing loads of people to the County Antrim seaside village.
The Wine Bar
With a lively atmosphere and contemporary menu, The Wine bar is one of the highlights of any social savvy crowd, as testament by the long queues to get a shared table and the extensive menu. Many a selfie will be had on a night while “Ramoring” in Northern Ireland on the Causeway coast
The Harbour Bar
The Harbour Bar is one of the oldest bars in town, serving delicious pints and showcasing an impressive gin collection upstairs.
The Harbour Bistro
The Harbour Bistro downstairs has an excellent modern feel with indie tunes playing and a wood-fired oven turning out mouthwatering pizzas.
Neptune & Prawn
Neptune & Prawn serves Asian-influenced dishes with a twist and caters to kids with play areas and family meals.
The Mermaid is a relaxed all-rounder offering everything from breakfast to dinner, with a great range of menus and prices.
The Tourist is their fast food option with burgers, pizzas and Mexican street food. And if you fancy something a little bit special, head to the wine bar. Full details of each venue can be found online.
You really can’t beat a trip to the Central Bar in Belfast. With warm Northern Irish hospitality, the menu is always popular. Using locally sourced food, you can expect a traditional steak from the local butcher, fresh fish and chips and a stylish cocktail bar on hand.
So whether you’re after a fun night out or just an informal bite to eat, the Central Bar should tickle your fancy!
MORTON’S FISH AND CHIP BAR
This Ballycastle institution, situated on the harbour, is renowned for the best fish and chips on the Causeway Coast if not Northern Ireland.
The family own their own fishing boats and also have a fishmonger selling the fresh fish next door so you can be sure that the fish is ultra-fresh and cooked to order.
Locals travel miles to buy fish and chips here and sit eating it with a view of the harbour.
URSA MINOR BAKEHOUSE, BALLYCASTLE
There is only ever so much space in any given area, so it was inevitable that the North Coast would end up with a baker specialising in baked goods.
In Ballycastle, there is only so much room for a cafe serving delicious food and warm drinks. Here, it is no secret that a slice of freshly baked bread is the best thing to eat.
But it is also not a secret that Ursa Minor is the best place to get such a loaf. With a menu full of tasty treats, it is clear that Ursa Minor is a place where people come to enjoy themselves.
And suppose you are lucky enough to find yourself in Ballycastle. In that case, you can take advantage of the excellent service and tasty food at Ursa Minor.
HARRY’S SHACK, PORTSTEWART
It was a surprise to see Harry’s Shack on the beautiful North Coast of County Antrim, but not a shocker. I’d heard so many good things about Harry’s Shack that I had been determined to go there and managed to squeeze it into a trip to Mussenden Temples and the Giants Causeway.
One of the places to eat, The Shack is an outdoor restaurant overlooking the sea where you can enjoy delicious seafood dishes with organic ingredients. I was shocked by the food quality at the Shack because I had expected mediocre fare.
Harry’s Shack is a place I would go back to, and it’s also one of the better places to eat near the Giant’s Causeway. It manages to be family-friendly and pleasing to serious eaters of all ages.
A rustic seaside style with simple dishes cooked very well and an extensive wine list..also car parking on the beach was fun.
One of the best restaurants around with live music on a Saturday night its one of the idyllic places to watch the sun go down on the causeway coast in Northern Ireland and
“When the world was moulded and fashioned out of formless chaos, this must have been the bit over—a remnant of chaos!”
Thackeray’s quote describing the Giants Causeway is not far from the truth. Although the original chaos was on a much larger scale and a very very long time ago.
The causeways 40000 plus columns are so regular that they even look man-made. However, this is far from the truth. The individual columns – the remains of a deep lava flow – are predominantly 5 sided (pentagonal) or 6 sided (Hexagonal); they are so tightly packed that they form a pavement hence causeway) like structure.
Of the three causeways that protrude out into the North Atlantic, none of them actually, despite the legends, continue underwater to Scotland; the causeways stop quite abruptly a short distance offshore, where the sea bed is mostly covered in sand, shell and gravel.
So how did this landscape of the Causeway come to be? The Late (100-66Ma) Between 66 and 100 million years ago, the Cretaceous period, was a time of significant global tectonic change, seeing the breakup of the supercontinents Gondwana and Laurasia, and the opening of the Atlantic Ocean.
It was in this time, during the Upper Santonian age, roughly 85 million years ago, that the maximum period of transgression occurred; sea levels were at an all-time high due to elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 and therefore higher global temperatures and warmer oceans.
Deposits from these warm oceans include the Upper Cretaceous Chalks that can be seen all along the coast and in particular at Whiterocks Beach near Portrush.
Chalk is considered to be a very fine-grained, pure limestone composed of billions of microscopic nannoplankton called coccolithophores.
These marine algae bloomed in the warm oceans, and subsequently, their remains rained down onto the ocean floor between 100 and 500m depth, accumulating as a white ooze and solidifying as chalk. The deposits can reach hundreds of metres in thickness, forming the spectacular white cliffs we see can see in the image above.
Chalk is a soft, highly porous type of pure limestone. The chalks of the north coast are incredibly refined, with less than 0.5% insoluble residues. However, they are also notoriously hard and dense compared to other Cretaceous chalks.
Close examination of the cliff faces reveals thin, laterally continuous crinkled lines that connect to flint nodules. These lines are caused by pressure dissolution of the limestone.
The carbonate material is dissolved into the solution due to increasing overburden, but insoluble material such as silica is left behind, accumulating in thin bands and migrating to form flint nodules that are capable of engulfing and preserving the body and trace fossils Uplift throughout the Jurassic to early Cretaceous period exposed the chalks at the surface and formed the white cliffs we see today.
What caused this chalk to become so condensed? Walking down Whiterocks beach, the homogenous white cliffs are interrupted briefly by a much darker igneous rock. This intrusion, known as a volcanic plug, gives us the first indication of the genesis of the Antrim basalts.
As the North Atlantic began to open at the end of the Cretaceous, magma began to erupt through the chalk firstly in the form of isolated cinder cone volcanoes.
The explosive volcanism brecciated the chalk in many places, and forcibly injected magma blocks into the surrounding rocks, which can be seen as dark coloured boulders within the white cliffs. Over time these vents solidified to produce the volcanic plugs, upon one of which sits the spectacular Dunluce Castle.
As rifting continued, extensive fissures opened up in the earth’s crust resembling those seen in Iceland or Hawaii today, allowing basaltic lava to pour out on top of the chalk.
Three successive pulses of rifting resulted in three distinct phases of volcanic activity; the lower, middle and upper basalts, separated by periods of calm.
The Giant’s Causeway is comprised of the middle basalts. During each phase, successive lava flows erupted onto the surface and pooled in natural hollows in the landscape. Flows range from 7 to 18m in thickness.
The renowned hexagonal pillars of the Giant’s Causeway are formed from the cooling of these immense pools of lava. As the lava cools, it loses heat to the atmosphere at the top, and to the colder country rock through the base of the pool. These cooling fronts move towards each other to the centre of the pool as the lava cools and solidifies.
As it does, the resulting basalt uniformly contracts laterally and cracks into mostly five- and six-sided columns.
These cracks extend upwards and downwards, perpendicular to the cooling fronts, at roughly equal speeds. In an ideal situation, these cracks would eventually join each other at the centre of the flow, creating continuous columns separated by slightly offset cracks at the centre.
However, the main causeway lavas are divided into an upper colonnade, a central entablature and a thick basal colonnade. This is thought to be caused by water seeping into cracks as they were forming, accelerating cooling and disrupting large colonnade formation in the upper and middle sections.
The most spectacular example of this junction is at the aptly named “Organ”.
Following the outpouring and cooling of each of these lava flows, a period of inactivity allowed the topmost section of the basalt to be exposed to intense, persistent tropical weathering, forming a soil rich in iron and aluminium, called laterite.
Laterites form by the leaching of the parent rock during the wet season, the resulting solution is brought to the surface during the dry season and removed, progressively depleting the soil of easily dissolved ions such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, leaving behind the more insoluble elements such as aluminium and iron oxides.
It is the iron oxides that give this soil its characteristic brick-red colour.
Laterite formation occurs on the surfaces of the basalt that are in contact with water; on the surface and within cracks in the rock.
As a result, weathering propagates downwards and inwards from cracks, creating “cores” of unweathered basalt that resemble pillow basalt.
These cycles are spectacularly displayed in the amphitheatre shaped cliffs in the image above, from the iconic stepping stones of the middle basalts, through the distinct red layer of the laterite and into the columns of the upper basalts.
The story of the Giant’s Causeway has evolved over many centuries, from myths of giants and man-made pillars to a tremendous primaeval ocean, but one thing that has never changed is the impact that this captivating landscape has had on mankind since we first set foot on the emerald isle, and will continue to evoke awe and wonder for centuries to come.
Share this post
Share on facebook Share on google Share on twitter Share on linkedin Share on pinterest Share on print Share on email
The Giant’s Causeway, near Bushmills, has been drawing thousands of tourists from near and far with its mystery and rare geological formations, however, long before modern transport made the journey (slightly) more accessible for travellers to make their way to the County Antrim Coast and the UNESCO World Heritage site situated on one of its most northerly points, people have wondered about the story of how it came to be.
From our article on the Geology of the Giants Causeway here, we know how the Causeways 40000 or so Hexagonal shaped columns were actually created, through Volcanic activity around 60 million years ago.
However, this still does little to take away from the magical atmosphere that permeates around the mighty columns of the Causeway, seemingly adding to the myths and legends that have been passed down from generation to generation told by local storytellers for millennia.
Finn McCool (otherwise known as Mac Cumhaill in Irish ) was a legendary warrior in Irish mythology associated with the Finnian’s (An Fhiannaíocht in Irish), a tribe of peoples who inhabited Ireland before the Celts. In most tales about this legendary warrior, he is not said to be a giant, however, in the myths around the Causeway, he is made out to be a giant of extraordinary height. Some tales are said he stood 54 feet, or 16 meters, tall.
Ireland, Scotland and the Isle Of Man share mythological stories that have Finn playing a central role. For example in the case of the Causeway, it is sometimes said to be a collection of stepping stones that allowed Finn to travel at will between the Causeway and the Scottish Coast without getting his feet wet
Fionn Mac Cumhaill Early Life
The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn documents Finn Mac Cool childhood. Finn mac cumail (Finn McCool) mother was Muireann Muncháem (Muirne). His grandfather on his mothers side was a druid Tadg mac Nuadat, who lived on the hill of Almu. He had foreseen her marriage would result in losing his home, so spurned any potential suitor. This forced Cumhal, the leader of the feared Fianna warriors who had fallen in love, to abduct her. Outraged at this, Tadg appealed for help to the High King of Ireland, Conn of the Hundred Battles. Conn agreed and forbade the relationship, sending his troops after the newly outlawed Cumhal.
The armies of Conn and Cumhall met at the Battle of Cnucha, and Cath Cnucha Cumhal was slain by Goll Mac Morna (who then became the leader of the Fianna). Muraine was returned to her father by King Conn and was discovered to be pregnant. Outraged and shamed, her father rejected her and ordered his followers to burn her. Conn interjected and instead sent her to the Druidess Bodhmall, who was Cumhal’s sister, and into the protection of her husband Fiacal mac Conchinn.
Muireann gave birth to a son called Deimne. It was evident the boy’s father Cumhal still had enemies, so with a heavy heart, she left her son with Bodhmall in Ballyfin, a small village in Sliabh Bladhma (Slieve Bloom Mountains), Laois. Muirne later married the king of Kerry.
Fionn was brought up by two foster mothers in secret, Bodhmall and her companion Liath Luachra, who were known as great warriors. They hid the boy in the forest and taught him how to be a great warrior and joined him on several adventures. Word of young Fionn’s adventures was beginning to spread, and his foster parents were worried his father’s enemies would find him so confident they had taught him all they could, sent him into the service of local kings to work, but each time he would be recognised as Cumhal’s son. In fear of being unable to protect him, he was forced to move away yet again. It seems this nomadic lifestyle took him South to West Cork to serve the King of Bantry.
Finn Mac Cumhal And The Salmon of Knowledge
The most famous story of young Fionn was met he met the Druid and Poet Finnegas (Finn Eces) near the River Boyne, which is North-East of Ballyfin. It is said young Deimne studied under him so would have likely been after leaving the Slieve Bloom mountains and before heading South to Cork.
The druid Finnegas had spent seven years trying to catch the Salmon of Knowledge which inhabited a pool in the River Boyne. It was foretold that whoever ate the salmon would gain all the knowledge in the world, gained through the fishes diet of holy tree hazelnuts. With Finn’s help, the fish was finally caught, and the boy was tasked with cooking it.
While doing so, Deimne burnt this thumb on the fish and put it in his mouth to soothe the pain. Instantly Finn was given the salmon’s wisdom, and when Finnegas saw this, he gave Finn maccool the rest of the salmon to eat. This knowledge guided Fionn on how to gain revenge against Goll for killing his father. In later stories, it was said he could call on the salmon’s knowledge by sucking his thumb.
Aillen and leadership of the Fianna
In Irish Mythology Aillen (or Áillen) was an incendiary being, who played the harp and sung beautiful songs. Also called the burner, the member of the Tuatha Dé Danann resided in Mag Mell, the underworld. They were thought to be personifications of darkness, chaos, death, drought and blight.
Each year the Gaelic festival Samhain marked the end of the Harvest Season and was celebrated 31st October to 1st November. Much like the modern Halloween, it was essentially a day for the Dead. It was said that the sídhe fairy mounds were always open at Samhain, and these portals to the Otherworld allowed the souls of the dead and the supernatural beings to enter the mortal world.
This allowed Aillen the opportunity to cross over every year, which he had done for 23 years. Some stories call him a Goblin, rather than a supernatural being from the underworld.
Each year the High King of Ireland hosted a celebration gathering at the capital Tara (County Meath) for the Lords, Nobles and local Kings. And each year the mobile fire-breather Aillen lulled everyone to sleep with his music and burned down the palace of Tara. Makes you wonder why they had the party there in the first place. But one Samhain, young Fionn Mac Cumhail was there. This could have been while serving the King of Bantry, but a version says he was wandering on his travels and saw the party and joined the craic. Either way, he heard the stories of Aillén mac Midgna, and how he put everyone to sleep with his music. Even the fearless Fianna who were guarding the place under the leadership of Goll mac morna. But young Fionn had a trick up his sleeve, well a spear anyway. Legend says he put the spear into flames and pressed the hot blade against his head to stay awake, and drove the weapon into the Tuatha Dé Danann. As a reward for this feat, King Cormac granted anything he desired, and Fionn announced his heritage and requested his father’s leadership of the Fianna which was granted. Another version says this was one of three strenuous tests set by King Cormac for Finn to became the leader of Clan Bascna. Regardless, with his army rightfully behind him, the young warrior addressed his Grandfather Tadg mac Nuadat and demanded compensation for his father’s death. He was given Dun Almhain, the Hill of Allen.
Fionn Mac Cool Later Life
As leader of the feared Fianna, Fionn mac Cumhail had many more adventures documented in other stories in the Fenian Cycle.
The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne
The aging Fionn Mac Cumhaill was promised the hand of his daughter Gráinne by High King Cormac mac Airt, but at the wedding feast, she falls for the handsome young lieutenant of the Fianna, Diarmuid Ua Duibhne. She forces him to run away with her, perhaps to avoid the married life. Fionn and the Fianna chase them all over Ireland until finally making his peace with the couple. Years later, Diarmuid is gored on a boar hunt, and Fionn has the ability to heal with water drunk through his hands. But each time Finn gathers the water, he lets it slip between his fingers and allows the young man to die. In an alternate version, the marriage is a disaster, and a sad Finn overhears Gráinne tell her father how unhappy she is, so he annuls the marriage and is offered the hand of another daughter Ailbe instead.
The Death of Finn McCool
The legend says that Fionn Mac Cumhaill is not dead, merely sleeping with the Fianna in a cave until the hunting horn of the Fianna, the Dord Fiann, is sounded three times. Then he will return and defend Ireland in the hour of her greatest need. But there are several accounts of his death in the annals of history. The 10th-Century poet Cinead húa Hartacáin maintains that Finn was beheaded by Aiclech mac Dubdrenn in the battle against the Lúagni Temrach, in County Meath.
The annals of the four masters state Finn was killed the year AD 283, at Rath-Breagh near the River Boyne. Derived from two manuscript fragments it says that Finn lived to old age, but died jumping across the River Boyne when he banged his head off a rock and/or drowned. He is then found by Aiclech who cuts off his head. So same location, the same end result.
Finn MacCool Final Resting Place
To the East of Leitrim sits Sheebeg (Sí Bheag) and Sheemore (Sí Mhór), -hills steeped in mythology with Cairns on the summit and tombs on the accent. Both hills are said to be sidhe fairy mounds and released fairies and spirits on Samhain (Halloween).
It is said this is the resting place of Grainne, lover of Diarmuid, and daughter of High King Cormac mac Airt. Who in some versions of the story married Fionn after the death of her lover, later throwing herself of his chariot to her death.
Local legend say this is the resting place of Fionn Mac cumhaill as the battle of Gabhra was fought between the hills. Although experts think this was between Tara and Skryne in County Meath.
Regardless the Cairns suggest someone noble was buried here. It’s a stunning site, and from the 479 feet tip of Sheebeg, you can see five counties and fourteen lakes so there are worse spots to spend eternity.
The site was excavated in 1931 and the Irish times at the time reported that at at Sheebeg near Carrick on Shannon in a mound known as that of Finn McCool, two human skeletons were found side by side and facing directly towards the Hill of Tara. Definitely male and female, the woman’s teeth were in perfect condition.
Places named after Fionn MacCumhaill
Fingals Cave, Staffa Island
The link to Scotland is in principle to the similar collection of hexagonal columns that appear in a cave on the Scottish Island of Staffa just a short crossing from the North Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland Indeed on a clear day can be seen from the elevated points around the Causeway.
Other stories claim that Finn built the Causeway as a way to get over to The Isle of Staffa and meet a Scottish giant that he was in love with and bring her back to Ireland to marry her.
The most common legend told, however, revolves around a rivalry and an excellent piece of deception.
The Giant’s Causeway
The UNESCO World Heritage Site located in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The Giant’sCauseway has about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns created by an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. Local myth says it was created by Finn Maccumhail
Finn McCools Fingers
Shantemon Stone Row is a set of five standing stones on the Shantemon mountain in County Cavan, arranged in a south-east/north-west orientation. The nickname comes from the story that Fionn mac Cumhaill lost a hand in battle.
As the video above says, a Scottish giant named Benandonner, otherwise known as the Red Man (an Duine Dearg in Scots Gaelic), was believed to roam the West Coast of Scotland. Mac Cumhaill and an Duine Dearg did not see eye to eye and Finn challenged his Scottish rival to a fight while they shouted and threatened each other from across the Sea of Moyle.
Building a Causeway from rocks he found along the Antrim coast, so he could reach his biggest enemy, Finn completes his new crossing only to find that Benandonner is bigger an enemy in more ways than he first thought.
Upon crossing the Causeway, Finn realises that Benandonner is, in fact, significantly more prominent than he first thought. Recognising this he Instantly regrets making the threats and challenging the Scottish foe to a fight, Mac Cumhaill hoped to make it back to Ireland without being noticed by the Scottish giant.
Unfortunately for Finn, he is spotted as he makes his way back and Benandonner gives chase to the Irish warriors home, thought to be in Fort-of-Allen in Co. Kildare….although this is some way from The Giants Causeway!
As Finn runs as fast as he can back home to Ireland, he loses one of his boots and sadly this is no Cinderella story, as the boot was to remain exactly where it was and is still visible at the Causeway today.
With the Scottish giant now across the sea and in Ireland, his massive size is even more evident as Fionn and his wife can feel the tremors of him approaching their house, they are forced to plug their ears with moss to deafen out the sounds of the giant’s approaching footsteps.
Fionn, finding himself in a pickle he was unsure he could get out of alive, turns to Oonagh, his wife, who ingeniously saves the day, by wrapping Finn in a sheet and telling him to settle himself into a babies cot. When Benandonner arrives at her door, she welcomes him, apologising that Fionn is currently out hunting deer.
Welcoming the Scottish Giant into her home, she points out the various weapons adorning the walls that she claims are Finn’s but in reality, would be much too large and heavy for a man of Finn’s size to carry.
As is customary in Ireland, she offers to make Benandonner Fionn’s favourite meal while he waits, instead Oonagh cooks a cake of griddle-bread baked with the iron griddle pressed inside it, on which the Scottish Giant breaks three front teeth, and followed this with a strip of hard fat nailed to a block of red timber, on which the giant loses a further two teeth.
With the Scottish Giant starting to feel he’s bitten off more than he can chew, Oonagh then asks if the visitor would like to meet their new baby and the Scot is shocked and terrified when he sees the size of their “son” who is, of course, Finn wrapped up in a sheet.
Assuming his Irish foe is enormous if this is just his child, the Benandonner makes his excuses to Oonagh, and flees back across the Causeway, destroying it in his wake.
As the legend goes, with Scottish Giant in full flight, Fionn is believed to have grabbed a chunk of stone from Antrim and thrown it after him to scare him from ever venturing back to Ireland again.
The Isle Of Man
The chunk of stone missed, however, and what remains in between is said to be where the Isle of Man comes from. The area where Fionn had taken the stone from later filled with water and is said to have become Lough Neigh, the largest lake in Ireland.
As with so much folklore and legends, many versions are not always told the same way. Some stories saying that Fionn was asleep in bed when Oonagh heard the Scottish giant coming and took it upon herself to hide him.
Other stories we have heard, say that the Causeway was never completed and the rivalry never came to a head as both giants fell asleep from all of the hard work of just building the passageway across the sea of Moyle.
Possibly the most gruesome tale told, however, says that the “baby” Fionn bit off the magic middle finger of Benandonner, causing the giant to lose all his strength, and leave Ireland for good.
Whatever version is told, they make for great stories. Many of these can be seen and heard in the Giants Causeway Visitor Centre.
Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
The Giants Causeway was said to be discovered in 1692 when William King, the then Anglican Bishop of Derry and future Archbishop of Dublin, along with an unnamed Cambridge Scholar, or Master of Arts, visited the area.
As with many discoveries at this time, they are often attributed to those who first publish their findings. However, the Causeway had been known to locals for a considerable time before the Bishops visit in old Irish as Clochan na bhFomharaigh meaning the “Stepping Stones of the Fomorians. The Fomorians were said to be a small dark people who inhabited Ireland before the Celts.
The first recorded reference to it is a brief mention in a letter by Sir Richard Bulkeley (d. 1710) to Dr Lister in 1693, subsequently published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London. However, Bulkeley had not visited the Causeway himself and was relying on the observations of the Bishop of Derry and ‘a master of arts in Cambridge’.
Bulkeley raised a series of questions concerning the nature of the Causeway’ pillars’, and these were answered in an account of the Giant’s Causeway by Bishop Samuel Foley (1655 – 1695) in 1694, again published in the Philosophical Transactions, accompanied by an engraving from an original drawing by Christopher Cole.
Bishop Foley’s brief note was immediately followed in the same 1694 volume of the Philosophical Transactions by a second article on the Giant’s Causeway by a certain Thomas Molyneux (1661 – 1733), a founder member of the Dublin Society in June 1731. Again, Molyneux did not visit the Causeway but was commenting on the information laid before him in Dublin. Although Cole’s drawing (above) shows the Grand Causeway columns, it is highly stylised and Molyneux, through the then Dublin Philosophical Society, commissioned artist Edwin Sandys to make a more realistic attempt.
An engraving of Sandys’ drawing was subsequently published in the Philosophical Transactions of 1697 by Thomas’ older brother William (1656 – 1698; who himself had founded the Dublin Philosophical Society in 1683), which was referred to in an article on the Causeway by Tomas the following year.
In 1740, the Society offered £25 art premiums and a then-unknown Dublin artist, Susanna Drury, submitted canvasses of the Giant’s Causeway (below) which she had painted during a three-month stay in Antrim. She was awarded a premium, and her paintings were subsequently engraved in London by Francois Vivarès and eventually found their way across Europe.
In 1765, Volume 12 of the great French Encyclopédie was published containing an article on the ‘Pave des geans’ and used one of Drury’s engravings as an illustration. This was followed in 1768 by a volume of plates for the Encyclopédie, containing Drury’s ‘East prospect of the Giant’s Causeway’ next to similar columns of the Auvergne region (below). The captions for these illustrations were written by French geologist Nicolas Desmarest, who had concluded that the Auvergne columns were volcanic in origin.
From Drury’s engravings, he immediately makes the same connection. Thus Nicolas Desmarest is generally accredited with suggesting that the Giant’s Causeway originally formed from erupting volcanic lava, even though he had never actually seen it!
Controversy – Neptune Versus Pluto
Desmarest’s proposal that columnar basalts, such as those in the Auvergne and Giant’s Causeway, had erupted from volcanoes triggered controversy within the fledgeling science of geology which rumbled on for over half a century.
Two entrenched sides developed, one supporting the new idea which became known as Plutonism, the others remaining staunchly behind the generally accepted view at that time, known as Neptunism.
Neptunists followed the ideas of Abraham Gottlob Werner (1749 – 1817) of Freiburg, who proposed that when the Earth first formed, it had been covered by a vast ‘Primaeval Ocean’. As the ocean gradually receded, all the rocks we see around us today crystallised out from the ocean waters. Coal deposits burning underground could erupt some of their black material onto the surface as basalts.
Looking at the black rocks at Portrush, their arguments are understandable; the basalts contained abundant fossils called ammonites, which were taken as evidence for submarine deposition.
Plutonists followed the ‘theory’ proposed by the Edinburgh doctor, James Hutton (1726 – 1797) which first appeared in 1785. Hutton saw the planet in a state of dynamic cyclicity. Mountains were continually eroded and the sedimentary products deposited at the bottom of the oceans.
These would be buried and become rock layers. At depth, they became heated, deformed and pushed back up to the surface to begin another cycle. Hutton’s ideas were revolutionary for two reasons; firstly, he could see, ‘no vestige of a beginning and no prospect of an end’ to the geological history of Earth. Secondly, that the planet had a source of internal heat which heated rocks and in some places could melt them, sending this melt to the surface to erupt from volcanoes.
In the curious case of the Portrush ammonites, vulcanists suggested that the hard black rocks were not basalts at all, but were mudstones that had been baked by the great heat of an intrusion that was pushed up from deep within the Earth.
Portrush Black Rock
The Portrush Rock (Sadly not the sweet kind that keeps dentists in fancy cars) is now a National Nature Reserve, and it’s well worth a visit. It is on the shoreline by the Ramore Head Car Park, facing East Strand Beach. The nearby Portrush Coastal Zone has a wealth of information on the natural and local history of the Causeway Coast from Portrush to Ballycastle.
The Reverand Dr William Hamilton
Finally, in 1784, a keen geologist investigated the Antrim coast.
The Reverend Doctor William Hamilton (1755 – 1797) wrote the first accurate account of the geology of the Antrim Coast as a series of letters to the Earl of Charlemont during 1784, which were subsequently published as a book in 1786. Hamilton’s book puts forward a lucid argument in favour of the volcanic origin of the Causeway.
Considering that he was writing before Hutton’s ‘Theory of the Earth’ had been presented, historians should perhaps give Hamilton more credit for his work.
William Hamilton was also responsible for founding the Museum at Trinity College Dublin in 1777 and was one of the founders of the Royal Irish Academy in 1785. Sadly, Hamilton was murdered during the local unrest leading up to the 1798 rebellion. However, his book on the Causeway Coast remained the benchmark reference on the area long after his death and a second edition were published in 1822.
Today, ‘Hamilton’s Seat’ overlooking Benbane Head commemorates the site where he is said to have often rested while out on horse-back investigating the geology along this stretch of coast.
The First Guidebooks and Travel Writers
In 1788, the Complete Irish Traveller in the Kingdom of Ireland was published in two volumes. This was one of the first popular guidebooks to be published and contained an excellent description of the giant’s Causeway.
Guidebooks flourished throughout the 1830s and 1840s, by which time the Causeway was on almost every traveller to Irelands itinerary (much like today’s tourists). These guidebooks and articles in magazines such as the Dublin Penny Journal and the Illustrated London News featured images and stories of the famous stones.
Naturalists, many travelling in Naturalist club trips, gathered information from the ever-increasing number of geological journals and prints were anxious to see the famous Giant’s Causeway and develop their new-found knowledge. Also, the fledgeling past time of photography was contributing to the interest in the site. Prints were first published in the mid-1800s, and by the end of the century, photographs were appearing regularly in guidebooks, alongside the more traditional engravings and sketches.
Share this post
Share on facebook Share on google Share on twitter Share on linkedin Share on pinterest Share on print Share on email
From eerie crater lakes to travertine terraces, the earth has a knack for bringing out surreal landscapes. Some of the most amazing and strangest features are formed via volcanic processes.
As basaltic lava emerges on the floor of the earth and cools down, fascinating geometric features form. Incredible hexagonal basalt rock columns will often form giant cliffs that can get as high as possible.
These attractive features can be found all over the world. It is so intriguing to see beautiful features formed after lava flow even after so many years.
Basaltic lava is responsible for these formations; it usually is hotter and moves faster. The entire process is known as columnar jointing. This article investigates insights on some of these remarkable features and the stories surrounding them.
1. Fingals Cave, Staffa Flow
Found off the coast of Scotland, Fingals cave is just across the sea from the Giants Causeway and can be seen on a clear day. The Isle of Staffa was formed from the same lava action that created the Giants Causeways around 50 million years ago.
The name ‘Fingal’ originally comes from an Irish myth, where the hero Fionn MacCumhaill’s or Finn McCool (shortened to ‘Fingal’, meaning ‘white stranger’) and his faithful warriors migrated into Scotland from Ireland.
The legend is that Fionn built the Giant’s Causeway, which is identical to Fingal’s Cave, after a challenge to fight a Scottish Giant Bennandoner. He soon became famous across Scotland, making his name the obvious choice.
2. The Hexagon Pool, Israel
Also known as Breichat HaMeshushim, this hexagon pool in Israel is enclosed by a conserved forest found at the bottom part of a grand canyon.
The stunning Hexagon Pool is a sought-after destination in the northern part of Israel for swimmers and hikers. The formation of this pool was quite phenomenal as it was formed after water flowed over the igneous rock that had cooled down.
David Brooks once described the hike via the forest to the pool as “a little treacherous at times,” but the scenery is quite captivating and worth the effort. The scene is merely magical, and every photographer would die to capture these fascinating views.
3. Svartifoss Waterfall
The Vatnajokull National park in Iceland, also known as Black Fall, encompasses an astounding waterfall on beautiful dark columns. Iceland is known to feature numerous basalt columns because of the multiple igneous formations and several volcanoes.
They are all captivating and spellbinding with every new pillar you come across. However, it is not advisable to jump to the bottom of the fall, unlike in Hexagon Pool. At the bottom of the fall are sharp rocks that are as a result of the fallen columns making it very risky.
Photographers will also capture magical shots here as it is one of the ideal places for photography in Iceland.
4. Devils Postpile California
National park service categorizes this feature in California as “one of the world’s finest examples of columnar basalt.” The national monument goes reaches to a height of 60 feet and has an unusual symmetry.
This beguiling feature appeared as a result of impeded lava vent. The vent led to the creation of a vast lake, which later cooled down and resulted in the formation of the hexagonal columns visited by numerous tourists all year round.
5. Takachiho Gorge Japan
The enchanting green gorge in Japan is unique since the columns rise to more than 300 feet above the ground and also a bewitching hue.
Plants have grown down the columns found in this place because water runs through this region all the time. A riveting waterfall (Manai waterfall) continuously erodes the rock, and tourists can experience this fantastic view from the small lake below the columns.
6. Cape Stolbchaty Russia
Located on Kunashir Island, this basalt colum or pillars can be seen on the Kuril Islands of Russia.
The columns can be seen while you are at the Sea of Ohotsk just along its coastline. Cape Stolbchaty columns are estimated to be have existed for 50 million years, and are a UNESCO world heritage site like the Causeway.
Tourists can observe a magnificent geometric site as they do tours along the top of these columns.
7. Basalt Cliffs South Korea
Jeju Island is a volcanic Island found in South Korea. Massive basalt pillars can be discovered on this Island. Jusangjeolli cliffs provide visitors with spectacular views of the columns as they dropdown.
They were formed more than 100,000 years back because of volcanic activities. Jusangjeolli cliffs are the most beautiful and mysterious cliffs in South Korea, according to The Jeju Weekly.
8. Los Prismas Basalticos Mexico
Los Prismas Basalticos, located in Hildago, Mexico, can be observed in a gorge, and they are popular because of the delightful waterfall that traverses over them.
Standing nearly 100 feet above the water below, the rocks have been shaped to appear like lumpy steps by the ever-flowing stream.
Tourists can experience immersing experience by climbing on the rocks and cooling off at the waterfall.
9. Los Organos Spain
Impossibly daunting and immense, these giant columns are named “pipes of the musical instrument.” It is apparent why these phenomenal columns were named that way.
The rocks rise to 2,000 feet, and they can be observed on the Canary Islands. Los Organos is genuinely a geographical prodigy worth seeing.
10. Ghenh Da Dia Vietnam
These columns may appear tinier than the others on this list, but their spectacular formation and quick view make them among the best columns worth a visit.
Found in Vietnam, Ghen Da Dia column rocks form a star design, unlike the other columns which form hexagons.
11. Zlaty Vrch Czech Republic
Located near the southeastern border of the Czech Republic with Germany, these beautiful columns provide visitors with picturesque views. A range of mountains orchestrates this region with magnificent columns formed years back.
This range of mountains consists of sandstone sedimentary rocks forming a crystalline basement. During this formation, lava broke through the sandstone and solidified to create basalt columns leading to the creation of this great feature in the Czech Republic.
12. Reynisfjara Beach, Vik Village, Iceland
These gorgeous cliffs can be visibly seen below the Reynisfjall Mountain. These columns can be found at the rear end of the mysterious black sand beach. Columns here rise to 66 meters above the waters. Reynisdrangar acts as a trademark for Vik in Myrdal, which is a village in Iceland.
It is believed that two trolls had been pulling a ship to the beach, but they were not successful. The elves were ambushed by sunlight in the morning, and they now turned into stone according to myths about trolls getting caught up by sunlight at dawn
13. Penghu, Taiwan
A basalt rock formation that resembles a city wall and also looking like monoliths on land can be observed on the Taiwan Strait. The wall is 10 meters high and 200 meters long in the water. Columns here resemble numerous pillars that have been put together.
The basaltic features are a tremendous phenomenal since most of these features are seen above the water, but this is underwater. Visit this great feature in Taiwan to enjoy the great sensation.
14. Flores Island, Portugal
Flores Island is found in the Western group of Azores. If there is a place you should visit, is this enchanting place. This Island in Portugal is characterized by an extremely rugged and heavily indented coastline. Flores is known to have magnificent waterfalls, streams, and striking columns.
The Island is tiny, and you can discover it in a short period. Explore the beautiful landscapes of this fascinating Island as you walk at the top of the basalt pillars.
15. Litlanesfoss, Fljotsdalur valley, Iceland.
Litlanesfoss is the waterfall you will encounter as you move upstream to Hengifoss. It is notably the most exciting waterfall and geological phenomenon that one could ever find in Iceland.
Spectacular columnar basalt outcrops the waterfall and stands at 125 feet above the ground. What happens at the lower tier. The waterfall and the columns do form the most magical phenomena in Iceland worth your time and money.
Litlanesfoss is by far the most scenic waterfall orchestrated with the wondrous columnar jointing.
16. Garni Gorge Armenia
Found 23 km just east of Armenia is an outstanding gorge with quite a dramatic topography. Along the sidelines of this gorge are fantastically arranged columns of basalt that were carved out by a river that cuts through the canyon known as Goght River.
The area is simply a ravine made of cliffs of hexagonal volcanic rock columns. The locals around this region call this place “Symphony of the stones.” This spectacular area in Armenia provides visitors with hiking opportunities while enjoying beautiful sceneries.
17. St. Mary Island India
The St. Mary’s Island in India is also called Thonsepar and Coconut Island. They are four tiny Islands found on the coast of Malpe, Karnataka, India. These islands are famous because of the columnar basaltic lava that was formed as a result of volcanic activities. Studies have shown that the basalt here was created as a result of sub-aerial subvolcanic.
These four islands comprise of igneous rocks that have an acidic composition, including rhyolites, dacites, granophyres, etc.
18. The Sea Cave, Akun Island, Alaska
Located on the famous Akun Island, this cave houses the columnar basaltic rocks in it. Akun is among the Fox Islands subgroup. They are typically found in the Aleutian Islands in the southwest of Alaska USA. The Island is full of basalt and sea caves altogether. Visit this place and get to see what nature has to offer on this side of the world.
19. Kirkjugolf Iceland
Also known as The Church Floor, this area covers 80 sq meter of columnar basalt that are shaped and eroded by waves and glacier activity. The place looks man-made, but there has never been a church at Kirkjugolf.
As a result of volcanic activity, the basalt was formed. After cracks form on these rocks, they develop the hexagonal columns. It is potent to note that Kirkjugolf is a natural monument that is protected.
20. Studlagil Iceland
Iceland is a geological wonderland that tops this list with the most basaltic places. Found in Jokuldalur valley, this is among the most magnificent basalt on earth. The basalt forms unique marvellous features giving you breathtaking views of the region. Cliff formation in this canyon feels like a cathedral.
21. Kalfshamarsvik Iceland
Kalfshamarsvik is typically a tiny bay found in the northern part of Iceland. Many rock formations found in this bay, will give you a magical feeling. Basaltic rocks located here provide all the magical moments of this spectacular bay. It is indeed a popular tourist attraction in Iceland.
22. Dverghamrar Iceland
Also known as Dwarfs Steep Cliff, this is among the fantastic gems in Iceland found around Ring Road. It is an ideal location for picnics and family tours. Basalt columns orchestrate this majestic place even though they are quite small.
However, you should be vigilant as you walk along the columns since elves and small people could surround any time.
23. Arnarstapi Iceland
Snaefellsnes peninsula is a haven to visit because of the great features this place offers. Basaltic rocks found here provide the perfect arena for taking killer shots for photographers. The formations by the seashore are spectacular, and you can easily walk on the rock formations.
24. Aldeyjarfoss Iceland
A massive glacial river feeds this majestic waterfall. The river then falls from a bluff that has magical basalt pillars. Aldeyjarfoss is considered a fascinating waterfall in Iceland, orchestrating the impressive basalt pillars. It is a famous tourist hub in Iceland.
Found at the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, this cliff has so many basaltic pillars systematically arranged in an unbelievable way. From a far off distance, the cliff seems just like a typical mountain, but from an up-close view, you will experience all the hidden secrets of this beautiful place. Magnificent basaltic pillars appear here like they were arranged by someone some years back.
These are the most evident basalt pillars found on earth. Magical and scenic views can be observed from these spectacular features formed as a result of volcanic activities. They are also fantastic tourist hubs that bring in visitors from all over the world to enjoy the magical moments at these columns.
We are often asked what is the best was to get to the Giants Causeway. Our answer is almost always the same, it depends, and it depends on you and how you like to travel as there are so many different ways to get here. So we have pulled together a few different ways to get here.
Table of Contents
Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
Where is the Giants Causeway?
Ok, so let us start with where exactly is the Giants Causeway. The Causeway sits on the North Coast of the Island of Ireland, an area known as the Causeway Coast. However, it is not actually in the country of Ireland. It sits in the county of Antrim which is part of Northern Ireland, which itself is part of the United Kingdom or Britain. Well, not go into the geopolitics of this, best saved for someone else.
The Causeway sits between the towns of Bushmills, famous for its Whisky Distillery and Ballycastle, famous for the historic Auld Lammas Fayre. Close by are the seaside towns of Portstewart and Portrush, homer to the 2019 Open Golf Championship and the 2018 Irish Open.
Belfast is around 60 miles (100km), or just over an hours drive, to the south-east and Dublin, about 160 miles (270km) or 3 hours drive away.
How to Get Here By Car?
There are two ways to get to the Giants Causeway from Belfast, the first which we will detail below is the most direct and takes around an hour and 15 minutes. The second is along the world-famous Causeway Coastal Route; you can find more about this route here. We highly recommend that if you have time you take this route, you won’t be disappointed.
Leaving Belfast on the M2, follow the signs for “The North”, and no these are not part of the Game of Thrones, it will also be signposted for Londonderry and International Airport. This is where the Causeway Coastal Route and the direct Route split off and above.
Follow this motorway for around 17 miles (28km) until you reach Junction 1 of the M2 Motorway and see signposts for Antrim, Ballymena, Coleraine A26 (see image below)
Come off the Motorway at this junction, get in the right hand or middle lane of the off-ramp and take the third exit, which will be signposted “B’MENA ONLY” & A26. Follow the A26 for a further 7 miles (11km) until you reach the Ballee Roundabout (known to locals as the Seven Towers Round-a-bout)
From here take the 3rd exit onto A26 heading to Coleraine/Ballymena A26 on a green signpost. This will take you onto the A26 “Frosses Road”. Follow this for approx 15 miles (25km) until you reach the next roundabout.
At this roundabout take the first exit signposted for “A26 Coleraine Ballymoney” and follow the road for 8 miles (13km) to Ballymoney going straight over at the Kilraughts Roundabout and onto the (2nd roundabout) Portrush Road Roundabout.
At Portrush Rd Roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Ballybogey Rd/B62 it will be signposted Portrush B52, Ballybogey, Bushmills (B17) on a white signpost and “GIANTS CAUSEWAY 12” on a Brown sign.
Follow this road (the B62) for 10 miles (16km) through the village of Ballybogey and onto Portrush. You can turn off after about 7 miles (10 km) onto the Priestland Road. Through the town of Bushmills (which is a great place to stop), however, we recommend going via Portrush for the epic views of Royal Portrush Golf Club, The North Atlantic and Dunluce Castle.
Once you reach Portrush (you’ll see the Royal Court Hotel on your right), take a (very very) sharp right hand turn onto the A2/Causeway Coastal Route. The Atlantic should now be on your left-hand side. Follow this route for 4 miles (6km) along the coast past Magheracross View Point (great for views of Portrush, Dunluce Castle and on a clear day Islay & Jura) Dunluce Castle and Portballintrae to Bushmills.
Once in Bushmills, you will pass the Old Bushmills Railway on your left and the then Bushmills Inn before getting to the Market Square Roundabout, here take the first turn off (left) and follow the road through Bushmills. The route will be signposted Giants Causeway. There is a Park & Ride Facility in Bushmills which can be useful in peak season.
Follow this road for about a mile (2km) out of Bushmills.
You will now see the Smugglers Inn on your right, and you should follow the signposts for Giants Causeway (left-hand turn).
Follow this road for about a mile, and you will see the Giants Causeway Visitor Centre and Hotel on your left-hand side. You can find out more below about Parking.
Travelling by Rail to The Giant’s Causeway
Translink operates a regular timetable, usually every hour or less between Belfast and Coleraine. You can find the schedule here, or use their app/website here. The journey from Belfast Central takes around an hour and 20 minutes through the Antrim countryside.
From Coleraine, you will have to change to get a bus (the 172/402 (see timetable) from the bus station, which is part of the same building as the Train Station.
You can also change (see timetables) for trains to Portrush. Trains run every hour, and the journey takes around 10 minutes. There are two stations in Portrush. Dhu Varren, which is on the western entrance overlooking West Strand and Portrush Station in the centre of town.
From Portrush, you can pick up the 172/402 (see timetable) at the Dunluce Centre (about a 3-minute walk from the Main Portrush Station. This is a much more beautiful route in our opinion, as the train passes through the countryside and along the famous West Strand Beach.
The Derry-Londonderry rail line is one of the most scenic train trips in the world. The route weaves along cliffs, through tunnels under temples, past over two runways and along the banks of Loch Foyle.
Many famous train enthusiasts, such as Micheal Palin and Micheal Portillo, have written fantastically about the Derry-Londonderry line.
You can see our trip earlier this year from Coleraine to Derry.
The trip takes around 35 minutes and is one we highly recommend.
As with the trains from Belfast, you will have to change for either Portrush or get a bus (see above)
Translink runs several bus options for getting to the Giants Causeway from the Causeway Rambler, Ulster Bus and Goldline depending where you are coming from.
From Belfast and Derry-Londonderry
When coming from Belfast, you can use the regular 218 Goldline (Timetable here) coach service from Belfast. This can be boarded at Great Victoria Street Bus terminal. From Derry~Londonderry you can pick up the 234 Goldline from (timetable here) the Foyle Street bus station or the new Train station on the other side of the river.
Both of these services arrive at Coleraine Rail and Bus station, where you can easily jump on the 172 or 402 buses (see timetables) that will take you to the Giants Causeway Via Portrush.
Share this post
Remember that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced in order to help you make the best choice for you.