There are few places in the world where you can see something that was built by a giant. When you visit the Emerald Isle, you have the chance to visit two countries if you make your way up North. Northern Ireland is home to castles, mountains and valleys, stunning coastal views, and built-by-giants structures. More on that later!
There were places in Northern Ireland that I really wanted to see, including the Giant’s Causeway, so I took a day trip from Dublin to Norther Ireland with Love Ireland.
What To Expect on the Giant’s Causeway Tour from Dublin
The day included photo stops at the Dark Hedges and Dunluce Castle, and lots of time to explore Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, the Giant’s Causeway, and Belfast city.
Northern Ireland is an incredibly beautiful country, with numerous opportunities for great photos, and tons of familiar places for Game of Thrones fans! Keep your camera close, and dress in layers so that you’re ready for all the different landscapes you’ll experience.
Going with a tour group is a fantastic way to go because there is a fair bit of driving between locations. Rather than driving yourself, you get to look out the window while the driver tells stories from Northern Ireland’s history.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge has taken many forms over the years. Originally, fishermen used the bridge to reach carrickarede island to fish for salmon. It only had one railing back then!
The tour gives you about 1.5 hours here. Once you’re off the bus, make your own way along the coastal trail to the bridge. I recommend going straight away! It’s a beautiful 15 minute walk, and you will want to enjoy the island and the views for as long as you can.
It’s not as scary as it looks! Just don’t look down 😉
The Legend of the Giant’s Causeway
Many years ago, giants walked the earth… (story time!)
The Irish Giant Finn McCool and the Scottish Giant Benandonner were constantly fighting from afar, hollering at each other from across the water.
One day, Finn McCool decided to challenge Benandonner to a fight. He built the Giant’s Causeway so that he could cross the sea, intending to sneak up on Benandonner. As he approached, he realized that Benandonner was much, much bigger than he was. Finn turned around, and ran back home. Benandonner caught a glimpse of Finn running away, and came after him.
Finn heard thumping footsteps behind him, and sprinted across the Causeway, Benandonner in pursuit. Finn made it home, sweating and talking fast, and told his wife what he had seen. His wife ran to the closet, and came back with a bonnet and shawl, disguising Finn as a baby.
When Benandonner knocked on the door a minute later, Finn’s wife answered it.
“Finn isn’t here,” she told Benandonner. “It’s just my son and I.”
Benandonner’s eyes widened. If this was Finn’s infant son, how big was Finn McCool? Benandonner turned around and ran back to Scotland, stomping away parts of the the Causeway as he went.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Giant’s Causeway came to be.
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Visiting the Giant’s Causeway
I know that I just told you the Causeway was built by Giant’s – I’m sticking to that story, but there’s another possible explanation.
Science would have you believe that the formation of the Giant’s Causeway began 60 million years ago, when tectonic plates were stretched apart by volcanic activity. Magma spewed to the surface, and is it cooled off cracks formed, causing the pillar-like structure.
Still think it was actually the Giant’s? (Yep, me too).
There is a shuttle there to take you down to the Causeway, or you can walk down yourself. You will need small change if you want to take the shuttle. The walk is about 20 minutes, and I loved seeing the transition of different rock types along the way. I recommend skipping the Visitors Centre and spending all of your time at the Causeway itself. It’s spectacular, one of the most breathtaking geological formation you will ever see. The bus driver will tell you all about the Causeway on the drive over, so use your time there to explore.
If you love legend’s like this one, you might also be interested in visiting Newgrange and Hill of Tara!
Belfast Black Cab Tour
The last stop on the tour was the city of Belfast. Most of the group chose to explore the downtown, while a few of us took up the offer to go on the Black Cab Tour.
Belfast went through a period of political turmoil known as the The Troubles, from 1968-1968. The Black Cab Tour focuses on this political history. It is shocking to see how the political issues that people fought over during the Troubles still effect their lives today.
22 walls run through the city of Belfast, to help prevent further conflict. On the tour, you’ll see some of these walls, and the bold political murals that decorate them. Parts of the tour were absolutely shocking, and I think it’s important that anyone who visits Northern Ireland learns this history.
- This tour is not included. It’s an additional 15 Euro / 10 Pounds.
Northern Ireland Tour Details
I visited the Giant’s Causeway with Love Ireland. The tour departs and returns to Dublin. Love Ireland has a few options for visiting the Giant’s Causeway, in the form of day trips and multi-day tours.
- all transportation is included, and there are no additional entry fees (outside of the optional Black Cab Tour).
- there is a stop to buy lunch right before visiting the Giant’s Causeway.
Have you been to Carrick-a-Rede, the Giant’s Causeway, or Belfast? Most importantly, do you believe the Causeway was built by Giant’s or science?
Early Access to the Book of Kells: is it Worth it?
Visiting Newgrange and Hill of Tara
Thanks to Love Ireland for inviting me on the Giant's Causeway Tour! All opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.
25 Replies to “The Land of Giants: Exploring Northern Ireland”
holy freaking heart attack on that bridge!! Okay, seeing the distance shot of it on your IG was cool—it looked totally doable. Seeing the close up shot here.. NOPE NO THANKS NO WAY. I’m pretty sure I’d freeze up and start crying out of fear!! My heart is racing imagining that hahaha.
Back to the Giant’s Causeway… I’m with you. I’d like to think it was giants who built it. These pictures are seriously so gorgeous
LOL! The bridge is very short, you could totally make it! I have pictures from halfway through… looking down… 😉
This post takes me back to when I visited this region. I loved the giants causeway and carrick-a-rede too, such an incredible area. Didn’t have the chance to visit Belfast, next time though! Gorgeous pictures too, ah Ireland. : )
Belfast is wonderful! There are a lot of neat things to do there, I hope you make it back!
My mom went to Ireland two years ago and said it was the absolute best trip she has ever been on. I would love to explore in Ireland! These pictures look stunning and I hope to see it in person soon. The Giant’s Causeway would be right up my alley and I definitely choose to believe with you that it was totally all for them and not that whole tectonic plates theory haha
I love those stories because when you really think about it… volcanoes and tectonic plates are sort of Giants in their own right. It just makes sense that Giants built it!
Never been to Ireland but your story of the giant causeway was so tempting to visit the country. The story behind the causeway is amazing. Thanks for sharing all the informations.
Ireland and Northern Ireland are both stunning! Definitely worth visiting.
Love love love the story telling!! I’ve been following you on Instagram and matching the stories with the photos made it for me! Ireland is on my bucket list!
Oh that’s perfect! That’s exactly what I was going for… build some intrigue, then hit you with a magical story about Giant’s crossing the sea haha!
Wow! So gorgeous! Adding it to the “places you must go” list.
Aha! that bridge! blew my mind! Would love to experience it someday. Wondering how the place will look like on a cloudy day!
Your pics are gorgeous! Especially the one of the bridge, I have always wanted to visit there, I hope to someday !
oh wowwwwwww what an amazing trip you had! I’ve been to Ireland a couple of times but unfortunately never made it to the Giant’s Causeway. Having someone else do the driving is definitely the way to go, though!
Oh definitely! It’s a big, tiring day even with someone else driving!
I’ve never been to Northern Ireland and now I want to pack my bags! The trees lining the road are gorgeous, the Giant’s Causeway is amazing, and I can’t wait to do the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
You photos left me in awe! I didn’t know it is relatively easy to visit Northern Ireland from Dublin (I know I am a bit lost with respect to this). I have heard about the Giant’s Causeway and it is good to know there are so many beautiful places close to it. I want to go now!
LOL! I cannot believe that the Irishman (err, Itishgiant) in the story of Giant’s Causeway is called McCool! How amazing is that?
It sounds like an amazingly varied tour with the Causeway and Belfast included. Good find!
Happy continued travels!
Never been here before but the views are stunning! Love places that have myths and legends connected to it hehe. Not sure I believe it was made by Giants but it’s fun to imagine isnt it? Hehe.
I am from a small town close to the Giants Causeway so loved reading this, what a great post! Your photos are amazing, and I know this will inspire more people to visit! Not enough people know how beautiful it is.
Oh that’s so wonderful! Living in a beautiful country is such a wonderful thing. I hope you’re right – I was amazed how few people know about some really great places in Ireland and Northern Ireland!
Yes, Game of Thrones tourism! Haha! Love the pictures. I still can’t believe I haven’t made it across the water to Northern Ireland yet. Will have to after reading this!
Whereabouts are you? If you can go for even just a couple days I totally recommend it!
This really sounds and looks like one awesome tour to go on from Dublin! You really get the chance to do and see a lot. I will definitely keep Love Ireland in mind when I visit Ireland/Northern Ireland. Thanks!
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