A Day Trip to the Giant’s Causeway and the Antrim coast

Visiting Northern Ireland as a part of our UK trip for Christmas was a dream come true, euphoric part being the Giant’s Causeway and the Antrim coast tour. Antrim is one of the six counties that form the Northern Ireland. And we would be road tripping through the Glens of Antrim which makes for a spectacular train of picturesque landscapes along the Antrim coast to the only UNESCO heritage site of Northern Ireland – the Giant’s Causeway.

Our tour was scheduled to commence from Belfast city center at around 9 in the morning. We reached the tour company office early and as there was some time before we set off we decided to have a quick breakfast at the Subway next to the tourist office. Soon the guide led us to a bus waiting across the street.

It was Christmas time and the city was beautifully decorated with ornate lighting which was resplendent against the omnipresent overcast sky. The tour was one of the best natural trails with a bounty of surreal scenic vistas all along to keep us rapt, the only downside being the limited no of stops to account for the small daylight hours. We got ourselves seated at the window seats in the last row with intent to click as many pictures possible on the way.

Our first moment of awe on the tour was a coastal town with a cluster of black roofs sprouting through the green landscape. In the backdrop, the azure hues of sea and the skies created a magical fusion at the horizon. The melted snow had formed tiny poodles everywhere. The meadows were peppered with frolicking sheep munching on the wet crunchy grass.

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Awe-inspiring coastal views, pristine beaches, undulating hills punctuated with windmills, small pretty towns, and the rugged rocky cliffs. Everything around oozed charm and beauty enough to leave us in a trance.

Dunluce Castle

Our first stop was a photo stop for the Dunluce Castle. We were greeted with a rush of chilly sea breeze as we exited the bus. On our left the ruins of the medieval castle perched precariously on a steep basaltic cliff. The castle is said to have a traumatic history as the legend speaks of how on a stormy night the kitchen collapsed into the lap of the sea and this incident led to its abandonment.

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

We pottered along the road overlooking the coast. We leaned upon a carpet of thick velvety grass edging the road and relished the stunning views of the waves crashing the rocky coastline below.

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Bushmills Whiskey Distillery

A visit to the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery is part of the tour but as it remains closed during the Christmas vacation we, unfortunately, had to skip it. A guided tour of the distillery provides visitors an insight into the distillery process and 400 years of history followed by tasting experience.

Finally, we the most awaited part of the tour was here – the Giants Causeway. It had started drizzling when we reached though we were a bit disappointed the rendezvous with the incredulous black stone columns was exhilarating and nothing could dissuade us. Everyone jumped out of the bus well equipped for the rain and started scurrying towards the causeway. Few minutes ahead the rain had stopped but it was still windy and we could manage a few quick snaps.

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Irelanda26 copy

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

The route winded through the rocky terrain for some 20 minutes and we finally had the first glimpse of a hill made of columns. And suddenly as if by our wish sun shone and the sky brightened up. There are estimated to be around 40,000 basalt columns all as a result of a volcanic activity. Then there was a ‘Giant Sleeping’ which has some funny legend behind its naming. We enjoyed watching the waves splattering the columns and clambering the age old stones and snapping some amazing pictures.

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland
Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

At the start of the trail where the bus drops there is a small cafe. When we returned it was jam-packed and there was no space even to stand. Soon the bus arrived and we were happy to be relieved of the bad weather. We next headed to the famed rope bridge and our guide dreaded it to be closed due to the weather condition. And we could hear everyone in the bus sigh with disappointment. We were neutral as we weren’t even sure if we would want to cross it with a year old kid to accompany.

On the way is the village of Ballintoy where one of the series of the Game of Thrones was shot and the St Gobban church in Portbradden which is recognized as the smallest church in Ireland with two seats.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

And much to the utter disappointment of everyone, the bridge was closed and all we could do was click pictures of the bridge and the stunning views around. The 20 m wobbly bridge hovering 30 m over the ravine connects the mainland to a tiny rocky island of Carrickarede. The island was once a great spot for Salmon fishing and hence the fishermen have been building a bridge here for over 350 years. In the instance of unexpected weather changes, the visitors have been taken off the island by boat.

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland
Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland


Day Trip Giants Causeway Antrim Coast Northern Ireland

Just a few miles ahead of the Ballycastle town on the way back we came across an astounding phenomenon of the lake of Loughareema or the Vanishing Lake which vanishes within hours. The reason being the lake sits on a leaky chalk-bed with a sinkhole that often gets blocked up by peat and once it opens up all the water from the lake drains into it.

If time permits one can visit the beautiful coastal towns of Cushendall and Cushendun. Cushendall has some of the lovely Irish Georgian buildings still intact. Glenariff is a valley in County Antrim and Glenariff Forest Park has several pools and waterfalls which make for spectacular forest trails.

At dusk, as we snuggle up warm, a feeling of melancholy is piqued to bid adieu to this land of sublime natural beauty. And the guide starts singing ‘The Green Glens of Antrim are calling to me’ and deep inside our heart we harbor a strong desire to return back soon.

Have these pictures piqued an interest to plan a visit to this beautiful land? Do share your thoughts.

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17 Comment

  1. I miserably missed Belfast and Giant’s Causeway! My friends took a flight to Belfast and hired a car there and visited Giant’s Causeway and when they came back and showed me the pics, I was like 😐 🙁 X( !!!
    The castle looks gorgeous and the landscape is just too awesome! Ofcourse its a natural UNESCO site – it has to be!!!
    Too bad I missed it!

  2. Ireland sure is a gorgeous place. Like you, I also grab the window seat, sometimes to click pictures on the way and some times to just shut the camera and enjoy the views and breeze. I must club Ireland whenever I plan to visit UK.

  3. Jean says: Reply

    Oh Ireland! Such a pretty country that I’ve yet to get to. Your photos are wonderful. I love the little sheep photo. It looks like you had a magical day out exploring the wonders of Ireland.

  4. Although I’ve been going to UK all my life I never hopped acrossed to Ireland and I believe I’ve really been missing out. The scenery is magnificent and very dramatic with the cliffs, the cliff side castle and I’m sure the chill in the air. Too bad about the whiskey distillery but hoping you got to taste or visit another one on your trip since Ireland is synonymous with whiskey. And the rope bridge looks spectacular.

  5. Loved these views. The shorelines here are really unique.
    I used to think Northern Ireland was out of bounds for travellers (Due to IRA etc). But I guess I have not kept myself abreast with current affairs.
    Hope the giant sleeping wakes up soon. 😉

  6. Riely says: Reply

    I remember my trip to Northern Ireland that I took a few years back. It’s my home away from home as my grandmother is Irish and born just outside of Belfast. The Giant’s Causeway was such a neat site to visit. I would most definitely go back. We did manage to cross the bridge since it was a beautiful day when we went-thank goodness! Hope you get to cross next time.

  7. The Giant’s Causeway views are picturesque. The beach looks amazing. I like that there were not many tourists. I would love to visit this place someday.

  8. I went to the Giant Causeway years ago but I have always wanted to go back because the day we were there it was so cold and wet, so we never got to really explore. I would love to go back and cross over the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge even though it looks scary. Sorry, you missed out on the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery as it is an interesting place. It gives you an excuse to go back now 🙂

  9. Deni says: Reply

    The photo of the Dunluce Castle is absolutely stunning! It must’ve had an incredible view while it was still inhabited! Were you able to go down and take a look inside while you were there? Also loved Giant’s Sleeping- the name is fantastic!

  10. Stacey says: Reply

    Wow! Ireland has never crossed my mind but it is absolutely gorgeous! I did not realise it had so much to offer. I’m in love with your pics at Giants Causeway, can’t believe how busy it Was!

  11. I love interesting rock formations and these ones are certainly unique! It’s too bad about the weather, but at least it made for some magical photos. Such incredible vistas!

  12. Maggie says: Reply

    That castle is gorgeous! I love visiting castles in Europe, I wish we had them where I live! I’ve never been to Ireland, but it sounds like the perfect place for a road trip.

  13. Naomi says: Reply

    I’ve never been to the Giants Causeway but it sure does look appealing, even with the grey weather. I really like the legend and everything around it. Especially Dunluce Castle looks. really neat!

  14. Except for the Giants Causeway, this looks just like Scotland! So very beautiful. I’d love to see those basalt columns up close. And I think the mist just adds to the mystery of Ireland.

  15. Ireland is so green and beautiful! Belfast and Giant’s causeway must have been a great experience. Even with the gloomy weather! by the way, I’d love to visit a whiskey distillery 🙂

  16. Judy says: Reply

    How lovely! Countryside hikes are my absolute favourite, especially when there are castles involved Although that one castle’s traumatic history was so unfortunate…and unromantic like some other stories. Those stormy, gloomy views sure are enticing still!

  17. I have never been to Ireland but it is on my list. The coastal views are amazing. So much greenery – can not wait to visit.

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