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Why Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s Most Famous Attraction

Situated near the town of Bushmills at the edge of the wild North Atlantic in North Ireland, Giant’s Causeway is a landscape of dramatic towering cliffs and a coastal area made up of about 40,000 basalt columns. It was created by a volcanic eruption that took place some 60 million years ago, and is a breathtaking UNESCO Heritage Site that has inspired many artists, stirred scientific debate and sparked numerous myths and legends over the centuries.

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Credit: Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland by Bigstock.com

The most common legend says that the Causeway was carved out by the mighty giant Finn McCool who left his ancient home behind to battle his foe, Scottish giant Benandonner. An enraged Finn grabs chunks of the Antrim coast and throws them into the sea, with the rocks forming a path for Finn to follow and teach Benandonner a lesson.

But that wasn’t the best idea, as the giant is absolutely massive, so Finn beats a hasty retreat, followed by the giant, only to be saved by his quick-thinking wife who disguised him as a baby. When the mad Scot saw the baby, he thought if the child is that big, the father must be terrifying large.

Wishing Chair, Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Credit: Wishing Chair, Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland by K.C. Dermody

Many of the sites throughout the Giant’s Causeway bear testament to this myth, such as The Wishing Chair, Giant’s Boot, The Camel, The Giant’s Granny and The Organ. The Organ sits high atop the cliffs, looking almost as if it could really be played.

The Wishing Chair is an absolute must experience – you can actually sit in it. It’s a natural throne formed from a perfectly arranged set of columns and has been sat on so often, the basalt stones are incredibly smooth and actually quite comfortable.

Overlooking the Giant's Causeway area and The Camel
Credit: Overlooking the Giant's Causeway area and The Camel by K.C. Dermody

One of the most famous residents around the Causeway is Finn McCool’s camel. Once a living and lively beast, legend has it that he was turned to stone and forlornly lies along the bottom of the cliffs. They say he was the only steed capable of carrying Finn home across long distances. In reality, the Camel is a basaltic dyke, formed from cooling lava which has pushed its way through other layers of rock.

Co. Antrim Northern Ireland Giant's Causeway
Credit: Co. Antrim Northern Ireland Giant's Causeway by bigstock.com

If you’d like to enjoy this popular attraction without being surrounded by thousands of others, who can easily interrupt those incredible views, avoid taking a bus tour. The Emerald Isle is really best explored independently by renting a car anyway. Plan to arrive right when it opens, 9 a.m. year-round, or a little earlier, and you’ll be here before those massive tour buses arrive. You may even be able to enjoy a seat on one of the unique natural step all to yourself.

Giant’s Causeway
Credit: Giant’s Causeway by KC Dermody

Giant’s Causeway also hosts a fantastic visitor center and gift shop for learning more about the site and picking up souvenirs. The center received a National Award of Excellence for ‘Best Tour Visit’ by CIE Tours International in 2007 and is open year-round, except Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Giant’s Causeway
Address: 44 Causeway Rd, Bushmills BT57 8SU, UK
Official Website

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