County Antrim, Northern Ireland
from Walking in Ireland
ABOVE: The Giant's Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Giant's Causeway is the #1 tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. Its 40,000 polygonal stone columns are arranged like steppingstones along the coast near Bushmills and Portballintrae, about an hour north of Belfast. From the parking lot, you walk downhill to the causeway, where you can clamber over the basalt columns and enjoy dramatic sea views. Allow time to explore the site's other walking paths.
If you've got six hours to spare, you can walk the coastal path to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which is 23 km or 14.3 miles from the causeway on a mostly level trail. For directions, see route card #16 of the excellent Walking Tours packet from The Causeway Coast & Glens tourist office. (You'll also find the route on sheet 5 of the Ordance Survey of Northern Ireland 1:50,000 Discover Series maps.)
Another option is the 2-hour walk between Dunluce Castle and the causeway, along the North Coast via Portballintrae and Runkerry. The one-way distance is 6 km or 4 miles, and the path is mostly level. See route card 4 of the Walking Tours packet or Ordance Survey sheet 4.
The Giant's Causeway is accessible by car, public bus, and a restored narrow-gauge steam train that runs from Bushmills to the Giant's Causeway visitor center in high season.
For more walking information, see:
Walking in Ireland: Resources and Web links europeforvisitors.com
The historic Bushmills Inn is convenient for taking taking the narrow-gauge train or the local Causeway Rambler (Ulsterbus 376) from Bushmills to the Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede. You can also walk to to the Bushmills whiskey distillery, the only distillery in Ireland with public tours.
Our group stayed at the Bayview Hotel in Portballintrae, a small coastal resort one mile from Bushmills. Many of the 25 modern rooms overlook the sea, and the Porthole Bar & Restaurant serves well-prepared Irish food. (This is a good choice if you'd like to use Portballintrae as a base for walks to Dunluce Castle, the Giant's Causeway, and Carrick-a-Rede.)
For other hotel suggestions, see the listings on the Causeway Coast & Glens tourism site.
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