A Quick Visit to Northern Ireland and the Giant’s Causeway

northern ireland
Giant’s Causeway

In February 2017, the Michael W Travels family visited Ireland for the first time. While I would’ve liked to have had more time to see the country, we made sure to take one day-trip out of Dublin.

While debating where to go, Kim and I narrowed our choices down to the Cliffs of Moher or Giant’s Causeway.

After debating what our best option was (I don’t think either would be a bad choice), we decided on a trip to the Giant’s Causeway. This trip would take us to Northern Ireland which is actually part of the United Kingdom.

Rather than rent a car, we decided to take a day trip with a tour company. Most trips left very early (like 6:30AM) and also happened to be sold out. This made our decision easy, we decided to take our trip with Gray Line. Besides the later start time (around 9:00AM), Gray Line was also cheaper and allowed us to see the sights on our own since they operate a Giant’s Causeway Shuttle.

Here are the places we visited during our quick  visit to Northern Ireland.

Stop 1: The Dark Hedges

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I had never heard of The Dark Hedges before and it turns out that they are famous partly for being in the hit TV show Game of Thrones.

When we arrived, we had around 25 minutes to walk along the road. There were a couple of signs sharing details about the site as well as one commemorating the area for being in Game of Thrones as the Kingsroad. (I’ve never seen the show.)

The road is a spectacular sight to see and is considered one of the 5 most beautiful tree tunnels in the world, according to what I read.

Stop 2:  Carrick-a-Rede

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To reach the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, you first need to walk along some high up coastal paths along the mainland. The walk itself offers some amazing views. Walking to the rope bridge was definitely part of the fun.

It was quite windy along the way and once we reached the rope bridge we had to wait on a short line to cross before getting to the small island, Carrick-a-Rede.

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Walking across the rope bridge was fun and interesting. Due to the wind it was a bit shaky. If you’re afraid of heights, I wouldn’t recommend looking down- you’re close to 100 feet above the rocky waters down below.

Once on the island, there weren’t lots of places to stand. We spent around 10 minutes there before getting back on line to return to the mainland.

The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was a fun visit, offering great views with a touch of adventure. I could only imagine how busy it might get there during peak summer travel season.

Stop 3: Giant’s Causeway

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Giant’s Causeway was like no site I’ve ever visited before. We were amazed by the rocky columns that hugged the coast.

(While waiting to get off of the van, the driver told us a legend about how the columns were formed. It had to do with an Irish and Scottish giant fighting.)

It’s something like a natural playground.

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The columns are made of basalt and were created from a volcanic eruption. (I had to look that up online since I forgot…) They are all different heights, sizes and shapes. In many areas you can go up and down the columns much like you’d go up stairs.

Lucas absolutely loved climbing up and down the rocks and didn’t want to leave. (Neither did I!)

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Kim was wearing Theo in our Ergo carrier so she had to be extra careful while wandering around. Lucas and I climbed all over, and even went across the rocks onto a small section which was out in the water. (You can see it in the first photo.)IMG_5203

Giant’s Causeway is the 108th UNESCO World Heritage Site that I’ve visited and definitely one of my favorites! Some day I’d love to visit again.

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Stop 4: Dunluce Castle

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Our last stop was a brief one. Kim, Lucas and Theo didn’t even leave the van since they were tired from our long day.

Dunluce Castle was built between the 15th and 17th centuries. Sadly, the castle was closed plus we wouldn’t have had time to go inside. However, I did have some time to enjoy some incredible views of the castle. So yes, it was definitely worth a stop.

The castle was also featured in Game of Thrones as the House of Greyjoy. Like I mentioned above, I’ve never seen the show.

In closing…

Overall, we found the Gray Line Shuttle to offer excellent value as a way to visit the Giant’s Causeway from Dublin.

This kind of trip is definitely family friendly and many of the sites we stopped at should appeal to children (and adults) of all ages.

This was our first visit to Northern Ireland, although a very short one. Lucas and Theo have now also been to the UK although it’s a cheap visit…

Have you visited Northern Ireland and/ or the Giant’s Causeway?

Find out more about the Gray Line Giant’s Causeway Shuttle here.

3 thoughts on “A Quick Visit to Northern Ireland and the Giant’s Causeway

  1. We took our little dog on a driving trip to Northern Ireland and Ireland at Easter time for 2 weeks. We drove our car from London to Cairnryan in Scotland and took a 2.5 hours fast ferry to Belfast. We had a wonderful time. In Northern Ireland we visited the Giant Causeway, the Dark Hedges and Carrick a Rede (only hubby walked on the bridge!). We drove along 60% of the Wild Atlantic Way (the Ring of Kerry was particular beautiful) and visited the Cliffs of Moher. We stayed at some fabulous hotels and B&B places where our dog was allowed. We wanted to stay in Dublin at the intercontinental (previously the four seasons allowed dogs, but intercontinental changed policy). We will go back to Northern Ireland in late summer as we really like to see the sights again and visit an island where there are puffins and seals.

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