Welcome to Ireland, the land of storytellers, thousands of cows, sheep and castles. “If you spot a white horse, it means we will be blessed with good luck. Pray for the good weather” said our charming guide Phillip as we drove past the barren hills and green pastures on an early Saturday morning during our Giants Causeway Tour. In Ireland you can surely experience four seasons in one day.
Giant’s Causeway Tour with Irish Day Tours
The tour starts early at 6:30am, the meeting point with our guide and driver was at the Molly Malone Statue on Suffolk Street. Along the way Phillip spoke about the political history of Ireland and how we would be using two different currencies in one day. In Dublin you pay in Euros and in Belfast in pounds sterling. For those who wish to delve deeper into the political history can join the Black cab political tour in Belfast (the driver will ask who wants to join at an extra cost).
The Dark Hedges
After a couple of hours at around 10:00 am we arrived to our first sightseeing spot, the famous Dark Hedges — one of the most photographed phenomena in Northern Ireland. An avenue of beech trees which have been voted as one of the top five most beautiful tree tunnels in the world. The 150 beech trees were planted here in 1775 by a gentleman named James Stuart who had built an estate — the Gracehill House and named it after his wife Grace Lynd.
The remarkable tree avenue would serve as an entrance to this grand Georgian estate, a compelling landscape that would captivate their visitors as they approached. Today, just over nighty trees complete what is known as the Dark Hedges an impressive avenue which was also used as a film location for the Kings Road in the Game of Thrones. If you are dreaming of capturing the perfect Instagram shot with no-one in the background, that will be a hard one unless you come here by yourself before the coaches get here.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Feeling brave and adventurous? How about crossing a rope bridge which was first constructed by salmon fishermen in 1755? I do love salmon and don’t love heights. When my friend Chrysoula (travelpassionate.com) signed us up, I knew I was in for another adventure.
The hike towards the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is approximately 1 kilometre (0.62miles) one-way, where you will get to experience one of Ireland’s breathtaking coastal trails. We did see white horses on our way and did pray for the good weather — alas, we saw sunshine.
The warm sunlight reflecting on Ireland’s forty shades of green, the gentle breeze and the soft crashing of waves against the imposing cliffs which dotted the coast — was simply magical. Inhale, exhale — let’s do this.
My heart pounding I walked the rope bridge which is suspended 30 meters above sea level and made it to the other side from where I was rewarded with a birds eye view of the surrounding coast. For those who fear heights, I say take on the challenge it is definitely worth it.
After the fresh air and our adrenaline filled morning we drove to the Giant’s Barn cafe to have lunch at our own leisure. There was a selection of traditional Irish dishes and a few salads to choose from. After about an hour’s break we made our way to the famous Giant’s Causeway.
The Giant’s Causeway: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Once upon a time an Irish warrior by the name of Fionn mac Cumhaill or Finn McCool spent years under the wing of a poet named Finnegas who was searching for the Salmon of Knowledge.
The legend had it that whoever ate the salmon would gain all the knowledge in the world. One fine day after a seven year period the old man caught the fish and asked the boy to cook it for him, as the boy was cooking the salmon he burnt his finger and placed it in his mouth. The old man saw that young Fionn gained wisdom so he fed the fish to the boy.
The folklore has it that Fionn built the Giant’s Causeway as a bridge to cross into Scotland and one day news travelled that the giant Benandonner was coming to fight him. He then asked his wife Oona to dress him up as a baby and when the giant Benandonner appeared she told him to be quite as he would wake up the baby. Giant Benandonner having seen the size of the baby got scared, imagining how big the father would be, so he runaway crossing Causeway and into Scotland, smashing the bridge into pieces behind him.
Today what remains of the famous legend are the 40,000 basalt columns which rise out of the sea on the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the top visited attractions in Ireland and one of the most impressive natural wonders which was formed by a volcanic eruption over 50 million years ago.
There is quite a bit of walking involved so do make sure to wear comfortable shoes. There is also a Visitor’s Centre which features an interactive exhibition (at an additional fee).
We did not go through the Visitor’s Centre but directly to the site. We spent around 1,5 hours here. Please check the website for visiting hours as they do change depending on the season.
Coming up next we passed the Dunluce castle and briefly stopped for a photo. This 13th-century medieval castle had passed on through a few owners over the centuries.
The legend has it that one day during a dinner celebration at the castle part of the kitchen next to the cliff collapsed into the sea and only one boy survived. The event could not go on, after which the owners decided to move. The castle has been used as a film location of the Game of Thrones Seat of House Greyjoy, the great castle of Pyke.
Our last stop of the tour was in Belfast. We spent approximately 1.5 hours in the city which is the birthplace of the RMS Titanic, the famous ship which struck and iceberg and sunk in 1912. Unfortunately we did not have the time to visit the Titanic Belfast museum but we did spent sometime walking around one of the city’s landmarks which is the Belfast City Hall.
The Belfast City Hall dominates the central area of the city centre dividing the commercial and business areas. When we arrived there was a music event taking place on the grounds and it was quite busy with the crowds. During the Christmas holiday season a Christmas market is set up here offering a variety of foods and goods. We walked to the Victoria Square and went up to the Dome where you can experience 360° views of Belfast.
After a full day of exploring Northern Ireland with Irish Day Tours we headed back to Dublin where we arrived at around 8pm. For anyone planning a visit to Ireland I definitely recommend that you visit the Giant’s Causeway and a guided tour is a great way to see a few of the highlights.
Have you been to the Giant’s Causeway? If not I hope that this post will inspire you to go on a Giant’s Causeway Tour in Northern Ireland.
Giants causeway tour details
Starting time: 6:30 am (you must arrive 10 minutes earlier).
Meeting point: Molly Malone Statue on Suffolk Street
Adult – €65
Student (13-16) / Senior – €60
Children (5-12) – €32.50
Infants (0-4) – Free
Food not included.
Book you tour here: https://daytours.ie/giants-causeway