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Giant's Causeway question especially for Ireland Tour Alums

The itinerary for the RS Best of Ireland in 14 Days tour lists a visit to the Giant's Causeway as a part of a busy Day 12.

The Causeway's website lists lots of things to see and do there. How much time did you actually spend there and what did you see and do?

Posted by
5084 posts

Lo, not having done an RS tour, I can’t offer any experience there, but September of last year, we started a coastline/clifftop hike 5 miles to the east, and made our way to the causeway, in ferocious wind, accompanied only by outstanding views the whole way, some ascending and descending, a few sheep, and only a half dozen people in 3 hours of hiking, all going the other way. We didn’t actually stop into the visitor center, and even in the semi-off-season, the causeway itself had quite a few people. It was really a contrast to the windswept isolation during the hike. After 45 minutes on the causeway stones, we caught a Rambler bus back to where we’d parked our rental car, for the drive towards Belfast.

If you’re up for it, after enjoying some time on the fascinating hexagonal blocks of stone down at sea level, hike up to the east, for a higher view, and to get away from the crowds for a moment. You don’t have to go far, and then turn back around, but it’s steep. Worth the effort for those with the time, energy, and mobility.

Posted by
1150 posts

I took this tour last year. I don't remember exactly how long we had, but it seemed sufficient. I caught the shuttle down to the pillars. I spent maybe 1/2 hour down there and took the shuttle back. I walked along the cliffs. I visited the restrooms, grabbed a sandwich and explored the gift shop. It was REALLY crowded so I didn't stay long in the visitor center. It was gorgeous. Be sure to see the film in the visitor center.

Posted by
8413 posts

I'd agree with LaurieBeth. I did this tour in 2014. Our visit was hampered by heavy fog so you could really not see out past the edge of the stones. I walked down and back climbed around the stones a bit, skipped most of the inside stuff just because it was hot and crowded in there. Many of our group ate there but I'd had a bowl of soup at Carrick-a-rede bridge. I'd skipped going out there because I've got a fear of heights although I was assured by my brother that it wouldn't have bothered me because it was so completely fogged in there as well that I wouldn't have known if I was in a scary position or not, lol.

If you have a lot that you'd want to see here, I'd organize a lunch so you don't have to spend time eating there. Our guide flexed this day around a bit because of the fog (hoping it would lift for Giant's Causeway) so you might check the posted schedule to see what the plan is on your day.

Speaking of lunch, I wished I had taken a lunch or just grabbed something quick at Great Blasket Center and Killarney because I didn't see everything I wanted. This tour was my 2nd RS tour and I didn't have the rhythm down yet!

Posted by
3557 posts

Thanks for the advice so far. I really appreciate the time management bits. Any other personal experiences and advice out there is more than welcome.

I'm signed up for the May 8-21 tour, which puts us at the Causeway on Tuesday, May 19th. According to the RS weather chart, May is not the driest month, but I'll hope for no fog anyway. I'll especially hope for no slippery stones.

Posted by
3309 posts

We did the causeway on our own a few years back and probably spent a couple hours there, mostly down by the water. We did walk along the cliff, but not very far. If you wanted, you could easily spend more time there if you were hiking on the trails. We visited the causeway, Carrick-a-Rede bridge, and Old Bushmill’s distillery on the same day. We drove by Dunluce castle, but didn’t stop. No idea how long RS tours spend there.

Posted by
824 posts

Hello from Wisconsin,
A March visit found sunny skies, and a bitter fierce cold wind. We walked the cliffs and found a sheltered bay to enjoy the majesty of the crashing waves. Lovely. It took hours.

wayne iNWI

Posted by
1554 posts

They have changed the itinerary for this tour since I took it in 2008, but I recall we had at least an hour and a half - walking along the bluff then down the steps to the pillars, taking photos, and walking back up. I went in early June and the weather was stunning - as others have noted, that's not always the case. At that time, the day also included stops at Bushmills, the Carrick-a-Rede bridge (no longer on the tour?), and Dunluce Castle. I just checked my journal notes and it looks like I was pretty tuckered out at the end of that day (also, it appears I had too much adult beverage the night before!) This tour remains one of my favorites, I hope you enjoy!

Posted by
305 posts

We did the Best of Ireland Tour last year. The day began at the Giant's Causeway, then Carrick-a-Rede, to Bushmill's Distillary tour (and lunch stop), and ended at Dunluce Castle.
Giant's Causeway: Not sure how much time we had there. I chose to walk down the paved path while a few took the longer trail down to the Causeway. All my time was spent at the rocks, and I thought I might take the shuttle back if I was pressed for time, but there were so many people scrambling on the rocks, that I didn't feel like lingering longer so I walked back.

Posted by
11798 posts

Never been on an RS tour. I went to Giant's Causeway in May. I'd guess we stayed no more than two hours from parking to leaving. It's roughly a 15-20 minute walk to the causeway from the parking lot. We walked down. Climbed around the rocks for another 30-45 minutes then took the bus back.

The weather was nice. The day started early at a BnB in Ballycastle and also stopped at Carrick-a-rede, Bushmill's Distillery, Dunluce Castle, and Royal Portrush golf club before sleeping in Derry. It was a busy day but didn't feel overly rushed because everything is close to each other. The biggest issue was getting from Portrush to Derry because there was a big motorcycle race that closed the main roads.

Posted by
15 posts

My wife and I took our first trip to Ireland in 2001 to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Giant's Causeway was near the top of our "must see" list while there.

We began our trip with 3 days' touring of Dublin, then picked up our Hertz-Ireland rental vehicle and headed out for the adventure of our life!
We drove north from Dublin to the Giant's Causeway and the Bushmills Distillery Tour while staying in Donegal Town. Be aware roads are narrow and slow on most of the island; if you can average 40 mph, you're doing well!
This description is primarily 'down-hill travel' so not very difficult for those who aren't used to hiking or walking long distances.
Parking at the Causeway Visitor's Center, we walked east of the Center facing toward the sea) to the overview of the area, then continued east along the paved area to the stairway (Shepherd's Steps) toward Giant's Organ. This path continues downhill and passes a second and well-identified path continuing downhill toward the primary areas of The Causeway.
Once you've reached the Giant's Organ, you can't continue much further (toward the Sea), so backtrack to the previously-mentioned second pathway and further downhill and head west.
This path will take you along the coast toward The Wishing Throne. Don't get distracted once photos have been taken; walk around the Wishing Throne to see the "Causeway Path" into the sea going toward Scotland.
Now it's time to head back to the paved roadway, just west of the Wishing Throne, to board the jitney (walking up-hill to return to the Centre is NOT for the faint-of-heart and QUITE DEMANDING PHYSICALLY!) to take you back to the starting point of the Causeway tour
And while you're in the area, you might consider a visit to Bushmills Distillery for a tour and a 'taste' (the choice was 'anything they distill', so I opted for a 'wee drahm' of the Bushmills 21 year old) , drive to the Dark Hedges Road of Games of Thrones fame, and visit Dunluce Castle, on the water's shore west of The Causeway for another photo opportunity!
Safe trip; take nothing but photos and leave nothing but memories!
Hank

Posted by
3557 posts

Hank, thanks so much for your detailed response. I could use it as a tour guide!.