Introducing Giant's Causeway
When you first see it you'll understand why the ancients believed the causeway was not a natural feature. The vast expanse of regular, closely packed, hexagonal stone columns dipping gently beneath the waves looks for all the world like the handiwork of giants.
This spectacular rock formation – a national nature reserve and Northern Ireland's only Unesco World Heritage Site – is one of Ireland's most impressive and atmospheric landscape features, but it is all too often swamped by visitors – around 750,000 each year. If you can, try to visit midweek or out of season to experience it at its most evocative. Sunset in spring and autumn is the best time for photographs.
Visiting the Giant's Causeway itself is free of charge but the overcrowded, council-run car park charges £6 per car. It's an easy 1km walk from the car park down to the Causeway; minibuses with wheelchair access ply the route every 15 minutes (adult/child £2/1 return). Guided tours of the site (June to August only) cost £3.50/2.25 per adult/child.
At the time of research a new visitor centre – described as 'world class' – and parking area were under construction, scheduled to open in summer 2012 (check www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giantscauseway for the latest developments). Until then, limited visitor facilities are provided in the Causeway Hotel.