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Destination Spotlight: 10 Things you Didn’t Know About the Causeway Coast

Posted on Jul 30, 2018 by Dawn Rainbolt

The Causeway Coast, as well as Northern Ireland’s coastline, is a wild and beautiful place, varying between strange geology, emerald hills, charming coastal towns, and bustling metropolises.

1. The Causeway Coast and Belfast have been voted as the #1 Region to Visit by Lonely Planet in 2018.

hiking Causeway Coast

Hike the Causeway Coast for strange geology and stunning landscapes.

Surpassing the likes of Alaskan wilderness and the gorgeous landscapes of the south of France, Lonely Planet has indeed chosen the Causeway Coast and Belfast as the #1 region to explore this year. Reasons cited for this choice is Belfast’s amazing transformation from “streets dogged by sectarian violence” to streets now full of hip neighbourhoods that burst with bars, restaurants and venues to suit all tastes.” Lonely Planet praises the “timeless beauty” and “famous rocks” of the Causeway Coast.

One of the best ways to enjoy the Causeway Coast is on foot – though it is a long distance trail that is 33 miles (52 km) long and will take about 3 days to complete, it’s possible to simply hike sections  of the Causeway Coast, and still immerse yourself in the beauty of the place.

2. Was the Giant’s Causeway created by the mythical giant Finn McCool? (Or was it a volcanic reaction)?

Hiking the Giant's Causeway

Hike the Causeway Coast to the legendary Giant’s Causeway.

The pearl of the Causeway Coast is the Giant’s Causeway. Perhaps one of the most famous geological phenomenons in the whole world, the Giant’s Causeway is associated with an enticing myth about famed giant Finn McCool. Legend has it that Finn McCool built the causeway to fight his Scottish nemesis Bendonamer, but out of fear of his rival, he conned the Scotsman by disguising himself as a baby. When Bendonamer saw how large his rival’s baby was, he ran away in fear of how huge he assumed the “baby’s” father was, Bendonamer fled in terror, and ripped up the causeway behind him.

While the myth is a fun story, the Giant’s Causeway actually owes its geology to a volcanic explosion. Though it can be a crowded place, the best to visit the site is either at sunrise or sunset to avoid the crowds. We also recommend that you walk along the coast starting at Dunseverik Castle to Giant’s Causeway to get the full scope of the jaw-dropping cliffs.

Finn McCool myth - Giant's Causeway

Learn about the famous myth of the giant Finn McCool.

3. Hit HBO series Game of Thrones was filmed heavily along the Causeway Coast and throughout Northern Ireland.

Ballintoy Harbour - Game of Thrones filming location

Jump into the TV show Game of Thrones at filming locations across Ireland like Ballintoy Harbour.

Game of Thrones fans can’t miss out to visit the Causeway Coast! Game of Thrones filming locations abound along the Causeway Coast and into the hills, mountains and glens of Northern Ireland. Locations along the coast include Ballintoy Harbour, Cushenden Caves and Larrybane Head feature in the series (as Lordsport, the Stormlands, and Storm’s End, respectively).

Other nearby places in Northern Ireland include the Dark Hedges (as the King’s Road), the Mourne Mountains (also known as Vaes Dothrak) and Mussenden Temple (part of the Stormlands) in the earlier seasons of the series. A land already rich in legends, Northern Ireland has captivated writers, artists, poets and film makers for centuries. Learn about other Game of Thrones filming locations here.

Mussenden Temple

Mussenden Temple and the surrounding cliffs and beach stood in as Game of Thrones Stormlands.

4. The Causeway Coastal Route is one of Ireland’s most phenomenal coastal hiking routes.

Hiking the Causeway Coast.

Hiking the fantastic and geologically unique Causeway Coast.

One of the best hiking routes in all of Ireland, the Causeway Coastal Route is 33 miles / 52 km long hiking trail that follows the jaw-dropping coastline. Threading together some of Ireland’s best places to visit, as well as dramatic ocean views, sea stacks and cliffs, the Causeway Coastal Route weaves past Ballintoy Harbour, Mussenden Temple, Portrush Beach – and the yummy Harry’s Shack for a quick bite to eat – the Gobbins Path and more. If you hike the whole route, it’ll take you about 4 days. Or, you can break it up and simply do a few sections of it. Learn more here.

5. Bram Stoker was from Derry…a place that helped inspire his Dracula classic.

Derry Bram Stoker

A quiet church yard in Bram Stoker’s hometown of Derry.

After you visit the Causeway Coast, head to the quaint walled city of Derry, which also so happens to be the birthplace of an Irishman called Bram Stoker, famous for writing Dracula, his version of the vampire myth. Much of his text takes place in Transylvania (a place he never visited; he was inspired after seeing images of the mountains and castles of the Carpathians). But he was also supposedly inspired by a local Irish myth from Derry, of an evil dwarf that came back from the dead on several occasions, and was finally killed with a stake and buried standing up.

Today’s Derry has changed a lot since Stoker’s time (notably, no vampires!). Though the site Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972 as part of the Troubles, today, it’s a fun little town on the edge of Lough Foyle. Be sure to go for a walk on the walls!

6. Belfast is an up and coming foodie destination.

Belfast food destination

Belfast has turned into a real foodie hotspot.

Belfast, the top destination to visit in 2018, is part of Ireland’s up-and-coming foodie scene, with more and more restaurants cropping up all over town. You’ll find anything from fine dining to home style cooking in restaurants scattered all over the compact capital of Northern Ireland.

Far cheaper than Dublin, you’ll eat exceedingly well in Belfast’s mix of contemporary and charming restaurants that embrace traditional Irish cuisine with a modern twist.

7. The RMS Titanic was built in Belfast.

Belfast Titanic Experience

Exploring the intriguing modern Belfast Titanic Experience.

The other thing Belfast is known for is the RMS Titanic. A city famed for ship building, the famed RMS Titanic was built in the once great shipyards of Belfast. The shiny new Titanic Experience museum, whose design is meant to reflect the ship-making and industrial heritage so important to Belfast, was opened recently in 2012.

The Titanic Experience celebrates this maritime heritage of the city through the stories of the shipbuilders, as well as telling the story of the infamous RMS Titanic and her passengers who sunk on her maiden voyage. Belfast is the perfect first jumping off point to visit the Causeway Coast.

8. Spot the puffins on Rathlin Island!

Puffins in Ireland

Spot the iconic puffin birds on Rathlin Island.

Wake to the smell of salty air and the sound of crashing waves on Rathlin Island. Northern Ireland’s only inhabited island, Rathlin Island is home to Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony – including everyone’s favourite, the puffin! In fact, for those who really want to spot a puffin, Rathlin Island is one of the best places in Ireland to do so! 

Rathlin Island is a veritable birdwatching haven, with plenty of other seabirds who reside here. Spot gannets, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars, as well as an interpretive centre to help you identify the different birds.

Rathlin Island is also intertwined with the legend of Robert the Bruce and the spider. An exiled Robert sat watching a spider steadily attempt six times to affix his web to a steep wall in the cave where Robert was hiding after failing to free Scotland six times. Robert decided that if that spider made it on the next attempt, he would take it as a sign and return to Scotland to reclaim his land. The spider succeeded… and Robert the Bruce rejoined the fight. 

10. CS Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was inspired by places along the Causeway Coast like Dunluce Castle.

Dunluce Castle Causeway Coast

A trip to the Causeway Coast wouldn’t be complete without stopping at the amazing Dunluce Castle!

Travel north to the imaginary land of Narnia – or rather, to the dramatic stoney ruins of Dunluce Castle. This spectacular clifftop castle was reportedly C.S. Lewis’s inspiration for the royal castle of Cair Paravel in his famous books The Chronicles of Narnia, and the surrounding hills helped serve as the backdrop for the various magical lands of Narnia.

Setting fantasy aside, Dunluce Castle is as beautiful as it is fascinating. Clinging to the edge of the cliff, the castle has an intriguing history of scandal, conquest and abandonment. Explore its amazing clifftop setting to learn about the history of the Ulster Scots as you visit the Causeway Coast’s dramatic setting.

10. Follow old smuggler’s trails on the Gobbins Path.

Gobbins Path Northern Ireland

Hiking through the old smuggler’s caves of Northern Ireland along the Gobbins Path.

The Gobbins Path is a dramatic cliffside path that winds up a narrow cliff face, whips you along narrow stairs and ducks down into caves once used by smugglers. Cross spectacular bridges amid crashing waves, traverse hidden undersea tunnels, climb rugged staircases carved into the cliff faces and crawl into smugglers’ caves. A blend of history and adrenaline, the Gobbins Path is an unforgettable off-the-beaten-path stop along the Causeway Coast.

Sound exciting? Join one of our scheduled departures to visit the Causeway Coast!

For families, why not check out our NEW Family Adventure: Giants, Myths & Legends. Or, build your own adventure to visit the Causeway Coast in a custom-built trip for you.

Trip Date Name Price Availability Book
20th Apr - 26th Apr 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7106 place(s) leftBook Now
4th May - 10th May 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7108 place(s) leftBook Now
1st Jun - 7th Jun 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7108 place(s) leftBook Now
22nd Jun - 28th Jun 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7106 place(s) leftBook Now
20th Jul - 26th Jul 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7106 place(s) leftBook Now
10th Aug - 16th Aug 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7108 place(s) leftBook Now
31st Aug - 6th Sep 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7106 place(s) leftBook Now
14th Sep - 20th Sep 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7108 place(s) leftBook Now
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About the author

Dawn Rainbolt

American by birth but European in spirit, Dawn has called the US, Costa Rica, Spain, England, Poland, France and now Ireland home over the years. While she has travelled to more than 30 countries, she has fallen in love with the rich Irish culture, intriguing history, ancient castles, cheery locals and sweeping landscapes of Ireland.

Read more articles by Dawn

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