Giant’s Causeway walking holidays

In 2017, the Giant’s Causeway was voted 'the worst tourist attraction in the world’ by the Irish Times. “People go expecting something on a Grand Canyon scale,” explains Linda Hutchinson, a guide at our walking holiday specialists Ramblers Walking Holidays. “It’s nothing like that.” Arguably Northern Ireland’s best-known landmark, the Giant’s Causeway attracts visitors from across the world – many with oversized expectations of this small but spectacular rock formation.

“I know some people come because they’ve heard about it and when they actually see it their reaction is, ‘Oh, that’s it?’ You know, it’s half a mile long. ‘Is that all there is?’” says Linda. “But once they get down and get onto the stones and see the basalt columns, they absolutely love it. It’s unique.” In fact, while the poll in the Irish Times shows some people didn’t think the Causeway was ‘giant’ enough, there was another major reason for many of the bad reviews.
“The National Trust have actually got a bit of a bad reputation around the Causeway,” says Linda. Although public access to the Causeway is free, the National Trust – which owns the car park and visitor centre – has been accused of misleading visitors into paying to walk down. “When you arrive, there are signs directing you into the visitor centre to see the Giant’s Causeway,” says Linda, explaining that this has caused confusion and anger among locals.
At £12.50 per adult to park, the benefits of going on foot are clear. But there are many more reasons why walking is the best way to see what is actually just one of many highlights of a holiday in County Antrim. “We actually walk right along the Causeway coast and go down into the Giant’s Causeway from the other end,” says Linda. “It’s a beautiful walk; it’s right on the edge of the cliffs along the coast there.” It’s a view that most people, who drive or are bussed in from Belfast, will miss.

Natural landscapes

“The Antrim Coast road is, I think, one of the top coastal routes in the world,” says Linda, “and it is absolutely beautiful.” It follows Northern Ireland’s northern shores; visiting the nine Glens of Antrim, skirting the wild and windswept cliff edge at Fair Head, where you can look out to sea and see Scotland, and passes nearby Murlough, which was one of many locations on this coast used for filming Game of Thrones. As a photographer, Linda loves this part of the tour in particular.
“It’s a fascinating route, although they’d never be able to build it now,” says Linda, “because at each promontory of rock that came out of the sea, they blew off the front of it to build the foundation of the road, so the road reaches right up to the end of all these cliffs that have been cut off.” It’s one of few man-made changes to the environment – even the Causeway visitor centre, one of very few along the coast, took years to be approved.
“My personal view is I’d love to see it kept natural, you have the basics so you can get there and do your walk, but you don’t need a big all-singing-all-dancing building stuck in the middle of it.” As such, Linda advises that walkers here need to be used to walking regularly and on rough ground. Paths are stony and natural, in many places developed only by sheep, with styles a regular feature “It’s rough country walking,” she says, “but at a pace that suits the whole group.”

Our top Northern Ireland walking Holiday

Northern Ireland walking holiday

Northern Ireland walking holiday

Self guided walking tour of the Causeway Coast Way

From £550 6 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This holiday can be booked from the 1st March to 31st October each year.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Northern Ireland walking or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

When to go to the Giant's Causeway

Bring your rain gear. Whatever the weather, whatever the forecast, bring your rain gear.
When asked about the best time to go on a walking holiday in Northern Ireland, Linda laughs. “You just don’t know. You really don’t!” Linda explains how, in early January, she found herself walking along the Causeway coast under clear blue skies with views that were simply stunning, the sunsets even more so. “And yet, two weeks later I’m there and it’s snowing and horrendous,” she says.
Walking holidays tend to run from May to September, but Linda cautions that visitors could book to travel in July or August and it could rain, or that it could be 18-20°C in spring. “It’s very, very changeable,” she says. “It’s Ireland!” Some might see the weather as a downside, but Linda says that’s all part of being there. “People tend to say, ‘Oh, it’s raining, it’s great, it’s just what I expected!’” After all, it’s the mild, wet weather that makes Ireland so green and pleasant in the first place.
Written by Bryony Cottam
Photo credits: [Page banner: Lind Hutchinson - Ramblers Walking Holidays] [Giants Causeway: Enrica Tancioni] [Walking photos: Linda Hutchinson, Ramblers Walking Holidays]