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Up in the northern part of Northern Ireland you’ll find the world famous, uniquely-shaped basalt rocks that make up the Giant’s Causeway. This UNESCO heritage site is incredible and is great for curious, active kids. My children had so much fun climbing up and around the rocks. They thought it was amazing.
The Giant’s Causeway and the paths leading to it are public and can be accessed for free. The closest car parks and Visitor centre; however, are owned by the National Trust and you must pay the fee to park and enter the Visitor centre. It’s a short walk down to the Causeway, but if you want to take the shuttle bus down it is an additional cost. There is constant news in regards to the National Trust visitor centre and whether it’s worth the entry fee of ￡25 (online fee) per family or ￡10 adult/ ￡5 child (online fee). It can feel frustrating to pay for entry to a visitor centre when you can visit the gem for free.
Here’s what you get when you pay--parking, information centre, outdoor audio guide, toilets and baby change facilities are included. The shuttle bus is an additional cost as it’s a different company. The cafe and souvenir shop are inside the Visitor centre so you must pay the entry fee to access them. The National Trust does offer a small discount to visitors that park in the village of Bushmills village and take a bus to the Causeway (peak season though) or who bike or walk there.
Despite the grumbling, the National Trust does the Giant’s Causeway justice in providing very educational information. The visitor centre information area is very kid friendly and my kids loved the information video describing the legend of the Giant’s Causeway.
Structurally, the visitor centre building is very unique and designed to blend into the landscape. Even if we weren’t National Trust members, we would have paid as the educational facilities made the visit more meaningful. It was also convenient and comfortable as even in the middle of summer it gets quite cold and it’s great to get inside and warm up a bit.
We were members of the National Trust when we visited, so if you are going to be visiting a few NT places, do your sums, as it really might be worth getting a tourist membership to the National Trust or the standard year membership. You can find more information on the National Trust here.
If you are a member of the National Trust, this is included in your membership.
The Visitor Centre was super busy when we visited, so we had lunch in the nearby town of Bushmills Village.
Younger kids Don’t think that the Causeway is only for older kids. It’s quite easy to enjoy the Causeway even with toddlers, you just don’t go as far out. But, like my children, they will have a wonderful time climbing over and exploring the rocks.
After your visit at the Giant’s Causeway, you can visit the nearby Dunlace Castle (10 minute drive). This stunning, cliff-hugging castle history is intertwined with Scotland and recent excavations revealed there was a village leading up to the castle. There's also a sea cave (Mermaid Cave) in the rocks under the castle that can be reached via stairs.
Or, take a stroll through the Dark Hedges (20 minutes drive). It’s a short stretch of road with beech trees forming an atmospheric tree tunnel. Parking on the roadside damages the roots of these incredible trees, so recent rules changes now prohibit driving down this road . Fortunately, you can park for free at the Dark Hedges hotel and then do the short walk down.
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