7 reasons why the Giant's Causeway is worth a visit
Located along the world famous Causeway Coast, the Giant's Causeway is a must-see stop on many tourists' agendas when they visit Northern Ireland.
But us local folk can often overlook the beauty on our own doorstep.
I confess I lived a short drive from the Giant's Causeway while studying at university and never quite managed to make the trip to see what all the fuss was about.
Thankfully I recently rectified this as I once again put on my tourist hat and headed to the site.
My verdict? It's definitely worth a visit and here's seven reasons why:
1. The North Coast views
There's no place like it on the whole island of Ireland. The Giant's Causeway and its surrounding areas boasts the most amazing scenery that is truly an Instagrammer's heaven.
A day at the Giant's Causeway - especially if the weather is playing ball - can provide endless #blessed content along some of the best walking routes in Northern Ireland.
A great excuse to feel fit and healthy, with the added perk of providing a stunning backdrop when you post your (humble) brag on social media.
2. The local influence
Taking a visit to the Giant's Causeway Visitors Centre one of the most unexpected aspects for me was the multitude of local produce, arts and crafts on sale at the gift shop.
Everything from art, fudge, shortbread, jams, and nik naks made exclusively by local producers really allows for Northern Ireland to shine, and I have to say I felt an odd sense of pride in the wide range and amazing products on offer.
The tourists come for the stones, but they are impressed by the local delicacies, much like I was, all of which adds to the truly Northern Ireland experience to be sampled and enjoyed.
3. The myths and legends
Northern Ireland folk know how to spin a good yarn and the Giant's Causeway is filled with its own myths and legends that make for a great tale.
Finn McCool is the star of the show around these parts and it makes for an interesting trip to the Causeway to hear all the stories on offer.
I was lucky enough to enjoy the tales as told by our National Trust tour guide Keith, who showed great passion and humour when relaying the 'facts' and made the trip even more enjoyable.
For anyone contemplating a tour with Keith in the future, I advise you get him to tell you the story of the naming of 'the windy gap' - it's a corker.
4. It's actually super scientific
So it turns out there is actually a scientific explanation for it all - some might say it's not as exciting as Finn McCool's involvement, but it's definitely worth taking in the facts during your visit.
The Giant's Causeway Visitors Centre provides all the education you need to ingest before or after your trip to the stones and the surrounding areas and as someone who didn't exactly excel in their science GCSE I admit I not only found it extremely interesting, but also understandable.
Again, it may have been Keith's doing in making my brain wrap itself around what is probably really basic science, but he obviously has a passion for his job in educating visitors.
5. The local hospitality
During my visit to the area I stayed at the Causeway Hotel, which is also run by the National Trust.
Before arriving at a new hotel I usually do my research but decided on this occasion to refrain from googling what to expect - and I was pleasantly surprised.
The room was larger than most and provided all manner of hotel luxuries that have become the norm, i.e. bathroom essentials, TV, iron, wardrobe, tea/coffee making facilities etc. I also enjoyed the use of a small patio with great views of the area and quite possibly one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept on.
The hotel bar had the decor of a stately home with the relaxed atmosphere of any country pub, while the restaurant was a masterclass in exceptional dining.
The staff manage to expertly walk the fine line of being attentive but not overly encroaching on your meal experience, while the menu offered north coast takes on classic meals - I highly recommend the north Atlantic cod.
Having locally sourced ingredients are a must for many tourist hot spots these days and the Causeway Hotel delivers on all fronts.
6. You are a stone's throw away from more great experiences
The beauty of a visit to the Giant's Causeway is that you are never more than a short drive away from more great locations.
Bushmills, Portrush, Portstewart, Ballycastle, Rathlin Island ... the list could go on.
The Giant's Causeway can be a great starting point to a jam packed North Coast adventure.
7. The international appeal
It's quite a sight to visit the Giant's Causeway to see and hear the different nationalities taking an interest in this little corner of Northern Ireland.
China, the US, Canada, India, Australia, and New Zealand are just some of the countries represented in the crowds everyday, with numbers only getting bigger and bigger.
People here are known for their friendliness and hospitality and it was nice to see that in action in both the National Trust staff and members of the public who, as we tend to do, have struck up a conversation with the person beside them who are also grabbing a selfie .
With the North Coast becoming more and more prominent on traveller's radar, the area will only attract more nationalities and it's great to see them welcomed so warmly.
For more information on a trip to the Giant's Causeway, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway.
Belfast Telegraph Digital