Welcome Game of Thrones fans. I am here to tell you about the Game of Thrones/Giant’s Causeway Tour I took from Dublin to Northern Ireland. And no, you definitely do not have to be a Game of Thrones fan to enjoy this day trip. But it does make it more fun.
The tour company we went through is called “Finn McCool Tours”. The tour from Dublin costs 56 euro and from Belfast it costs 35 euro. (You can book your tour here) The departure time from Dublin is 6:45AM. So, be prepared to rise and shine! The tour lasts all day, and you will get back around 8:30pm if you are coming from Dublin. Don’t fret, there’s plenty of time for quick naps in between stops.
Our tour started in Dublin and ended at the Giant’s Causeway. The first stop on the tour is Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. Coming into Belfast, our tour guide educated us about the history of “The Troubles”. Half of the bus was passed out with drool on their face at this point, but my history-major-degree ears perked right up. “The Troubles” refers to the late 20th century conflict in Northern Ireland, which was a guerilla-warfare of sorts to end discrimination against Catholics by the Protestant-dominated government and police force. I could dive into the history of this, but that would require another blog post or maybe even a novel. I definitely would recommend to anyone that does this tour to wake up and pay attention during this part. It is an extremely interesting, shocking, and important part of the country’s (very recent) history.
I am not sure what I was doing in Belfast because I took no pictures!! I was probably crawling towards any café at this point. That 6:45am departure time had caught up to me. I thought Belfast was beautiful from the tiny bit I saw. Belfast is world-renowned as the city that built the Titanic. They have a museum next to the harbor in which it was built, and from what I have heard it sounds like the museum is a must-see. I wish we got to go, but I guess this means this is just another excuse to go back to Ireland.
Game of Thrones Stops
At each stop, our tour guide would use an IPad to show us the scene that was filmed in that location. I thought that it was pretty surreal to be watching these scenes while simultaneously looking around, physically being where that scene was shot. There are 5 Game of Thrones stops on the tour, which I have listed below with their location. Prepare for full geek-out mode.
Shadow Assassin’s Birth: Cushendun Caves
Castle Black: Location Unknown
Sidenote-I thought this was hilarious. Literally the infamous “Wall” is a measly painted side of a quarry. I was pleasantly surprised though that whole thing isn’t green screened.
They don’t actually stop here because of legal reasons, but they drive past very slowwwyyy so you can sneak a peek (or a pic).
King Renly’s Camp: Larrybane
Arya’s Escape: The Dark Hedges
Theon’s Return to the Iron Islands: Ballintoy Harbour
The Giant’s Causeway
There are two reasonings behind the formation of the Giant’s Causeway, one mythical and one scientific. Our tour guide told us both. Your turn to choose which one you believe:
Mythical: Finn McCool, a Giant from Northern Ireland, gets in a fight with Scottish giant Benandonner, who was threatening Ireland at the time. Finn is not too fond of this, so he throws chunks of the Antrim coast into the sea. This results in a path in which Finn can follow to “show Benandonner a lesson”. Finn saw Benandonner and realized he had made a huge mistake because that dude was massive. He ran back to Ireland with Benandonner hot on his trail. Finn’s quick-witted wife immediately disguised Finn as a baby. The furious Benandonner entered the McCool’s house. He saw the baby and decided that he was not going to mess with them. Why you ask? Because he thought if their baby was that big, then the dad must be huge. He went back to Scotland (I believe ruining the path on his way?) and the rest is history.
Scientific: This is the result of a 60-million year old volcanic eruption, which resulted in over 40,000 basalt columns to interlock.
I know which one I would choose. (Hint: I was never that good at science)
After the Giant’s Causeway, we made our trek back to Dublin. As a traveler on a budget, I was originally wary of the price, but it was totally worth it. We got to see Belfast and basically all of Northern Ireland in one day. The tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable and highly spirited for being awake since probably before 5am. I definitely recommend this to any Game of Thrones fan or anyone that wants to marvel at Northern Ireland’s landscape. You do not need to be a fan of Game of Thrones to appreciate this type of day trip. Northern Ireland is truly incredible, which is reflected in both its history and scenery.