The Giant's Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Best for putting things into perspective
Driving along the deep green and lovely northeast coast of Northern Ireland, you will begin to spot massive basalt columns rising out of the sea. If you believe the Irish—and why wouldn’t you?—these “steps” were built many million years ago, by a tough Irish giant named Finn MacCool, who walked across his causeway to Scotland to fight a rival giant. When he saw the size of his rival, he ran back to Ireland, with the Scot in hot pursuit. It’s a long story (it involves a giant baby), but the Irish won out and the dueling giants left behind some 40,000 basalt “steps” to enable other big guys to move between Northern Ireland and Scotland. In truth, however, these 40,000 hexagonal pillars of volcanic basalt stretch far into the sea, and were probably created by boiling lava that shot through the ocean floor in pre-historic times. The Causeway Coast drive has even more to offer, including White Park Bay Beach, a lovely crescent between two green headlands; the ruins of pretty Dunluce Castle, romantically perched atop a towering cliff; and Bushmills Distillery (tastings available) and cozy Bushmills Inn with nice rooms.