This week, I am lucky enough to be spending some time on the Emerald Isle, (see what I did there? Lucky, Ireland, get it?) So far, it’s stunning, and I am confident in telling you that as I spent the day in a tour bus all along the beautiful coast of Northern Ireland, on a tour of the Giant’s Causeway and Game of Thrones filming sites. While there are a ton of options to go to GOT tours, and Giant’s Causeway tours individually, we chose this one with McComb’s Coaches. Jamie loves GOT and I wanted to see the Giant’s Causeway, so this felt like a great value for money tour option, but a quick google will bring you plenty of choices to fit a variety of budgets!
The McComb’s tour takes you to A LOT of places for the £35 ticket price, so I will start up front by telling you that it is an entire day’s worth of activity, leaving Belfast at 9:15/9:30 am, and returning around 7:00pm. I also think that it is important to let you know that NO MATTER WHAT your booking reference says, this tour is scheduled to leave at 9:30 am. A bunch of us were waiting for the coach to come, and we realized that because we all booked our tickets differently (directly, through Viator, etc.) we had been given variety of pick up times for the same tour. THE COACH DOES NOT GET TO GLENGALL STREET UNTIL 9:05!
This tour was genuinely so much fun. Jamie and I both loved it, and while I’ve been on a few coach tours now, this is hands down the best experience I’ve had. The guide, Derrick, was extremely good natured and funny, and he even held up the group for a few extra minutes so that I could take a particular photo to share with you guys. I had a great day, and I have never even seen a single episode of GOT, so if that isn’t a recommendation for this tour I don’t know what is.
Part of what makes the tour so enjoyable (even for those of us who aren’t fans of the show) is that the stops are nice places in and of themselves. The stops on the tour were The Giant’s Causeway, Carnlough (Season 6), the Cushendun Cave (Season 2), the Dark Hedges (Season 2), the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge* and Quarry (Season 2), Ballintoy Harbor (Season 6), bits of the Iron Islands (Season 6), and a stop for lunch. At each stop, Derrick played the scene from the show to help us get our bearings with exactly where we were, and then we got out to take photos and wander. One of the great things about the tour was the amount of free time we had; we really got to explore the places we visited, fitting in almost 15,000 steps**! Also worth mentioning is that the McComb’s tour staff provide capes, swords, and shields to take photos with in some of the spots, if you are interested in taking advantage of that offer! Lots of people in our group chose to pose in the costumes, and it looked like they were having a lot of fun. Jamie, unfortunately, could not be convinced.
The lunch on the trip is a late one, coming after the caves, Giant’s Causeway, Carnlough, and Ballintoy Harbour, so pack some snacks! The lunch is well organized; Derrick has a menu ready to go, and he calls in everyone’s orders ahead of arrival. The meal is at the Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy, and while there isn’t really an option to go anywhere else, the menu is big! The Fullerton Arms offers steak and Guinness pie, a burger, seafood chowder, salads, vegetarian pasta dishes, as well as other options so there is something for everyone, and the best bit is that all the options are only £9.50 a plate. With a drink, our meals came to £11.30 each and we were both so full we couldn’t finish them! The Fullerton Arms is also a sight to see in and of it;self, as it is capitalizing on the GOT fever, with a little “Game of Thrones Room” inside which is quite cute. The real point of interest, however, is that the Fullerton Arms is home to Door #6 of the Game of Thrones Door Series, which are made from trees from the Dark Hedges. Door 6 is themed with Targaryen Dragons and Dothraki Horses, which is a cool little addition to the trip!
Despite anticipating that I would be bored for a lot of the day at the Game of Thrones sites, I could not recommend this tour enough! We both had such a good day. I imagine that the other tours that cover the area offer a similar experience, but Derrick’s McComb’s tour was really a blast! The tour in the bus was perfect for seeing the coast of Northern Ireland, a lot of sheep, the famous Giant’s Causeway, and the Iron Islands.
*At the time of our visit (07/31/2017) the rope-bridge was closed due to weather conditions, but we were able to see the area surrounding the bridge. Usually, it costs £6 additional pounds for non National Trust members.
** Proper shoes are essential for this trip! Ireland is no stranger to rain, making lots of the walkways and rocks at the Giant’s Causeway slippery, and there is just a lot of walking to be done in general!