Enjoy peaceful walks along the coast and uncover fascinating tales from the area’s unique history and heritage. Explore National Trust monuments and gardens, distilleries, museums, Aquarium and farms, there really is something for all the family to enjoy!

Explore and Discover

Mount Stewart House and Gardens

Mount Stewart

Mount Stewart is one of the most inspiring and unusual gardens in the National Trust’s ownership. Engaging tours of the opulent house reveal its fascinating heritage and historic world-famous artefacts and artwork. Discover a rich landscape of farmland, woodland, monuments and buildings, and a breathtaking hidden glen as you explore the historic demesne.

echlinville distillery

Echlinville Distillery

Since 2013 Echlinville has established itself in the whiskey industry winning gold at the World Whiskey Awards and the Irish Whiskey Awards. In 2016, Echlinville went into gin production, making the popular Jawbox brand, followed by Echlinville Gin. Situated amongst the sweeping drumlins of the rugged Ards Peninsula in County Down, overlooking morose seascapes, The Echlinville Distillery’s surroundings are as uncompromising as their approach to making whiskey.

scrabo tour midsummer

Scrabo Tower

Scrabo Tower is located to the west of Newtownards in County Down, Northern Ireland. Scrabo Country Park is centred at the top of Scrabo Hill near Newtownards. Overlooking Strangford Lough and the whole of North Down, Scrabo Tower was built in 1857 and is one of Northern Ireland’s best known landmarks. Inside the Tower you can see an exhibition and short video detailing its history and that of the area, as well as plenty of walking paths through the fine beech woodlands and around the disused quarries

paddle boarding and picnic in ards and north down

Thing to See & Do

Find out things to see and do in Ards & North Down, from paddleboarding experiences, local markets, historical landmarks and sites, beautiful beaches, museums, galleries, golf clubs and attractions for families, there is plenty for all the family to explore.

History and Heritage

Easter at the Ulster Folk Museum

Ulster Folk Museum

Step back in time and experience what life was like in Ulster over 100 years ago. Wander through a beautiful rolling countryside and a bustling town filled with authentic, period buildings, where you will encounter costumed locals demonstrating traditional crafts in cottages, farm dwellings, schools and shops. Every day a wide variety of folk activities and demonstrations take place, from basket weaving and blacksmithing to crocheting and needlework.

North Down Museum

North Down Musuem

Ards and North Down is steeped in history. Visit North Down Museum where you can travel from the Bronze Age to the present day through a series of exhibitions and display areas. Learn about life as it was in the 5th century when the Vikings first settled around Strangford Lough, and follow in the footsteps of saints and scholars.

Grey Abbey

Grey Abbey

The village derives its name from the Grey Abbey, a Cistercian foundation dating from 1193, in the grounds of an 18th century mansion. The village is full of antique shops, as well as some interesting Georgian and Victorian buildings and a traditional coaching inn. The Grey Abby itself is important as the first Gothic style building in Ulster, founded by the wife of John De Courcy in thanksgiving for a safe landing after a difficult sea journey. Learn the long history of the abbey, through invasion, dissolution and military operations through the 16th and 17th century.

Family Fun

Castle Espie Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre

Castle Espie

Get up close to Ireland’s largest collection of native and exotic birds, ducks and geese from around the world or simply explore the woodland and shore-view walks, and dedicated bird hides all while enjoying spectacular views across Strangford Lough.

Lambs at Ark Open Farm Newtownards

Ark Open Farm

See lots of cute and cuddly rabbits, chicks, guinea pigs, pet lambs, kid goats and ponies to ride. You can get up close and have lots of interaction, supervised by friendly and helpful staff. The Ark Farm is unique, being the only one of its kind specialising in animals no longer seen in Northern Ireland’s fields.

exploris 6

Exploris Aquarium

Located in Portaferry, your journey will begin with a focus on the lough and Irish Sea before venturing into a tropical paradise. Visit the Seal Sanctuary in the recently expanded outdoor area which is also home to their Asian Short Clawed Otters, Humboldt Penguins, Hector the Capybara.

Sport and Adventure

Strangford Lough Activity Centre 4

Strangford Lough Activity Centre

Strangford Lough Activity Centre is a quirky, experiential adventure centre which offers a range of outdoor activities throughout Northern Ireland including archery, canoeing, kayaking, orienteering and wet bouldering!

Bangor Aurora

Bangor Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex

Bangor Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex has a wide range of facilities offering an excellent choice of sporting and leisure activities. Enjoy three swimming pools with flume slides, health suite, sports hall, squash courts and children’s adventure play area.

Getting Around

Ulsterbus Tours

£8 Ulsterbus Ards Peninsula Day Ticket

The £8 Ulsterbus Day Ticket is available every day on Ards Peninsular services after 9.30am with unlimited day travel.

Exploring the Ards Peninsular couldn’t be easier. Hop on a number nine or 10 bus from Belfast to explore the peninsula using the numerous Ulsterbus routes for £8. Plus, get special offers and Mount Stewart and Exploris.

Hotels in Ards and North Down

For a full list of the hotels in Ards and North Down go to visitardsandnorthdown.com

culloden (1)

Hastings Culloden Hotel

15.74 KM

The magnificent Culloden Estate and Spa is one of Northern Ireland's most prestigious hotels.

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1 Clandeboye Lodge exterior

Clandeboye Lodge Hotel

23.79 KM

Clandeboye Lodge is a place apart.

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The Old Inn Exterior (2)

The Old Inn

23.37 KM

Nestled in the charming village of Crawfordsburn, located just 15 minutes from Belfast and five minutes from the seaside town of Bangor, The Old Inn is the perfect escape for your next rural retreat.

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Map of Attractions in Ards in North Down

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