Explore and Discover
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.
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 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
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
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 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.
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.
Get up close to Ireland’s largest collection of native and exotic waterbirds, bats and migrant birds whilst taking in stunning estuary views at Castle Espie, a magical place for people of all ages offering adventure for everyone. With a secret swamp, natural play area, walks and trails and an outdoor duckery, there’s something for all the family to enjoy.
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 nly one of its kind specialising in animals no longer seen in Northern Ireland’s fields.
Located in Portaferry, you can explore the marine life of Strangford Lough then continue to the colourful coral reefs of the tropical oceans and the depths of the Amazon Rainforest where you can see its reptilian inhabitants. Visit the endangered but playful otters and observe the conservation work in action at the nursery seal pens.
Sport and Adventure
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.
£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
Hastings Culloden Hotel
The magnificent Culloden Estate and Spa is one of Northern Ireland's most prestigious hotels.
Salty Dog Hotel & Bistro
Bangor's boutique hotel & bistro on the bay. Fine dining in a casual atmosphere where fine food isn't fancy food. Where stories are created.
Strangford Arms Hotel
Whether the visit is for business or pleasure, the Strangford Arms offers that personal touch to make it a stay to remember.
Rayanne Country House
Rayanne House is a 5 star boutique accommodation just 5 miles from Belfast City, excellent bedrooms breakfast and views over Belfast Lough.
The Old Inn
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.
The Cuan Boutique Hotel
The Cuan is the perfect setting for a mid-week break, weekend getaway or an activity led holiday with the family.