Why visit the area?
There are lots of things to do, places to see and new interests to develop in and around Strangford Lough. Each visit to the area guarantees something new and different and you'll enjoy coming back, time after time.
For those with an interest in history, the area is culturally rich. Over the centuries the land has been settled by a wide range of dwellers, and the area began to take shape with the arrival of the Ulster Scots in 1606. Their influences began to mould the locality and can still be seen dotted across the towns and villages. Many guided tour opportunities exist, particularly in the spring and summer to help bring history alive and share this story with you, our visitor. Further information on such events can be found in this website.
If you are interested in architecture, historical homes and gardens, then MountStewart and Castle Ward should make your must see list, both National Trust properties and full of fascinating insights into the past. MountStewart especially is a delight for those with a specific interest in gardens. They were lavishly designed by Edith, Lady Londonderry in the early 1900s and were added as a potential UNESCO world heritage site in the 1990’s.
Castle Ward, a stunning 18th century house with Gothic and Classical architectural touches is home to 21 miles of cross country trails, suitable for mountain bikers, walkers, runners and horse riders and also an all ability path for buggies, prams and wheelchair users.
Both properties hold many different events throughout the year from Garden Shows to craft fairs, Hallowe’en thrills and book fairs to lazy summer jazz Sunday so there will always be something to entice you.
If arts and crafts are more your thing, then why not visit an art gallery or designer maker studio and see the artist at their work? The area has one of the highest proportions of designer makers in residence in N.Ireland. The area is well known for its impressive craft and cultural activities, culminating in the CreativePeninsula event held annually. Studios are dotted around from Comber to Ardkeen, Portaferry to Strangford.
For those with a love for wildlife, the Lough itself is your focal point. Strangford Lough is the winter home to huge flocks of over wintering and migratory boards such as the light bellied Brent Goose. The mud and sand flats full of rich shellfish, worm and plant life is their main attraction. There are many vantage points nestled along the lough shore which will enable you to take full advantage and come very close to nature.
If activities are your thing, why not try canoeing on the Lough, following the new Strangford Lough Canoe Trail? Or if you’d like to sit back and enjoy the nautical life at a more relaxed pace, why not take part in an organized boat trip and learn more about the wildlife of the area. Take it all in and enjoy the calm, unhurried atmosphere.
For families, there are lots of activities which will be of interest. From family friendly beach with picnics and paddling in the summer, to visits to Castle Espie, a haven for our feathered friends there is plenty to occupy your days out. Exploris Aquarium, situated at the mouth of the Lough tells the tale of its marine animals and is also a fun stop. From attractions to restaurants, there are lots of family friendly options to keep everyone amused.
Retail therapy is covered in the area with a wide range of independent and also high street brands to tempt you in the major towns and villages.
So what are you waiting for? Have a look through our website to find out more about the places you can visit. If you need any advice or assistance be sure to contact staff in Ards Tourist Information Centre T: 028 9182 6846 or Down Tourist Information Centre T: 028 4461 2233 and friendly staff will be glad to talk to you and share their top tips.