Home / County Down: Places to visit and Things to do


County Down gets large number of visitors each year. There are many places that one can visit here. It is home to interesting nature parks that are built to conserve the area.

Down Cathedral is situated in the town of Downpatrick. It is a Church of Ireland and was built on Cathedral Hill. It is said that few other churches once stood on the same ground where Cathedral now stands. The church is said to be built on the site where a 12th century church once stood, namely the Benedictine Monastery cathedral. At the church, one will find parts of church that existed in 13th century. Down Cathedral is known to be the burial place of St. Patrick. The present cathedral was built between 18th -19th century. It is famous for its stained glass windows.

Mckee Clock is popular in County Down. It is a clock tower situated in Bangor town. It was built in 20th century and was named after William Mckee. He had donated huge sum of money for building the clock tower. It is built within the sunken gardens that are situated opposite the bottom of High Street. It is a public place and people can be seen sitting near the tower and enjoying their discussions.

The Down County museum is another place to visit. The museum through its artifacts and collections (objects and photographs) focuses on history of County Down. It is now opened in an 18th century building that was previously used as prison. It houses recently opened tearoom where lunch, tea, snacks are served. It includes facilities like toilet and changing room for babies.

Ulster Folk and Transport Museum gives a glimpse to visitors of the life of people living in this region around 19th and 20th century. In fact, these are two separate museums, each focusing on different aspects of earlier Ulster province. Folk museum enables visitors to understand the lifestyle of early Ulster population. There are small replicas of houses, buildings, farms, shops, etc. on display. Transport museum also have various replicas of horse carriages, ships, motorcars, etc. These were the various modes of transport available to people during those times. It has the replica of the historic RMS Titanic. Transport museum has displays of trains which highlight the history and usage of railways in this area.

Somme Heritage Centre is an educational centre. Some may call it a museum. The centre through its exhibits give a glimpse of the kind of training Irish army troops underwent during World War I. The centre was opened in 1994 and provides information on the part played by Ireland and in particular, Protestants, Catholics, nationalists and unionists.

Mount Stewart castle in Strangford is built in 19th century and is listed as Grade A structure. The castle showcases the life of the family that used it as their residence. The garden also makes an impression on the visitors. It has been well maintained by National Trust. The castle was built near a lake, giving it a serene look.

Bangor castle is a 19th century mansion in Castle Park. Its architecture is influenced from Elizabethan-Jacobean architectural style. The castle now houses offices of local councils. This castle was once home to Ward family. Belongings of the family are still neatly preserved at the castle. The castle gardens situated near the castle are equally popular among visitors. The gardens have been designed in 1840, prior to the completion of castle. These gardens were previously private, but were opened to the public in 2009. Castle garden spans over an area of 1.5 acre and have been beautifully maintained.

Hillsbourough Castle in Lisburn was originally built in 18th century. The architecture of the castle was late Georgian style. It was rebuilt during 19th and 20th century. The castle serves as the residential palace of the British Royal family when they visit in Northern Ireland. The castle gardens are also famous amongst the visitors.

Helen’s Tower is another interesting place to visit. The tower was built in 19th century on Clandeboye Estate, Bangor. The tower showcases Scottish architectural design. It is one of the getaway destinations. The tower comprises of bed room, living room, kitchen, etc. From the tower one can only see lush green land and trees. Also seen are the Scottish shores. It is said that the area around the tower was used for training the Irish army during 19th century.

Scarbo Tower in Newtownards was also built in 19th century using stones. It is situated in Scarbo Country Park and is surrounded by forest. Once atop the tower, one can get an amazing glimpse of the serene beauty around. The structure is built on a hill top and is visible from a distance. It is built 540 feet above the sea level. It is regarded as significant structure. Visitors are allowed to go inside. There are displays and exhibits that enable visitors to understand the history of the tower.

Castle Ward close to Strangford is another place worth visiting. The castle was built in 18th century and was renowned for its architecture. The castle is now under the care of National Trust and is open to public. The Strangford Lough can be seen from the castle.

Apart from visiting places, there are a few things that one can do once in Down. Tollymore forest Park is situated near Newcastle town. it was established in 1955 and is known to be the first park that was established in the Northern Ireland region. The park covers an area of lush green forest. The park has a river flowing through it. This river is home to trout and salmon fish. The Park is at the foot of Mourne Mountains. Nature lovers will enjoy the walking trail expeditions. The Park protects and conserves the flora and fauna found within the Park. It also protects various species of trees, some of which are said to have been brought from different places in the world. The Park also has structures like caves, bridges, grottos, barn looking like a church, gothic style gate arches, etc. Activities like camping, caravanning, activities for kids, etc. are popular here.

Donard Park in Newcastle is a public park lying close to Slieve Donard Mountain. People come here for playing and relaxing. Ward Park in Bangor offers arenas for various sports activities. Other things one can do are visit St. John’s Point Lighthouse, Murlough National Nature Reserve, Ark Farm Open, etc. Mountaineers can scale the Slieve Commedagh, Binnian or Mourne Mountains. County Down is also popular for its various beaches. Golf enthusiasts can play at the various golf courses available.

There are several pubs and bars in Down. These pubs and bars offer a good place to hang out with friends and enjoy a relaxed evening. They are also known to have good music. The following are some of the popular pubs and bars in Down-

  1. Maginns

Address: 9-11 Main St, Castlewellan BT31 9DF, United Kingdom

Telephone No. : +44 28 4377 8235

Website: maginnsbar.com/

2. PIER 36

Address: 36 The Parade, Donaghadee BT21 0HE, United Kingdom

Telephone No. : +44 28 9188 4466

Website: www.pier36.co.uk

3. The Dirty Duck

Address: 3 Kinnegar Rd, Holywood, Northern Ireland BT18 9JN, United Kingdom

Telephone No. : +44 28 9059 6666

Website: thedirtyduckalehouse.co.uk

4  Macken’s Bar

Address: 73 South Promenade, Newcastle BT33 0EY, United Kingdom

Telephone No. : +44 28 4372 3430

5. Jenny Watts

Address: 41 High St, Bangor BT20 5BE, United Kingdom

Telephone No. : +44 28 9127 0401

6. Grace Neill’s

Address: 33 High St, Donaghadee BT21 0AH, United Kingdom

Telephone No. : +44 28 9188 4595

Website: www.graceneills.com

7. The Rabbit Rooms

Address: 30/32 Quay St, Bangor BT20 5ED, United Kingdom

Telephone No. : +44 28 9146 7699

Website: therabbitrooms.com

8. Jamaica Inn

Address: 188 Seacliff Rd, Bangor BT20 5HA, United Kingdom

Telephone No. : +44 28 9147 1610

Website: thejamaicainn.co.uk

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