Things to do near us
From the magical Mourne Mountains and the Ards Penninsula to Castle Ward and much more, there's something to tickle every fancy. We have drawn up a long list of the many exciting things to do and places to visit around us. Our staff will be delighted to advise you on each area.
Explore a chunk of the Mourne Mountains. The Mournes are the highest mountain range in NI. If you are a not seasoned hiker and are beginning to worry, don't - you don't have to climb the highest peak to get to enjoy the dramatic beauty of this area. There are many beautiful long walks but also several shorter walks along the foothills that are much less strenuous , if you are a hiker Slieve Donard is a much. 850 m high and the views from the summit are out of this world.
Head to Dundrum Castle for a walk around. If you are looking for a cracking view and a bit of history, then your next stop has to be Dundrum Castle. The castle , is believed to have been built around 1177 , it was used to control the land routes from Drogheda to Downpatrick. Enjoy the beautiful views of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains.
Head for a ramble along the magnificent Murlough Beach. There's no better way to start a morning or round off your day exploring than with a walk along this finely kept beach and sand dunes. It is a 6 km Blue Flag beach that offers walks with incredible views of the Mourne Mountains and on a good day you can spot the Isle of Man. The Dune fields at Murlough are the most extensive example of dune heath in Ireland , with more than 720 species of butterflies and moths calling this home.
Lace up your walking boots and head for a stroll at Castlewellan Forest park. This forest park is a 12 km walking trail that features breath-taking views out towards the Mourne Mountains. You'll also find one of NI most famous lakes, a Victorian Castle and a maze close to the lively village of Castlewellan. This village is filled with quaint little shops and eateries not to mention some wonderful pubs.
Gulp down the fresh air at Tollymore Forest. A car parking fee of £5 per car applies. Toilet facilities are located close to the car parking area. This park covers an impressive 630 hectares of land at the foot of the Mournes and is the perfect spot for walking, horse riding and orienteering. They is also a large nature play area for the kids. There is 4 different trails that you can head off on from here.
Coco's Adventure Playground is an indoor play area located in Newcastle's. They are opened 7 days a week and have activities for all ages of children, from babies to fourteen years old, with slides, ball pools, and play areas where children can enjoy exciting active playtime and exploration inside a safe, secure environment. They cater for birthday parties and have a cafe area. Check their website for seasonal opening hours.
Enjoy one of the finest views in the county from Scarbo Hill. Walk to the summit of Scarbo Hill where you'll find Scrabo Tower, which is built in 1857. From here , you'll be treated to spectacular views out over Stangford Lough and North Down.
The Mansion House at Castle Ward is now re-opened for self led tours. They open between 11 am - 4 pm Thursday to Sunday . It is a particularly unusual building, famed for having been built with two completely different architectural styles, both inside and out.
Castle Ward is one of the best things to do in Co Down for GOT Fans. This is were you can visit the Winterfell Castle movie set. Castle Ward is also an estate which was used extensively during the filming of Game of Thrones. Here you will see sprawling medieval walls, an imposing castle tower gate, gorgeous surrounding landscapes, and never ending views out across the nearby Strangford Lough.
Some of the tours on offer at Castle Ward include meeting the real-life Direwolf Dogs and exploring over 20 key Game of Thrones filming locations, including Winterfell Castle, the tower window Brian Stark "fell" from, The Winterfell Crypt and the courtyard where the Stark family greet King Robert.
Watch the sun go down over beautiful Strangford Lough. This is the largest sea lough in the British Isles. If you are looking for active adventures why not try your hand at kayaking, diving, canoeing or windsurfing here. If you prefer to explore on foot, there's plenty of walks you can head off on and take in the coastline castles, scenic views and much more. Or, sit back and see the Lough close up and personal, you can also hop on the ferry (it departs on the 1/2 hour) over to the pretty fishing village of Portaferry.
Mount Stewart is a 19th century house and garden owed by the National Trust. It is situated on the east side of the Strangford Lough, a few miles outside the town of Newtownards and near Greyabbey. It was the Irish seat of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family. Booking ahead is advisable. This property hosts a shop, tea room, second hand book shop, a lake walk, Ploughman's Hill, Demesne Walk, Formal Gardens, Rose Garden, Red, Blue, Green and Yellow Trails (including natural play area ) so plenty to do while visiting this beautiful property both inside and out.
Portaferry Aquarium located on the shores of Strangford Lough you will be wowed with a diver's view of marine life from around the world. Your journey at Exploris Aquarium will begin with a focus on the lough and the Irish Sea where you will get "hands on " with their native species as you tickle the belly of a small shark and feel the spikes on a sea urchin, along with hearing about the Viking heritage of Strangford Lough. A must visit with the children especially on a rainy day.
Explore the magnificent Ards Peninsula. The peninsula separates Strangford Lough from the North Channel of the Irish Sea and is called home to several villages and towns.
Visit Down Cathedral ( the burial place of St Patrick ) You will find the cathedral standing proudly on the Hill of Down, overlooking the historic town of Downpatrick. It's here in the grounds that St Patrick is buried. Although the stone that marks his grave wasn't erected until 1900, it's though St Patrick died in 461. Drop into the Down Cathedral where there is a rare 18th century organ, beautiful stained-glass windows, 2 ecclesiastical stone figures dating back to 1150 and more inside its walls.
Soak up some more history at Down County Museum. Full of the rich heritage of Country Down is brought to life via fascinating exhibitors, lively events, hand on activities, and award-winning education programmes. This is museum is well worth dropping by.
Dive into the story of St Patrick at the St Patrick's Centre.
Next up and ready for more of St Patrick ! The St Patrick Centre in Downpatrick is the only permanent exhibition in the world dedicated to Ireland's Patron Saint. Here you are given the opportunity to explore the life of St Patrick via award winning interactive galleries and an IMAX experience.
The centre also has an art gallery, craft shop, coffee shop and facilities.
Omniplex Cinema in Downpatrick is a small multiplex branch offering big-name movies, plus homemade popcorn
Step back in time the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Set in 170 lush area of rolling countryside overlooking Belfast Lough the Ulster Museum gives visitors a taste of what life was like in Ulster over 100 years ago.
The Museum brings a typical Ulster town from the early 1900's to life via " home, shops, workplaces, churches and schools "
Step on board majestic stream locomotives and explore horse drawn carriages, electric trams, boats, motorbikes, fire-engines an vintage cars in the Transport Museum.