Ards Peninsula

Discover & Explore

The Ards Peninsula of County Down, Northern Ireland

Embraced by the pristine waters of Strangford Lough to the West, and a score of sandy Irish Sea shores to the East, the Ards Peninsula is an area of outstanding natural beauty with an array of unique destinations waiting for you to visit and explore

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Just half an hour from Belfast, the Ards Peninsula is the most easterly part of the island of Ireland.

Recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Ards Peninsula creates the largest sea lough in the British Isles, with hundreds of little islands and islets.

Strangford Lough is a Marine Conservation Zone, an Area of Special Scientific Interest, a UNESCO Geopark, and a European Marine Reserve.
Recognised as one of the most bio-diverse regions of Europe with over 2000 species of marine creatures,  occasional summer visitors include dolphins, and  killer whales.

Journey through Time

Neolithic, Bronze Age, Viking, Norman, Georgian, Victorian,...

The Ards Peninsula is an historian's delight, with clear evidence of Stone Age habitation, Bronze Age earthworks, Norman castles and churches, and grand Georgian and Victorian country houses and gardens,...

The people and places of the Ards Peninsula have been shaped throughout the centuries by great events in our country's rich past: ancient Irish tradition, the arrival of Patrick and the spread of Christianity, Viking invasion, Norman rule, the Irish Rebellion, the English and Scottish Plantations, the Nine Years War, the Williamite War, and the 1798 Rebellion.

Visit the Ards Peninsula, and explore the living evidence of our ancestors' and the landscape and shores that shaped them. 

Woodlands & Shorelines

Be one with nature

Woodlands, open countryside, landscaped parks and gardens, windswept shores, or intimate sandy bays, the Ards Peninsula has something for everyone.

Ballyhalbert Beach is popular with walkers, bathers, fishers, and watersport enthusiasts.

Ballyhenry Island is a small and naturally wild tidal islet on the edge of the rapids, with a host of wildlife to explore.

Ballywalter has two long fine beaches to enjoy, either side of the harbour, with extensive views across the North Channel to Scotland.

Ballyquintin Farm is a National Trust wildlife reserve, well worth putting your wellies on to explore the very tip of the Ards Peninsula.

Cloughey Bay is an extensive sandy shoreline with a shallow bay ideal for family picnics, watersport, and walking.

Corrig Wood is a young woodland of native hardwoods, an ideal place to stretch your legs.

The Dorn, or Castle Hill at Ardkeen is a bit off the beaten track, but well worth the effort to enjoy the ruins of a Norman-period church, and Bronze Age fort with stunning 360-degree views.

The 40 Steps at Kircubbin is a beautiful walking trail through the rolling landscape, offering fine views of Strangford Lough.

Glastry Clay Pits is a short grassland walk around a little lake of clay pits, popular with anglers and dog-walkers.

Horse Island is best enjoyed at extreme low tide, allowing long walks across the extensive flats and rocky shoreline.

Kearny is a National Trust village with well-managed walks along the rugged coastline, with fine views of Kilwarlin Lighthouse.

Knockinelder is an excellent beach for picnics, watersports, and bathers; and has a fine Norman castle (a private residence) at the southern end of the shore.

Millisle a welcoming seaside village renowned for its Lagoon, long sandy Beach, excellent water sports and of course the Ballycopeland Windmill.

Mount Stewart is National Trust property with fine gardens and landscaped parks and countryside to enjoy.

Nugent's Wood is a pleasant woodland walk along the shores of Strangford Lough.

Portavogie has two fine beaches to enjoy, and an excellent location for picnics, walks and bathing

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