Nestled in the NE corner of the island of Ireland, County Down stands as a captivating region steeped in history, adorned with natural beauty, and resonant with cultural significance. Home to many picturesque landscapes, charming towns, and historical landmarks, County Down beckons travellers with its unique blend of coastal splendour and rich heritage. County Down has pretty much everything you would want in a trip to the island of Ireland. World class golf, sweeping green hills, castles and natural beauty.
At the heart of County Down lies the historic town of Downpatrick. Renowned as the burial place of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, this town exudes an aura of spirituality and ancient history. Visitors can explore the Saint Patrick Centre, an interpretative exhibition dedicated to the life and legacy of this revered figure. Additionally, Down Cathedral, perched atop Cathedral Hill, is a striking structure that symbolises faith and history, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Downpatrick’s streets reveal a tapestry of Georgian and Victorian architecture, quaint shops, and inviting cafes. The town’s vibrant atmosphere and historical significance create a charming blend of old-world allure and modern vitality.
Top Sites to Explore in County Down
1. Mourne Mountains: Dominating the landscape, the majestic Mourne Mountains captivate adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. Hiking trails such as the Slieve Donard Summit Path offer awe-inspiring views. At the same time, Silent Valley Reservoir provides a stunning setting for picnics and leisurely strolls.
2. Strangford Lough: This vast inlet boasts diverse wildlife, scenic landscapes, and ancient ruins scattered along its shores. Visitors can take boat rides to visit its tranquil waters, visit Castle Ward – a National Trust property – or marvel at the natural beauty of wildlife reserves like Castle Espie Wetland Centre.
3. Mount Stewart: A splendid 19th-century house and gardens managed by the National Trust, Mount Stewart presents an exquisite display of horticulture and design. Its stunning gardens, featuring rare plants and vibrant blooms, offer a glimpse into the creativity and beauty of landscaped grounds.
4. Castlewellan Forest Park: A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, this park encompasses Castlewellan Lake and offers many activities, including walking trails, cycling routes, and an arboretum. The Peace Maze, one of the world’s most giant permanent hedge mazes, is an intriguing highlight for families and puzzle enthusiasts.
5. Tollymore Forest Park: Famous for its captivating landscapes and diverse filming locations, Tollymore Forest Park is a paradise for hikers and fans of “Game of Thrones.” The park’s ancient trees, cascading rivers, and moss-covered bridges create an enchanting ambience.
6. Scrabo Tower: Standing proudly atop Scrabo Hill, this striking tower offers panoramic views across Strangford Lough and the surrounding countryside. The short hike to the tower rewards visitors with breathtaking vistas that make the ascent worthwhile.
Where to stay:
If you prefer big cities as your base you could easily stay in Belfast as you explore the area.
Our 5* Pick – Slieve Donard
Our 4* Pick – Burrendale Country Club, Hotel & Spa
Our 3* Pick – Millbrook Lodge
Our Budget Pick – Denvirs Hotel
Food & Drink:
To Eat: Denvir’s
To Drink: The Barn Bar & Country Kitchen
County Down’s blend of natural wonders, historical landmarks, and vibrant towns invites exploration and captivates the imagination. Whether traversing the rugged peaks of the Mourne Mountains or delving into the rich heritage of Downpatrick, this enchanting county leaves an indelible impression on all who visit.
In conclusion, this stunning County is a testament to Northern Ireland’s rich tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty. From its bustling main town of Downpatrick to the serene landscapes of Strangford Lough and the majestic Mourne Mountains, this region offers diverse experiences that appeal to travellers seeking adventure, history, and tranquillity. With its timeless allure and captivating attractions it remains a jewel of Northern Ireland’s treasures.