When choosing where to staycation with friends and family this year, Ards and North Down is the perfect place for a relaxing short break. Just minutes from Belfast,  it’s easy to get to with great public transport links and road network. The water’s edge driving routes, walking and cycle paths allow you to enjoy wide open spaces with breathtaking scenery around Belfast and Strangford Loughs.

Start exploring by immersing yourself in rich traditions from the last 100 years at the Ulster Folk Museum and Ulster Transport Museum in Cultra. Then follow the stunning 26 km North Down Coastal Path on foot or bike along shore Belfast Lough shore from Holywood via Crawfordsburn Country Park with its pristine beaches, to the seaside town of Bangor. Enjoy a seaside revival experience, stroll with an ice cream on the pier while admiring yachts at the world-class marina. At Pickie Fun Park , have a go on the iconic swans to make cherished memories. It’s a short hop to Donaghadee, where the lighthouse stands tall in the harbour and on a fine day the view to Scotland is clear and uninterrupted.

Slow down as you drive along the Ards Peninsula and take in the tranquillity of Strangford Lough, discovering charming villages and towns on the way to capture your instagram story at Ireland’s most easterly location, Burr Point. In Portaferry Exploris, Northern Ireland’s only aquarium and seal sanctuary is a must see attraction. Hugging the east shore of Strangford Lough, this beautiful drive brings you to National Trust’s Mount Stewart. This fine Irish Demesne is steeped in history with a recently restored 19th-century stately home, world class gardens and walking trails.

In Newtownards, stretch your legs with a gentle climb to historic Scrabo Tower for panoramic lough views. In nearby Comber, discover great local tastes in artisan food shops and farmers’ market Comber Market. Just outside the town, explore the wide open space bursting with nature at Castle Espie Wetland Centre.

Great accommodation ranges from cosy self-catering options and guest houses, caravanning/camping to 3, 4 and 5-star hotel and spa facilities. During your stay, try one of our many award-winning restaurants, or why not book a unique experience like paddleboard or kayak tours, guided coastal walks or artisan bread making? Special offers running from August to October, so book now at visitardsandnorthdown.com/offers

Note: Many attractions are operating online pre-booking systems or reduced times/capacity at this time, please check specific provider websites for up to date information and safety hygiene measures before your visit to enjoy safely.

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