Ards Peninsula is famous for its scenic beauty, quaint villages, historic ruins and welcoming locals. But there’s so much more to this area than you may think.
Surrounding the peninsula are countless things to do – no matter what your interests are. Whether it be dandering around a picturesque setting, or seeking a thrilling adventure – believe it or not, there’s something for everyone down by the peninsula.
To help you plan your next exciting day out, here are our top five things to do on the Ards Peninsula.
Mount Stewart offers a special dimension of stunning scenery to the Ards and North Down area. Located just off the peninsula, Mount Stewart consists of over five and a half miles of captivating walking trails for you to explore, making it one of the most inspiring gardens owned by the National Trust.
Not only is it perfect for immersing yourself in the beauty of nature, the area is also enriched with local history. Mount Stewart House is an exquisite 19th century neo-classical building that was once the home of the Londonderry family. Now, after a major restoration project, its first-class exhibitions accurately reflect the 1920-1950s area, instantly transporting you back in time. The garden also boasts impressive planting artistry, which was the hallmark of Edith, Lady Londonderry.
Whether you’re an individual, couple or family – there’s so many facilities and activities available at Mount Stewart, such as:
- Nature walks through the gardens and demesne
- Delicious food at the tea room
- Browsing the gift shop and secondhand bookshop
- Exploring the history of Mount Stewart House and Temple of the Winds
Due to high popularity, it is advised to book your visit via the National Trust’s website to avoid disappointment.
For those who love a tipple (or two) – as Ireland’s first farm distillery, Echlinville provides a totally unique experience to its visitors. Covering everything from insights into local history to the intricate process of spirit crafting – there’s no doubt your time will be well spent here.
Situated right on the shores of Strangford Lough, Echlinville Distillery is the perfect spot to enjoy whatever takes your fancy – whether it be whisky, gin, or even poitin. The new still house acts as both a functional space for production and an entertaining place for guests to tour the beginning-to-end distillery process. Echlinville offers a variety of experiences to suit a range of tastes – from a tipple and tour to afternoon tea.
Also worth seeing while you are visiting the distillery is the private collection of military hardware, including battle tanks, armoured personnel carriers and much more. No matter what you choose to do, spirit enthusiasts will be sure to enjoy a delectable day out here.
Ulster Flying Club
Located at the beginning of the Portaferry Road, Newtownards, Ulster Flying Club provides a range of aviation services that cater towards both new visitors and flying enthusiasts.
The club was founded in 1961 and has grown to become one of the largest flying organisations in Ireland. Visitors can enjoy a new perspective of Northern Ireland by enjoying a scenic flight offered by the club’s professional pilots. These are offered as 30 or 90-minute sightseeing flights with plenty of routes to choose from, including:
- Over Strangford Lough to Portaferry and back over the Ards Peninsula
- Bangor, Holywood and East Belfast
- Downpatrick, Portaferry and back over the Ards Peninsula
- Bangor, Belfast and Lisburn
- Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains
- North Antrim coast via Belfast City Airport to Ballycastle, Rathlin Island and the Giant’s Causeway
The club also offers flying lessons for budding pilots, helping them to achieve their Private License.
Whether you’re taking a scenic flight, a flying lesson or just in the mood for food – the Cloud 9 cafe serves delicious food accompanied by outstanding views of Strangford Lough, Scrabo Tower and the airfield.
Exploris Aquarium is a fantastic day out for families and wildlife lovers alike. The recently redesigned aquarium offers an enticing hub of entertainment and education, diving deep into the lives of sea creatures near and far.
Located in Portaferry, further down the peninsula, visitors can enjoy an array of brand new and existing activities at the aquarium including:
- Reptile exhibition
- Deep sea exhibition
- General aquarium
- Educational open pools
- Seal sanctuary
- Guided tours
- Group bookings
- Kids parties
- Soft play area
- Gift shop
- Scheduled feeding sessions for animals above and below the water line
Exploris also hosts special nighttime events, such as ‘Night at the Aquarium’, where visitors can see the underwater world from a different perspective. The event starts off with a guided tour of Exploris, followed by a three course meal in the Cracken restaurant which is fully licenced. What makes this event truly special is the guaranteed rare sighting of the White Tip Reef shark, Loggerhead sea turtle and the Nile Crocodile – all of which are nocturnal.
Eden Pottery is conveniently located right on the Ards Peninsula, offering visitors the opportunity to create and decorate their own pottery.
Events offered by Eden Pottery cater to a wide range of parties, including:
- Team building
- Hen parties
- Adult and children’s birthdays
- Big groups
- Special occasions
You can also hire a decorating box that comes complete with ceramic items, paint brushes, sponges, paints and instruction sheets – so you can get crafty from the comfort of your own home.
When visiting, there’s also the quaint Pottery Cafe, where you can enjoy homemade cakes and traybakes either before or after you create your very own masterpiece.
If you’re looking for somewhere to unwind after your busy day of exploring – Coach Road Cottages offers boutique self-catering accommodation in the heart of Comber, a mere stone’s throw away from the peninsula. Titled ‘The Annex’ – this spacious yet cosy apartment is perfect for those who want to take in the scenic surroundings of Ards Peninsula.
For more information on things to do on the Ards Peninsula, or to book The Annex, get in touch with our expert team today.