Strangford Lough

A stone's throw from Belfast, discover a natural treasure trove

Strangford Lough
Great For
  • Cuisine
  • Culture
  • Nature
  • History
  • Sightseeing
  • Scenery
  • Major Attractions

    Strangford Lough | Mount Stewart | Down Cathedral

  • Transport Hubs
    Belfast International Airport | George Best Belfast City Airport | City of Derry Airport | Belfast Port | Port of Larne
  • Nearest cities

    Belfast | Bangor | Newtownards

Just 20 minutes outside Belfast city, a whole other world unfolds. Luxuriant green beds of eelgrass sway gently as a breeze brushes the banks of County Down’s very own inland sea. From water teeming with wildlife, to hills piled high with 9,000 years of history, holy wells and ancient abbeys, the beauty of Strangford Lough just keeps going and going and going…

Natural knockout

Both an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and an Area of Special Scientific Interest, Strangford Lough is one of the most richly bio-diverse regions in Europe, with over 2,000 marine species spread across 150km2. And yet, with all the birds and badgers, seals and starlings, there’s an unmistakable tranquility to this place.

Perhaps due to its sheer size alone, samphire-spotted Strangford has been a hub of activity for millennia, attracting artists and aristocracy, saints, sinners – and even Vikings! Stop for a moment by the sparkling shore and root yourself in the history of this storied spot, while a cornucopia of vibrant gorse, wild thyme, yarrow and sorrel decorates the fertile banks behind you.

Historical hub

On 900 acres of the Lough’s eastern shore sits the glorious, 18th-century Mount Stewart House and Gardens. Bedecked in plush fabrics and sporting a 15,000-strong collection of paintings, furniture and porcelain, the mansion is a refined medley of international styles. Outside, its vast, lush gardens are no different.

Exceptional… I give it a standing ovation

The Royal Horticultural Society

A rainbow of colour and beloved for their variety and whimsy, the grounds are peppered with enkianthus, azalea, Californian Redwood, Japanese Maple – and the oldest grape vine in Ireland. There are even two olive trees, one grown from a seed fetched from the Mount of Olives itself. A special treat lies in the Italian Garden, where Lady Londonderry’s love of ‘Bel paese’ shines through the balustrade: a thoughtful nod to Florence and the Giardini di Boboli.

Balloo House
Balloo House

Simply delicious

Settled snugly within some of the most fertile arable land in Ireland, it’s only natural that a meal in Strangford Lough means world-class food in a dream-like location.

Seafood is the star of the show here, where plump Portavogie prawns and refreshing Ardglass oysters bring the tang of the salty Lough right to the table. But take it from us, the local farm favourites are not to be missed – particularly the humble Comber potato, recently awarded European PGI status. Thick Abernethy butter mashed through these fluffy, floury potatoes; creamy Leggygowan goats’ cheese; and finest Finnebrogue venison will make it a challenge not to lick your plate clean.