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Counties Down & Armagh

County Down's treasures fan out beyond Belfast. Strangford Lough's sparkling, island-fringed waters stretch south, with the bird-haunted mudflats of Castle Espie and Nendrum's ancient monastery on one shore, and the picturesque Ards Peninsula on the other. The Mourne Mountains' velvet curves sweep down to the sea near Downpatrick and Lecale, the old stamping grounds of Ireland's patron saint. To the south of the Mournes, the coastal road passes the picturesque coastal towns of Rostrevor and Warrenpoint, the respective hosts of summer folk and blues festivals.

Down's neighbour County Armagh is largely rural, from the low, rugged hills of the south to the apple orchards and strawberry fields of the north, with Ireland's ecclesiastical capital, the appealing little city of Armagh, in the middle. South Armagh is a peaceful backwater with enchanting scenery ideal for walkers and cyclists.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Counties Down & Armagh.