Top things to do

Top Choice Historic Building in Ards Peninsula

Mount Stewart

The magnificent 18th-century Mount Stewart is one of Northern Ireland’s grandest stately homes. A three-year restoration project has seen the house transformed to how it looked in its 1930 heyday, by unveiling the c…
Top Choice Historic Building in Lecale Peninsula

Castle Ward Estate

Famed for its role as Winterfell in Game of Thrones, 1760s-built Castle Ward House has a superb setting overlooking the bay west of Strangford. The estate's history is relayed in entertaining 45-minute upstairs/down…
Top Choice Wildlife Reserve in Strangford Lough

Castle Espie Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre

Situated 2km southeast of Comber, off the Downpatrick road (A22), Castle Espie Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre is a haven for huge flocks of geese, ducks and swans. The landscaped grounds are dotted with birdwatching…
Top Choice Museum in Downpatrick

St Patrick Centre

This magnificent glass-and-timber heritage centre houses a multimedia exhibition called Ego Patricius, charting the life and legacy of Ireland's patron saint. Audio and video presentations tell St Patrick's story, o…
Top Choice Aquarium in Portaferry

Exploris

Recently reopened after a £2 million remodelling, this excellent aquarium has displays of marine life from Strangford Lough and the Irish Sea as well as tropical fish, otters and a new reptile centre with an African…
Top Choice Modern Irish in Newcastle

Brunel's

At Brunel's, chef Paul Cunningham's local foraging skills, hand-picked suppliers and inspired flavour combinations come together to create some of Northern Ireland's best restaurant food. Exquisitely presented dishe…
Top Choice Modern Irish in Strangford Lough

Balloo House

Chef Danny Millar is the mastermind behind the sublime dishes served at Balloo House. Downstairs, casual modern Irish fare is available in the nook-and-cranny-filled, stone-floored pub, which centres on a warming ca…
Top Choice Forest in Mourne Mountains

Tollymore Forest Park

This scenic forest park, 3km west of Newcastle, offers lovely walks and bike rides along the River Shimna and across the Mournes' northern slopes. Victorian follies include the church-like Clanbrassil Barn, as well …
Top Choice Irish in Newtownards

McKee's Country Store & Restaurant

On a working 162-hectare farm 5km northwest of Newtownards, this foodie emporium incorporates a bakery, butcher and deli, plus fruit, vegetable and dairy sections. Everything is produced on site or sourced from the …
Top Choice Modern Irish in Strangford Lough

Poacher's Pocket

A fresh, contemporary makeover has transformed this roadside pub into a foodie magnet, with dishes such as pastrami and applewood smoked cheese beefburger and Strangford mussels and fries, and mackerel with carameli…