Things To Do in County Down: A Guide to Exploring the Great Idllyic County

things to do in county down

Updated On: November 08, 2023 by   Sara LynchSara Lynch

County Down is one of the six counties that make up Northern Ireland. It is located in the southeastern part of the country, sharing a border with County Armagh, County Louth, and County Antrim. 

In this article, we’ll share our top things to do in County Down, from natural attractions to fun activities and worthwhile experiences, you’ll soon be singing the praises of County Down and rushing to get back to this idyllic part of Ireland. 

Top Things to Do in County Down

County Down has a rich history that dates back thousands of years, with evidence of ancient settlements and numerous historical sites, such as castles, abbeys, and stately homes. The region’s scenic beauty, including its coastline, forests, and mountains, also attracts many tourists each year. 

Check out our recommendations for things to do in County Down. 

Visit the Mourne Mountains

This stunning mountain range is a popular destination for hiking, cycling, and photography, due to its mesmeric views of the surrounding natural landscape and the Irish Sea. At the summit lies Slieve Doanrd, which stands 850m above sea level. 

The Mourne Mountains were also said to inspire C.S. Lewis with his idea of the magical land of Narnia. Silent Valley is also nestled in between the Mountains, a man-made reservoir that collects high-quality water and distributes it to surrounding cities and villages. 

Things to do in County Down – Silent Valley

Explore Castle Ward

This 18th-century mansion is famous for its unique architectural design, featuring both Classical and Gothic styles. It also served as a filming location for the popular TV series, Game of Thrones.

Castle Ward is a National Trust property that offers splendid views of Strangford Lough. It also includes 820 acres of landscaped gardens, a fortified tower house, Victorian laundry, a theatre, a restaurant, a shop, a sawmill, and a working corn mill for visitors to enjoy and explore. 

Things to do in County Down – Castleward

Discover Strangford Lough

This large sea lough is ideal for birdwatching, kayaking, and sailing, making it one of the best places to visit for things to do in County Down. Strangford Lough is also home to a Special Area of Conservation, a Marine Nature Reserve, and a Ramsar site. 

Here you’ll find more than 2,000 marine species, including seals and migratory birds, such as Brent geese and wading birds. The shores of Strangford Lough are also dotted with quaint villages, historic sites, and beautiful landscapes, providing visitors with numerous opportunities for exploration and relaxation. 

Things to do in County Down – Strangford

Down County Museum

Discover the history of County Down through exhibits and collections that are housed in a restored 18th-century jail, which used to incarcerate many people for very minor offences and also held rebels captured after the battle of Saintfield and Ballynahinch in 1798.

The main purpose behind Down County Museum is to appreciate the history, culture and environment of County Down by welcoming visitors to a range of exhibitions, activities and events. 

Things to do in County Down Down County Museum

Things to do in Newcastle County Down

Newcastle is a charming coastal town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is located at the foot of the Mourne Mountains and along the shores of Dundrum Bay, making it an excellent base for outdoor activities and sightseeing opportunities. 

There is a lot to do in this idyllic seaside town, check out some of our recommendations below. 

Tollymore Forest Park

Tollymore Forest Park is located at the foot of the Mourne Mountains. It is a picturesque park spanning 630 hectares (1,600 acres) and was the first state forest park in Northern Ireland.

Tollymore is known for its diverse landscape, which includes lush woodlands, rivers, waterfalls, and grottos. The Shimna River, with its beautiful stone bridges, meanders throughout the forest park.

Visitors can explore Tollymore’s many walking trails, which are suitable for various levels of fitness. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot inhabitant wildlife such as red squirrels, and wild fallow deer. 

The beauty of Tollymore Forest Park has made it a popular filming location for TV shows such as Game of Thrones and you definitely have to include the spot on your list of things to do in County Down. 

Things to do in County Down Tollymore

Visit Murlough Beach 

The beach offers breathtaking views of the Mourne Mountains, Dundrum Bay, and the Irish Sea, making it a popular spot for leisurely strolls, birdwatching, and photography. Murlough Beach is family-friendly, with safe swimming conditions and ample space for beach games, picnics, and relaxation.

Things to do in County Down Murlough Beach

Royal County Down Golf Club 

Enjoy a game of golf at the famous Royal County Down Golf Club, which is consistently ranked among the world’s top golf courses. This golf course has been in action for over 130 years, making it one of the oldest golf courses in Ireland. 

Things to do in Downpatrick, County Down

Downpatrick holds significant historical and cultural importance as it is believed to be the burial place of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. There is a lot to do and appreciate in this charming village, check out our suggestions below. 

Down Cathedral

Visit the impressive Down Cathedral, which is believed to be the burial site of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The cathedral also offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and is a true ode to the architectural design. 

Things to do in County Down – Down Cathedral

Saint Patrick Centre

Learn about the life and legacy of Saint Patrick at this modern exhibition centre. The interactive displays, artefacts, and multimedia presentations provide an engaging experience for all ages. Check out the Saint Patrick Centre website to keep up to date with what’s on and to book your tickets. 

Inch Abbey

Explore the ruins of this 12th-century Cistercian abbey, located just outside of Downpatrick. The picturesque setting along the River Quoile also makes for a great spot for photography, picnics and simply enjoying the natural surroundings. 

Things to do in County Down Inch Abbey

Explore Things to Do in County Down 

The suggestions we have listed above are by no means a complete list of all the things to do in County Down, but they will hopefully provide some inspiration and guidance for your next visit to the county. 

If you want to see more of what Northern Ireland has to offer, check out the following blogs: Things to do in Mayo | Things to do in Antrim | Things to do in Derry | Things to do in  Fermanagh | Things to do in Armagh | Things to do in Tyrone | Things to do in Monaghan | Things to do in Roscommon | Things to do in Northern Ireland for Couples | Things to do in Northern Ireland for Families | Things to do in Donegal | Things to do in Sligo  | Things to do in Leitrim  | Things to do in Louth  | Things to do in Cavan.

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