Close to home: 10 reasons to book your autumn staycation in Ards and North Down

Staying close to home has never felt more important, as we learn to manage life around the ‘new normal’. But that doesn’t mean we have to compromise on having amazing travel experiences at home.

his autumn, when you’re ready to book some well-deserved down time, be sure to consider a break in Northern Ireland’s coastal region.

Here are ten reasons to embrace the giant spirit and add Ards and North Down to travel bucket list.

1. Close to home, but a world apart

Embark on a wild and rugged adventure, within a few hours from home. Whether you’re coming by train, car, ferry or public transport, getting to Ards and North Down is super easy and accessible.

All located within an hour of Belfast city, you can reach your holiday destination feeling relaxed and ready for your autumn escape.

2.Enjoy the beautiful waterfront

Nothing sooths the soul quite like spending some time by the coast. Take your car along the 100 miles of scenic shoreline and prepare to fall in love with the sandy beaches and seaside towns you find along the way.

Be sure to add Bangor to your itinerary, where you can take a walk on the pier, admire the yachts as they bob in the marina or entertain the family with an afternoon at Pickie Funpark.

3.Open spaces

Choosing a holiday destination in 2020, means considering things like how easy it will be to keep socially distant when you arrive. Rest assured when visiting Ards and North Down, the region has lots of beautiful open spaces to explore.

From the stunning landscapes, countryside cycling routes and hiking trails, you can visit with confidence, knowing that you and others can easily stay safe and socially distant.

For that extra peace of mind, look for the “We’re Good to Go” industry standard for Northern Ireland tourism and hospitality businesses.

4.Water activities at Strangford Lough

For those who enjoy an active holiday, Ards and North Down is the place for you.

Strangford Lough, an island-studded sea Lough, is the largest inlet in Northern Ireland and is home to thousands of marine species.

Visitors are welcome to book a canoe or kayaking session and explore the unique biodiverse nature reserve from the water.

Fun fact: In autumn, three quarters of the world’s brent geese population migrate from Arctic Canada to make the shores of Ards and North Down their winter home. You can watch their spectacular arrival and learn more about native wildlife at Castle Espie Wetlands Centre.

5. Accommodation

Whether you prefer to sleep under the stars or indulge in a 5-star break, there are plenty of places to choose from when booking a trip to Northern Ireland. From the big names to the boutiques, the local hotels and accommodation options come in many varieties.

For a cosy country lodge experience, check out Clandeboye Lodge Hotel. With its beautiful interiors and peaceful location, you won’t be able to wait for your holiday to begin.

Or, for a seafront hotel with spacious bedrooms and gorgeous marina views, the 3-star Marine Court Hotel in Bangor is a great base for visiting the area.

6. Step back in time

Take a journey back in time and explore one of the many museums and historic monuments that the region has to offer. Steeped in history, there is so much to learn and discover when you visit.

Climb the historic Scrabo Tower in Newtownards or tour the National Trust’s recently refurbished  Mount Stewart, where you can explore world class gardens and idyllic walking trails.

The Ulster Folk Museum gives a unique insight into what life was like in the province during the last century. While the nearby Ulster Transport Museum offers one of Europe’s most comprehensive transport collections.

7.Creativity

Fancy sourcing a gorgeous piece of artwork? Or even sparking some inspiration to take home with you? Ards and North Down has more makers per head than anywhere else in Northern Ireland, so you are bound to find what you are looking for.

Get inspired with a guided tour of Strangford Lough with Sustainable Journeys Ireland. Learn about the history of the area and discover what brought St. Patrick to its shores during the 5 Century.

Or visit the nearby Ards Arts Centre , which reopens on September 28. Here you will find exhibitions by local artists.

8. Foodies rejoice

There is no denying that food is a massive part of any travel experience, and a staycation close to home is no exception.

Home to an array of award-winning restaurants and artisan food shops, Ards and North Down is a foodie paradise. Menus feature the finest local fayre including unique Portavogie prawns, Strangford Lough oysters and County Down grass-fed beef.

Check out the town centre markets that have been a local tradition for almost a century. From home-grown veggies and plants, to fresh seafood and traditional breads, there is something for all tastes.

9. Cheers

How does hiking by day, and a cosy country pub by night sound?

Far from the city bustle; the towns and villages of Ards and North Down are ideal for those looking to relax in the evening after a long day exploring the Northern forests.

Explore Crawfordsburn Country Park for wonderful woodland and pristine beaches and hug the  water’s edge as you continue the walk along The North Down Coastal Path. Follow up with a short hop to Donaghadee for a visit to Pier 36 for a cold drink, some tasty seafood and the chance to rest your legs after the hike.

For those treasure hunters who prefer to get their steps in at the shops, Greyabbey is a quaint village on the shores of Strangford Lough and is home to an impressive collection of antique stores. Spend an afternoon browsing and then head into one of the welcoming cafés to enjoy some more of the fantastic local food and drinks that are on offer.

10. Stay safe

Staying safe while we travel is top of everyone’s priority list in 2020. It is worth remembering that many businesses are rightfully operating pre-booking systems and reducing the number allowed in their premises. To have the best travel experience possible, just be sure to check and book your spots in advance. Before you make your travel plans, go to the nidirect website for latest government advice and information.

Enjoy your visit safely by adhering to latest covid related safety measures. For latest information visit the Public Health Agency website.

Discover this beautiful region, enjoy unique experiences, award winning food and drink and relax with the warmest of welcomes. Choose from cosy self-catering options and guest houses, caravanning/camping or 3, 4 and 5-star hotel and spa facilities.  With special offers for accommodation, attractions, experiences and golf running until  October 16, now is the time to book online.

*Please check individual accommodation providers, attractions and experiences for T&C’s. All offers subject to availability.

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