Bangor, Northern Ireland, City Guide

The Victorian seaside town of Bangor could be called Belfast-by-the-sea: it’s just 13 miles from the centre of the city, to the south of the Belfast Lough, and very well-connected by commuter roads. It makes an ideal base to explore the capital from, while also enjoying the scenic sea views that Bangor itself can add into the mix.

The name Bangor comes from an Irish word (Beannchar) that means a horned or peaked curve: when you cast your eyes out along the coast of this pretty seaside town you will notice that the bay does indeed resemble the horns of a bull.

Along Bangor Bay there has been much sympathetic redevelopment, including the opening of a huge marina and seafront improvements that have led to Bangor being widely regarded as the most desirable place to live in Northern Ireland.

Family fun in Bangor

For families there is, of course, the beach to relax on, the marina to take boat trips from and Pickie Family Fun Park to let off steam in whilst enjoying the amusements, rides and steam train.

To the east of Bangor, Ballyholme Bay has a long sandy beach flanked by wide green spaces that are perfect for children to play in.

Historic Bangor

The town bears all the hallmarks of a Victorian seaside resort but it also displays evidence of a longer history for those curious to explore. 

The museum in the grounds of the old castle in Castle Park holds the oldest surviving Irish manuscript amongst other historical curiosities.

The fishing village of Groomsport, which nestles on the eastern edge of town, has a picturesque harbour that is overlooked by a row of cottages, one of which has been restored to resemble how a typical fisherman would have lived in times gone by.

Sporting Bangor

Bangor has a high reputation for sailing and regularly hosts world events as we4ll as being home to prestigious clubs such as the Royal Ulster Yacht Club and Ballyholme Yacht Club.

Keep your eyes peeled for local practitioners of parkour (that’s urban acrobatics to you and me) as the sport has taken hold in Bangor and you can often see locals hurling themselves over walls and somersaulting down steps.

Around Bangor

A 30-minute drive on the A2 past Belfast will take you to the historic village of Hillsborough where charming tearooms and antique shops greet you. Behind the old fort you will find a deciduous forest curving around a lake stocked with brown and rainbow trout that offers pleasant hour-long strolls around its circuit.

Strangford Lough is a short drive away on the A21 and offers a nature lover’s delight. This beautiful, calm inlet is fringed in colourful brown and yellow tangle weed, and plays host to a wide diversity of bird life during the warmer months and vast flocks of geese during the winter. Rocking gently in its waters are boats and yachts, and the whole scene can be taken in on foot or by carefully appointed viewing points for cars. 

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