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Pocket Guide: Down

County Down, situated in the north-east of Northern Ireland, is steeped in history and rich in areas of great natural beauty. Characterised by rugged coastlines, dramatic mountain ranges and bustling, vibrant towns, County Down has something to offer everyone.

Nature and History in County Down

Renowned for their beauty, the Mourne Mountains sweep down to the sea, creating an amazing vista across Carlingford Lough, the glacial fjord at the foot of the granite mountains. Head to St John’s Point for a particularly clear view of the Mournes across the serene inlet that forms part of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Mountains of Mourne include the largest peaks in Northern Ireland. The highest summit, Slieve Donard, stands at an impressive 2,790 feet and offers fantastic views over the forest and water below. The Mourne is an official area of outstanding natural beauty; crowned the first ever national park in the country, it is a local must-see that will delight visitors of all ages.

There are two impressive peninsulas in County Down - Ards Peninsula and Lecales. There are a number of interesting historical buildings on Ards Peninsula, including Scrabo Tower, which overlooks the northern point and is situated in a beautiful country park, offering ample opportunity to explore and enjoy the wonderful views.

Places of Interest in County Down

Grey Abbey stands close to the Ards Peninsula. The Abbey was built in 1193 as a Cistercian priory and it remains, in the quaint village of Greyabbey, as a national heritage site and point of interest for visitors to the area.

Literature buffs should head to the south-east region, located between Rathfriland and Banbridge, to an area known as the Brontë Homeland. Here you can follow the story of British literature's most prestigious family through surviving buildings such as the church and school near Rathfriland. Patrick Brontë is said to have grown up in the area and the family visited many times throughout their lives.

Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is said to be buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick. This ornate Church of Ireland cathedral stands on Cathedral Hill overlooking the town and is a popular tourist destination for visitors from all over the world.

Explore Northern Ireland’s Capital

The east part of Belfast belongs to County Down. Enjoy bustling nightlife, excellent restaurants and the beautiful contrast between old and new architecture in Northern Ireland’s capital city.

For those looking for some retail therapy, head to Victoria Square where you will find a wide range of boutique, independent and high street stores, as well as several bars and restaurants to suit any price range.

Enjoy County Down

Explore the rugged, unspoilt coasts, glacial fjords and mystical mountain ranges of County Down. Here you will also find traditional Irish hospitality alongside rich history and cultural heritage, sure to make your trip to one of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful counties a memorable and enjoyable experience.