Bangor is widely considered the wealthiest town in Northern Ireland. The town was not as badly affected by the "troubles" as most of Northern Ireland, but it was subject to some bombs. The threat has now gone.
The town was the tourism capital of Northern Ireland in the 1960s but lost this reputation. Now, though, many areas are being redeveloped and the town was awarded winner of the Best Kept Town Competition in 2003. The town was voted the most desirable place to live in August 2007.
If you are looking for good weather in Ireland, you are most likely to find it here in Bangor. It enjoys one of the sunniest, driest climates in Ireland with some of the highest temperatures. This is due to its shelter from the prevailing south west winds, but it is also sheltered from cold northerlies and easterlies in winter. Winter maximums are about 7 °C (45 °F) but can reach as high as 17 °C (63 °F). Average maximums in summer are 21 °C (70 °F) with a record of 33 °C (91 °F). The lowest recorded temperature is -5 °C (25 °F). Temperatures above 27 °C are usually uncomfortable due to the high humidity, and real feels would be in the mid 30s. Sea temperatures peak at 18 °C (64 °F) in late September, and are coolest in March, at 8-9 °C (48 °F)
In winter, a jumper and waterproofs are sufficient - temperatures below 4 °C (40 °F) are rare. In summer, shorts for walking are good, and also remember the sunblock!
George Best Belfast City Airport is 15 minutes away, and Belfast International Airport is about 40 minutes from Bangor. Trains on the Portadown-Belfast-Bangor line call at Sydenham (adjacent to Belfast City Airport) every 30 minutes; a single to Bangor costs £3.60.
The centre of town can be explored by foot, however there is an excellent bus service operated by Translink to all parts of the town. Taxis can also be found waiting beside the train station, at the top of Main Street.
- 1 Bangor Marina, Quays Street. Ireland's largest marina, it forms the centrepiece of this seaside town. In the summer it is home to many sailing events and offers short boat trips into Belfast Lough. From late June to late September, there is an excellent funfair beside the McKee Clock.
- 2 Bangor Castle (Across the road from the train station). Tu-Sa 10AM–4:30PM, Su 2-4:30PM.. 19th-century mansion that serves as the town hall. The picturesque grounds lead on to Castle Park. The castle is also home to The North Down Heritage Centre, which features displays of local history and culture. Free admission..
- 3 Bangor Abbey, Abbey St.. The original site was founded by St Comgall, and the town of Bangor grew from the monastery as a centre of education in the medieval world, until its destruction at the hands of the Vikings. Parts of the present church building on the site are several centuries old.
- Pickie Fun Park. Marine Gardens. A great day out with the kids in the summer, Pickie Fun Park is home to the Pickie Puffer miniature railway, adventure playgrounds, a paddling pool, and the unofficial symbol of Bangor - the pedal Swans.
- Coastal Path Walk. Offering spectacular views across Belfast Lough, this path stretches around Bangor's coastline to the nearby village of Helens Bay and Crawfordsburn Country Park. Easy to find beyond Pickie and the Marina.
There are 3 shopping centres in the town -
- 1 Flagship Centre, Main St, BT20 5AU (town centre), ☏ . refurbished
- 2 Bloomfield Shopping Centre & Retail Park, Bangor South Circular Rd, BT19 7HB, ☏ . M-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9AM-8PM, Su 11AM-8PM.
- 3 Springhill Shopping Centre, Killeen Ave, BT19 1ND (Bangor West). M-Sa 8AM-11PM, Su 10AM-5PM.
There are also many other shops in the town centre, including souvenir shops.
There are a wide range of places to eat, ranging from small local chip shops along the seafront to pubs, curry houses and restaurants.
- Coyles. Pub and bistro, one of the few pubs in Northern Ireland listed in the Michelin guide.
- Wolsey's Bar. Hearty pub grub in a lively bar.
- Phezulu. South African-influenced fusion cuisine.
- The Salty Dog, 10-12 Seacliff Rd, ☏ . Hotel and restaurant along the coast. Cuisine a fusion of traditional Irish and modern.
- Papa Joes. American cuisine with a New Orleans influence. On Hamilton Road, near town centre.
- Star of Bengal. Exquisite Indian restaurant and takeaway on Abbey Street. With upstairs seating available.
- Bokhara. Indian restaurant in Bangor town centre.
There is no lack of a place to drink. Bangor has more than a dozen pubs and three night clubs in the town centre, most of which are clustered around the bottom of High Street.
- Donegans, 37-39 High St. A lively pub with an expansive beer garden out in the back. Gets quite full and rowdy at weekends. 5 nights a week there is a live band or karaoke. Pints from £3.
- Jenny Watts, 41 High St. Bangor's oldest pub, established 1780. Downstairs is traditional décor and occasionally live music inside, with a small beer garden to the rear. Upstairs is a modern lounge with a dance floor and cocktails.
- Fealty's, 35 High St. Home to one the best pints of Guinness outside Dublin, this quiet corner pub is fiercely traditional, and full of hospitable regulars. The interior is small, but that's just part of its charm. Be prepared for a tight squeeze on match days.
- Jamaica Inn, 188 Seacliff Rd. A brisk walk around the coast brings you to the Jamaica Inn, an isolated establishment compared to Bangor's other bars, it is located beside the famous Bangor Yacht Club and across the road from the sea. Great sea views, excellent food and fantastic atmosphere. It's always packed on Christmas Eve.
- Cafe Ceol, 17-21 High St. The faux-Japanese style decorated exterior dominates lower High Street, and on weekends crowds of the town's youth queue up the street to get in. As Bangor's largest nightclub it is usually the focus of a night out in the town. Actually three venues in one, inside there is the VIP room 'Sumo Lounge' and MINT, a large dance venue upstairs with regular weekend events such as guest DJs. Monday is the infamous half price wine night. Entry charge varies.
- Betty Blacks, 13-15 High St. A smaller and more chilled out alternative to Cafe, it is located next door. Popular with a slightly older crowd. Good cocktails.
Bangor is famous for its B&Bs along the coast. These offer good value accommodation, with many of the rooms having sea views. There are also larger hotels such as:
- Marine Court Hotel, 18-20 Quay Street, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Clandeboye Lodge, 10 Estate Road, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 4-star hotel just outside the town.
Crime in Bangor is low, but antisocial behaviour can be a problem on weekend evenings in some areas such as outside the nightclubs. Take sensible precautions and enjoy the hospitality of the locals.
Belfast is 15–20 minutes away. It is easy to get here by train. Down the Ards Peninsula, the beautiful gardens and house of Mount Stewart can be found, which are well worth a visit.