Strangford is a village historically in County Down in Northern Ireland, but now part of the Newry, Mourne and Down District. It's on the west bank of the narrow outlet of Strangford Lough, where the tides rip back and forth, hence to the Vikings it was Strangr-fjǫrðr, the strong fjord. Its population (as of 2001) was only 424 yet it has a sumptuous mansion house and a scattering of medieval turrets.
Bus 16 runs to Strangford from Downpatrick M-Sa four or five times, 30 min. Downpatrick has frequent buses from Belfast Europa bus station, taking just under an hour.
Bus 9 / 10 runs from Belfast Laganside via Newtownards and the peninsula to Portaferry, where you cross on the ferry to Strangford, for a journey time of just over two hours. The bus runs M-Sa every hour or two. On Sunday there are only four buses starting from Newtownards.
1 Strangford ferry crosses the channel from Portaferry, taking less than 10 min. It sails daily (except Christmas Day) every 30 min between 07:30 and 22:30. As of Oct 2020, single fares are £5.80 for a standard car (without trailer) plus driver, and £1 per foot passenger, cyclist or car passenger.
The castles and tomb can all be reached by an afternoon's hike.
National Cycleway 99 runs from Newtownards down the peninsula to Portaferry, Strangford, Downpatrick and Newcastle. It's all on-road. You can also hug the west bank of Strangford Lough to make a circuit.
- Strangford Castle, The Square BT30 7NE. A mostly 16th century tower house looming over the ferry pier, but with remnants of a 15th century structure.
- 1 Castle Ward, Strangford BT30 7BA, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 10:00-17:00. Grand mansion house built in the 1760s: m'lord and her ladyship couldn't agree on the style so the front is Palladian while the rear is Georgian Gothic. There are impressive interiors, a substantial art collection, any number of stuffed animals, and extensive gardens and grounds. The Old Castle and farmyard are 200 years older and these were the filming locations for Winterfell in Game of Thrones. In 1973 two members of the Provisional IRA blew themselves up while planting a bomb at the castle. Adult £10, child £5, NT free.
- 2 Audley's Castle, Audleystown Road BT30 7LP. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. 15th-century castle, a 3-story tower house. It fell derelict in the 17th century but was kept as a picturesque ruin to enhance the view from Castle Ward.
- 3 Audleystown Court Cairn, BT30 7LP. 24 hrs. This was found to contain human and animal bones plus Neolithic pottery. It's 27 m long, now roofless, with dry-stone walls ("revetting") on the gallery sides. At each end a forecourt gives access to four burial chambers. Free.
- 4 Portaferry is the village across the channel on the Ards Peninsula. It has the ruins of a tower house and a windmill, but the main attraction is Exploris Aquarium.
- See Newtownards for other attractions on the peninsula, or on the northwest lough such as Magee Island.
- See Downpatrick for Ardglass south along the coast, a little fishing village ringed by medieval turrets.
- Fight the undead, preferably with the aid of dragonglass weapons and before the Night King shows up. If any of this makes the slightest sense, then you (along with the Unsullied and Dothraki armies) will appreciate knowing that Strangford is Winterfell in Episode 1 of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, first broadcast April 2019.
- Clearsky Adventure Company in Castle Ward offer canoeing and kayaking on the lough.
- 1 Superdrive Motorsports Centre, Ardglass Rd, Ballyhornan BT30 7PR, ☏ . Rally and 4x4 experience.
- Mace is the village store, at the start of Downpatrick Road, open M-F 08:30-20:00, Sa 08:30-19:00, Su 10:00-19:00.
- Lobster Pot, 9-11 The Square BT30 4ND, ☏ . Daily 12:00-23:00. Slick friendly place serves good food.
- Artisan Cookhouse (formerly The Pantry), 4 Kildare St BT30 7LJ, ☏ . W Th Su 10:00-20:00, F Sa 10:00-21:00. Bistro with good steaks and seafood.
- Hole in the Wall is the cosy village pub at 12 Downpatrick Road.
- The Cuan, The Square BT30 4ND, ☏ . Restaurant and pub with rooms just above the ferry jetty. In Sept 2020 the owners sold up and moved to the Alps, so the place is closed at least temporarily.
- There's self catering at The Red Door, 22 Downpatrick Road (+44 7871 094945); Number 42, 42 Downpatrick Road (+44 7702 711730); and Old Rectory (+44 7736 321847), 5 Shore Road.
- Castle Ward has camping, caravan pitches, glamping pods, and the self-catering Potter's Cottage.
- Portaferry across the channel is an alternative base. The Portaferry Hotel is by the pier.
As of Oct 2020, mobile connections here are poor. You might manage a call with O2 or Vodafone, but EE and Three have no signal in Strangford. 5G has not reached this area.
- Ards Peninsula's main sights are Grey Abbey and Mount Stewart house and gardens.
- Downpatrick has several prehistoric and early religious sites, and is believed to be the burial place of St Patrick.