About Bangor beaches
A large resort since the Victorian boom, Bangor has its share of seaside kitsch, and is one of the largest towns on the bewitching Northern Ireland coast. Within easy access of Belfast, it’s popular with commuters as well as day trippers. Although the town beach is not the coast’s best, nearby in luscious Crawfordsburn Country Park there are several secluded beaches, as well as some fine walks.
Bangor’s town beach, Ballyholme, is a mile-long stretch of sand that’s good for sandcastles, but the water quality is not the best, and to be frank, it’s a bit scrubby. Better to head 5km (3 miles) east to Crawfordsburn Country Park, which has two great unspoilt beaches, as well as woodland, ponds and meadows, all crisscrossed by walking trails.
Beyond the beach:
Around 3km (1.8 miles) from Bangor is the pretty village of Crawfordsburn, from where you can explore the lovely Crawfordsburn Country Park. The park has 3.5km (2.1 miles) of glorious coastline, and there are plenty of waymarked trails.
There’s plenty of manufactured entertainment here. Top of the bill is the Pickie Family Fun Park (The Promenade), including kitsch delights such as swan-shaped pedaloes, adventure playground and toytown steam train. In season you can take boat and fishing trips around the bay – there’s a huge boating marina here too.
Make the short trip back to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, and a city awash with art, restaurants, shopping, bars and clubs. Belfast Zoo is well worth a visit and is one of the most appealing zoos in Ireland as it has spacious enclosures. Expect to see red pandas as well as Jack the blue-eyed white tiger.
Donaghadee is a fine old Irish port 10km (6.2 miles) southeast of Bangor. It’s home to Grace Neill’s, 33 High St, said to be Ireland’s oldest pub. It dates from 1611; Peter the Great of Russia stopped here to dine in the 17th century, and John Keats visited in the 19th. In the back room is a fantastic restaurant, famous across Northern Ireland, with food consisting of upscale versions of simple favourites such as fish and chips.