Things to see & do

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Enjoy the Lough

Discover amazing places and spaces around Strangford Lough and the Ards Peninsula.

The diversity of landscape, the exceptional wildlife and the ever changing views make it a wonderful place to explore - for all the family.

Go local

Strangford Lough offer visitors a variety of seascapes and activities that make the area one of the most popular holiday destinations in Northern Ireland.

The towns and villages surrounding the Lough are steeped in history and are just waiting to be explored.


Common seals love to bask on the islands © Lesley Wilson

Common seals love to bask on the islands

What you can see: June - August

  • Nesting terns, gulls, cormorants and waders
  • Common seals pupping
  • Nesting little egret
  • Common spotted orchid at Gibbs Island
  • Nesting Manx shearwater and Arctic terns on Lighthouse Island
  • Common blue butterfly at Kearney
  • Yellow-horned poppy flowering at Kearney


Thousands of seabirds breed on the islands © Craig McCoy

Thousands of seabirds breed on the islands


The mild winter climate, sheltered shores and rich feeding all combine to make Strangford Lough the perfect over wintering location for more than 70,000 seabirds that migrate here from northern latitudes. These include over 75% of the entire population of Light Bellied Brent Geese that make the journey from Arctic Canada.


Tiny common starfish can be found resting on rocks along the shore © Craig McCoy

Tiny common starfish can be found resting on rocks along the shore

Marine life

There are over 2000 different types of marine creatures living within Strangford Lough. If you venture down to the shore at low tide, you will be amazed at the diversity of life you can discover lurking within the rock pools. Some of the best shorelines to explore include Ballyhenry Island and Kearney Village.


Seals can often be found basking along the shoreline © Craig McCoy

Seals can often be found basking along the shoreline

Marine mammals

Both Common and Grey Seals can be seen here all year round. The best places to spot them are at Cloghy Rocks and Granagh Bay; on either side of the entrance to the lough. Other marine mammals to keep an eye out for are porpoises and otters. Earlier in the year, a humpback whale swam through the Narrows.


 © Brian Whittaker


Around the shores of the lough, we manage a number of interesting woodlands. Killynether, below Scrabo Tower, has a terrific display of woodland flowers every spring. Nugent’s Wood, at Portaferry, is one of the last refuges for the native red squirrel. The big estates of Mount Stewart and Castle Ward deserve a day’s exploration.


The National Trust owns a variety of countryside properties © Brian Whittaker


We ensure our farmland is managed in a way that encourages wildlife. At Gibbs Island, you will see a meadow of wild flowers, teeming with butterflies, bees and other insects. Ballyquintin is one of the best places to spot Irish hares and flocks of farmland birds such as finches, linnets, tree sparrows and skylark.