Things To Do

The Exploris Aquarium, Portaferry

The Exploris Aquarium, Portaferry

The Northern Ireland Aquarium was opened in 1987 to enable the public to view the amazingly diverse marine life that exists around these islands. The conservation village of Portaferry was the ideal location. It is sited on the shores of the Marine Nature reserve of Strangford Lough which contains nearly three quarters of all the marine species to be found in Northern Irish waters.

Portaferry Strangford Ferry Service

Portaferry/Strangford Ferry Service

There has been a ferry service between Portaferry and Strangford, without a break, for almost four centuries. The alternative road journey is 75 kilometres and takes about an hour and a half, while the ferry crosses the 0.6 nautical miles (1.1 km) in 8 minutes. A new £2.7 million vessel, MV Portaferry II, built by McTay Marine of Merseyside, came into service on 18 December 2001, relegating the earlier vessel, MV Strangford to a support role.

St Patrick Centre, Downpatrick

St Patrick Centre, Downpatrick

The Centre is an exciting interpretative exhibition which tells the fascinating story of Ireland's Patron Saint. Through Patrick's own words a light is shone on the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and its development through his mission. A series of interactive displays allow visitors to explore how Patrick's legacy developed in early Christian times and reveal the fabulous artwork and metalwork which was produced during this Golden Age. Only 15 minutes by car from Strangford (Strangford is a short 8 minute ferry crossing from Portaferry).

Mourne Mountains

Mourne Mountains

A granite mountain range in County Down in the south-east of Northern Ireland which includes the highest mountains in Northern Ireland and the province of Ulster. The highest of these is Slieve Donard at 850 metres (2,790 ft). The Mournes is an area of outstanding natural beauty and has been proposed as the first national park in Northern Ireland. The area is partly owned by the National Trust and sees a large number of visitors every year. The Mournes are only a 30 minute drive from Strangford (Strangford is a short 8 minute ferry crossing from Portaferry).

National Trust

National Trust

Mountstewart House, c 15 miles
Castle Ward House, c 3 miles
Rowallane Gardens, c 25 miles
Ballyquinton Farm, c 1 mile
Kearney village, c 3 miles

Other Visitor/Historic sites

The Somme Heritage Centre Bangor Rd, Newtownards, c 22 miles
North Down Heritage Centre Bangor, c 25 miles
Ulster Folk and Transport Museum Cultr,a c 28miles
Christian Heritage around Strangford Lough
Nendrum Abbey c 25 miles; Downpatrick Cathedral St Patrick’s Grave c10 miles;
St Patrick Centre at Downpatrick c 10 miles; Saul St Patrick’s first church c 6 miles;
Greyabbey c15 miles; Movilla Abbey, Newtownards c 21 miles;
Old Priory, Newtownards c 21 miles; Inch Abbey, Downpatrick, c12 miles;
Derry Churches, Portaferry c 4 miles; St Cowey’s Wells c1/2 miles;
Down County Museum Downpatrick c 10miles.
Click here for a full list of all historic places

Golf Clubs/Courses

Advanced booking is necessary

Kirkistown c 8 miles
Donaghadee c 25 miles
Scrabo c 21 miles
Clandeboye c22miles
Bangor c 22miles
Downpatrick c 10 miles
Ringhaddy c 15 miles
Mahee Island c 25 miles
Ardminnan 9 holes c 3 miles
Ardglass c 15 miles
Royal County Down at Newcastle 30 miles

Sea fishing [ must be booked]
John Murray Portaferry on St Brendan
Des Rodgers Portaferry on Cuan Shore
Lough Cowey [trout and coarse ]
Sea Trout fishing around Lough shore and by boat
Quoile estuary/pondage for coarse/sea fish


Winter watching around Strangford Lough Brent geese
All types of waders
Castle Espie WWT
Further afield Mourne Mountains and Silent Valley

Visit other useful sites

For things to see and do further afield visit

Distances from Barr Hall Barns Cottages:

· 31 miles from Belfast City Airport
· 31 miles from Belfast ferry port
· 50 miles from Belfast International Airport
· 120 miles from Dublin City and Airport.


For any queries call us on

028 4272 1218

or Book Online Today!

We spent 3 wonderful days staying in the cottage at Barr Hall Barns. The area is just beautiful, so peaceful.  The cottage was immaculate and very cosy. A special thank you to Jill who was so helpful when making our booking.


Lovely cottage a stone's throw from the sea with some great views of the Lough. Remote location out in the country but only a quick car trip to the local shops and restaurants in Portaferry. Really characterful accommodation with everything you need. Spotlessly clean and comfortable.


Fantastic place. Remote, charming, but everything you will need. Cosy and warm for snuggling into on winters night after a brisk walk. We simply loved it. Great people who are living close by and the cleaning staff are so helpful and friendly. Very child safe and the pet friendly was perfect for our needs. Even the dog enjoyed his Xmas holiday away.


A comfortable, super clean and warm house in a beautiful location . Plenty of room for 5 of us. Communication could not have been better and everything was catered for. Our Hosts enabled us to have a relaxing, private and fun Christmas together as a family.


Lovely spot, lovely place! Cosy and roomy. Comfy beds, great shower, great disabled access facilities, if needed. Bed linen and towels great quality. Good walk along the coast. We had a lovely time. Would definitely go back.


We rented all 3 units and had a fabulous stay in a beautiful location near the tip of the Ards Peninsula. The accommodation was comfortable and we enjoyed the rustic cottage feel. The open living area in the Barn was great for us all to come together in the evenings after some days out exploring Portaferry, Cloughey, Strangford and Castleward. We all loved visiting Exploris and the courtyard and garden at Barr Hall Barns was great for the four children to play in. Dad is a wheelchair & rollator user and the Barn was very Accessible with the ramp and downstairs accessible shower room. Communication was great from Jill and we would definitely recommend and would come back again.


It was lovely. We were a big family away together so we had all 3 properties. The outside area was great & a big barn the kids could play in if it rained. Just a short walk away was a rocky beach that we almost always had to ourselves. Great for the dogs & kids to run about. We saw lots of birds & seals.


We had a great time at the magnificent Barr Hall Barns. The great weather made our time in the area even more special. The cottage was perfect for our needs and we would love to return. We loved the new decor and the cottage was warm and cosy.


Excellent acclimation and very peaceful, ideal location, very comfortable and clean!


Really excellent accommodation. We rented The Barn (three bedrooms). When we first walked in, the place smelled (and was) very clean. The main area was very spacious yet cosy which made it very comfortable for the family to spend time together either sitting by the gas fire or playing games/eating around the large dining table. The kitchen was well equipped which made cooking easy (stove, oven, pots, pans, cutlery and utensils). Owners were easy to communicate before, during and after our stay. Would definitely recommend!


The Barn was lovely and in a fabulous location on the Ards peninsula. It’s an easy drive from Portaferry which has enough pubs and restaurants if you don’t want to cook although the kitchen at The Barn was well equipped for self catering. The garden was lovely and had good outside eating areas although we didn’t use these as Storm Betty blew in. It’s good to be able to take your dogs here as there are such pretty walks along the coast and great bird watching opportunities.


Thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Apartment. Great walks and scenery. Enjoyed watching the seals, the beautiful sunsets and stand up paddle boarding around the bay (followed by the seals). Apartment was clean and tidy and local restaurants, the Bull and Claw and the Portaferry Hotel were good.


Beautiful location, overlooking the bay. Well equipped holiday home. Very friendly hosts who give good tips for hiking tours.


We had a lovely break, was really nice to have the opportunity to take the dogs with us. The apartment was very nice, spotless and warm. Everything you need. Some beautiful scenery around the area. And a bit of fun crossing on the ferry. We're already thinking of revisiting around Christmas time!


We loved the apartment, spacious, clean and cozy. It within walking distance to a beautiful shoreline and my little explorer loved collecting shells and crabs. Quick drive to some beautiful towns, beaches and historical sights. So quiet at night, exactly what we needed!


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