Welcome to the Sunny Bangor website, where the outlook is sunny all year round, although this doesn’t go the same for the weather (there’s not much we can do about that). But there are lots of exciting new developments ahead in our delightful wee seaside city (Bangor-by the-Sea) which we aim to promote along with all the exciting assets and tourist attractions in Bangor, Northern Ireland that already exist. You can check many of them out below We also have a new ‘Shop Local Online’ marketplace where you can support local Bangor businesses by buying locally sourced goodies. Also, here’s Bangor in the snow. It’s occasionally snowy in Bangor.
1. Bangor Marina
Starting with Bangor Marina, as I assume most visitors to Bangor will be arriving by yacht, so Bangor Marina would be the first port of call for most. At the same time, it probably is the highlight of our scenic seaside city, meaning it will likely top most people’s to-do list for attractions in Bangor. Then, for those without a yacht (you don’t have a yacht?) and are arriving by bus/train it’s just a short walk to the bottom of Main Street to find Bangor Marina and all our delightful seaside attractions. It’s just next to the McKee Clock (directions here).
So Bangor Marina is fairly central to the seafront attractions, and it’s just really nice to potter around, with the sea views, coastal breezes, the yachts… and our Bangor Seafront guide here. While the seaside-facing promenade is really quite delightful, unfortunately, the Queen’s Parade side opposite is still a bit of a disaster. However, exciting new developments have been penned for the area years in the years ahead. For now, make the most of the infamous Bangor whingers by telling them “… them there art pods look fantastic”. They at least host a decent market (Market Fresh) here on occasional weekends.
2. The Eisenhower Pier
Found next to Bangor Marina, is Bangor Pier, known officially as the Eisenhower Pier, to commemorate General Dwight D. Eisenhower who readied his navy fleet in the seas opposite before storming the shores of Normandy on D-Day. Although some locals are having none of it, and continue to call it the North Pier. I have no idea why. Anyway, Bangor Pier is the berthing place for the larger boats visiting Bangor.
Bangor Pier is also home to some flaky Guillemots, also known as the Bangor penguins, who seem to come and go as they please (they’re migratory I think). There’s also a smaller pier at the entrance known as the long hole which was once used to berth smaller boats. These days it’s more popular with joggers and dog walkers, and it is a great place to feed some seagulls. Fishing and boat tours are also organised from the Pier (as well as Pickie Fun Park) by Bangor Boat Tours. Anyway, here is our wider guide to the Bangor Eisenhower Pier.
3. Pickie Fun Park
Pickie Fun Park is on the opposite (south) side of Bangor Marina, a venue that once hosted an outdoor swimming pool (Pickie Pool), which really is a bit nuts given the ‘Baltic’ temperatures (as they say) around here. These days swimmers have to make do with the sea just further along at Skipping Stone Beach. Anyway, nowadays it is a Fun Park, with lots of family fun for, or at least fun for the kids, including attractions like the Pickie Puffer (a kiddies train track), Disco Ducks (I dunno), and Bangor’s iconic Swans (Pedalo Swans). Don’t forget your Barry’s Lemontop ice cream.
Pickie Fun Park was also home to one of the most revered monuments in Bangor known as the “Pastie Supper Lover” only for it to be removed due to its somewhat sketchy positioning next to a children’s play park. We’re now waiting for his return at a more prominent spot at Bangor seafront. Anyway, Pickie Fun Park is seasonal, normally through Spring and Summer, opening daily from 09:00AM – 09:00PM. There maybe other varying dates during the rest of the year. Here’s our full guide to Pickie Fun Park in Bangor.
4. The North Down Coastal Path
Following on from Pickie Fun Park, you can actually walk from Bangor to Holywood and beyond along the scenic North Down Coastal Path, but it is a good 10miles (16km) between the two. Fortunately, it does run alongside the Bangor to Belfast train line, so there are a number of handy stops (7 in total) to hop on to complete the return journey. Expect lots of wild and rugged scenery (as seen in our awesome video below) including cragged coves and coastlines, lots of sand and pebble beaches, also various connecting attractions and forest parks along the North Down Coastal Path.
Highlights along the way would including, in order, Strickland’s Glen at Smelt Mill Bay. Then it’s the Carnalea Coast before the old ‘boathouse’ at Swineley Bay, before reaching Crawfordsburn Country Park. Crawfordsburn Country Park is easily worth the visit alone. Most people would then hop on the train at Helen’s Bay for the return journey. Otherwise, the wild and scenic coastlines are the highlight of this region and the North Down Coastal Path also runs in the opposite direction from Bangor to Groomsport. Check out our North Down Coastal Path guides from Bangor to Holywood and Bangor to Groomsport.
5. Main Street Shopping
Admittedly the main shopping streets have been a bit dead of late, or, to be more specific, the past 10 years, or 15 maybe. Which is the same for many/most British town centres thanks to out-of-town retail parks and online shopping. So Bangor isn’t best known as a shopping destination due to the lack of big brand stores in the city centre. For larger retail stores, like Next or…, my knowledge is lacking here, most people head out to the out-of-town shopping centres like Bloomfield Shopping Centre. There are a handful however on Main Street with Menary’s and JD Sports… and we’ve shared a full list of central businesses here.
Otherwise, there are lots of boutique and small independent shops in central Bangor, many found on the Main Street, but mostly they are scattered in-and-around alleys and backstreets. Maybe check out High Street. There are also loads of charity shops, something we’re famous for, if you fancy picking up some secondhand furniture or some jigsaws during your visit to our scenic seaside city (we like jigsaws). Otherwise, we eagerly await the arrival of the newly revamped Flagship Centre (coming soon) and the Queen’s Parade Redevelopment (coming later).
6. Bangor Castle and Castle Park
For those not arriving by yacht (you don’t have a yacht?), the first sight in Bangor will likely be Castle Park and Bangor Castle which pretty much opposite Bangor’s bus and train stations. They’re hard to miss. So this is where the old Town Hall, or Bangor Castle as it’s now better known, sits, and the area makes a decent starting point when exploring the more central areas of Bangor city centre. Although most people just rush down Main Street to the seaside excitement of Bangor-by-the-Sea.
So Castle Park is more of a wooded area than your typical city centre park. There are no play parks or activities, no ponds, ducks or swans (check out Ward Park for these), and otherwise, it’s really just nice for a romantic walk. Along the way expect dog walkers, and dogs, and squirrels, and squirrels being chased by dogs. There are also loads of exciting trees for those big into botany, including a ‘fine collection of mature conifers and deciduous trees’. Castle Park is also home to Bangor’s other main tourist attractions including the North Down Museum and Victorian Walled Garde (Full Guide to Castle Park Here).
7. North Down Museum
Connecting to the side of Bangor Castle is the North Down Museum, a name that can be a bit misleading to newcomers, as it’s named after the old local borough council (North Down), and it’s just so others in the region don’t feel left out. At the same time, most people just call it Bangor Museum, because it’s in Bangor, or the Bangor Heritage Centre which was its earlier name before it received its fancy museum status. Anyway, it’s just a short walk from the main stations and there’s lots of parking round the back when arriving by car (here).
The North Down Museum centres a lot on Bangor’s Christian Heritage, and there’s a similar theme in Castle Park where a walkway dotted with fancy plinths (Columbanus Bell Walk) connects to the ancient Bangor Abbey (established 558 by Saint Comgall). Other notable attractions include the iconic Bangor Bell, a glass beehive in the upper floor, and a replica of Bangor Castle made out of 2011 sugar cubes. It is also free entry to the museum and the onsite cafe, Coffee Cure, give’s some added incentive for the visit (Full tour of the Museum Here).
8. The Walled Garden
This restored Victorian Garden is “a real hidden gem”, or this is at least how it is touted by the local tourist board. But is definitely worth a walk around if you like gardens, and flowers, and there’s a fancy fountain smack back in the centre. It’s really quite beautiful in the summer. It is also free to enter, like pretty much all Bangor tourist attractions. Again, the Walled Garden connects to the back of Castle Park and it pairs well with a visit to Bangor Castle and the North Down Museum. Make a day of it.
Note, the walled garden is a seasonal attraction in Bangor, given the UK is dead and withered for half the year, so it only really opens for the bloom in Spring through to the end of Summer and near Autumn. The Walled Garden is also found next to Bangor Aurora Aquatic & Leisure Complex (aka Bangor swimming pool) if you fancy a swim during your visit to Bangor, and it’s not far from the rather retro-looking Omniplex cinemas and Bingo hall. Anyway, they’re all there if you need them. Here for a full bit on the walled garden.
9. Ward Park
Following a slight detour from Main Street (along Hamilton Road), Ward Park is a bit hidden to tourists, yet it’s only a short walk to find and it’s is well worth digging out. Unlike Castle Park, Ward Park is more like your traditional town centre park, with ponds, and ducks, and play parks, and people feeding ducks. There are even aviaries and habitats for more exciting and exotic birds. Otherwise I’ll be lazy here, with a copypasta from the Discover NI website. “Ward Park covers an area of 37 acres and among its attractions are a children’s playground, all-weather hockey pitches, cricket pitch, bowling greens, putting green and tennis courts”.
Other notable attractions include the War Memorial monument which is somewhat central to the park, and a U-Boat gun which is great for swinging upside down on. Fun (slightly disturbing) fact. A good few years back (2005) some drunken louts (from Ards I’m guessing) broke into the bird cages and slaughtered 24 banty hens and a peacock (a very rare occurrence in Bangor, thankfully). So the local media obviously tracked down ‘Councillor Dianna Peacock’ to report on it.
10. Food and Drink in Bangor
Fancy a poke? There’s a general tourist tick list when it comes to seaside eating which includes fish and chips, and a good ol’ poke. Both easy to find along Bangor seafront with local chippies (chip shops) for your suppers and ice cream shops for your pokes (ice cream). All mixed in with your usual local pub grub, cafes (lots of Ulster Fries), and restaurants serving seaside fare. A full list of restaurants here.
We’re not so clued up when it comes to the nightlife scene in Bangor but most of it would be centered around the bottom of the High Street and the nearby seafront stretch along Quay Street. But not exclusively. There’s also a bunch more central, like the Goats Toe, and a more amiable option with the Jamaica Inn further along the seafront, and… we otherwise only turn up for takeaway and kebabs. Check out the beast below. From Chillies. She’s a beaut!
Where to Stay in Bangor?
The obvious hotel for tourists in central Bangor is the Premier Inn, found just opposite the bus and train stations, otherwise, most accommodation and hotels in Bangor are found along the seafront stretch and coastal paths of Bangor. One of the more prominent would have been the Marine Court, which overlooks the seafront area, but this is now (temporarily) closed to tourists and visitors to Bangor. This follows many of Bangor’s seafront hotels that have shut up shop through the years (the Royal and Windsor Hotels) due to the whole collapsing of the economy etc.
Otherwise, the main seafront hotel is now the boutique hotel and bistro the Salty Dog (rates etc. here) next to the pier, along with a bunch of smaller guesthouses and B&B’s along the seafront road leading from the Pier (Seacliff Road) as well as a handful near Pickie Fun Park. Note, be careful when booking online, as the typical list of Bangor hotels (full list here) often includes hotels that are miles out from the city centre. They are all nice hotels tbf (e.g. the Old Inn especially), but they’re obviously not convenient for tourists in Bangor city centre.