Fanfan Wilson, Best Cafes in Bangor City Northern Ireland

A Cafe Tour of Bangor and Beyond

I’ve found myself in an unlikely routine with Bangor’s old folk, where I’d wake and be working at 05:00AM, before joining the retirees of the family for their routine cafe breakfast. At the same time, I’m really not one for cafes or coffee shops, and my only incentive would be for a good traditional Ulster Fry. So the Pit Stop Cafe would do the job for me.

Anyway, I have no idea which smoked salmon melts in your mouth, or which cinnamon scone is to die for, so I’m instead I’m mapping Bangor Cafes and Breakfast Coffee shops with the local tourist attractions of Bangor town city centre. Otherwise, for the full list of cafes and breakfasts in Bangor centre check our full food and restaurant listings in Bangor.

Best Cafes in Bangor Town Centre

Instead, I am sharing the best cafes in Bangor by location, whether it be convenient to the main attractions of Bangor, or it is just surrounded by some nice views or scenery. Nice places to take granny for a Sunday drive. And while there will always be the soulless, tax-dodging chain cafes in Bangor, these are by far outnumbered by independent cafes found all over. Anyway, here is my list of the best coffee shops and cafes in Bangor, Northern Ireland. Feel free to share your own in the comments.

Coffee Cure (Bangor Museum)

Starting with Bangor’s most central attraction is the North Down Museum, which is extremely easy to find given it is sat directly opposite the main train and bus stations. Inside the museum is then the Coffee Cure cafe, where it is found overlooking the museum’s internal courtyard, which is just relatively nice and peaceful.

However, there is a downside, as there is a rather limited menu, which doesn’t include the traditional Ulster Fry, or anything fried, for that matter. But there are otherwise some decent enough breakfasts on the menu including the poached egg sandwich, with BLT, and guacamole spread… etc. (although this may change). Then tie in the free exhibits of Bangor’s heritage museum, and a stroll in Castle Park, and you can easily make a day of it.

Address: Town Hall, Castle Park Avenue, Bangor, BT20 4BT

Red Berry (Bangor Marina)

Following down Bangor’s Main Street, there are a number of popular cafes along the way, including the Heatherlea Bakery, and, actually, most of them have changed hands over the past few years. The next tourist stop would then be the Bangor Seafront, which is pretty much at the bottom corner of Main Street where it connects with Queen’s Parade.

At the corner is Red Berry, which has a ridiculously busy downstairs, so I always sneak to the upstairs seating with views overlooking the seafront with McKee Clock and Bangor Marina. And this is about as close as you’ll get to find views of the Marina from this part of Bangor.

Anyway, the Red Berry sells all sorts; from ice cream to Irish stew, but, most importantly, they do have a decent breakfast fry.

Address: 2-4 Main Street, Bangor, BT20 5AG

The Guillemot (Bangor Pier)

The Guillemot Kitchen Cafe is no more than a stone’s throw from the Red Berry, where you take a right along the seafront, passing some of Bangor’s more long-standing cafes (e.g. Cafe Brazilia – now closed), along with the old town courthouse, and the Tourist Information offices at the Tower House.

The Guillemot Kitchen Cafe is then found opposite the car parks of Bangor’s Eisenhower Pier, as well as the old harbour known as the long hole. The cafe itself is otherwise cute and cosy, offering a more upmarket menu, I guess, with fancy bits like smoked salmon (that may melt in your mouth) and granary bread etc. It also has a joint Bistro selling local products.

It may be more expensive than most, but it is also the upscale alternative to the usual greasy spoon cafes in Bangor. The pier opposite is perfect for a morning stroll.

Fun fact. The Guillemot is named after the local seabirds nesting on the pier.

Address: 2 Seacliff Road, Bangor, BT20 5EY

Roka Coffee House (Ward Park)

Roka Coffee House (formerly the Green Bicycle) is one of the longer-standing cafes in central Bangor, located on one of the lesser-travelled roads (Hamilton Road) which connects between Bangor’s Main Street and the central park of town at Ward Park. It is a pleasant enough place, with decent breakfast fries, and it has a conservatory out back for those sunnier summer days.

Roka Coffee House is also just a short walk to Ward Park, one of Bangor’s lesser-known central attractions with traditional British parklife and goings-on, with swings, and ponds, and ducks, as well as a handful of local historical attractions (there will be a full write-up of it to come).

Address: 6 Hamilton Rd, Bangor BT20 4LE

The Pickie Cafe (Pickie Fun Park)

For a more family-friendly alternative, Pickie Fun Park is found on the opposite (west) side of Bangor Marina, about a minute’s walk or so along the seafront promenade. It is more of a seasonal cafe, opening mostly on weekends and during the sunnier summer months of the year, and depends on the opening of the other attractions in the park.

Anyway, I thought I would call in for a quick breakfast recently, and was relatively surprised by the range on the menu, with all the Northern Irish food favourites from local cafe menus, to chip shops and pub grub. It’s also open throughout the day. However, I wasn’t surprised by the prices, which are expectedly high (it was around £7 for my fry) but they do give decent portions tbf. There’s also a weird transparent pink theme going on in the interiors.

Again, Pickie Cafe is more of a child-friendly alternative, but it also marks the start of the North Down Coastal path below.

The Starfish at Cairn Bay Lodge

Following the opposite, away from Pickie and the Marina, the Starfish at Cairn Bay Lodge is not so central, but it’s only a short walk along the seafront (Seacliff Road) where it’s found next to Ballyholme Beach. As a joint cafe (Starfish) and boutique guesthouse (Cairnbay Lodge), it is one of the longer-standing and best-known tourist spots in Bangor.

I was actually flicking through Facebook images at the beginning of this ‘research’ when I came across “the world’s most expensive breakfast” at the Starfish Cafe… “Nope”. It wasn’t until later when I realised that I had missed the date (1st April). It was posted on April Fool’s Day. Anyway, while they do have fancier fare for Bangor’s cafe standards, it’s not quite that level of fancy, and the owners at least have a bit of craic (local banter).

They also offer a proper Ulster fry along with a more upscale breakfast service, like eggs royale, and a competent grasp on various international drinks/eats.

Address: 278 Seacliff Rd, Bangor, BT20 5HS

Cafes in-and-round Bangor

We will leave Bangor Town City Centre for now, as there’s just a lot of nice scenery outside in the surrounding rural areas and forest parks. Some are easier than others to reach, but for most, you really need your own wheels to get out of the town centre, or decent knowledge of the local bus routes (which I have not).

However, I would recommend the coastal routes for walking, as you’ll never be far from a cafe along the Ballyholme route of the North Down coastal path, and then there’s always Crawfordsburn, and Helen’s Bay following the Holywood route on the coastal path.

Woodlands Cafe (Crawfordsburn Country Park)

And firstly I would recommend Crawfordsburn Country Park, which is possible to reach by following the coastal path from Bangor Seafront, but it will take an hour or so each way. Anyway, Crawfordsburn Country Park is otherwise found next to the small village of Crawfordsburn and the Woodland Cafe is found just before the main car park of the country park and not far from Crawfordsburn Beach. So you’ve got both a leafy country park and what is probably Bangor’s best sand beach to explore. Foodwise, however, the Ulster Fry is fairly basic, and the alternative canteen options are again fairly basic. It’s a bit like a school dinner buffet. But the scenic walks make up for it nearby.

Address: Crawfordsburn Country Park, Helen’s Bay, Bangor BT19 1JT

19 Coffee House (Blackwood Golf Centre)

We have been going to this café more often recently, as it is easily the quietest cafe on this list, given its out-of-town location. Also, people often think that these golf clubs are exclusive to members only. But this is not the case.

So the 19 Coffee House is found in the parklands of the Clandeboye Estate (3-miles from Bangor), set in rural woodland and connects to the Blackwood Golf Course. The menu is relatively simple/traditional, with lots of breakfast fry options, and decent pricing, similar to anywhere else in central Bangor.

To make a day of it, they also have a bunch of onsite facilities including a spa, obviously a Golf Course, and it’s just a short walk from the Clandeboye Way and the surrounding woods and wetlands at Helen’s Tower.

Address: 150 Crawfordsburn Rd, Bangor BT19 1GB

McKee’s Farm Cafe (Craigantlet Hills)

Okay, McKee’s Farm Cafe is technically in Newtownards (where townsfolk are rumoured to have seven toes) but it is still near the more amiable borders of Bangor in the Craigantlet Hills, which is a rural hillside area separating the two.

McKee’s Farm Cafe is really quite charming with views over active farmlands, and over to Strangford Lough and even Scrabo Tower. The cafe itself is a family-run business including a menu of homegrown produce, and some very good breakfasts. It is also the only place where I would happily go for “the healthy option” with some seriously fat sausages, homemade wheaten bread, and a tasty side of chutney.

Anyway, if ever out this way, it is definitely worthwhile taking a further run out to Scrabo Tower for views over the Strangford Lough.

Address: Strangford View, Holywood Rd, Newtownards BT23 4TQ

Creative Gardens (Donaghadee Hills)

The Donaghadee Garden Centre cafe is technically in Donaghadee (where village-folk are rumoured to have webbed feet), but it is nearer to the more amiable borders with the delightful seaside city Bangor. Again the cafe is surrounded by some rather scenic countryside and it just makes for a nice drive.

The Garden Centre brings the best of both worlds, at least for old folk, where you can potter around the garden displays, before enjoying some nice chitchat and grub at the onsite cafe. While I’m not a big fan of shrubberies, the cafe does do a decent menu of good food, with standards certainly higher than Woodlands (Crawfordburn Country Park), and near on par with McKee’s.

Anyway, it’s more of an outside option, and I would probably pair it with a visit to the not-so-far Ballycopeland Windmill and maybe Donaghadee.

Address: 34 Stockbridge Rd, Donaghadee, BT21 0PN

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