The heart of the Ards peninsula

Newtownards, locally known as ‘Ards’, is a large town that lies at the most northern tip of Strangford Lough.

In 1605, Hugh Montgomery was granted the lands and set about rebuilding what was by then known as Newtown, later expanded to Newtownards. Official records show the town was established in 1606. Montgomery built a residence in the ruins of the Old Priory, the tower of which remains. The Priory is currently not open to the public because of ongoing conservation work.

Newtownards became a market town, with the Market House in Conway Square constructed in 1770. The market still operates today on a weekly basis.

The town of Newtownards is overlooked by Scrabo Tower, which is one of the dominant features of the area. The tower is 41 metres high, and was built in 1857 as a memorial to Charles Stewart, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry.

Scrabo Grounds are open daily and the Tower is generally open May - September at weekends. Scrabo Tower Opening Times  The Tower stands tall in Scrabo Country Park with its woodland walks and parkland through Killynether Wood. The woods give visitors the opportunity to enjoy the quiet and peaceful countryside.

Universal Pictures filmed several scenes of the new Dracula Untold film at Scrabo Country Park and Killynether Wood. This is one of many of the locations used for filming across Northern Ireland.

Ards Visitor Information Centre lies within the town and should be your first stop to visit. The centre will provide you with information on where to stay, local events and where to eat during your visit to Ards Peninsula and Strangford Lough region. 

The centre also displays a range of exciting merchandise from books, maps, souvenirs and gifts.


Newtownards Walking Guide (PDF)

Opening Times


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