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Cycle NI - Your definitive guide to cycling in Northern Ireland
Strangford Lough Trail
Route Location

Strangford Lough Trail

Route DetailsItinerariesOffersDay/Short Breaks

Day Trip Itinerary

Distance: 41 miles / 66km linear
Traffic: The route follows minor roads but can be fairly busy through major towns.
Map: “Strangford Lough Cycle Trail” -
Start/Finish: Portaferry - Comber


FerryPace is what sets cycling apart from other activities. Fast enough to cover large distances yet slow enough not to miss the detail. Cycling along Strangford Lough an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you'll not miss a thing as landscape, history and nature come together to make an unforgettable days cycling. The Strangford Lough Cycle route follows quiet country lanes and coast roads for a flat forty one miles, making this a great introduction to cycle touring.

Regarded as one of Europe's most important and unique habitats, Strangford Lough changes by the hour. Tidal water rushes through the Narrows at Portaferry, engulfing the small drumlins dotted throughout the Lough, then slowly retreats revealing sand flats, rocky beaches, feeding birds and basking seals. A visit to Portaferry's Exploris Aquarium literally takes you beneath the water to reveal this unique ecosystem.

At Portaferry wheel your bike onto the ferry and cross the surging water to sleepy Strangford Village. Pick up a few souvenirs or a bite of lunch before cycling along the waters edge into Castle Ward Estate, where luxurious architecture meets magical landscapes.  A short pedal from here takes you to Downpatrick… Saint Patrick's town. Saint Patrick's grave sits in the grounds of the Cathedral and the Saint Patrick's Centre. nearby, documents his legacy in Christian Ireland and further afield.

Killyleagh CastleBack on the bike, wind your way past Inch Abbey and push into Killyleagh, where the views across Strangford Lough really begin to open up. Just up the road is Sketrick Island and Nendrum Monastery, where you'll stand among the hundreds of islands that make this landscape so unique. The last 10 miles of the trip brings you past Castle Espie, an important wildlife centre where walkways and hides get you right up close to nature. Park up at Comber, grab a cuppa and with your appetite whetted, plan your next cycle trip in Northern Ireland.


If you need some help organising your day on Strangford Lough, then why not contact an expert. Specialist activity providers can arrange bike hire or even a guide! Contact for more information.


Short Break Itinerary

Duration: 2 days
Distance: 82 miles / 132 km circular (Comber Greenway 7 miles / 11km)
Traffic: Route follows minor roads. Busy through major towns.
Map: “Strangford Lough Cycle Trail” -
Start/Finish: Comber


PortaferryDay 1 - Comber - Portaferry (41 miles / 66km)

The Comber Greenway provides a traffic free highway straight from Belfast city centre to Comber on the Lough shore. Head in the direction of Scrabo Tower, an unmistakable landmark high on the hills above Newtownards and detour to Mount Stewart House, outside the town, for a tour of its wonderful gardens. Now pedal across the Ards Peninsula to the Irish Sea and travel down along the coast, pulling in at Ballyhalbert at the water's edge. The shores of Scotland should be quite visible across the sea.  Take the quiet coast road through the small villages of Cloughey and Portavogie to Ballyquintin Nature Reserve at the tip of the peninsula. Swing back up toward the town of Portaferry where the sea surges through the Narrows into Strangford Lough. The Exploris aquarium gives you a chance to investigate the Lough's habitat both above and below the water.


Strangford Village

Day 2 - Portaferry - Comber (41 miles / 66 km)

Crossing the narrows by ferry over to Strangford makes for an exhilarating start to the day. From Strangford cycle along the coastal road into the magnificent Castle Ward Estate where the house and grounds have some outstanding views across the Lough.  Saint Patrick dominates the town of Downpatrick and surrounding areas. You can cycle up to his grave at the Cathedral and learn about his influence on Ireland at the Saint Patrick's Centre. From the shoreline at Killyleagh you can see dozens of small islands dotted throughout the lough. Detour onto Ringhaddy or Sketrick Island where the ruined castle overlooks the far shore. Nendrum Monastery just around the corner is also worth a dismount.  A few miles before the finish at Comber call into Castle Espie for more information on birdlife and the ecosystem of Strangford Lough.


Don't fancy lugging your bike or camping gear over to Northern Ireland, why not let someone else organise bike hire and accommodation for you. Contact for more information:

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