Categories: County Down

Whichever way you decide to arrive into County Down, you will be met by some of the most beautiful landscapes, seascapes and mountain-top vistas in the world. Picture yourself recounting the words of the famous song on roads “where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea”. Or following the bends and curves of the beautiful Ards Peninsula. And that’s before your holiday even starts! But first you need to get here! So let's explore your options...

Airport Connections

Belfast International Airport or George Best Belfast City Airport are within easy reach by car, the latter being the closest to County Down. From the City airport, your destination towns and cities by road are: Bangor (16km), Strangford (52km), Royal Hillsborough (27km), and Newry (69km).

If you're flying into Dublin airport, the order of these towns will be reversed, with Newry the first city you'll reach driving North on the motorway, as you cross the border into Northern Ireland.

Getting to County Down by bus

Ulsterbus and Translink operate various scheduled bus services to and from both Belfast airports and City of Derry Airport to towns in County Down. The handy Bus Rambler ticket offered by Translink gives you the freedom to explore the county and the rest of Northern Ireland in your own good time. 

From Dublin, Translink operate daily services from Dublin Airport and Dublin City Centre (Busáras) to Belfast with stops in both Newry and Banbridge. Journey times are approx 1 hour 30 minutes (Newry) or about 1 hour and 50 minutes (Banbridge). Expressway coaches also stop in Newry and Banbridge on its Dublin (Busáras) to Belfast (Europa Centre) route with similar journey times. 

Getting to County Down by train

There are two train lines from Belfast and beyond serving County Down - the Bangor and Newry lines. From there you can take a bus to your other preferred destinations in Down.

From Dublin, Irish Rail and Translink (NI Railways) jointly operate the cross-border Enterprise train. You can catch daily services from Dublin Connolly station to Belfast Lanyon Place with stops in Newry and Portadown. *During Summer 2024, note that there will be some travel disruption to services between Dublin and Belfast, due to upgrades underway. Refer to the Translink website for the latest update on this.

Getting to County Down by taxi

Like any place in the world, private taxi drivers will take you anywhere you want to go – for the right price, of course. You may even get a bit of local knowledge, their entire potted family history, or an insight or insider tip that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.

Driving to County Down from Dublin and the Republic of Ireland

Travelling by car from Dublin to County Down is a simple matter of getting on the M1 and travelling north, then transferring to the ‘A’ Road system in Northern Ireland, e.g. A1 to Newry, A2 to Bangor, A25/A2 to Strangford. It is definitely the easiest way to get there. Give yourself about 2 hours to reach the outskirts of the county. Or take the scenic route and bring your car across on the Carlingford Ferry (from Greenore Co. Louth) right to the heart of the Mourne County; a short, but incredibly picturesque 15 minute trip.

Getting around County Down

Getting around the Mourne County is easiest by car, so you should consider including car hire cost in your travel plans. But like most places in Northern Ireland, it’s well connected by public and private hire transport. You can get there by bus whether you’re travelling from or within Northern Ireland, or coming in from the Republic of Ireland. The combination of bus and train is another option worth checking out.

If you drive an Electric Vehicle, you'll find Charge Points scattered throughout, and this map from Zap-Map is useful for locating the nearest to where you are.

Another travel option if you are looking to explore the Mourne Mountains in particular, is the Mourne Shuttle Service which can pick you up at your desired car park and this will take you out to the start point of your desired route.

The views of County Down’s mountains and coastline are what will probably delay on any journey around the county you as you will want to stop and take photos or grab lunch or dinner. But then what’s your rush…you’re on your holidays.