HELEN’S BAY, Co. Down: visit info, what’s nearby, & MORE

Helen’s Bay is one of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful coastal stretches. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know for your visit.

Helen’s Bay, County Down: visit info, what’s nearby, & more.

Located in County Down, Helen’s Bay Beach is one of two beautiful sandy beaches – along with Crawfordsburn Beach – on Belfast Lough that form part of Crawfordsburn Country Park.

Helen’s Bay is a popular beach for dog walkers and families and friends going for tranquil walks all throughout the year. In particular, the weekends are very busy here, even in the colder months.

If you are planning a trip to the northern counties, a walk along Helen’s Bay with a coffee is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, so here’s everything you need to know.

Ireland Before You Die’s top tips for visiting Helen’s Bay:

  • If you’re bringing your furry family members with you, be sure to keep them on a lead.
  • Helen’s Bay is a popular swimming destination, but be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty at any time of the year.
  • Irish weather is unpredictable. Even in the summertime, wrap up warm or bring an extra layer or two to shelter from the wind and potential rain.
  • There is usually an ice cream van/coffee van parked near the Crawfordsburn County Park car park, where you can grab a hot drink or an ice cream for your walk.
  • Helen’s Bay is always packed in the good weather. To avoid big crowds, consider visiting during the week or in the quieter months.

Helen’s Bay, County Down – a stunning coastal stretch in Northern Ireland

It’s a super popular destination for locals in the Holywood area as well as those in the surrounding areas of Bangor and Belfast.
Credit: geograph.ie / Albert Bridge

Helen’s Bay is one of two excellent beaches found in Crawfordsburn Country Park. It’s a super popular destination for locals in the Holywood area as well as those in the surrounding areas of Bangor and Belfast.

In the summer months, Helen’s Bay becomes a hive of activity, with thousands visiting on the weekends for swimming, picnics, BBQs, water sports, and walks along the coast.

With its location in the affluent neighbourhood of Holywood, County Down, this is considered one of the most stunning areas to live in in the greater Belfast area.

Address: Helen’s Bay, Bangor, County Down

RELATED READ: Top 10 best beaches in Northern Ireland, ranked.

Getting there – the best ways to travel to Helen’s Bay

Helen’s Bay, County Down: visit info, what’s nearby, & more.
Credit: geograph.ie / Albert Bridge

If you are travelling from Belfast, taking the train or driving are the best ways to get there. By car, the drive from Belfast city centre is virtually a straight line that takes around 25 minutes.

If you decide to take the train, you can get on at Lanyon Place in the city centre. From here, you want to take the service towards Bangor and disembark directly at the Helen’s Bay Train Station.

It then takes 10 minutes to walk from the station to the beach itself. This journey typically costs £4.90. 

If you are travelling from Bangor, the drive only takes around ten minutes. Alternatively, you can get the train from Bangor Train Station towards Portadown at alight at the aforementioned stop.

Visit info – parking, facilities, & more

This car park is quite small, so it is very busy when the sun is shining.
Credit: geograph.ie / Albert Bridge

When it comes to parking at Helen’s Bay, there are a couple of different options. The main Helen’s Bay car park off Fort Road is free and is located less than five minutes from the beach itself. 

This car park is quite small, so it is very busy when the sun is shining. Toilets are located at this car park. 

Alternatively, there is ample parking at Crawfordsburn Country Park, just a ten-minute walk from Helen’s Bay. 

There are lots of toilets, including disabled access toilets, as well as electric car charging points at this car park. If you fancy a coffee or a bite to eat while visiting, the Woodland Café by the Crawfordsburn Country Park car park opens daily from 10 am to 4 pm.

Address: Grey Point, Helen’s Bay, Bangor BT19 1JX

What’s nearby – what to see and do in the area

Helen’s Bay, County Down: visit info, what’s nearby, & more.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

When visiting Helen’s Bay, there is a lot to see and do in the area. The town of Holywood needs to be explored for a coffee and a look around to wrap up your afternoon.

Holywood is an affluent area of Northern Ireland that has some fantastic cafes, restaurants, and shops to explore. If you are a fan of a charity shop bargain, Holywood is a dream come true.

Joxer is a popular local spot for a coffee and some lunch, while the Dirty Duck pub is the place to be if a pint and some pub grub is more your style.

Furthermore, Bangor, Northern Ireland’s newest city, is only ten minutes away from Helen’s Bay. From the picturesque marina to Bangor Castle and Walled Garden, Bangor is the perfect place to mosey around for a few hours, with much to see and explore.

The Guillemot Café is a popular spot for locals in Bangor for coffee, lunch, or sweet treats.

Other must-visit attractions in the area include the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, and the many sites and attractions of Belfast city centre are just a 25-minute drive away. 

Where to stay – the best accommodation options in the area

The Old Inn Crawfordsburn is ideally located in the nearby village of Crawfordsburn.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

If you fancy staying in the area, there are some great luxury spa hotel options, including The Old Inn Crawfordsburn, ideally located in the nearby village of Crawfordsburn, and the Culloden Hotel & Spa, located in Holywood. 

Typically, visitors to the north will stay in Belfast and travel to the likes of Holywood and Helen’s Bay for a day trip, but if you’re a fan of an off-the-beaten-track cosy stay, consider both of these hotels.

If you are seeking a more budget-friendly option nearby, the Premier Inn in Bangor is a short train or car journey away and has rooms for as little as £35 a night.

SEE MORE: The 10 BEST Hotels in Belfast, according to reviews.

Notable mentions

Helen’s Bay, County Down: visit info, what’s nearby, & more.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Wildlife: Helen’s Bay and the surrounding Crawfordsburn Country Park are a haven for fascinating wildlife, including seals, various bird species like eider ducks, and even porpoises. 

Dogs: Helen’s Bay is rife with dog walkers, and while the rules state you should keep your dogs on a lead, many people walk the area with their dogs off lead. This is something to be aware of if you have a reactive dog.

Helen’s Bay Golf Club: Helen’s Bay Golf Club has some stunning views of the beach, making for an excellent backdrop to a round of golf.

North Down Coastal Path: The North Down Coastal Path, which connects Holywood and Orlock, goes through Crawfordsburn Country Park and past the beach. The walk is about 25 km (16 mi) long, so the entire walk may not be suitable for those with limited mobility.

Visitor centre: There is a visitor centre and café at Crawfordburn Country Park open year-round. A short distance from the beach, both have wheelchair access and provide first aid in case of emergencies.

Your questions answered about Helen’s Bay

If you still have questions, read on! In this section we answer some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions about Helen’s Bay, as well as some that appear often in online searches.

There is a visitor centre and café open year-round.
Credit: geograph.ie / Albert Bridge

Does Helen’s Bay have toilets?

Yes! There are toilets at both the Fort Road car park and the Crawfordsburn Country Park car park.

Can you swim in Helen’s Bay?

Helen’s Bay is the perfect location for swimming and is usually considered a safe swimming spot. Be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty, and look out for any weather warnings to ensure safe conditions.

Is Helen’s Bay a nice place to live?

Helen’s Bay was recently featured in The Sunday Times ‘Best Places to Live Guide’. The paper pointed to its “natural beauty and outdoorsy vibe” as its best quality. It’s certainly known as a beautiful place to live!

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