The Ards Peninsula, beginning about 16km (10 miles) east of Belfast, curls around the western shore of Strangford Lough. This is a place of great natural beauty, as well as a bird sanctuary and wildlife reserve. Two roads traverse the peninsula: A20 (the Lough road) and A2 (the coast road). The Lough road is the more scenic.

At the southern tip of the Lough, car ferry service connects Portaferry with the Strangford Ferry Terminal (tel. 028/4488-1637), in Strangford, on the mainland side. It runs every half-hour, weekdays 7:30am to 10:30pm, Saturday 8am to 11pm, Sunday 9:30am to 10:30pm. No reservations are needed. A one-way trip takes 5 minutes and costs £5.80 for a car and driver, £1 for each additional passenger.

The Portaferry Tourist Information Office, The Stables, Castle Street (tel. 028/4272-9882), is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5:30pm, Sunday 1 to 6pm. There are two National Trust properties in this area, one on the Ards Peninsula and the other just across the lough at Portaferry.