Holywood Town Walk and Cultural Trail

Walking Route

Take this short walk of approximately one hour around this historic town.

Holywood history was first recorded in 634AD by the Venerable Bede in the Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation.

This short walk focus’s on the varied history of the town from this time to the modern day. The key historical and architectural landmarks are described within the guide that accompanies the walk.


1.5 miles

Start Point:


Finish Point:


Point of interest:

Maypole, Priory, Norman Motte, various churches.

Nearest town:


OS map:

Sheet 15


Town centre footpaths throughout


The walk begins at the Maypole in Holywood, the only surviving one in Ireland and the focal point of the town’s annual May Day celebrations and fair when local school children dance around the Maypole.

From the Maypole walk northeast towards the Priory. Look out for the statue of ‘Johnny the Jig’ on the opposite side of the road, a bronze statue of a youngster playing the accordion.

Continue straight on to Holywood Priory, easily identified by the clock tower, and situated at the junction of Priory Park and High St. The building now derelict was founded in the 7th Century.

On exiting the Priory turn left and follow Victoria rd uphill. Turn right onto Brook street. Approx. 20m on the right you will find the entrance to Holywood’s Norman Motte (opening times apply).

Exit the Motte and turn right, on reaching the junction with Church Road turn left up the hill. Approx, 100m on the right is the Parish Church of St Philip and St James completed in 1844. Look out for the Old School House no. 92 opposite.

From here turn back along Church Rd towards the sea and the Maypole. You will pass the Methodist Church on the left.

On reaching High Street turn left and walk through Holywood’s main shopping street.

You will see various fine buildings including the Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church, Holywood Library (once Sullivan School) and further along St Comcille’s Church, dating back to 1872.

Turn here and retrace your steps back until you reach Sullivan Place (opposite the library). Turn left and head towards the sea. On the left is Queens Hall built in the mid 50’s. With the Hall on your left cross the road to Redburn Square where you will see the War Memorial.

Take the pedestrian subway from here under the main road to the shore of Belfast Lough. At low tide you may be able to see the remains of the pier, which stretched a quarter of a mile into the Lough.

Retrace your steps back through the subway and turn left into Hibernia Street. On reaching High St turn left and walk back towards the Maypole and the end of the walk.


There is a range of refreshment opportunities from fine dining to coffee shops.

Accommodation ranges from hotels to self catering.

There are numerous shops on the town centre from fashion to antiques. Nearby is Holywood Exchange (off A2) including Next, Ikea and Sainsburys

There are several town centre car parks both free and pay and display with ample disabled parking included.

Public toilets are located in the town centre.

Accessible toilet facilities:


Accessible terrain:

The walk in on urban footpaths and is steep in places. These areas are denoted in the accompanying guide.


Holywood Town Walk and Cultural Trail

Publication availability:

Holywood Walking Guide downloadable from this page.

Getting to the start by public transport:

By train - there is a regular train service between Belfast and Bangor. Exit at Holywood and take the subway towards the town. Walk up Sullivan Place turn left onto High Street to the Maypole.

By bus - There is a regular bus service between Bangor and Belfast, get off in Holywood town centre, close to the Maypole.

Getting to the start by car:

Holywood is approximately 5 miles north east of Belfast on the way to Bangor.

By car - from Belfast follow the A2 towards Bangor.
On approaching Holywood, take the exit on the right before Palace Barracks and follow straight on towards the town. There is a large free public car park on the left 'Spa Field'. Exit the car park and turn left onto High St, continue walking until reaching the Maypole and the start of the walk.

The nearest Tourist Information Centre is:

George Best Belfast City Airport Tourist Information Desk
  • Free (parking charges may apply)
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