I’ve found myself with a similar routine to old folk here, where I’d be up blogging each morning at 05:00 AM, before joining the retirees of the family for their routine cafe breakfast. Which kind of rotates through the different cafes of Bangor. At the same time, I’m really not overly excited by cafes and coffee shops, as I pretty much always lump for the standard Ulster Fry each time, and for me, the Pit Stop Cafe generally does the job. Unless there are lunch options available. And then I’d go with the lunch #Yolo. Anyway, I really can’t say which smoked salmon melts in your mouth, or which cinnamon scone is to die for, as I instead share the cafes by location. Be it convenience to Bangor town centre, or those with nice scenery or nice views in-and-around the town. The more tourist-motivated cafes I guess. And while there are the generic, soulless, tax-dodging chain cafes in Bangor, they are all pretty much found on Bangor Main Street, and I won’t be including them. Anyway, here are some of the best Coffee Shops and Cafes in Bangor Northern Ireland. Feel free to share your own recommendations in the comments.
Coffee Cure (Bangor Museum)
Starting at Bangor Castle, which would be Bangor’s most central attraction, and home to the North Down Museum. Which is just extremely easy to find, given it sits directly opposite the main train and bus stations. And inside the museum is the Coffee Cure cafe, next to and overlooking the museum’s internal courtyard. And the cafe is just really nice and peaceful. There is a downside however, as there’s a rather limited menu, where on even the traditional Ulster Fry is included, or anything fried for that matter. But there are otherwise some decent breakfast alternatives, and I typically go with the poached egg sandwich, with BLT, and guacamole spread… etc. Tie in the free exhibits of Bangor’s heritage museum, and a stroll around Castle Park, and you can make a day of it. Note, they do appear to run low on crockery at times, as many options may come served on chopping boards (update, they now have loads of plates).
Address: Town Hall, Castle Park Avenue, Bangor, BT20 4BT
Red Berry (Bangor Marina)
The next stop would probably be along the seafront, having followed to the bottom of Bangor’s Main Street. And while there are a number of popular cafes along the way, including the Heatherlea Bakery and The Courtyard, I’d personally keep going to the Red Berry which has upstairs views overlooking the McKee Clock and Bangor Marina. It’s pretty much at the bottom corner of Main Street where it meets the Queen’s Parade. As it’s about as close as you’ll get to find views of the Marina area in Bangor. Anyway, they sell all sorts at the Red Berry, from ice-cream to Irish stew, and they of course have a decent breakfast fry.
Address: 2-4 Main Street, Bangor, BT20 5AG
The Guillemot (Bangor Pier)
The Guillemot Kitchen Cafe is no more than a stone’s throw from the Red Berry, taking a right along the seafront, and again passing some more of Bangor’s popular cafes (e.g. Cafe Brazilia). As well as the old courthouse, then Tourist Information offices, where it’s found pretty much opposite the carpark for Bangor’s North (Eisenhower) Pier, and the old harbour known as the long hole. As again this cafe is found in a really nice area, and is perfect for a morning stroll. The Guillemot itself is otherwise quite cute and cosy, where they offer a more upmarket menu, with posh bits like smoked salmon (that may melt in your mouth), and granary bread, and whatnot. It is more expensive than most, but it is the ideal alternative to the usual ‘greasy spoons’. Fun fact. The Guillemot is named after the birds nesting on the north pier.
Address: 2 Seacliff Road, Bangor, BT20 5EY
The Pickie Cafe (Pickie Fun Park)
Pickie Fun Park found is just a minute’s walk past Bangor Marina, along the seafront promenade, on the opposite side of Bangor’s Eisenhower Pier. And I found myself passing it a lot this summer, in the early morning hours, when the park is empty apart from the remote control boat enthusiasts who sail their boats in the swan pond. So I thought I would call in for a quick breakfast at the Pickie Cafe one morning, to be pleasantly surprised by the range of eats on offer through the day. But not so much by the prices (it was around £7 for the fry) and the weird transparent pink theme going through the interiors. Although they do offer decent portions tbf, and the menu includes all the Northern Irish food favourites from local cafe menus, and the chip shops and pub grub.
Woodlands Cafe (Crawfordsburn Country Park)
I will leave the town centre now, because there really are some scenic spots worth visiting outside, although you could technically follow the coastal path from Bangor Seafront to Crawfordsburn Country Park. Otherwise the park is located near the small village of Crawfordsburn which is along the coastline towards Belfast. And the Woodland Cafe is found just before the carpark entrance to Crawfordsburn Beach, meaning it’s not only surrounded by a leafy country park, but it’s also a stone’s throw from probably Bangor’s best sand beach. Foodwise, however, the Ulster Fry is pretty standard, and the alternative canteen food options really are not great. As it’s a bit like a school dinner buffet. But there are some really scenic walks nearby. So it all evens out.
Address: Crawfordsburn Country Park, Helen’s Bay, Bangor BT19 1JT
McKee’s Farm Cafe (Craigantlet Hills)
This Cafe is technically in Newtownards (where townsfolk are rumoured to have seven toes), but it is still near enough to the more amiable borders of Bangor, in the surrounding Craigantlet Hills. Which is a rural hillside area that separates the two towns, and there are some nice views over farmlands, and further out to Strangford Lough and Scrabo Tower. It’s really quite charming. The cafe itself is a family-run establishment, with a menu full of home-grown and local produce, and the breakfasts really are rather good with some seriously fat sausages and a top-notch side of chutney. But their award-winning popularity brings a busy crowd, and despite their out-of-the-way location, the seats with the views will likely fill up quick.
Address: Strangford View, Holywood Rd, Newtownards BT23 4TQ
Creative Gardens (Donaghadee Hills)
Again, this garden centre cafe is technically in Donaghadee (where village-folk are rumoured to have webbed feet), but it is near the more amiable borders of Bangor. And again it is surrounded by some rather scenic countryside. So it seems to bring the best of both worlds for the local old folk, who not only get to enjoy some rather fantastic cafe food, but they then get to potter aimlessly around the garden centre displays. And while I’m not really a fan of ornaments and shrubberies, they really do offer some great grub, where their standards are most certainly higher than Woodlands and similar (although probably not quite on par with McKee’s). Anyway, they’re more of an outside choice, and they will likely be less busy and more spacious than the rest.
Address: 34 Stockbridge Rd, Donaghadee, BT21 0PN