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Montalto Estate Ballynahinch: History, Walks + Afternoon Tea

Montalto Estate Ballynahinch: History, Walks + Afternoon Tea

Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch is one of the more popular places to visit in County Down.

How to several gorgeous walking trails, beautifully maintained gardens and several dining options, this is a great spot for an afternoon out.

Below, you’ll find everything from things to do at Montalto to opening hours and prices.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Montalto Estate

Montalto gardens

Photo courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland via Ireland’s Content Pool

Although a visit to Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

Located in the beautiful countryside of County Down in Northern Ireland, Montalto Estate is just outside of the town of Ballynahinch. It’s a 30-minute drive from Newcastle, a 20-minute drive from Downpatrick and a 45-minute drive from Rostrevor.

2. Opening hours

The estate is open throughout the year. It’s open:

  • Wednesday to Sunday from 9.30am to 4pm in Autumn and Winter
  • The grounds are accessible until 7pm Wednesday to Friday and 5pm on weekends from April to September.
  • Last admission is around an hour before closure, so make sure you arrive with enough time.

3. Prices

Prices vary, with concession rates available. Here’s a quick overview (prices may change):

  • Adult tickets: £7.50
  • children between 5 and 16: £5
  • Seniors over 65 years old: £7
  • Children under 5: free.
  • Family tickets (two adults and up to three children: £22.50

4. Plenty to do

There’s lots to do at the estate during your visit. You can discover the nature trails and gardens on foot, with lots of different walks ranging in lengths, before enjoying a meal or refreshment at the café. Discover more below.

5. Weddings

If you’re looking for a magical place to get married, Montalto Estate might just be the perfect setting. You can choose from the Carriage Room, estate grounds or the historic Montalto House as the backdrop to your ceremony. They also offer accommodation and can help you organise your entire day from start to finish. Many of the gardens are only open to private events.

About the Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch

Montalto Estate

Photos via Shutterstock

A vast 400-acre property and private residence, Montalto Estate dates back to the 1600s and has primarily been a private family home since it was built.

The estate was originally owned by Patrick McCartan until it was confiscated after the rebellion. In 1657 the land was bought by Sir George Rawdon, and his descendants eventually built the mansion house near the lake.

In 1798, it was the site of the famous Battle of Ballynahinch during the Irish rebellion. It is home to an incredible garden, which includes an exotic plant collection from The Father of Irish Gardening, Sir Arthur Rawdon. 

Gordon and June Wilson purchased the property in 1994 and lived there until 2009. The family then decided to open the estate up to the public, including for private venue hire and visitors wishing to enjoy the stunning gardens.

Things to do at the Montalto Estate

Montalto walks

Photo via Tourism Ireland’s Content Pool

One of the reasons that a visit here is one of the more popular things to do in Northern Ireland is due to the volume of things there are to see and do, such as:

1. The walks

You’ll find several trails leading you through the woodland and gardens on the 400 acre estate.

There are four distinct walks to choose from of varying length and all are accessible for adults and children, so there’s nothing too difficult.

  • The History Trail is 2.7km and includes a nice figure eight of the property with some steps and inclines
  • The Woodland Trail is 2.2km and a popular loop walk for its many unique trees to see along the way
  • The Garden Walk is a stunning trail of just under a kilometre long. It’s best in Spring when the flowers bloom and you can admire the different colours.
  • The Lake Walk is just over a kilometre and takes you past the Boathouse, woodland, and edge of the lake. 

2. The gardens

The gardens are broken down into sections with different specialities and focuses. The Alpine Garden has 245 varieties of alpine plants planted over the course of two years with the help of specialists.

The Winter Garden contains a mixture of cherry trees and birch, roses, and willows, which are all at their best in the cooler months. 

Then there are some gardens that are only open during special events or occasions such as weddings. These include, the formal garden, walled garden, the cutting garden and orchard.

The Formal Garden offers views across the lake and boathouse and has been shaped and structured with patterns. The Walled Garden is a stunning place to explore, with water features and a working greenhouse.

The Orchard contains a mix of Irish heritage trees and native wildflowers, while the cutting garden has several different nursery beds with flowers.

3. Afternoon tea

For a special afternoon in luxury, you can enjoy afternoon tea and a private tour of Montalto House. The guided tour takes you around the 18th century Georgian mansion and fills you in on the history of the place.

At the end of the tour, your guide will take you to the Chinese Room, which is the perfect setting for a traditional afternoon tea. This includes a selection of delicate sandwiches, scones, and pastries, including sweet treats along with tea and coffee.

This afternoon tea experience is an exclusive option, as the house is generally not open to the public. Tickets are £30 per adult and £15 per child.

4. A post walk feed

If you’d prefer something more casual, the café at Montalto Estate is a stylish space for a post walk feed. The café showcases the best of the fresh, local produce with a seasonal menu.

It’s open for breakfast from 9am to 11.30am, lunch until 3pm and drinks and treats until 4pm. From coffee and cake to warming stews and spicy curries, you’ll find something to get your mouth-watering at any time of the day.

Places to visit near the Montalto Estate

One of the beauties of the Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Down.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Monalto!

1. Seaforde Gardens (15-minute drive)

Just south of Montalto Estate, you can explore some more gardens at Seaforde Gardens and Tropical Butterfly House. The incredible estate features a historic walled garden, butterfly house, old maze, and garden house café. 

2. Slieve Croob (25-minute drive)

Slieve Croob walk

Photos via Shutterstock

This is the highest peak in the Dromara Hills in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains. Standing at 535 metres high, Slieve Croob a wonderful walk to attempt just a 25-minute drive south of Montalto Estate. From the Slieve Croob Car Park on Dree Hill Road, there’s a straightforward walk to the top on a paved path.

3. Down County Museum (20-minute drive)

Down County Museum

Photos via Down County Museum on FB

Located in Downpatrick just a 20-minute drive southeast of Montalto Estate, this free museum is housed in an 18th century former prison. It’s dedicated to all the local history of the area and is a great place to learn some more about Northern Ireland.

4. Endless nearby attractions (5+ minutes)

Castlewellan Forest Park

Photos via Shutterstock

If you want to get outside some more and enjoy other estates and nature reserves, you can head to Dundrum Castle or Murlough National Nature Reserve within 20-minute drives, or even Castlewellan Forest Park within a 25-minute drive.

Montalto Ballynahinch FAQs

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is it free in?’ to ‘When’s it open?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Do you have to pay into Montalto Estate?

Yes. Prices vary from £7.50 for an adult ticket to £5 for children between 5 and 16 years old. There’s alos senior concessions (£7) and kids under 5 are free.

Is Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch worth visiting?

Yes. This is a glorious place to explore on foot when the weather is good, with several trails on offer and a nice cafe for a post-walk bite.

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