8 Top THings to Do in Derry
Although Derry often plays second fiddle to Northern Ireland’s ‘capital’, Belfast, the city is fast becoming a favourite among locals and those visiting from afar. A smaller city, Derry is rich in culture, history and charm, and, in more recent years, was even named European Capital of Culture.
There is so much to see and do in Derry and, whether you’re up for walking the city’s steep and winding streets or more akin to sitting back and soaking up the city from an open-top bus tour, there is something for everyone to enjoy on a visit to Derry.
Below are 8 reasons to visit the city that is appropriately nicknamed ‘Legenderry’.
1 City walls
The only remaining completely walled city in Ireland, the historic city walls of Derry have been walked and admired by many over the years. Built between 1613-18, the city walls span the main part of the city and are a treat to walk along, affording magnificent views over the city and a display of traditional cannons dotted along the way. Along the walls are also the four original gates of the city: Bishop’s Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Butcher Gate and Shipquay Gate. It is quite exceptional to see so much of the walls still intact and an experience of them is an absolute must when visiting Derry.
Over 100 years old, the Guildhall is an impressive building lying just outside Derry’s city walls and along the River Foyle. With its stained glass windows and large doorways, it is difficult not to be impressed by the building, which is used today as the Council chamber and Mayor’s Parlour. Since its refurbishment in 2013, the Guildhall is now also a popular visitor attraction and has within its walls several exhibitions commemorating Derry’s history and important past.
3 Tower Museum
A short distance from the Guildhall is the equally impressive Tower Museum, a museum based within Derry’s historic walls. The award-winning museum has two permanent exhibitions: The Story of Derry, a wonderful account of Derry’s earliest history to more recent events, and an impressive display of the history behind the Spanish Armada, a ship that sank off the coast of Donegal in 1588.
4 Peace Bridge
Owing to the tumultuous past between different sides of Derry’s community, the Peace Bridge was erected in 2011 to bring unity to the city. The beautifully designed cycle and footbridge is a wonderful sight along Derry’s River Foyle and definitely deserves a few moments of admiration for not only how it looks but also what it represents. Come at night and see the whole city lit up from the bridge.
5 The Playhouse
The Playhouse is an award-winning theatre and arts centre that was opened for and by the community in 1992. Since then, the venue has brought vibrancy and creativity to Derry through its shows and performances. Today, artists come from near and far to perform at The Playhouse stage, with shows including anything from theatre, comedy to contemporary dance. Book in a show at the venue as part of a night away or a weekend in the city.
6 St Columb’s Cathedral and Park
St Columb’s Cathedral was built in 1633 -1776 as part of the plantation of Derry~Londonderry. Today, the cathedral sits overlooking the city and is a beautiful sight along the city’s skyline. When stepping inside Derry’s St Columb’s Cathedral, it is hard not to be transfixed by the grandeur and beauty of the building.
Have a break at the cathedral as part of a walk along the walls and be transformed by the peacefulness of its interior or wonderful gardens.
7 Free Derry Museum and Bogside Tour
A visit to Derry wouldn’t be complete without discovering and understanding the city’s difficult yet important past. This includes a visit to the Free Derry Museum, a museum that opened in 2007 to tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement in Derry in the 1960s. There is also the Bogside Tour that goes into more detail on the specific places affected by Civil Rights Movement and gives a great insight into the realities faced by communities today as a result of what happened all those years ago.
8 Craft Village
For those wanting to pick up an authentic and handmade gift whilst in Derry then the city’s impressive Craft Village, a quaint square filled with thatched buildings, is the perfect place to turn to. The village has everything from jewellery to traditional clothing and is a definitely a great place to pick up a gift for a special souvenir from the city.