Peace Bridge Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry
NORTHERN IRELAND UK

48 Hours in the Historic Walled City of Derry ~ Londonderry, N Ireland

By on 10/05/2017

Derry ~ Londonderry is one of those places that for a long time has been associated with conflict. If you’d asked me a month ago what I knew about the city, I would have mentioned Bloody Sunday and The Troubles. Don’t get me wrong, these tragic events are part of Derry’s identity today and must not be forgotten. But perhaps it’s time for the walled city to be known for more than that.

Derry Londonderry Walled City Guildhall

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Derry Today

Derry is a testament to what positive community relations can do for a place where conflict has ruled most people’s lives. Things have changed at a rapid pace in the last few years, and Derry is now a place of hope and of increasing prosperity.

This was evident to me over the two days I spent in the city. Locals, whether catholic or protestant, are proud of what both communities have achieved and there is a constant feeling of optimism in the air.

Bogside Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

The Bogside at night seen from the City Walls

So why should I go to Derry? I hear you ask…

As I discovered myself, Derry is a city full of powerful ancient and recent history, a foodie’s paradise, with quaint Georgian architecture and a vibrant cultural scene that is ready to be discovered by the outside world.

Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Beautiful Georgian architecture in the streets of Derry


Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

More Georgian architecture in Derry

Divided in two by the River Foyle, Derry is very close to the border with Ireland. Its biggest draw are the 17th century walls that fully enclose the old city, one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe. It is also a great starting point for the Causeway Coastal Route, that takes you past dramatic cliff-top castles, white sandy beaches, charming little villages, and of course, the famed Giant’s Causeway.

Here are some suggestions to get you started. I’ve highlighted some of my favourite places so you can pick and choose to create your own perfect Derry trip. Enjoy!

Top 10 Things to Do in Derry

Walking Tour of the City Walls

Derry’s star attraction is the 17th century walls, the only remaining intact walled city in Ireland. The walls form a historic walkway of just under a mile all around the old city and offer great views over the surrounding neighbourhoods. You will also come across the actual cannons that played a big part in the two 17th century sieges. I had the best guide I could have wished for, Garvin from City Tours, a local man so passionate about Derry’s history that he really brought it to life. And he seemed to know everyone we walked past!

City Walls Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Derry City Walls


Bogside Derry City Walls Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Derry City Walls overlooking the Bogside

The Tower Museum

An award winning museum, it is an essential visit in order to understand Derry’s past and present. It houses two permanent exhibitions, The Story of Derry, which tells the history of the city from prehistoric times to the present day, and the Armada Shipwreck. The museum is open daily and admission is £4.

Tower Museum Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

The Tower Museum

The Guildhall

One of Derry’s most recognisable landmarks, it is a must see destination for visitors. There is a permanent exhibition about the Plantation (organised colonization) of Ulster, but it’s worth a visit just for the stunning stained glass windows. It’s open daily and it’s free entry.

Guildhall Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

The Guildhall is visible from pretty much everywhere in the city


Guildhall Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

The stained glass windows inside The Guildhall

Walking Tour of the Bogside

The Bogside is a neighbourhood outside of the city walls where many of the events of The Troubles, including Bloody Sunday, took place. You can do a tour that visits the key locations of these events, including Free Derry Corner, a free-standing gable wall that commemorates Free Derry. You will see the People’s Gallery, a collection of large gable wall murals by the Bogside Artists that remember the events of The Troubles. Free Derry Tours is run by Eugene, a local Bogside man who knows the history of the area first hand. Tours leave from the Museum of Free Derry, so combine a tour with a visit to the museum for an in-depth view of the events.

Bogside Artists Murals Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Two of the murals by The Bogside Artists part of the People’s Gallery


Bogside Free Derry Corner Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Two icons of the times of The Troubles – Free Derry Corner and The Petrol Bomber mural by The Bogside Artists

Museum of Free Derry

This museum tells the story of what happened in the city during the ‘Free Derry’ period (1968-72), and covers the civil rights era, the Battle of the Bogside and Bloody Sunday amongst other key events. What makes this place special is that the story is told from the point of view of those who were most affected by and involved in the incidents. It is an emotional journey through the events of the time, but one that everyone should learn about and they must not be forgotten. Entry is £4.

Bogside Free Derry Museum Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Display at the Free Derry Museum shows bottles used for petrol bombs and gas mask


Free Derry Museum Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Rubbish bin lids were banged on the floor and used as an alarm system

The Peace Bridge

The Peace Bridge was conceived as a project to literally ‘bridge’ the gap between the two communities of the waterside (protestant) and the cityside (mostly catholic). Originally there were concerns that people may not use it because who would want to visit ‘the other side’? This S-shaped bridge has proven to be a great success and has been pivotal in bringing the two communities together. It stretches from Guildhall Square to Ebrington Square, where you can enjoy a great view of the city.

Peace Bridge Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

The Peace Bridge at night from Ebrington Square

Ebrington Square

Recently regenerated, Ebrington Square was the site of the British Army barracks until 2002. It is now an open square where you can find a small but perfectly-formed brewery, Walled City Brewery, that serves delicious pintxos and craft beer. There are also plans for a distillery to open in the square in 2018.

Ebrington Barracks Square Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Ebrington Square with the old barracks in the background

The Siege Museum

The Siege Museum is dedicated to the history of the Siege of Derry and the Apprentice Boys of Derry, who commemorate the events of the Siege with two annual marches along the city walls. These marches used to be seen as a provocation and they always resulted in riots, but thanks to the reconciliation between the two communities in the city, they now pass almost entirely without incident. The museum is closed on Sundays and entrance fee is £3.

Siege Museum Apprentice Boys Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

One of the standards used by The Apprentice Boys of Derry on their marches

Derry Craft Village

A little bit of an oasis within the city, Derry Craft Village is a Dickensian style complex with craft shops, balconied apartments, restaurants and coffee shops. It is ideal for a browse around the cute independent shops, for a nice meal or just a drink.

Derry Craft Village Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Derry Craft Village with The Guildhall in the background


Derry Craft Village Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

A traditional cottage in Derry Craft Village

Church Cathedral of St Columb

Built shortly after the city walls, it is the oldest building in the city. You can book a tour directly by emailing the Cathedral, or you can just go for a stroll on the grounds.

Cathedral St Columb Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Church Cathedral of St Columb

Derry or Londonderry?

The name of the city of Derry~Londonderry has been the subject of a naming dispute between Irish nationalists and unionists. Generally, although not always, nationalists favour using the name Derry, and unionists favour Londonderry.

The insertion of the hyphen between the words ‘Derry’ and ‘Londonderry’ was the grammatical equivalent of the city’s Peace Bridge, a device to link the two communities without diminishing either.” – Dr Paul Nolan, author of the Community Relations Council’s (CRC) third Peace Monitoring Report.

I have chosen to go for Derry for simplicity reasons.

Where to Stay in Derry

Bishops Gate Hotel Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Bishops Gate Hotel – Luxury Stay

Located within the historic city walls in the heart of Derry City’s Cathedral Quarter, this hotel is the perfect base to explore Derry’s iconic tourist landmarks. These include the historic walls, Church Cathedral of St Columb, The Guildhall and the Peace Bridge.

Would you like more info? Click for Tripadvisor reviews.


City Hotel Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

City Hotel – Mid-Range Stay

On the banks of the River Foyle, City Hotel is just 550 yards from the Tower Museum. The famous golf courses at Portrush are less than an hour’s drive away, and Foyleside Shopping Centre is within a 10-minute walk.

Would you like more info? Click for Tripadvisor reviews.


Hostel Connect Derry Northern Ireland Ulster Londonderry

Hostel Connect – Budget Stay

It is Derry City’s largest hostel and is situated in the heart of the historic walled city. It is only 2 minutes from all the action of the pubs, clubs, restaurants and the city’s vibrant nightlife.

Would you like more info? Click for Tripadvisor reviews.

 

Or if you have specific requirements, click through to Booking.com to narrow down your options to suit your own needs.

Getting to Derry

By Air

There are two daily flights from London Stanstead to Derry with bmi regional, with fares from £44 one way.

By Train

There is a direct train from Belfast Central to Londonderry Station that takes just over two hours.

By Bus

Bus 212 leaves Europa Buscentre in Belfast to Derry every half hour. It takes approximately 1 hour 50 mins.

 

Planning to explore further afield?

If you would like to get out of the city, driving yourself along the Causeway Coastal Route or through the countryside, can be a great option. But car hire is not cheap, use comparison sites to get the best deal from a wide range of providers.

Derry Londonderry Walled City Guildhall

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30 Comments
  1. Reply

    karen

    10/05/2017

    A great read, very informative both in terms of facts and photos! Thanks Teresa

    • Reply

      Teresa

      10/05/2017

      Thank you Karen! I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  2. Reply

    Julieann

    11/05/2017

    Great piece – glad you enjoyed your visit to our beautiful city!
    Thank you for including Museum of Free Derry…

    • Reply

      Teresa

      11/05/2017

      Hi Julieann
      Thank you so much. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
      The Museum of Free Derry was one of the highlights of my visit to Derry. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  3. Reply

    Maria

    12/05/2017

    Loved the piece about the city – shows it in a great light that you don’t see on the news.

    One note:
    “Bus 212 leaves Europa Buscentre in Belfast to Derry every half hour. It takes approximately 50 mins” – closer to an hour and 50 minutes

    • Reply

      Teresa

      12/05/2017

      Thank you Maria. I’m really happy you enjoyed the post.
      I wrote about what I saw just as I saw it. Derry was a great surprise for me as, like you said, when it is on the news it is not necessarily in a positive light. I loved the enthusiasm that local people have for their own city. 🙂

      Thanks for the note about the Belfast bus. I have corrected it.

  4. Reply

    Mark McKnight

    12/05/2017

    Hi Teresa. I enjoyed reading your post about Londonderry. I want to share it with all my fans over at Northern Ireland Travel, so I’ve scheduled your post to go out on my fanpage tomorrow morning. You can see it here: https://www.facebook.com/NorthernIrelandTravel/.

    • Reply

      Teresa

      13/05/2017

      Hi Mark

      Thank you so much for message. I am so glad that you enjoyed my post. Please feel free to share it around. I think Londonderry deserves more recognition as a tourist destination. It’s got so much to offer! 🙂

  5. Reply

    Christine

    12/05/2017

    Hey Teresa,
    stunning pictures – where did you eat?
    Love the write up.

    • Reply

      Teresa

      13/05/2017

      Thank you so much Christine! I ate at The Gown (Bishops Gate Hotel), Browns, Walled City Brewery, Brickworks and Harry’s. The food was incredible! I am working on a foodie post too so keep an eye out for it over the next couple of weeks 🙂

  6. Reply

    Bernard ward

    12/05/2017

    Lovely blog post. I have shared on my business page Facebook.com/DerryPhotos.

    • Reply

      Teresa

      13/05/2017

      Thank you Bernard! And thanks for sharing it. I’m really happy you enjoyed it 🙂

  7. Reply

    Derek

    12/05/2017

    A great visitors view of what to do in Derry/Londonderry . Great city of for places to eat as well

    • Reply

      Teresa

      13/05/2017

      Hi Derek

      Thank you so much. I agree with you that the city has great places to eat. I am working on another post that covers those places. Stay tuned! 🙂

  8. Reply

    Fidelma

    12/05/2017

    What a lovely snapshot of our beautiful city. At Elaghvale Camping Park we frequently hear the same reports, we have a city wishes acknowledges its troubled past but continues to drive towards a brighter future. Hope you visit again.

    • Reply

      Teresa

      13/05/2017

      Thank you Fidelma. I’m so happy that you enjoyed it. Our own history is what makes who we are, and we should embrace it, learn from it and move forward. I thought Derry was a great example of a place that has done just that, and that in itself makes it very special. I will visit again for sure! 🙂

  9. Reply

    Christie

    13/05/2017

    Derry sounds amazing! It’s great to hear how much the spirit of the city has improved in recent years too. I have some friends from Northern Ireland so definitely need to visit on my next trip to the UK!

    • Reply

      Teresa

      13/05/2017

      Hi Christie
      Thank you for your comment. Yes, do visit! It’s a fab city and you can combine it with a bit of a road trip along the coast. The Giant’s Causeway is not that far! 🙂

  10. Reply

    Louise

    13/05/2017

    Wow, Derry looks beautiful and not how I expected! Your photos are wonderful. I’ve been wanting to visit Northern Ireland for a while – I’m only in England so no excuse really! This article has made me even keener to get over there. Thanks for the ideas!

    • Reply

      Teresa

      14/05/2017

      Thank you so much Louise!
      It’s funny that sometimes the closest places to us are the ones that we explore the least it or we plainly ignore. Derry is definitely worth a visit if you get the chance 🙂

  11. Reply

    Aarti Kamath

    13/05/2017

    This was very informative! The pictures are definitely very inviting. Hoping to make it sometime for sure and hence pinning the post. The traditional cottage in Derry Craft Village looks like a nice little cream cake 🙂 :)….

    • Reply

      Teresa

      14/05/2017

      Thank you so much Aarti! I hope you get to experience Derry soon. It’s a fab city! 🙂

  12. Reply

    Garvin Kerr Jnr

    13/05/2017

    Fantastic Article! Some great photos aswell! I’m very proud of my home city. I will pass this article on to my dad (Garvin the tour guide) I’m sure he will be pleased to read such a great article about his tour! Thanks ☺

    • Reply

      Teresa

      14/05/2017

      Thank you so much for your comments Garvin! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! I love that you are Garvin’s son. Please do send him my regards 🙂

  13. Reply

    Sally

    13/05/2017

    I never knew there was such incredible architecture there! You represented it well! Good post & beautiful photos.

    • Reply

      Teresa

      15/05/2017

      Thank you Sally. Derry was a real surprise for me too. I’m really glad you enjoyed the post and photos 🙂

  14. Reply

    Lindsay | The Anthrotorian Travel Blog

    13/05/2017

    I’d never heard of Derry until now! I LOVE visiting walled cities. They have such a cool vibe. I’ve never been to Ireland, but I’ve always been really curious about the country. Adding this to my travel list for sure.

    • Reply

      Teresa

      15/05/2017

      Hi Lindsay. Yes! Ireland is an amazing country, you must visit if you have the chance and make sure you include Derry 🙂

  15. Reply

    Maggie

    13/05/2017

    Thank you so much for the beautiful tour of Derry, my hometown from long ago. Wonderful to see that the places of my childhood memory have survived and the City appears to be thriving. Worth a visit for sure!

    • Reply

      Teresa

      16/05/2017

      Thank you Maggie! I’m so happy you enjoyed reading my post. Derry is a wonderful city and as you said, worth a visit for sure! 🙂

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HI, I'M TERESA!

Hi! I’m Teresa, a London-based traveller and photographer who quit her job in the summer 2016 to explore the world. I’ve been to 39 countries and have ticked some adventures off my bucket list. I hope I can inspire you and motivate you to get out there and explore this beautiful world we live in. Follow my updates and discover the essence of travelling with me!

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