Derry City Walls, one of the reasons Derry should be included in your Northern Ireland itinerary

There is something about Derry (also known as Londonderry) that keeps me going back. Maybe being so close to the Republic of Ireland’s border and having a recent troubled past gives it a bit of an edge, or maybe it’s the fact that it’s totally underrated and sometimes overlooked by visitors to the Emerald Isle. There is definitely something special about the Walled City, so I’ve been giving it some thought and I’ve come up with a few reasons why everyone should include Derry in their Northern Ireland itinerary.

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Reasons to include Derry in your Northern Ireland itinerary

Derry is one of the finest Walled Cities in Europe

City Walls in Derry - part of your Northern Ireland Itinerary

Derry is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland, and it is these Walls that are the city’s most famous attraction. They were built in the 17thcentury as a defence structure by the Irish Society for the English and Scottish settlers. You can imagine that these Walls hide an incredible amount of history. Today you can imagine and relive a little bit of that history by following the walkway that the Walls form around the inner city. Garvin from City Tours is the best guide to bring the Walls and the history of the city to life.

You will come across plenty of points of interest along the City Walls, including the cannons that were actually used in the famous Siege of Derry. Also, the promenade offers the best views of the original town and over the Bogside, outside of the City Walls.

Derry is a sustainable foodie destination

Believe it or not, Derry is one of the best places to visit in Northern Ireland if you are a foodie. I discovered this on my previous visit and it was a bit of a revelation. Something that I loved was that local restaurants put a lot of emphasis in the quality of the ingredients used in their dishes. But not only that, there was a consistent focus on sourcing local ingredients as much as possible. Some of the menus even gave details of what farm the meat and vegetables where coming from – something that every restaurant should aim for, in my opinion.

Some of my favourite restaurants in Derry are Walled City Brewery and Brickworks for great food and a relaxed atmosphere, and Browns for more of a fine dining experience.

Derry has Northern Ireland’s Authentic Experience of the Year

For decades Derry was at the centre of the conflict known as The Troubles. The city has come a long way since then, and part of the healing process was to set up the Museum of Free Derry. This museum is a must visit in the city, with its poignant exhibitions of Derry’s recent past. It tells the story of what happened in the city during the period of 1968-1972, popularly known as ‘Free Derry’, and it includes the civil rights era, Battle of the Bogside and Bloody Sunday. It is by no means a political museum, but rather an educational project that very successfully puts Derry into a wider Irish and international context.

There’s a whole street illustrating Derry’s recent history

Free Derry Corner and murals from the People's Gallery by The Bogside Artists

During the Troubles, there was one particular event that marked the city. In 1972 Bloody Sunday took place, when British soldiers shot 28 civilians during a peaceful civil rights march. These events have been depicted on a total of twelve large-scale murals along the entire length of Rossville Street, in the Bogside. The murals were painted by the Bogside Artists, a group of three local mural painters. They called this collection of murals The People’s Gallery.

As well as illustrating the history of thirty years of conflict, The People’s Gallery also includes work that demonstrates how far the communities in Derry have come to build bridges. There is certainly an air of optimism about the future in the city.

The best way to explore The People’s Gallery and learn about the events and people represented on each of the murals is by taking a walking tour of the Bogside.

Derry is the perfect base to explore Northern Ireland

Road flanked by trees growing inwards creating a tunnel

With a great choice of accommodation and plenty of things to do, Derry is the ideal base to explore Northern Ireland. It is only a drive away from popular sites such as the Giant’s Causeway, the Dark Hedges and Carrick-a-Rede, and Belfast is only one and half hours away. But there are also plenty of options for day trips that are right in the city’s doorstep. One thing is for sure, you will not run out of places to go in Northern Ireland from Derry.

Derry is also the ideal point to start a Northern Ireland road trip that includes the spectacular Causeway Coastal Route, and other Game of Thrones filming locations. Here you can find some tips of how find GOT’s filming locations as well as other Ireland travel tips.

For the best car hire deals, I use the Travel Supermarket and Auto Europe comparison sites.

And to explore the north of the Republic too

If you have seen enough on your itinerary of Northern Ireland (is that even possible?), Derry offers the option to also explore a bit of Ireland. Derry is located right by the border with Donegal, so there are plenty of day trips that you can do there too. From the Walled City you can easily reach Glenveagh National Park, with its castle, lough, and cycling and walking trails. You can also visit places like Dunfanaghy, ideal for horse riding on the beach, and even Ardara and its beautiful surroundings.

One highlight less than an hour away is Malin Head, a truly breathtaking headland and the filming location of Star Wars Episode VIII. Malin Head is also the southbound starting point of the famous Wild Atlantic Way, so why not spend some time in Derry before setting off?

Compare the best car hire deals with Travel Supermarket and Auto Europe.

Derry is the Halloween Capital of the World

Yes, you read that right. Halloween in Derry is a pretty big deal, and the world is now cottoning on to it. So don’t be left out.

Halloween is thought to originate from the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, when according to tradition, the spirits of the dead came back to walk the earth before the new Celtic year began on 1stNovember. Fast-forward over 2,000 years and Derry has become the centre of Halloween celebrations. This is where the City Walls come to life with the Awakening of the Walls, a trail that follows the wall with supernatural installations and performances. There are magic drummers that appear out of nowhere and entrance their audience, and the Return of the Ancients parade that snakes through the city. And absolutely everyone in Derry gets involved and dressed up – from the youngest to the oldest in every family.

It is for a reason that USA Today voted Derry the Best Halloween Destination in the World.

You can fly direct from London* (Updated Feb 2019)

View of County Derry and Donegal from the air

As of February 2019 Flybmi has sadly ceased trading, but Derry is still very easy to access from other airports such as George Best Belfast City Airport, Belfast International Airport, and even from Donegal Airport, which has been voted as the most scenic landing in the world

Flybmi now flies direct from London Stansted to City of Derry Aiport twice a day. The flight only takes an hour, so it’s an absolute breeze. Sometimes crossing London takes longer than that! But what I really love is that it’s a no-hassle, no-hidden fees flight. Checked baggage is included in the price and you can check in at the airport for free. Plus you get a free drink and a snack on board, which is unheard of today on short haul flights. Fares start at £99.

Where to stay in Derry

Room with four poster bed at Bishops Gate Hotel in DerryBishops Gate Hotel

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

Would you like more info? Click for Tripadvisor reviews.

Book Bishops Gate Hotel here

Room with two beds at the Maldron Hotel in DerryMaldron Hotel Derry

This 4-star hotel is located within Derry’s historic city walls, and offers a luxurious stay and easy access to the city’s theatres, restaurants and shops. Some rooms have views of the River Foyle and the 400-year-old city walls.

Would you like more info? Click for Tripadvisor reviews.

Book Maldron Hotel Derry here

City Hotel Derry Northern Ireland Ulster LondonderryCity Hotel

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.

Book City Hotel here

Tour ideas in Derry

Do you have any questions about Derry?
Ask me below!


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8 Reasons to Visit Derry, Northern Ireland

8 Reasons to Visit Derry, Northern Ireland

Disclosure: A big thank you to Visit Derry, Tourism Ireland and flybmi (no longer trading) who hosted me on this trip. As always, all views are my own.




  1. April says:

    What a great post and very timely, too! I’ll be traveling to Northern Ireland this summer. I haven’t started fully researching the trip yet, but Derry sounds like an ideal location to spend a few nights and to explore as Giant’s Causeway has been on my bucket list for far too long. And, great news about the flights from Stanstead. That would be so much more easier than dealing with Heathrow. Thanks for sharing!

    • Teresa says:

      I’m glad that this is coming handy. Derry is definitely a great base to explore Northern Ireland. Have a fabulous time this summer and let me know if you need any tips ?

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