Things to do in Derry

Planning a trip to Derry/Londonderry? There's lots to do, Walk the Walls, Visit the Guildhall, St. Columb's Cathedral, Museum of Free Derry and The Bogside Murals.

Derry Travel Guide: Top Things to do in Derry

Best Things To Do In Derry City And Beyond

The Walled City offers a plethora of exciting activities to appeal to all preferences. Derry is a distinguished location with a diverse assortment of attractions to choose from. A walk along the 400-year-old City Walls, visits to award-winning museums and theatres, or partaking in water-based activities like Stand-Up Paddleboarding are among the enticing options available. 

A memory-laden encounter awaits you on a walking tour, which offers a glimpse into the past. If you prefer, immerse yourself in the world of Derry Girls, through the exquisite Derry Girls themed afternoon tea or screen walking tour offerings. The city boasts something for everyone. Peruse the options below for inspiration, or construct your itinerary using our planner. 

The Visit Derry pass is a must-have, providing access to several of the city’s most popular tourist spots, making it the most economical and convenient way to discover Derry’s highlights.

Visit The City walls

Derry holds the distinction of being the sole remaining walled city in Ireland, and is regarded as one of the most exceptional examples of a fortified city in all of Europe. Recognized as the most complete, stunning and monumental structure under state preservation in Northern Ireland, the walls were erected between 1613 and 1619, and served as a safeguard for settlers from England and Scotland during the early 17th century. 

The walls standing today, which form a one mile circuit around the inner city, vary in height and width from 3.7 and 10.7 meters and provide a unique vantage point in which to cherish the Renaissance-style layout of the original town. The walls are also renowned for never having been breached and withstanding a range of sieges, including the famous 105-day Siege of Derry in 1689, cementing the city’s reputation as the “Maiden City”.

The Derry Walls

About Derry

Derry boasts a rich cultural and historical heritage that dates back centuries. The city, which was officially renamed Londonderry during the Plantation of Ulster in the early 17th century, is steeped in tradition and boasts a unique charm that is hard to find elsewhere. With a population of over 100,000 people, Derry is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. 

From the majestic River Foyle that runs through it, to the stunning old walled city that sits proudly on its western bank, the city is a true gem of the Northern Ireland landscape. Derry is easily accessible by road, rail, and air, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. So, whether you’re looking to explore the city’s rich history, enjoy its vibrant nightlife, or simply soak up its unique atmosphere, Derry is the place to be.

When is the Best time to visit Derry

The summer season is considered the best time to visit Derry. The city never gets too hot even during peak summers, but remains pleasant enough to bring people out of their homes and for tourists to enjoy the city in all its aesthetic glory. From May to September, your chances of experiencing more sunny days than rainy ones are much higher – although you should pack a raincoat just in case! However, any time of the year is a good time to visit Derry as most attractions are open year-round. 

Popular Accommodation in Derry

Bishop’s Gate Hotel Derry: The exquisite Grade B1-listed Bishop’s Gate Hotel is perfectly positioned within the historic city walls in the heart of Derry City’s Cathedral Quarter. Built-in 1899, Bishop’s Gate Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel and a member of Ireland’s Blue Book blends stunning Edwardian architecture, stylish appointments and luxurious facilities which have been sensitively restored to pay homage to the rich heritage of the building, whilst exceeding the contemporary needs and desires of its guests.

Shipquay Boutique Hotel: Overlooking the City Walls and the famous Guildhall, Shipquay Hotel is a 4-star luxurious, intimate boutique hotel in the heart of Derry-Londonderry. Shipquay Hotel is a 5-storey Italianate-style listed heritage building. The origins of the building date back to 1895 when it was originally constructed for the Provincial Bank of Ireland.

With 21 contemporary bedrooms, many with views over the city’s famous landmarks, deliciously contemporary food offerings and moreish wine and cocktails; Shipquay oozes personality, character and style throughout. Situated at the hub of Derry’s shopping, arts and social scene, it’s the perfect place for a visit to Derry~Londonderry.

Maldron Hotel Derry: The 4-star Maldron Hotel Derry is located within Derry’s historic city walls, offering luxurious accommodation and easy access to the city’s theatres, restaurants and shops. All rooms have free WiFi access, a work desk and seating. Some rooms have views of the River Foyle and the 400-year-old city walls. The Grain & Grill Restaurant serves a variety of seasonal and local dishes. A full Ulster or continental breakfast is available.

The Lyric Bar boasts a varied menu with a relaxed atmosphere and complimentary live entertainment at weekends. The fitness suite is free for guests to use. Parking in the underground car park is also free and offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please note parking cannot be guaranteed and is extremely limited. The City of Derry Airport is 20 minutes’ drive away. Lough Foyle is a 15-minute drive away, and the Maldron Hotel is less than an hour from Giant’s Causeway, Antrim Coast and Donegal. Foyleside Shopping Centre is a few minutes walk from the hotel.

Derry Girls: For fans of the hit comedy show, you can enjoy an exclusive and entertaining Derry Girls Taxi tour

Derry-Girls

Are you familiar with ‘Derry Girls’? This remarkable TV series narrates the lives of four adolescent girls and their English friend, James, who resided in Derry during the 1990s, a period characterized by ongoing conflicts. Surprisingly, the show was filmed in both Derry and Belfast. Belfast is known for its picturesque locations, making it a popular spot for filming shows like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Line of Duty.’

Take a tour of the ‘Derry Girls’ home and experience where it all began! Discover original memorabilia from the highly-acclaimed show, such as Erin’s diary, Aunt Sarah’s famous pajamas, Ma Mary’s Woolworths sweater, and the iconic Spice Girls costumes! Step onto the Quinn’s set, and feel at home with family.

This is your chance to sit on her chair and effortlessly roll your eyes at anyone who comes across you. Don’t forget to seize this golden opportunity!

For fans of the hit comedy show, you can enjoy an exclusive and entertaining Derry Girls taxi tour in Belfast.”

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Currency Used in Belfast?

Belfast is part of the United Kingdom so the pound sterling (GBP) is the legal currency. This is the same currency used throughout the rest of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland).

How many Days should I Spend in Derry?

For an authentic experience in Derry, it is suggested that at least 2 full days and 1 night be allocated to discover the city’s offerings. The duration of the visit is dependent on the visitor’s preferences and availability; however, we highly recommend the aforementioned timeline to ensure an in-depth exploration of the city. We highly recommend this 3-day itinerary from Belfast.

The Museum of Free Derry

The-Museum-of-Free-Derry

The Museum of Free Derry is a significant location that holds the history and memories of many who have fought for civil rights. It serves as a testament to the resilience of the people who stood up against government oppression and who sought justice through nonviolent means. The museum brings to light the tribulations that marked the descent into conflict and showcases the community’s struggle against it. 

From Free Derry to Bloody Sunday, it is a collection of stories portraying how a group of people attempted to preserve their rights and became an inspiration to many. The exhibits in the museum act as a compelling reminder of the sacrifices and hardships endured by the people who worked towards a better future. 

The museum is an essential site that represents an important chapter in the history of Northern Ireland, and all those who visit it will undoubtedly gain a deep understanding of the people’s struggle for their civil and human rights.

The Guildhall

Guildhall-1

Located just a stone’s throw away from the awe-inspiring 400-year-old Walls, you’ll discover one of the most vibrant and distinctive landmarks that the city has to offer: the Guildhall. This beautiful Auburn brick building has been an integral part of city life since its construction in 1887 and continues to be a cornerstone of the bustling Guildhall Square.

The Guildhall’s collection of stained-glass windows is truly a sight to behold. They were generously donated by businesses in London and showcase a variety of trades from fishmongers to musicians. The Guildhall Clock may even look familiar to you as it was modeled after London’s renowned Big Ben.

Built in 1887, the Guildhall boasts an impressive neo-gothic style that is truly breathtaking. It was constructed by The Honourable Irish Society and features a stunning combination of red sandstone with Tudor accents. The building’s incredible staircase, main hall organ, and captivating corridors tell a unique story that offers a fascinating glimpse into its remarkable history.

Popular Tours From Belfast

Giant Causeway Tour

Belfast Shore Excursion

St. Columb’s Cathedral

St.-Columb’s-Cathedral

Things to do in Derry – St. Columb’s, located in the fortified City of Londonderry, is a neo-Gothic Church of Ireland (Anglican) Cathedral that exudes grandeur, and it is truly a marvel to observe. Erected between 1628 and 1633, this remarkable structure holds the distinction of being both the oldest and most esteemed building in the city. 

Recently, its extensive renovation was finally completed, revealing the cathedral’s magnificent beauty and rich history to the public once more. In addition, visitors will be pleased to discover the Chapter House Museum, which boasts an incredible collection of articles from the renowned Siege of Londonderry in 1689. 

The museum also features other fascinating pieces and artifacts that offer a glimpse into the turbulent past of the region. For visitors who prefer a more immersive experience, an informative audio-visual presentation on the Cathedral’s history is available, and informative guides are accessible to visitors in eight different languages. Best of all, entrance is entirely complimentary, making this a great destination for travelers on a budget.

Things to do in Derry during the day

Derry-walking-Tour

This is must Things to do in Derry Public Tours of the City

Daily walking tours every day at 10 am, 12 noon, 2 pm & 4 pm, costing only £6pp.  There is no need to book this tour, all you have to do is show up at 11 Carlisle Road at your preferred start time.

This tour covers a full background of the city’s history – as we walk on the historic 400-year-old walls your guide will cover everything from the 6th Century Christian Settlement to the Siege of 1689 and the modern-day troubles.

On this tour, there are many fabulous views to be admired of churches, Cathedrals and murals.

Tours daily at 10am, 12noon, 2pm & 4pm

£6pp ~ NO NEED TO BOOK – just show up at 11 Carlisle Road.

Public Tours of the City

Free Derry Corner

The-Museum-of-Free-Derry

The “Free Derry Corner” stands as a significant historical monument situated in the Bogside neighborhood of Derry, Northern Ireland, at the intersection of Lecky Road, Rossville Street, and Fahan Street. 

The freestanding gable wall is a commemoration of “Free Derry,” a self-governing nationalist area that existed between 1969 and 1972. The monument serves as a tribute to the 1981 hunger strikers, with several murals adorning it, including a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Provisional IRA’s Derry Brigade due to their involvement in paramilitary activity.

Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge

Located just a brief stroll away from the Guildhall and the city’s renowned 400+ year-old walls lies the Peace Bridge, representing an unparalleled visual sensation that is an indispensable stop on any travel itinerary to Derry~Londonderry and Northern Ireland.

The bridge first welcomed travelers on 25 June 2011, linking Ebrington Square with the remainder of the city center. The experienced designers behind the 235-meter (771 ft) bridge are AECOM, who also crafted the Sutong Yangtze River Bridge, and Wilkinson Eyre Architects, who are also responsible for the design of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

The Peace Bridge has implications that extend far beyond its infrastructure value, as it has come to symbolize the city’s significance and thus, revered by both locals and visitors for its physical aesthetic and deeper meaning.

The sophisticated contours of the cycle and footbridge exemplify a tale of resilience through adversity, serving as an emblem of peace, unifying both sides of the River Foyle.

Since its inception, it has evolved into an iconic aspect of the Walled City, presenting itself as a backdrop to many of the city’s world-renowned events.

Experience a leisurely amble across the Peace Bridge and access Ebrington Square, a former Army Barracks transformed into a remarkable public area, hosting open-air events, art exhibitions, and music spectacles.

St Eugene's Cathedral

St-Eugene's-Cathedral

The history behind the construction of the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Derry is undoubtedly fascinating. In fact, the Cathedral became a reality only after many years of struggle and perseverance. It was only after the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 was passed that construction was even possible. From there, the fundraising efforts began in earnest, with tireless work put in to gather the necessary funds. 

It wasn’t until 1840 that these efforts began to bear fruit, and the building process got underway. Fast forward to nowadays, and the Cathedral stands tall and proud, a testament to the hard work and dedication of those who made it possible. It is located in a prime spot, nestled between Francis Street and Creggan Street in Derry. All in all, this Cathedral is a landmark example of the power of persistence and teamwork.

What to do in Derry? Why Not Take a trip to Giant's Causeway

Giants Causeway Tour

If you’re looking for a stunning place to explore, then the Giant’s Causeway is an absolute must-see. This geological wonder has been designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO and is situated along the breathtaking northeast coast of County Antrim. As you wander through this area, you’ll be amazed by the precision of the interlocking basalt columns and the natural landscape that surrounds them.

If you’re interested in exploring the Causeway Coast, you’re in luck! There are so many incredible attractions to visit, from the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge to the spooky Dunluce Castle. Why not take a tour of the Old Bushmills Distillery and learn all about the traditional whiskey-making process? And don’t forget to stop by The Dark Hedges that’s popular with visitors from all over the world.

Planning your trip to Northern Ireland is easy, especially with the help of this blog post. Here, you’ll find plenty of information on the best time to visit, as well as all the must-visit attractions in the area. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

Bloody Sunday and Bogside Tour

Bloody Sunday and Bogside Tour

This comprehensive tour will give an educational insight into the Civil Rights era, Bloody Sunday and the conflict that ensued. This hour-long walking tour in Derry will also retrace parts of the original march and visit places where the dead and wounded fell.

The Bogside History Tour will examine the political and social repercussions of Bloody Sunday. The day of the march and the wounding and killing of the innocent civilians. The tour will pass The Museum of Free Derry and conclude at the Bloody Sunday monument within sight of Free Derry corner and beneath the city walls of Derry.

Tour Starts at 11:00 and 13:00 every day

Tour Meeting Point: Guildhall, Guildhall St, Derry, BT486DQ

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