1. NAME THAT TOWN
Derry, Londonderry, Stroke City, the Maiden City: what's in a name? Most locals use Derry, but many Protestant Unionists prefer Londonderry. The original name of Derry came from Doire, the Irish for 'oak grove surrounded by bog'.
'London' was added in the 17th Century when King James I's Plantation of Ulster reapportioned land from Irish Catholics to newly settled English Protestants. London's powerful trades guilds invested in the settlement, hence the new name.
Maiden City refers to the impregnable walls which held out during the 1688-89 Siege of Derry. And Stroke City is local radio presenter Gerry Anderson's neutral solution to the political impasse.
2. WALK THE WALLS
Derry is the Dubrovnik of the North and Ireland's most complete walled city. Over 1.5kms of walls encircle the centre, providing a unique walkway and affording panoramic views of the surrounding area. These impressive 17th Century stone fortifications can be accessed by clearly signposted steps, with information plaques guiding you through the city's historic heart and often turbulent past.
3. TAKE A TOUR
Bus, boat, taxi and walking tours leave no historical stone unturned and no curious question unanswered.
Bus tours take you through the centre, Catholic Nationalist Bogside and across the River Foyle's two bridges to the more mixed Waterside.
Walking tours of the Bogside, site of the infamous Bloody Sunday and Free Derry Corner, bring this pivotal moment in modern history to life as locals retrace events and recall their own personal experiences. Taxi tours provide similarly indepth commentaries on Derry's political history.
The Foyle Cruiser tootles along the eponymous river at a sedate pace, with onboard commentary providing information on the city's maritime history.
4. ADMIRE THE ARMADA
After a major revamp, the city centre Tower Museum has reopened with a permanent exhibition tracing the story of Spanish Armada ship, La Trinidad Valencera. This large, heavily armed vessel sank off the Donegal coast in 1588 and lay undiscovered until 1971. The exhibition features artefacts from the wreck and state-of-the-art interactive displays.
5. GET CULTURED
The Millennium Forum (Newmarket St, tel.
6. GO SHOPPING
Discover a selection of niche shops and boutiques among the city centre's side streets. Mall rats can scurry around the shiny happy Foyleside Centre (Debenhams, Dunnes, M&S:) and Richmond Centre (Miss Selfridge, HMV:). Both are within the city walls and very easy to find (if in doubt, ask a local).
Retail junkies will be astounded to learn that Derry is home to the world's oldest independent department store. Dominating a corner of central hub The Diamond, the magnificent Austins predates Jenners, Harrods and Macys and this year celebrates its 175th anniversary. Head to the Rooftop Restaurant of this five storey Edwardian building for a bird's eye view across The Diamond.
7. CELEBRITY WORSHIP
For a city so small, Derry has spawned an impressive array of musical luminaries. From Eurovision to Top of the Pops, Pop Stars to Labour's 1997 election campaign, The Undertones, Phil Coulter, Dana, Josef Locke, D:Ream and Girls Aloud's Nadine Coyle have each contributed to Stroke City's musical legacy.
The food scene has come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Pubs offer great value grub and Café Calm (Shipquay Place, (+44) (0)7889 963858) is a good spot for a strong coffee before hopping on a bus tour. The Exchange (Queen's Quay, tel.
9. SINK A PINT
Traditional pubs, contemporary bars and full-on nightclubs dominate the city centre's social scene. Peadar O'Donnell's (Waterloo St, tel.
The adjoining Gweedore Bar provides a spiritual haven for hardcore, indie types still mourning the untimely demise of Cobain, Hendrix and, dare we say, Mercury. Live rock and metal bands wah wah into the wee small hours while the grunge brigade shift from 21st Century angst to drink-fuelled lust. Great stuff.
The Metro (Bank Place, tel.
10. GO TO SLEEP...
...in one of several city centre hotels, hostels and B&Bs. The 4-star City Hotel and Tower Hotel are closest to the action and ideal if you've a bit of money to spend. The Everglades is also 4-star, though a short taxi ride from town. As is the 3-star Ramada Da Vinci's.
The 2-star Travelodge offers cheap, no frills rooms slap bang in the city centre. While Derry City Independent Hostel (Gt. James St, tel.
For more information on all events, tours and accommodation in, call into the Derry Visitor & Convention Bureau, 44 Foyle Street, tel. (+44) (0)28 7126 7284.