Belfast & Northern Ireland

Derry Top Ten

more than a year ago
Northern Ireland's second, and Ireland's fourth, largest city is small enough to explore on foot yet bursting with history and culture. To get the most from your stay, here is our Beginner's Guide to the city with more monikers than P. Diddy. Pay attention at the back.

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 was local radio presenter Gerry Anderson's neutral solution to the political impasse. 

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. 

The Peace Bridge links the city centre with Ebrington Square, site of a former British Army barracks and now home to the Walled City Brewery, a couple of eateries and occasional events. Plans are afoot to further develop the space and include a hotel; stay tuned for its arrival.

Bus, 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, Free Derry Corner and Museum of Free Derry, bring this pivotal moment in modern history to life as locals retrace events and recall their own personal experiences. Derry Girls Tours retrace the story and impact of the award-winning C4 TV comedy set in Derry during the 90s. Taxi tours provide similarly in-depth commentaries on Derry's political history. 

The city centre Tower Museum features 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. 

In 2013 Derry became the UK's first City of Culture and continues this legacy with a year-round programme of events. Find out what's on at the Millennium Forum
PlayhouseNerve Centre and Verbal Arts Centre - the city's main arts, culture and entertainment venues where touring productions and community-lead projects dominate the what's on calendars.

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 and Richmond Centre. Both are within the city walls and very easy to find (if in doubt, ask a local). And artsy folk can unearth handmade gifts and treats at the Derry Craft Village.

Retail junkies will be astounded to learn that Derry was once home to the world's oldest independent department store. Dominating a corner of central hub The Diamond, the magnificent Austins opened in 1830 and predated Jenners, Harrods and Macys before sadly closing in 2016. 

For a city so small, Derry has spawned an impressive array of musical luminaries. From Eurovision to Top of the PopsPop 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. But it is the   success of aforementioned C4 comedy Derry Girls that has put the city on the pop culture map with themed tours, afternoon teas and even a huge mural dedicated to the TV series.

The food scene has come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Pubs offer great value grub and top food stops include The Exchange
Quaywest and Italian Dananos

Traditional pubs, contemporary bars and full-on nightclubs dominate the city centre's social scene. Peadar O'Donnell's 
is a fantastic drinking hole crammed with curios and ephemera, as befits an authentic Irish pub. The traditional music sessions keep locals and culture-hungry tourists coming back for more - as well they should. 

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
 and The Blackbird are a more contemporary bar/nightclubs. Clubbers can cut some serious shapes at Sugar.

10. GO TO SLEEP...
in one of several city centre hotels, hostels and B&Bs. Bishop's GateShipquayCity and Maldron Hotels are closest to the action and ideal if you've a bit of money to spend. The Everglades, a short taxi ride from town, is also a great spot. As is Da Vinci's, Waterfoot, Premier Inn and Holiday Inn Express

The Travelodge offers cheap, no frills rooms slap bang in the city centre. While Derry Hostel 
provides no nonsense, good fun, cheap accommodation. 

For more information on all events, tours and accommodation in, call into Visit Derry Visitor Information Centre.



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