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Things to Do in Derry

The very fortifications that spent centuries keeping people out are now one of the main attractions of Derry, the ancient walled city on the western border of Northern Ireland. Its strategic location has seen it face its fair share of tribulations in the past, playing a central role in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, the Irish War of Independence and the Troubles.

Today, Derry harnesses its rich and turbulent history in the vibrant murals, architecture and statues that mark the city streets. This transformation was officially recognised when Derry was named UK City of Culture 2013. Discover this unique destination full of character – read on for some fantastic things to do in Derry.

Discover the unforgettable city of Derry by traveling with P&O Ferries. Start planning your own Irish adventure today.

Things to Do in Derry City

While legally named Londonderry, in Ireland the city is usually referred to as Derry. This has been the case since at least the mid-seventeenth century – just after the city’s famous fortifications were built to protect against invasion.

Derry is the only remaining walled city in Ireland, and one of the very finest in Europe. Take a walk along the 1.5km footpath surrounding the circumference of the walls and you can see how the original city’s renaissance layout has been preserved for centuries.

Just inside the walls, the Tower Museum tells the stories of the region’s history – complete with an open-air viewing platform offering views over the inner city and the River Foyle so you can see where it all happened.

Art and Design in the City of Culture

One of the best ways to understand the Troubles in Ireland is to look for the vivid and poignant murals that appear throughout the city.

Walking through Derry, you can follow a trail between the images, stopping at the plaques that tell the story behind each, or you can hire a local tour guide to receive a moving retelling of the events.

Art and design is a fundamental part of the city now, with local artists and architects using visual methods to educate and inspire. Opened in 2011, the Peace Bridge crosses the River Foyle, and connects the two historically divided sides. The walkway is a beautiful spot for taking a stroll, and a cycle path makes it the ideal place for setting off on a morning ride.

Tucked away from the main street just off the Derry side of the Peace Bridge, the Craft Village is a collection of boutique shops selling handmade gifts, perfect for browsing creations by local artists.

Explore Nature around Derry

With its coastal location, Derry has a diverse array of stunning natural landscapes found under half an hour’s drive from its centre. Seven miles northwest of the city walls you’ll find the iconic Grianan of Aileach, a hilltop fort just outside the border in County Donegal and one of the royal sites of Gaelic Ireland.

Ness Country Park, found to the southeast, offers pathed walks in the footsteps of historic highwaymen. It boasts of romantic bridges over serene rivers, the highest waterfall in Northern Ireland, and a plethora of native flora and fauna.

For a more relaxed means of exploration, take the 40-minute train ride from Derry to Coleraine – Michael Palin described the scenic coastal route as “one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world.”

Want to find out more? Start your Derry adventure with P&O Ferries today by travelling via our Cairnryan to Larne ferry crossing.