Some advice: don’t just visit Derry~Londonderry, live it. Don’t rush the walls, stroll them. Don’t scan the Guildhall, drink it in. First time here? Take a tour and meet the locals. Hear the Foyle River thunder under the Peace Bridge, drool over hot-buttered soda farls in your new favourite café, and follow your ear to best traditional music session in town.
Don’t stand on the sidelines in the Walled City, be part of it. You’ll be glad you did.
The city walls
Curious when these stone wonders were built? You may not believe it to look at them, but building began 401 years ago, back when King James I required defences to keep the newly planted population safe from Irish rebels besieging the city. At 1.5 kilometres in circumference and varying thicknesses of between 3.5-10 metres, they did their job. In fact, Derry~Londonderry’s walls have never been breached. And the price to build such handsome, efficient walls? £10,757. A bargain.
Sitting pretty within reach of the walls, this auburn-brick beauty is the anchor for the buzzing Guildhall Square. Arguably the hall’s most arresting feature is its collection of stunning stained-glass windows. Donated by London Companies, they represent everything from fishmongers to musicians. Recognise the Guildhall Clock? It was modelled on Big Ben. An exhibition here explaining the city’s plantation provides a keyhole view into Derry~Londonderry’s curious and complex past.
The Peace Bridge
Mere steps from the Guildhall and the city walls, this river-spanning beauty is a visual treat. Introduced to the city in 2011, the elegant, snaking curves of its design have seen the Peace Bridge become a Derry~Londonderry icon, and a scenic spot from which to watch the majestic Foyle rush towards a meeting with the eponymous Lough Foyle to the north.
Belfast isn't the only city with murals. The Walled City could easily match Titanic's hometown for impactful modern art messages. To get the real story behind these colourful and complex artworks hop on a tour run by the Bogside Artists. These are the local artists behind many of the murals and few can elaborate on their significance with more insight or understanding.
Traditional pubs, culture on tap and elegant eateries: this is Derry~Londonderry after dark. This city is known for its nightlife, from traditional late-night singalongs to buzzing nightclubs. Enjoy a pint in any of the city's bars and soak it all in: the atmosphere of a pub in Derry~Londonderry is truly unique!
The city has dozens of nightclubs for those who bring their dancing shoes with them. For something a little different, try a standup comedy show. There's a vibrant local comedy scene in Northern Ireland, and Derry~Londonderry is no exception. What else would you expect from a former UK City of Culture?