Londonderry, also popularly known as “Derry”, is the second largest city in Northern Ireland. Overall, it is the fourth largest city in the country. Derry is derived from an Old Irish name which means “oak grove” but aside from that, is also known as the walled city.
In fact, it is the only remaining intact walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples in Europe. Londonderry is engulfed with a lot of history that is why you should not skip it when in Ireland. To give you an idea, here are 15 things to do in Londonderry.
Things you'll find in this article
- 15 Fun Things To Do In Londonderry, Ireland
- 1. Walk through Irish history in the Walls of Derry
- 2. Understand the story of Derry in the Tower Museum
- 3. Get to know more of the Free Derry Museum
- 4. Learn the history of the Siege of Londonderry in the Siege Museum
- 5. Cross through the Peace Bridge
- 6. See the beautiful Guildhall building
- 7. Hear a story of romance and tragedy in the Prehen House
- 8. Pay respect to St Eugene’s Cathedral
- 9. Visit the internationally recognized St Columb’s Cathedral
- 10. Take a walk in St Columb’s Park
- 11. Take a quick trip to Ness Country Park
- 12. Snap a pic with the Bogside Murals
- 13. Add the Free Derry Corner in your ‘Gram
- 14. Rediscover the charm of the Craft Village
- 15. Travel through the Derry-Coleraine Railway
15 Fun Things To Do In Londonderry, Ireland
1. Walk through Irish history in the Walls of Derry
The Walls of Derry is one of the most iconic spots in Londonderry. After all, these walls made the city known as the only walled city in Ireland that survived through time. These diamond-shaped defensive walls were built in the 1610s to protect the city from the English and Scottish colonists.
It also stood strong amidst the 105-day siege during the Williamite War in 1689. The walls can be stretched 1.6 kilometers in total, is 26 feet high, and approximately 30 feet wide. It can be seen straddling a hill.
Walking through the middle of the wall shows a clear division of the countryside and the Inner City. Before, the walls were closed to the public for decades mainly because it is one of the best spots for snipers.
However, after the city has regained peace, this walled city has become one of the top tourist attractions in Londonderry and one of the best day trips from Belfast.
Monday- Saturday – 11:30 am- 1am
Sunday- 12pm -12 am
Address: Bishop St, Londonderry BT48 6PR, UK
Phone: +44 28 7126 7284
2. Understand the story of Derry in the Tower Museum
The Tower Museum is located within the historic walls specifically in Union Hall Palace. It is a historic tower which presents the history of Derry through award-winning exhibits from the prehistoric time until the 1960s.
It also has an exhibit of a local shipwreck in 1588 located in a separate gallery. In this gallery, you can see artifacts from a Spanish Armada ship known as La Trinidad Valencera.
The Museum also has a cinema where you can continue learning the history of Derry during the second half of the 20th century. The presentation talks about the causes and outcomes of the Troubles.
Monday- Sunday- 10 am-4;30 pm
Address: Tower Museum Union Hall Place Derry BT48 6LU
Phone: 028 7137 2411
3. Get to know more of the Free Derry Museum
As stated earlier, Derry is engulfed with a lot of history and more of it can be seen from the Free Derry Museum.
With over 25,000 artifacts in its exhibits, the Free Derry Museum aims to send a message supporting civil rights and equality. It tells the story about the Battle of the Bogside, Operation Motorman, and Bloody Sunday.
These stories are being supported with letters, posters, photographs and actual footage. The museum opened in 2006 and it has become one of the major resources for schools and colleges all over Ireland and beyond.
The museum also draws visitors from Unionist and Nationalist communities but more importantly, it welcomes everyone who is interested in the history of the city of Derry and its civil rights movement.
Monday – Friday 9.30am – 4.30pm (All year, excluding Christmas and New Year)
Saturday 1.00pm – 4.00pm (All year, excluding Christmas and New Year)
Sunday 1.00pm – 4 pm (July – Sept)
Last admission 30 minutes before stated closing time.
Adult £6.00 / Concessionary/Senior £5.00 / Groups (10+) £4.00
Address: Museum of Free Derry, 55 Glenfada Park, Bogside, Derry, BT48
Phone: 028 71 360880
4. Learn the history of the Siege of Londonderry in the Siege Museum
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The Siege of Londonderry is another historical event in Ireland that is worth to know. In fact, an extension to the Apprentice Boys of Derry Memorial Hall was completed in 2016 to exhibit this 1688 Siege.
Today, it is now called the Siege Museum and Exhibition where you can find exhibitions about the Apprentice Boys of Derry, Orange Order, Women’s Orange, and The Royal Black Institution.
Each of these orders is located in separate rooms where you can find artifacts, videos, and interactive media.
Monday – Saturday
10am – 5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Closed (Group tours available by request)
£4 per person
Under 12 – Free
Address: 13 Society Street Londonderry BT48 6PJ
Phone: 028 71261219
5. Cross through the Peace Bridge
The Peace Bridge is another symbolic spot in Derry which connects the Unionists and Nationalists as it literally crosses between the waterside and cityside communities in Derry.
As for those who have not known, the Waterside community generally belongs to the Unionists while the Cityside to the Nationalists. The 235-meter bridge was completed in 2011 as a collaboration between AECOM and Wilkinson Eyre Architects.
Today, it is a popular scene to celebrate New Year in Londonderry.
6. See the beautiful Guildhall building
This beautiful neo-gothic style building is located just outside the city walls and near the Peace Bridge and is totally worth the visit.
Originally built in 1887 by the Honourable Irish Society, the Guildhall is embellished with a beautiful stained glass window, a grand staircase, the main hall organ, and a corridor which altogether adds up to the building’s alluring charm.
Aside from its intriguing history, the Guildhall also faced a major restoration in June 2013 which now results in a multifaceted tourism experience for anyone who wishes to visit the building.
Visiting the Guildhall will introduce you to an exhibit which presents the history of the city during the colonization in the 17th century- also known as the Plantation of Ulster. Because of this, this promising tourist hub has been awarded and recognized by several professional bodies, heritage groups, and construction organizations.
7. Hear a story of romance and tragedy in the Prehen House
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Home of Ireland’s greatest love story, the Prehen House is an 18th century Irish Georgian house located in Prehen, County Londonderry. The house was built in 1740 for Andrew Knox after he married Honoria Tomkins, heiress of Prehen.
Much more of this, the Prehen House is also tied to the story of Mary Ann Knox. Her story was both romance and tragedy where she was accidentally killed during an attempted elopement by John MacNaghten, the landowner.
As a punishment for this accident, MacNaghten was executed and hanged for his crime. Although the house is still privately owned, tourists and visitors are also welcome to visit to hear this tale and appreciate the views of Derry and the Foyle River.
Address: Prehen Park, Derry, Londonderry, BT47 2PB
Phone: (028) 7134 2829
8. Pay respect to St Eugene’s Cathedral
The Mother Church of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Derry is no other than St. Eugene’s Cathedral. This Roman Catholic church was built in the second half of the 19th century with a Gothic Revival style.
The enchanting outcome of this project was made possible by the brilliance of its architect, James Joseph McCarthy. The tower of the cathedral is visible in the northwest of the city kissing the edge of Brooke Park.
In the upper section of the bell tower, you can also see a statue of St. Eugene from 1873. McCarthy used a Sardinian granite on the sanctuary floor while the altar is bedazzled with Carrara marbles.
Monday to Friday:
8.00 am, 10.00 am and 7.30 pm
Address: St. Eugene’s Cathedral Derry City BT48 9AP
Phone: 028 7126 2894/ 028 7136 5712
9. Visit the internationally recognized St Columb’s Cathedral
This cathedral in the heart of the walled city is the Mother Church of the Church of Ireland Diocese of Derry and Raphoe. The cathedral, built in the early 1630s, has a Northern Irish style known as Planter Gothic.
It is dedicated to St. Columba, an Irish monk who established a Christian settlement in Derry before he was exiled from the country. Parts of this cathedral is recognized as one of the oldest standing monuments in Derry.
The chancel and spire, on the other hand, does not belong to it because it only came in the 19th and 20th century.
10. Take a walk in St Columb’s Park
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If you’re looking for a place to just chill or maybe have a picnic with your family, the St. Columb’s Park right at the bank of the River Foyle is the perfect hangout spot for you.
You can also go straight to this park if you’re coming from the Peace Bridge. Aside from the greenery and landscape of the park, you can also find a manor house which was built in the 18th century.
This manor house is currently being used for accommodation and conference center. There is also a small cafe on the ground floor for visitors who wants to take some refreshments.
November to February (incl) Monday to Saturday 10 am – 2 pm
Open for Services: Sunday 8am-9am, 11am – 12.30pm, 4pm-5pm
Address: 17 London Street Londonderry BT48 6RQ
Phone: 028 7126 7313
11. Take a quick trip to Ness Country Park
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Ness Country Park, a 55 hectares of greenery, is located on the Banks of River Burntollet just outside the walled city. It consists of seven kilometers of forest and riverside and vast meadow.
If you dig deep to the heart of the forest, you will be taken to the enchanting Ness waterfall and its set of rapids. Locals advise that the best time to walk in the park is during spring season where bluebells and wood anemones paint the forest floor with lovely hues.
Ness Country Park is the perfect countryside getaway if you want to take a break from the walled city.
Monday – Sunday -9 am – 4pm
Address: 50 Oughtagh Rd, Killaloo, Londonderry BT47 3TR
12. Snap a pic with the Bogside Murals
The Bogside Murals do not only serve as a tourist attraction in Derry but it is also a reminder of its difficult past. This set of 12 large paintings are located in the neighborhood where the Bloody Saturday took place. This historical event resulted in these paintings which aim to champion civil rights.
You can take a guided tour to know the deeper context of these paintings which depicts the Battle of Bogside in 1969, Operation Motorman in 1972, the victims of the Bloody Sunday, and a dove of peace.
13. Add the Free Derry Corner in your ‘Gram
Still located in the Bogside Neighborhood, the Free Derry Corner is a single standing wall which was once the entrance to a self-declared autonomous Nationalist area in Derry.
The message which says “You are now entering Free Derry” was painted by a local activist in 1969 during the early phases of the Troubles.
The wall used to have rows of terrace houses at the background. However, these houses were demolished later on which leaves the wall independently standing as a dual carriageway in the present time.
Beside the wall is a memorial for the victims of the Irish Hunger Strike.
14. Rediscover the charm of the Craft Village
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If you have an eye for arts, crafts, and little trinkets, the Craft Village deserves a quick trip. Most of the finds here are of Irish references like Irish dancing costumes, glassware, knitwear, crystal home decorations, candles, and a lot more.
Aside from these, the Craft Village also hosts live performances. To watch these performances, just spot the Canopy and the large iron and glass structure which shelters the stage.
15. Travel through the Derry-Coleraine Railway
The Derry-Coleraine Railway is a 50-kilometer train ride offering one of the most beautiful views in the world. The ride passes through a green landscape of dry-stone walls and basalt hills.
It continues heading towards the coast of Benone Strand before reaching Castlerock. From there, you’ll experience the longest railway tunnels in Ireland which were dug in the 1850s.
The ride ends at Causeway Coast where you’ll most likely recognize several scenes from Game of Thrones.