Derry-Londonderry is steeped in history and a popular destination for visitors to the country. More recently, it has reached newfound levels of intrigue thanks to the show Derry Girls, but happily, there’s plenty more to do here than just chase dogs that look like Toto. Whether you’re here on a stopover or have a few days to explore, you’ll find something fun to do in the second-largest city in Northern Ireland.
In 1689, King James II and a Jacobian army besieged Derry-Londonderry for 105 days. It’s one of the most significant touchstones in the city’s history, and you can learn all about it at the Siege Museum. Located just a 10-minute walk from the Craigavon Bridge, it’s filled with artefacts from the siege, as well as first-hand accounts.
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A street-art walking tour
Derry-Londonderry has a rich cultural history, much of which harkens back to the height of the Troubles in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. There are murals across the city that depict and comment on this dark chapter in Northern Irish history. Walking tours are available online and at tourist information centres, and you can experience the great art all while learning more about the events that birthed it.
If you want a real taste of how the city looked in the 18th century, the Craft Village is the place for you. An actual reconstruction of a street from that time, it plays host to a string of shops selling traditional food, books, handmade items and more. The Craft Village is on Sackville Street, next to the Peace Bridge. It’s easy to get to, and on a good day, you might even be able to catch an event.
It could be tempting (if not particularly healthy) to spend an entire day hopping between the city’s many pubs, but why not learn something while you’re at it? Based in Ebrington Square, the Walled City Brewery offers brewing masterclasses where you can learn (and drink) your way through the 9,000-year history of beer. Those who indulge in the tour will get to taste 10 different beers during a one-and-a-half-hour masterclass, as well as dine in the award-winning restaurant.
Derry-Londonderry is the only completely walled city anywhere in Ireland, flanked by stone walls that were built to keep invaders out during the 17th century (such as during the siege). Standing approximately 6m (20ft) high, they are still largely intact, and you’ll get excellent views of the city at large while walking across them. Across the length of the route, you’ll encounter cannons, battlements, watchtowers and more, and you can join it from a variety of places, such as next to St Columb’s Cathedral.
Why just experience Derry-Londonderry from the ground when you can also experience it from the water? A paddleboard tour offers a unique view of the city, taking in monuments old and new in the process. There are several companies based in the city centre that offer this experience, and the tours themselves usually last around two hours.