After becoming the first UK City of Culture, Derry was thrown into the spotlight as a place for diverse cultural experience.
Now regarded as the Halloween party capital of the world, this vibrant destination offers a matchless setting and buzzing social, music and foodie scenes. A fantastic place to spend a lively few days.
1. Taxi tour Sightsee the Walled City on the top of a bus.
Derry is the only walled city left intact in the whole of Ireland. A fun-filled hop on hop off tour will help you appreciate the city’s unrivalled setting, feel the vibes and scope out key landmarks. You’ll spot the walls, the Peace Bridge, the Guildhall and take in the Bogside and Waterside on each side of the River Foyle.
2. Eat a ‘Bogside Buster’
The Café on the Walls is perfect for a caffeine fix, internet break or lunch while. Make sure to try the ‘Bogside Buster’ steak sandwich. This café is located in the Verbal Arts Centre, meaning you can sample the city’s artistic side by checking out the books and artwork from top Irish artists.
3. Tour the walls
A trip to Derry would not be complete without a visit to the fascinating city walls. A mile-long dander brings great views over the historic streets and the hills of Donegal. Or take a guide for some mighty craic, and don’t forget to pause for a picture with Roaring Meg, the biggest in what is Europe’s largest collection of cannons.
4. Vintage trail
Explore the vintage shopping scene for some unique and unusual finds. Vinyl, jewellery and handbags can be found at The Yellow Yard, and Bedlam has an array of clothing, furniture, art and crafts. One of the coolest places to bargain hunt is the Craft Village, an arcade of small shops, all grouped around a glass-covered central square.
5. Dinner at the heart of it all
You might catch street food legend Pyke ‘n’ Pommes down at the Foyle Marina before they close in the late afternoon. Otherwise, try out Quaywest and The Exchange. Both offer diverse menus and are among the favourites in the city’s vibrant foodie scene.
6. Night on the town
You can be sure to spend the start of your night in buzzing bars and to find yourself in one of the many clubs by the end of it (usually open until about 2.00am). The Metro is one of the busiest at the weekend, as is Downey's bar complex with its Sugar nightclub and rooftop beer garden. However, nights here are unpredictable and the fun will be not knowing where you’ll end up.
7. Get wet and wild
Embrace the outdoors at Creggan Country Park, where three freshwater lakes have become the playground for an inflatable water assault course, aqua zorbing, a pier jump, wheelyboat, raft building and more. You won’t get such an adrenaline rush elsewhere.
8. Lunch in a brewery
After your water sports adventure, give yourself a relaxing reward by grabbing lunch and sampling some locally produced craft beers at the Walled City Brewery. Stretch your legs and take a short 10-minute walk across the historic Peace Bridge to arrive at the brewery. Tapas and famous beers like ‘Stitch’ and ‘Boom’ are highly recommended.
9. Free Derry Corner
Head to the iconic Free Derry Corner for an unmissable Instagram opportunity. This gable wall, bearing the ‘You are now entering free Derry’ slogan, has become an enduring image of the city and the Troubles. Delve a little further into the city’s absorbing past at the Siege Museum and Museum of Free Derry.
10. Art attack
Get up close and personal with contemporary art at Void, located in an old shirt factory. The Patrick Street galleries and studio spaces showcase the work of established international and Irish artists free of charge.
11. Soak up the sounds of Derry’s music scene
Use your Saturday night to sample the incredible music scene on offer in Derry. Live music plays in dozens of venues from Sandinos to Peadar O’Donnell’s to the Nerve Centre and more. The incredible atmosphere in the city centre bars will be more than enough to get you in the mood for a traditional celebration.
12. Embrace the open air
Hire some bikes at Visit Derry and challenge yourself to as much of the 21-mile Foyle Valley route you can complete. This old railway track runs along the River Foyle to the border towns of Lifford and Strabane. Alternatively, if you’re feeling adventurous, take a trip to any one of the dozen unspoilt beaches within half-an-hour of the city centre and start your day with a surf.
Have brunch in Fiorentini’s Cafe, a Derry~Londonderry foodie institution. Whatever your order, finish off with the exquisite ice cream, made great by its secret Italian recipe.
14. Retail therapy
End your packed weekend with something a little more laid-back. Head to the Foyleside Centre, one of Northern Ireland’s largest shopping malls, for some chilled out shopping. With everything from local boutiques selling locally made crafts and familiar high-street names, you can expect a few hours to fly by.