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Northern Ireland’s second city is no match for Belfast when it comes to investment and revival, but its unique historical landmarks, stunning natural surroundings, and burgeoning cultural scene make Derry a pleasure to visit. Add to this the warmth and wit of a population determined to redevelop their county, and you have a dream Northern destination.
Derry is the final intact walled city in Ireland and one of the finest walled cities in Europe. Built between 1613 and 1618, the walls form a 1.5km walkway around the inner city and create a distinctive platform for observing the layout of the original Renaissance-style street plan. The original entrances are Bishop’s Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Butcher Gate, and Shipquay Gate, with Magazine Gate, Castle Gate, and New Gate being later additions. The walls’ impressive 24 cannons have been meticulously restored, with Roaring Meg dominating the double bastion.
Free Derry Corner is a square in the Bogside area of Derry City in which a free-standing gable wall marks a self-declared independent nationalist area of Derry that lasted from 1969 to 1972. The corner features a memorial to the 1981 hunger strikers and several murals, as well as a memorial to paramilitaries in the Provisional IRA's Derry brigade. No trip to Derry City would be complete without a photo taken at this iconic landmark of the so-called Troubles.
The Museum of Free Derry in Glenfada Park centres on one of the most significant periods in Derry’s history – the civil rights era of the 1960s and the Free Derry/early troubles era of the 1970s. Free Derry refers to the area covering the Bogside, Brandywell, Creggan, Bishop Street and Foyle Road. Exhibits include photographs, newspaper reports, film clips and witness accounts.
The award-winning Tower Museum at Union Hall Place has several fascinating exhibitions that really bring this unique city to life. These include “The Story of Derry” and “An Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera.” The museum stages other, temporary exhibitions throughout the year, all of which focus on display and interactive techniques to make their stories speak to the public.
The River Foyle is an incredibly rich resource for Derry, creating some of the finest fishing territory in Europe and flowing through lush country and forest parks. In Derry City, pause on the stunning new Peace Bridge to appreciate the Foyle in all its splendour. Or follow it out into the country to such natural scenic gems as Learmount Forest Park, Ness Woods Country Park, and Muff Glen.
Ness Country Park nestles in the woods of the Burntollet Valley, southeast of Derry City. Substantially extended, it now runs on either side of the Burntollet River, connecting Ness and Ervey Woods. Enjoy 55 hectares of mixed woodland and open parkland, connected by Donaghy’s Farm, with its 7 km of woodland and riverside walks. The park includes wildlife ponds, picnic tables, wildflower meadows, and a visitor centre with displays on woodland biodiversity.
St Columb’s Park is a tranquil oasis of wooded parkland that offers superb outdoor facilities and an indoor activity area that covers a comprehensive range of sports. Stroll around the park, keeping an eye out for birds and red squirrels. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out the incredible zip line in the play adventure area. Kids will enjoy the various climbing frames and swings.
The recently reopened Derry-Coleraine train line is more than just a transport link. Described by Michael Palin as one of the most beautiful train journeys on Earth, this trip takes just 45 minutes, bringing you alongside pristine beaches and literally through spectacular cliffs, via tunnels that reach lengths of up to 610 metres. With an integrated bus/train ticket, you can travel on from Coleraine to the Giant’s Causeway or any of the picturesque villages between Portstewart and Ballycastle.
Derry’s annual Halloween fest is growing from strength to strength, with five days of spooky spectacle in the city at the end of October. The carnival programme features parades of blood-curdling characters, drama, art, and all sorts of family fun. Enjoy fireworks, magic shows, films, and live music in the city.
Make the most of Derry’s abundance of natural resources at Creggan Country Park, a not-for-profit outdoor pursuits facility which offers a range of activities for all ages and abilities. Try your hand at canoeing, sailing, orienteering, assault courses, paintball, and geocaching (a kind of GPS-aided treasure hunt). There is also a heritage trail and active families’ programme, and the fresh-water lake is an ideal escape for anglers.
0.9km from Derry City - Co. Derry
Stay at a charming 3-star cottage on the outskirts of Derry City. The delightful two-bedroom property has panoramic views of the city and the River Foyle. Leisure activities in the area include walking trails through the wonderful country parks. The area is brimming with tourist attractions to keep you entertained, making this the ideal base to explore Donegal, Tyrone, and the Causeway coast.
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