Derry is Ireland’s most-northern city. It is a place of historical significance and a rich cultural heritage. From The City Walls to museums, galleries and theatres, you’ll not struggle to find interesting things to do when you visit here. Here are 10 of the very best things in Derry you need to experience.
1. Derry City Walls
When you visit Derry, you’ll notice the walls that surround a big area of the inner city. These walls are world famous. Derry is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe. The Derry Walls were built during the period 1613-1618 by the honourable, the Irish Society as defences for early seventeenth-century settlers from England and Scotland.
Address: Bishop St, Derry BT48 6PR
2. Museum of Free Derry
This museum is located in the centre of Derry’s Bogside district, only a short distance from the central bus station and firmly on the ‘Troubles’ tourist route. The museum is similar to WWII museums found in France (the Resistance Museum in Limoges jumps to mind immediately) and its simplicity, humility and spiritualness mark it out as a ‘must see’. It isn’t too big (45 minutes would be enough) but contains many interesting artefacts from Bloody Sunday (30th January 1972) and its aftermath – including hate mail sent to the families of the victims.
The museum serves to remind visitors of the violence that was perpetrated that winter day – by the British army – in the city. It is a very moving experience and should be visited in conjunction with walking the city’s walls and a visit to the Tower Museum. All in all, this is a very good museum of a fateful day in the city’s modern existence.
Address: 55 Glenfada Park, Derry BT48 9DR
3. Tower Museum
A museum explaining the political conflict that has shaped the city and the country: a must for those unfamiliar with Northern Ireland‘s war-torn past.
Address: Union Hall Pl, Derry BT48 6LU
4. St Columb’s Cathedral
St Columb’s Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Columba, the famous Irish monk who established a Christian settlement in the area before being exiled from Ireland and introducing Christianity to Scotland and northern England. It is a historical Cathedral with amazing architecture!
Address: 17 London St, Derry BT48 6RQ
5. River watch aquarium and visitor centre
River watch Aquarium and Visitor Centre is a great tourist attraction located just outside Derry City Centre and with Free Admission it’s a must do for families and visitors. Watch the fish swim about the tanks and learn about our local wildlife. We have lobster, crabs, starfish, coalfish, blenny’s and lots of other marine and freshwater fish and shellfish. We are continually changing our livestock so it’s always worth another trip! There are free activity packs to keep the kids entertained and all indoors, it’s a great wet weather option too!
Address: 22 Victoria Rd, Derry BT47 2AB
6. Millenium Forum
The Millennium Forum is one of Northern Ireland‘s premier theatres and conference centres and is one of the largest purpose-built theatres in Ireland. They have a vibrant range of arts and entertainment events on offer throughout the year. The first purpose-built theatre in Derry, the Millenium Forum is one of Ireland’s largest with a seating capacity of 1000 and it houses Ireland’s largest theatre stage. With its stunning entrance and marble floored Italian-style Piazza, it promises a wonderful night’s entertainment in sumptuous surroundings in the historic Walled City.
Address: 3 Newmarket St, Derry BT48 6EB
7. The Guildhall
This neo-Gothic style building is the Guildhall. Many concert events and exhibitions are held here during the year, it serves as the civic and cultural centre for the people of the Derry. It was built in 1887 by the Irish Society and an English organization to promote the colonization of the County of Derry during the Plantation of Ulster. Sadly it was bombed in 1972 but repaired and opened again in 1977.
The massive building is made of Drumbrese sandstone and marble with oak panelling and ornate ceilings. The stain-glass windows are considered the finest in Great Britain. The huge organ in the main hall is considered to be the finest in all of Europe.
Address: Guildhall St, Derry BT48 6DQ
8. The Nerve Centre
The Nerve Centre was established in 1990 as a focal point for youth culture in Derry, Northern Ireland’s second city. By bringing popular music, film, video, animation and interactive multimedia together under one roof, the Nerve Centre promotes creative collaboration and fusion between artists and provides a cultural outlet for many young people who feel excluded from what is traditionally regarded as the “arts sector”.
Address: 7-8 Magazine St, Derry BT48 6HJ
9. Free Derry Corner
Free Derry Corner is a historical landmark in the Bogside neighbourhood of Derry, which lies in the intersection of the Lecky Road, Rossville Street and Fahan Street. A free-standing gable wall commemorates Free Derry, a self-declared autonomous nationalist area of Derry that existed between 1969 and 1972. On the corner is a memorial to the 1981 hunger strikers and several murals. There is also a memorial to those who died engaging in paramilitary activity as part of the Provisional IRA’s Derry brigade.
In January 1969 a local activist, John “Caker” Casey, painted a sign on a gable wall stating: “You are now entering Free Derry”. When the British Home Secretary, Jim Callaghan, visited Derry in August 1969, the “Free Derry” wall was painted white and the “You are now entering Free Derry” sign was professionally re-painted in black lettering. The houses on Lecky Road and Fahan Street were subsequently demolished, but the wall was retained. It has been repainted at frequent intervals.
The square became known as Free Derry Corner by the inhabitants. The square is located on the edge of the Bogside and, together with the surrounding streets, was the scene of the Battle of the Bogside in 1969 and Bloody Sunday in 1972. The square was where the first street fighting broke out during the battle. After victory in the Battle of Bogside, the residents celebrated at Free Derry Corner.
Address: Northern Ireland BT48 9DX
10. The Peace Bridge
The newly opened Peace Bridge (June 2011), is a new walkway & cycle bridge across the River Foyle. It crosses the river from behind the Guildhall to the former Parade Ground at Ebrington Barracks – linking the Walled City to the new developments at Ebrington and St. Columb’s Park. illuminated at night the Peace Bridge is fast becoming a major landmark in the city and is constructed in such a way that it allows leisure craft to pass safely below it at high tide.
Address: Derry BT48 7NN