Visiting Derry~Londonderry – What to Do in the Walled City
Welcome to Derry/Londonderry – the city so nice they named it twice! Derry is truly a city of history, and the stories of its past are an indelible part of the place today. History has dip dyed the city, coating it in triumph and tragedy, church and culture, conflict and peace. Derry/Londonderry is the only walled city of Ireland, and the 400-year-old walls are easily accessible for walking and exploring the city.
But perhaps you are here for reasons other than leisure – for work or study – and you haven’t got a lot of time to research the best places of our city to visit and experience. Fear not! Our team here at Airporter has assembled our favourite places to visit, shop and eat.
It’s a small city and easy to walk around, so assuming you are here without a car and staying near the city centre, here are our Top 5 things to do, best places to eat and where to shop in Derry…
Top 5 things to do in Derry (on foot):
The Guildhall. Located right in the middle of the city centre, the Guildhall dates to the late 1800’s, and is still home to the city council. The stunning stained-glass windows were donated by the London guilds and merchants. There is a free exhibition of the Plantation of Ulster on the ground floor, along with a great café and outdoor seating. Admission: Free.
Derry-Londonderry is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of only a few across Europe with fully intact city walls. The 400-year-old City Walls offer a great vantage point to see many of the attractions in the city to help you find your bearings and to plan your path for exploring. There are many information points along the walls providing information about our city’s history. One of the best ways to gain a more in-depth insight into the history of the city is to take a guided tour with a local tour guide such as:
The Peace Bridge. Our stunning Peace Bridge over the River Foyle is a new addition to our city and was opened in 2011 for walking and cycling. It is an elegant part of our city’s infrastructure, connecting the city centre to the Ebrington Square, a former army barracks on the waterside that has been transformed over recent years. Admission: Free.
Derry Girls. I know – you want to be a Derry Girl. Derry is indeed home to the infamous Derry Girls, Channel 4’s hit TV program which has since been broadcast around the world. You can see the Derry Girls mural or even take a Derry Girls walking tour! As an extra treat you can also pick up a Dairy Girls hand rolled ice cream or coffee from their stall just at the front of the mural.
The Walls. Even if you only have an hour, get yourself up on The Walls, and experience the only walled city in Ireland. The walls have stood for 400 years and you can circumnavigate them on foot in under an hour… assuming you don’t stop to look closer (and you will!) and there are magnificent views of the city from nearly every point.
Food & Drink
While it’s a city steeped in history and culture, Derry has really made a name for itself more recently for its food, drink and hospitality. The city has everything from fine dining to food trucks, from breweries to cream horns and from cocktail makers to oyster catchers. There was a battle to curate this list in the office, but we finally settled on these as our Airporter Favourite Five Food & Drinks, covering all budgets and dress codes.
Bishops Gate Hotel. Elegant and timeless, Bishops Gate is a listed building that has been luxuriously restored to reflect its grand past. But it’s also comfortable, warm and welcoming for lunch, dinner, drink or coffee. Dinner is served in either the Wig or the Crown (a nod to the buildings past incarnation as a club, popular – then and now – with the grand gentlemen, including Churchill & WB Yeats).
Personal recommendation: French martini in the bar and the lamb in the restaurant.
Walled City Brewery. Don’t be fooled, this is so much more than just a brewery. Walk across the Peace Bridge to experience the exceptionally wonderful Walled City Brewery, located in the restored Ebrington barracks.
Personal recommendation: original beers from the brewery (all named after Derry landmarks) followed by the WCB Burger – trust me. If you have room, have the Affogato, made with Morelli’s ice cream, then waddle back to your hotel.
Nonna’s Pizza. I challenge you to find better pizza IN THE WORLD – yeah, I said it – THE WORLD. If you are in the city centre, Nonna’s is located on Shipquay street in a lovely little pizzeria. They serve local beer and make exceptional pizza in a wood fired oven, using lots of locally sourced ingredients and producers.
Personal recommendation: Northbound Brewery beer and a Hot Honey pizza. But basically, close your eyes and pick anything on the menu.
Pyke and Pommes @ 57. Pyke and Pommes burst onto our food scene and redefined how to eat out and take away – first with a food truck, then a double decker bus (!) then growing into a cool, licenced restaurant, called @57 on the Strand Road. Combining a super laid-back vibe and locally sourced excellence, Pyke & Pommes is known for amazing burgers and tacos, and lots in between.
Personal recommendation: the Vegenderry burger.
Browns. You might be surprised to find such a Michelin recommended fine dining experience in the North West corner of Ireland. Chef Ian Orr has created an award-winning restaurant with his team and is a well-known TV chef and food contributor, as well as continuing to grow his food and hospitality empire. Located in the Waterside, just opposite the newly restored train station, Browns is an exceptional dining experience.
The City has all your well-known high-street stores located conveniently under one roof in The Foyleside Shopping Centre. Our pick up and drop off point is located adjacent to the store making it very handy for our passengers to pick up last minute gifts and travel essentials. You can also find lots of alternative local shops dotted around town within and without the walls. Visitors can find gorgeous gifts and goodies supplied and made by local people. It really is worth taking a dander around the Walled City to find something unique. Here are some suggestions from our team…
Sass & Halo. Aoife at Sass & Halo believes that ‘every head deserves a crown’. Get yours here at the Craft Village in Derry/Londonderry. All Sass & Halo’s crowns are hand designed and hand crafted with love. Pop into the shop to have a browse or have a look online to get some ideas. Aoife also hosts workshops – why not drop her an email if you’re interested in getting creative.
Walled City Crafters. You will most likely be lured into this wee shop by the delicate scents of handmade Irish soaps and candles. The shop is stocked with the most beautifully handcrafted gifts and art, all by local artists and crafters. You can pick up something as small as a postcard or invest in an individual piece of art for your home.
Yellow Yard. When you enter Yellow Yard, you won’t know where to look first. This eclectic and colourful vintage haven is the perfect place to shop for trinkets and vintage wears. Pick up some vinyl, a great book, poster or some vintage bling. We can guarantee that you won’t leave empty handed. The shop is tucked away in a quiet street behind Derry’s walls beside the beautiful St Augustine’s Church.
O’Neills. Known as ‘The Champion’s Choice,’ at O’Neill’s you can pick up any All Ireland GAA jersey and all the matching items. However, most importantly, is the fact that they sell the coolest ‘Derry Girls’ jerseys. They come in adult and kids’ sizes and there is a selection of designs to choose from. As a bonus, they will even personalise your jersey in store!
Room 7 Boutique. Derry folk are known to be very well dressed, especially on a night out in town and its not surprising as we have some great independent boutiques to choose from. One of our favourites, Room 7, is situated on Pump Street in the shadow of the beautiful St Columb’s Cathedral. Here you can find a handpicked range of occasion and smart casual wear. The staff there are fantastic and will help you choose something that suits!
Little Acorn Bookstore. With the rise of online shopping its now rare to find an independent bookstore on the high street. So, we are very blessed to have the largest independent bookstore in the north west of Ireland right here in Derry/Londonderry. From new to second-hand books, little Acorns is well stocked with books of all genres and subjects. Jenny the owner is always on hand to help you make a good choice and always gives the kids a free pencil with their purchase.