- For other places with the same name, see Derry (disambiguation).
Derry or Londonderry or even Doire is the second city of Northern Ireland, with a population of 83,652 in 2001. It's on the estuary of the River Foyle and historically within County Londonderry, which has been abolished as a unit of governance so the city is now part of Derry and Strabane District. It's on the border with County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, and its city walls reflect its frontier status. Derry is a fascinating destination with in-your-face history.
Accept at the outset that you will occasionally use the wrong name, or rather a right name in the wrong company, and be thunderously corrected. The multiple names of this city reflect its deep layers of history.
Doire is Irish for "oak grove". Glaciers gouged out the fjord of Lough Foyle, and as they retreated the Atlantic lowlands became carpeted in oak forest. Oak was essential so it's a common place-name element: Edenderry, Durrow, Kildare, Adare, and so on. Oak timber was needed for ships, carts, houses, furniture, fences . . . but even more it was needed to make charcoal to fire furnaces for metal-working and glass-blowing. (Coal was too dirty, and coke hadn't been invented.) A monastic settlement grew up at Doire at the head of the lough, while the forests were felled at a rate worthy of a Brazilian cattle tycoon. Meanwhile this northwest region of Ireland remained under Gaelic rule, rebuffing the Vikings, the Normans and the Tudors, until in 1603 Gaelic power was broken by the Nine Years War - almost. But in 1608 a diehard Gaelic noble rebelled, and the city was burned. The rebels were soon hunted down but the government were determined to prevent any repeat. Their astonishing solution was to outsource the place to a London business consortium - how come Nicosia or Sarajevo never thought of this?
Londonderry is the city they ringed with stout walls, soon put to the test. The consortium, "The Honourable The Irish Society", divvied up the area between their twelve leading merchant companies, and colonised it with loyal Protestant settlers mostly from Scotland. The walls were first tested in 1641 in the Civil Wars when Gaelic insurgents were repulsed. In 1649 Londonderry supported Cromwell and parliament, and withstood a siege by the Royalists. In "The Glorious Revolution" the city supported the Protestant King William but was attacked by Jacobites: on 7 Dec 1688 thirteen Apprentice Boys famously locked shut the city gates with a slam that echoes yet throughout Northern Ireland. On 18 April 1689 King James and his army began a siege that lasted 105 terrible days - "No Surrender!" - until relief ships broke through up the Foyle. And thus Londonderry was "the maiden city", never taken, and with an uncompromising tradition to uphold.
Derry remained in common use, and was the name of its Protestant and RC bishoprics. The big sectarian divide came in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned - six counties including Londonderry remained in the UK, while 26 including Donegal became part of the Republic. A "hard" border suddenly appeared at the west edge of the city, blighting both sides, while cultural borders hardened within it. "The Troubles" escalated in the 1970s, especially after the massacre of Bloody Sunday. In 1984 the city changed its name back to Derry, insofar as it was empowered to do so, but its Royal Charter of 1662 trumps this. The name you uttered became a badge of allegiance. Derry Girls is a TV sitcom of 2019 set in the 1990s depicting young lives of that period.
Stroke City was one mocking term for the hybrid "Derry / Londonderry", as used on transport and other facilities that were trying to be even-handed; it was also a nod towards Ulster's unhealthy lifestyle. Really, is this the most important thing for this city to obsess about? Unemployment, rust-belt industry, paramilitary crime, dysfunctional politics, drug misuse . . . the turning point was the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Peace and investment gradually returned and Derry, like Belfast, was able to relaunch itself as a tourist destination. "Splodgederry" is the place you might appoach by road, as "London-" is often daubed out on signs. To avoid ambiguity these pages mostly use "Derry" for the city and "Londonderry" for the county, but note the opening sentence above. The county name was never changed, and since these have been abolished as units of governance it must remain County Londonderry.
1 City of Derry Airport (LDY IATA), Eglinton BT47 3GY (7 miles east of city on A2). Loganair fly from London Stansted and Glasgow, Ryanair fly from Edinburgh and Liverpool. In summer Albastar have package flights to Majorca and Faro. Buses stop on the main road 200 yards from the terminal, see Get Around. A taxi to Derry might be £11 and take 20 min; they usually await incoming flights, otherwise call them from the yellow phones as you come out of Arrivals.
You could also fly into Belfast City or International Airport, or Dublin, all with car hire and public transport. The Airporter bus runs hourly from Derry bus station direct to International then City Airport. The bus from Dublin to Derry stops at Dublin Airport, but there are only 3 per day.
Trains run hourly, daily between 07:00 and 21:00 from Belfast Great Victoria Street via Lanyon Place and other Belfast stations, Antrim (for International Airport), Ballymena, Coleraine, Castlerock and Bellarena, taking two hours to Derry; an adult single might be £13. The last stretch of line along the coast from Castlerock is very scenic. Change at Coleraine for trains to Ulster University and Portrush, and for buses along the Antrim coast to Bushmills, Giant's Causeway and Ballycastle.
Derry's railway station is 2 Waterside, on the east bank of the River Foyle. Walk across the Craigavon Bridge or the Peace Bridge via Ebrington Square or take the bus to city centre.
From Belfast the direct route is M2 / A6, but there are several scenic alternatives depending on how much of the Antrim Coast you want to take in.
From Dublin take M1 to the N33 for Ardee, then N2 north via Monaghan to the border, then A5 via Omagh and Strabane.
Road signs south of the border read "Derry". Those north of the border call it "Londonderry" but are often vandalised. It's as much mischief as political, so don't be surprised to encounter a sign for London Zoo.
The bus station is 3 Foyle Street Buscentre at the foot of city centre.
East of the River Foyle is the district of Waterside, predominantly Unionist. The railway station is here and to reach city centre you either take the hourly Bus 2d, or walk across Craigavon Bridge which carries the main road, or take a longer walk via the Peace Bridge downstream.
The main city, bus station and areas of most interest are Cityside, west of the Foyle and mostly nationalist. The city has some steep streets but is compact and walkable; burbs and industry stretch out beyond.
Taxis wait at the bus and railway stations but you're unlikely to need one. You need your own wheels to explore the countryside, such as Grianan of Aileach prehistoric fort or the Donegal coast of Lough Foyle.
Londonderry is the only city in Ireland with its walls intact, and one of the finest examples in Europe. They were built 1613-1618 by "The Honourable the Irish Society" to defend settlers from England and Scotland. They're 1.325 km (0.823 mi) in circumference, ranged over the crag that rises from Guildhall to St Columb's. They're mostly over 12 ft (3.7 m) high and wide, with a walkway giving great views over the city, free to stroll with multiple access points. Originally there were four gates: Bishop’s Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Butcher Gate and Shipquay Gate, with Magazine Gate, Castle Gate and New Gate added later.
- Guildhall, Guildhall St BT48 7BB (opposite Tower Museum), ☏ . Daily 11:00–16:00. Built in 1890, this fine building is where the city council meet. It's just outside the city walls, and for decades its councillors saw their role as shutting the Catholics out of housing and jobs as effectively as the walls shut out King James. It therefore became a target for nationalists and was twice bombed. In summer there are guided tours but these are suspended in 2021. Free.
- 1 Tower Museum, Union Hall Place BT48 6LU (At foot of walled city), ☏ . Daily 11:00-16:00. The city's main museum covers prehistory, the 6th century monastery, the Spanish Armada and siege of 1689, the Great Famine, the partition of Ireland, the Troubles of 1969-1994, and present times. Adult £4, child £2.
- 2 Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall (Siege Museum), 13 Society Street BT48 6PJ, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-17:00. This is primarily the fraternity house of Apprentice Boy societies worldwide. Since 2015 it's also housed the Siege Museum detailing the history of the Boys and their prominent role in the 1689 Siege. Adut £5, conc £4.
- First Derry Presbyterian Church is an imposing building by the Memorial Hall.
- 3 St Columb's Cathedral, 17 London St, BT48 6RQ, ☏ . This is the cathedral church and episcopal see of the Church of Ireland's Diocese of Derry and Raphoe.
This is the valley immediately west of the heights of the walled city, then the ground rises again onto the Creggan estate. A couple of miles further across the fields is the Irish border. Night after night during the Troubles the Bogside was the stuff of newsreels, with protests, vehicles on fire, shootings, and makeshift barricades against police and army trucks. It's an essential part of visiting Derry and the area of interest is within a short walk of the centre, and safe in daylight.
- 4 Museum of Free Derry, 55 Glenfada Park BT48 9DR, ☏ . Th-Sa 10:00-16:00. Excellent museum of the Northern Ireland conflict, the march of civil rights, Bloody Sunday and its long aftermath. Adult £7, conc £6.
- 5 Free Derry Corner is the junction of Rossville Rd / Lecky St with Creggan Rd. A monument marks the bounds of "Free Derry", the fiercely nationalist quarter of town during the height of the Troubles. Building gable-ends around are painted with the "Bogside Murals" of political art, and another monument commemorates the peaceful protestors gunned down by the British army on Bloody Sunday. Google map sublimely calls it "Free Londonderry Corner", which is like marking the spot where the Boston Tea Party demanded the right to drink British tea.
- 6 St Eugene's Cathedral, Creggan St BT48 9AP, ☏ . Daily 07:30-20:00. This is the RC cathedral for the Diocese of Derry. It was built in neo-Gothic style from 1849 to 1873 - like other RC cathedrals in Ireland, famine and penury held up the work, and much of the funding was raised in the USA. The bell tower and spire were added in 1903. There were subsequent renovations, the latest major work being in 2015.
- 7 Foyle Valley Railway Museum, 1 Foyle Road BT48 6SQ, ☏ . This was originally the terminus of the GNR Irish standard gauge line from Omagh, but most of the exhibition is about the narrow-gauge railways that weaved and wended across Donegal. Since 2016 it's been run by Destined, a charity for adults with learning difficulties.
- 8 Peace Bridge is the footbridge spanning the river between Foyle Embankment city-side and Ebrington Square waterside. An artful modern structure of 2011, it symbolises what you'd expect it to symbolise, but more practically it greatly improves pedestrian access between the two banks.
- 9 Grianan of Aileach, Burt, Co Donegal. 24 hours. Eochaid, the fair-haired, vindictive; he ordered these a rath to build, Aileach . . . - Book of Lecan. This is a sturdy 6th / 7th century ringfort atop Greenan Mountain, with walls 4.5 m thick and 5 m high. It's built over earlier structures going back to the Iron Age, and was inhabited as late as 1050 AD. Free.
- 10 Burt Castle is a Z-plan turret built in the 16th century, a stronghold of the O'Doherty clan. In 1608 it was the seat of the rebellion that led to the burning of Derry. It's on private farmland and in 2021 there was no access.
- Millennium Forum has the city's largest auditorium, with music, theatre and panto.
- The Playhouse by St Columb's Cathedral has theatre and music.
- Waterside Theatre and Arts Centre is on Glendermott Rd near the railway station. They host theatre, film and an art gallery.
- Cinema: Omniplex is in Quayside Shopping Centre.
- 1 Derry City FC, Ryan McBride Stadium, 155 Lone Moor Rd BT48 9LA, ☏ . "The Candystripes" play soccer in the League of Ireland Premier Division, the Republic's top tier - they are the only participants from Northern Ireland. The Ryan McBride or Brandywell Stadium has a capacity of 3700. The League of Ireland is played April-Oct, with games usually on Friday evening.
- Institute FC also play soccer at Ryan McBride Stadium. They were relegated in 2020 and now play in the NIFL (Blue Fin Sport) Championship, the game's second tier in Northern Ireland, playing Sept-April.
- Gaelic games: Derry GAA play Gaelic football and hurling. Their usual home ground is Celtic Park (capacity 18,000) on Lone Moor Rd but home games are also played at other grounds.
- Golf: nearby courses are Faughan Valley on A2 northeast, City of Derry on A5 south, and Foyle on A2 north along the west river bank.
- St Patrick's Day is celebrated on 17 March whenever that falls in the week. It's a public holiday, with parades and general hoop-de-hoop.
- City of Derry Jazz Festival is in late April. The next is probably 29 Apr - 1 May 2022 but tba.
- Celtronic is a dance festival in June. Dates for 2022 are tba.
- Maiden City Festival commemmorates the siege of 1688, after the Protestant apprentice boys slammed the city doors against James II. The next is probably 10-12 Aug 2022 but tbc.
- Halloween Carnival is on the last weekend of October when the clocks change. The next is 29-31 Oct 2021.
- Foyle Film Festival is in November, but dates for 2021 are tba.
- Magee College is a campus of the University of Ulster in the city. The main campus is just north of Coleraine.
- Foyleside is the large retail mall just south of the bus station, and Richmond Centre is a block northwest.
- Walled City Market is held in Guildhall Square 11:00-17:00 on the first Saturday of the month.
- Cross-border shopping is sometimes a feature, whenever Pound / Euro rates or sales tax differences draw shoppers from the Republic.
- 1 Fiorentini's, 67-69 Strand Rd, BT48 7BW, ☏ . M–Sa 09:15–17:15, Su 11:00–17:15. Popular Italian cafe serves great value meals and ice-cream - try the Knickerbocker Glory. Helpful friendly staff.
- Guapo, 69 Strand Rd BT48 7AD (next to Fiorentini's), ☏ . M–Sa 12:00–21:00, Su 14:00–21:00. Burrito bar with great selection of tasty and affordable Mexican food. Takeaway or small sit in area available. £4–£8.
- Saffron between Fiorentini's and Guapo serves Indian food Tu-Su 16:30-22:00.
- 2 Doherty's Home Bakery, 23 William St, BT48 6EP, ☏ . M–Sa 07:00–17:30, closed Su. A true greasy spoon cafe, there are a number of bakeries around the town all run by this local chain, but their cafe on William Street is the best place to go after walking around the walls and Bogside area for a cheap and tasty lunch. the cafe is located in the back behind the main bakery.
- 3 Danano Forno, 4 Lower Clarendon St, BT48 7AH, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 16:00–22:30 daily. A really nice Italian that is relatively cheap but great food. £4–£11.
- Mandarin Palace, Lower Clarendon Street BT48 7AW (next to Danano Forno), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M–Th 16:00–23:00, F Sa 16:00–00:00, Su 13:00–23:00. Long established Chinese restaurant with excellent service and value. Mains £15.
- 4 Badgers Bar and Restaurant, 18 Orchard St, BT48 6EG, ☏ . Daily 12:00–01:00. A great port of call for lunch while shopping. Can be crowded and cramped at busy times.
- 5 Quaywest, 20A Queens Quay, BT48 7AS (off Strand Rd). By the Waterfront, quite near the Mandarin Palace. Serves light and sumptuous cuisine with an array of alcoholic drinks. Relatively cheap. £6–£18.
- 6 The Exchange, Queens Quay, BT48 7AY, ☏ , ✉ Hello@ExchangeRestaurant.com. M–F 12:00–14:30 & 17:00–22:00, Sa 12:00–22:00, Su 15:00–21:00. The best restaurant in Derry in the opinion of many, try the duck. £8–£20.
- 7 Siam Thai, 12A Shipquay St, BT48 6DN, ☏ . F–W 16:30–21:30, closed Th. Traditional Thai restaurant in the city centre, dishes are prepared by authentic Thai chefs and are packed with flavour.
- 8 Cedar, 32 Carlisle Rd, BT48 6JW, ☏ . W–Sa 17:00–21:00. Lebanese restaurant run by a local lady and her Lebanese chef husband. Great selection of fresh, Lebanese cuisine (good for vegetarians). Very small restaurant so booking is advised. It is also bring your own alcohol (£2 corkage charge) as they do not sell wine or beer themselves. £15–£30.
- 9 Walled City Brewery, 70 Ebrington St, BT47 6FA, ☏ , ✉ Info@walledcitybrewery.com. Th 17–20:00, F 13:00–15:00 & 17:00–21:30, Sa 13:00–15:00 & 17:00–22:00, Su 13:00–16:00 & 17:00–19:45, M–W closed. Microbrewery with attached restaurant. Fantastic food. £3–£20.
- 10 Timberquay Restaurant & Wine Bar, 100 Strand Rd BT48 7NR, ☏ . M–Th 12:00–14:30 & 17:00–21:00, F Sa 12:00–20:00, Su 13:00–21:00. Pleasant modern restaurant on the quay.
- 11 Brown's Bonds Hill, 1 Bonds Hill, BT47 6DW, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu 17:00–21:00, W Th 12:00–14:30 & 17:00–21:00, F 12:00–14:30 & 17:00–22:00, Sa 17:00–22:00, Su M closed. Now under new management, with multi-award winning chef Ian Orr. Certainly one of the North West's finest restaurants and first champagne lounge. Also has a sister restaurant in the city centre, Browns in Town. £4–£45.
- The main bar strip is Waterloo Street, a steep street just north of the walls.
- 1 Sandinos, Water St, BT48 6BQ (near the bus terminal), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M–Th 12:30–01:00, F Sa 12:30–01:15, Su 13:00–00:30. Perhaps the most interesting bar in Derry. Named after Augusto C. Sandino, the bar has very strong Central/South American vibe. The walls are decorated with posters and paraphernalia of leftist movements form Cuba and Nicaragua amongst others. There are also images from the city's own past and struggle through the Troubles, including the battle of the Bogside. This is where you will find Derry's intelligentsia and one or two local celebs, a must for a pint when in the Walled City. Decent selection of bottled beers.
- 2 Blackbird, 24 Foyle St, BT48 6AL, ☏ . M–Sa 11:30–01:00, Su 12:00–00:00. Very popular city centre bar, has a great selection of craft beer and cocktails, also serves pub food. Live music on most evenings.
- Guildhall Taphouse (Dopey Dick Brewing Co.), 4 Custom House St BT48 6AA (north side of Guildhall), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M–Th 12:00–01:00, F Sa 12:00–01:30, Su 12:00–00:30. Gastropub and craft beer bar in Guildhall. DJ sets or live music on the weekends.
- 3 Peadar O'Donnell's, 63 Waterloo St, BT48 6HD, ☏ . M–Sa 11:30–01:30, Su 12:30–00:30. If you are looking for traditional Irish folk music sessions, this is the best place in Derry. Such sessions are held nearly every day of the week, and both locals and visitors create a nice atmosphere. Drinkers can access Gweedore Bar through an interior door.
- Gweedore Bar, 61 Waterloo St, BT48 6HD (next to Peadar O'Donnells). M–F 18:30–01:30, Sa 11:30–01:30, Su 12:30–00:30. Geared purely to live music but with a more contemporary band nature than Peadar O'Donnells. Here you can listen to line ups of all ages strutting their stuff giving their interpretations of all the favourites and some original self penned music. Upstairs is in a nightclub-style, with disco nights.
- 4 The Metro, 3-4 Bank Pl, BT48 6EA, ☏ . You'll find this charming bar in the shadow of the imposing city walls. The décor is interesting, with intriguing bric-a-brac collected from around the world, and lots of alcoves provide an intimate atmosphere. The pub grub here is of a high standard and features every thing from soup and sandwiches to a hearty beef stew in Guinness. A night the upper level transforms into ad hoc dance area, filled with a young crowd. Complete with a roof-top smoking area, great on a sunny day.
- 5 Oakgrove Bar, 88 Bishop St, BT48 6QE, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 11:30–01:00, Sa 11:30–2:00, Su 12:30–01:00. Located close to the Brandywell Stadium, this bar is busiest on Derry City FC matchdays.
- The Quiet Man Whiskey is blended on Rossdowney Road on Waterside, but construction of their own distillery was abandoned in 2018.
- Northbound Brewery is on Campsie Industrial Estate next to the airport, no tours. You can buy online but they only deliver within the city area.
- Otterbank Brewery is on the border at Muff, no tours.
- 1 Groarty House And Manor, 62 Groarty Rd, BT48 0JY, ☏ . Check-in: 17:00–20:00, check-out: 08:00–10:30. Bed & Breakfast with pitches for 3 tents or motorhomes. Groarty Manor is a newly built house, set in its own one acre site surrounded by trees, and is tastefully furnished in warm relaxing colours. Has disabled access and disabled bathroom facilities on the ground floor. It offers a great base for touring County Londonderry, Donegal, and Derry City itself with its historic walls, museums and various other tourist attractions. £48–64.
- 2 The Merchant's House, 16 Queen St, BT48 7EQ, ☏ . A wonderful old house with B&B. Nice and clean, good breakfast. No en suite bathrooms. Closed in 2021.
- 3 Maldron Hotel, Butcher Street, BT48 6HL, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: noon. Modern four-star hotel, centrally located inside the city walls, 200 m (660 ft) from Guildhall. Underground parking provided. £66–124.
- 4 Da Vinci's Hotel, 15 Culmore Road, BT48 8JB, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Modern 4-star hotel. 65 spacious bedrooms, award winning traditional Irish bar, grillroom restaurant, Spirit Bar night club, Style Bar function space and meeting rooms. All guests can avail of complimentary car parking, unlimited wi-fi and weekend entertainment. £56–£114.
- 5 Waterfoot Hotel, Caw Roundabout, BT47 6TB, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 5 km (3.1 mi) north of the city centre on the east bank of the river (Waterside). Free car parking. £58–£99.
- 6 City Hotel Derry, Queens Quay BT48 7AS, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Slick modern hotel on the quay with spacious guest rooms, conference and event venues and dining. B&B double £120.
- 7 Best Western Plus White Horse Hotel, 68 Clooney Rd, Campsey BT47 3PA (2 miles west of airport), ☏ . Comfy efficient hotel on A2 near airport. B&B double £80.
- 8 Bishop's Gate Hotel, 24 Bishop Street, BT48 6PP, ☏ . Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 11:00. A boutique hotel in the city centre. Nice bar and restaurant on site as well. £99–165.
- 9 Everglades Hotel, 41-53 Prehen Road, BT47 2NH, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Four-star hotel, 2 km south of the city centre on the east bank of the river (Waterside). Free car parking. £76–120.
- 10 Beech Hill Country House Hotel, 32 Ardmore Road, BT47 3QP, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Five-star hotel that Bill and Hilary Clinton stayed in. Small hotel in a converted country house, in large grounds 5 km east of the city centre on the east bank of the river (Waterside). Free parking. £85–154.
Derry was scarred by the late 20th century Troubles, and it remains an "interface area" where Republican and Loyalist communities co-exist and occasionally kick off. But it's become a normal city by British and Irish standards, and hasn't seen the need for the kind of "Peace Wall" that still separates neighbourhoods in Belfast. There are down-at-heel districts where you have no reason to go, and aggressive drunks whose politics you need not debate, same as anywhere else. Safeguard your valuables and vehicle, beware traffic, and use your commonsense, you'll do fine.
As of Aug 2021, Derry has 4G from all UK carriers, which extends some miles into the Republic, especially along Lough Foyle west shore.
It also picks up an Irish 4G signal from Eir and Three, and a mobile signal from Vodafone. Neither side has 5G.
- The County Londonderry coast is scenic: Castlerock has the ruin of an eccentric mansion and "temple". Portstewart is the main beach resort.
- The Antrim coast east of Portrush has the big attractions of Bushmills Distillery, Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Bridge. It's very touristy on summer weekends.
- County Donegal has a rugged coastline and marks the start of the Wild Atlantic Way: you pick up the signposts for this as you cross the border at Muff.