Tourism Geography

Best Things to do in Derry Ireland

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

· 11 min read

Best Things to Do in Derry, Ireland are a delightful blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking scenery. Derry, also known as Londonderry, offers a plethora of experiences that cater to every traveler's interests. From exploring the ancient walls of the city, which have stood for centuries, to immersing oneself in the city's troubled yet fascinating past at the Museum of Free Derry, there's no shortage of historical intrigue. Derry's cultural scene is equally captivating, with its lively pubs hosting traditional music sessions and its streets adorned with colorful murals depicting the city's tumultuous history. 

For those craving outdoor adventures, the nearby Sperrin Mountains and Causeway Coast provide ample opportunities for hiking, cycling, and exploring scenic landscapes. Join us as we uncover the best of Derry, Ireland, and embark on a journey through its storied streets and enchanting landscapes.

I visited Derry last summer and was captivated by its charm. Walking the city walls provided breathtaking views. The local food, especially at the Walled City Brewery, was a delightful experience. Derry’s warm community made the trip unforgettable.

Top 10 Things To Do in Derry Ireland

County Derry, located in Northern Ireland, is brimming with activities and attractions waiting to be explored. From its captivating historical sites to its lively cultural scene, there's no shortage of things to see and do in this vibrant city. Whether you're wandering along the iconic city walls, delving into its storied past, or indulging in its culinary delights, County Derry offers a unique and enriching experience for every visitor. Join us as we uncover the top 10 must-do activities that will make your visit to Derry truly unforgettable.

1. Discover the Historic Walls of Derry

Derry City Walls in Londonderry

Source: Expedia

Discovering the historic Walls of Derry, also known as Derry-Londonderry, is an essential part of any visit to this vibrant city in Ireland. Encircling Derry City Centre, these centuries-old walls offer a glimpse into the city's rich past and provide panoramic views of the River Foyle and the surrounding countryside. Walking along the battlements allows visitors to immerse themselves in history while enjoying breathtaking vistas. From the imposing cannons of Double Bastion to the elegant Georgian architecture of the Bishop's Gate, each stop along the way tells its own unique story.

For me, walking the Walls of Derry was an unforgettable experience. After arriving via Derry Ireland Airport, standing atop the battlements, I marveled at the centuries of history and imagined the lives of those who once walked these same paths. Whether you're a history enthusiast or simply seeking adventure, exploring the Walls of Derry is sure to leave a lasting impression, blending scenic beauty with a sense of awe-inspiring heritage.

2. Wander through the Streets of the Walled City

Derry, Ireland offers a myriad of activities for visitors to enjoy, but one of the most captivating experiences is strolling through the historic streets of the Walled City of derry. Enclosed within towering stone walls, this area boasts a wealth of history and culture waiting to be discovered. As you wander through the cobblestone streets, you'll encounter charming boutiques, cozy cafes, and fascinating historical sites at every turn.

The atmosphere within the walls is truly unique, with a palpable sense of the city's rich heritage lingering in the air. Personally, I found myself drawn to the intricate details of the architecture, marveling at the craftsmanship of centuries-old buildings. There's a sense of timelessness here, where the past and present effortlessly coexist, offering a glimpse into Derry's storied past while embracing its vibrant present. Whether you're a history buff, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking a leisurely stroll, exploring the streets of the Walled City promises an unforgettable experience.

3. Visit the Tower Museum

The Tower Museum, Derry, Ireland

One of the must-visit attractions in Derry, Ireland, is the Tower Museum. Situated in the heart of the city centre, this museum offers a captivating journey through the rich history and heritage of the region. Just a short distance away, you can also explore the Roe Valley Country Park, a stunning natural escape that highlights the scenic beauty surrounding Derry.

The Tower Museum features immersive exhibits, interactive displays, and fascinating artifacts that tell the story of Derry's past. From the Siege of Derry to the city's maritime history, visitors can delve into the diverse cultural tapestry of this vibrant city. Not far from here, the Free Derry Museum and the iconic Derry Girls mural add further cultural depth, showcasing both the political history and contemporary cultural landmarks that define modern Derry. My personal experience at the Tower Museum left me in awe of the resilience and spirit of the people of Derry, as I learned about their struggles and triumphs throughout the centuries.

Whether you're a history buff or simply curious about Derry's past, a visit to the Tower Museum, complemented by stops at the nearby Roe Valley Country Park, Free Derry Museum, and the spirited Derry Girls mural, is a must-do activity during your time in this enchanting city.

4. Experience the Beauty of St. Columb's Cathedral


When visiting Derry, Ireland, one cannot miss experiencing the grandeur of St. Columb's Cathedral. Situated in the heart of the city, this architectural marvel stands as a testament to Derry's rich history and cultural heritage. As one of the top attractions in the area, exploring St. Columb's Cathedral offers a glimpse into the city's past while immersing visitors in its present-day charm.

Stepping inside, you're greeted by the awe-inspiring beauty of the cathedral's intricate architecture and stunning stained glass windows. The serene atmosphere invites you to pause and reflect, making it a perfect escape from the bustling streets outside. Whether you're a history enthusiast, architecture lover, or simply seeking moments of tranquility, St. Columb's Cathedral promises a memorable experience for all.

5. Explore the Guildhall


The Guildhall stands as a prominent landmark in Derry, offering visitors a glimpse into the city's rich history and culture. It serves as both a civic building and a venue for various events and exhibitions, making it a must-visit destination for travelers exploring Derry. With its stunning architecture and intricate detailing, the Guildhall is a testament to the city's architectural heritage.

Stepping inside the Guildhall, visitors are greeted by its grand interiors, adorned with ornate decorations and historical artifacts. From guided tours to cultural exhibitions, there's always something new to discover within its walls. Personally, my visit to the Guildhall left me in awe of its beauty and historical significance. As I walked through its halls, I couldn't help but feel a sense of reverence for the rich tapestry of Derry's past that is preserved within this iconic building. If you're looking to immerse yourself in Derry's history and culture, a visit to the Guildhall is an absolute must-do.

6. Step Back in Time at the Siege Museum

Step back in time at the Siege Museum, immersing yourself in Derry's rich history. Discover the story of the Siege of Derry through interactive exhibits and informative displays. Gain insight into one of the city's defining moments and its impact on Irish history.

As you walk through the museum, you'll find yourself transported to the 17th century, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the siege. Learn about the key figures involved and the struggles faced by the inhabitants of Derry during this tumultuous period. The museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the past, making it a must-visit attraction for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.

7. Take a Guided Tour of the Bogside Murals

Embark on a guided tour of the Bogside Murals, one of Derry's most iconic attractions. These murals, steeped in history street art and culture, offer a poignant glimpse into the city's past and its political struggles. As you wander through the Bogside neighborhood, the vibrant colors and powerful imagery of the murals will captivate you, each telling its own story of resilience and defiance.

I vividly remember my own experience exploring the Bogside Murals. Walking alongside the knowledgeable guide, I was struck by the depth of emotion conveyed in each mural, from scenes of civil rights marches to tributes to those who lost their lives during the Troubles. It's a truly immersive way to learn about Derry's complex history and the indomitable spirit of its people. Whether you're a history enthusiast or simply seeking a deeper understanding of the city, a guided walking tour of the Bogside Murals is an absolute must-do in Derry.

8. Enjoy a Riverside Walk along the Foyle

Strolling along the banks of the River Foyle offers a serene escape amidst the bustling city life. The tranquil waterside ambiance creates a perfect setting for leisurely walks and moments of reflection. You can witness the vibrant cityscape against the backdrop of the flowing river, offering picturesque views at every turn.

As I walked along the Foyle on a crisp morning, the gentle breeze brushed against my face, carrying with it a sense of tranquility. The rhythmic flow of the river seemed to echo the pace of life in Derry, inviting me to slow down and soak in the beauty of the moment. Ducks glided gracefully across the water, adding to the charm of the scene.

Continuing my stroll, I stumbled upon the Peace Bridge, a modern architectural marvel that spans the river, symbolizing the city's journey towards reconciliation and unity. Crossing the bridge, I found myself in the quaint neighborhood of Waterside, where historic buildings and cozy cafes awaited exploration. As the sun began to set, casting a golden glow over the river, I realized that my riverside walk had become a highlight of my time in Derry.

9. Indulge in Culinary Delights at the Walled City Market

Indulging in culinary delights at the Walled City Market is one of the top things to do in Derry, Ireland. Nestled within the historic city walls, this vibrant market offers a feast for the senses. From traditional Irish stew to mouthwatering seafood chowder, you'll find a wide array of local cuisines and delicacies to tempt your taste buds.

One cannot miss the opportunity to grab a freshly brewed cup of coffee at the iconic Primrose Café, located just steps away from the market. With its cozy atmosphere and delectable pastries, it's the perfect spot to unwind after a morning of exploring. 

Whether you're a foodie seeking new flavors or simply looking for a unique shopping experience, the Walled City Market has something for everyone. Don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich culinary heritage of Derry, Ireland. It's a true delight for food lovers and an essential stop on any visit to this charming city.

10. Experience Traditional Irish Music and Culture

Immerse yourself in the vibrant world of traditional Irish music and culture while exploring Derry, Ireland. From lively pubs echoing with the sounds of fiddles and bodhráns to intimate concerts showcasing local talent, there's something for every music lover in this historic city.

One of my favorite memories in Derry was stumbling upon a cozy pub tucked away in a narrow alley. Inside, locals and visitors alike gathered around, sharing stories and tapping their feet to the infectious rhythms of traditional Irish tunes. It was a truly authentic experience that I'll never forget, and it's just one example of the rich cultural heritage waiting to be discovered in this charming city.

What Things To Do in Derry on Weekend

When planning a weekend in Derry, Ireland, consider engaging in activities that offer a rich blend of cultural experiences and historical insights. Derry, also known as Londonderry, is a city with deep historical roots and vibrant cultural expressions, making it an ideal destination for those looking to immerse themselves in both leisure and learning. The city's compact size allows visitors to easily navigate between sites, making it possible to enjoy a comprehensive and enriching weekend itinerary.

  • Walk the Derry City Walls: Begin your visit by walking the historic 17th-century walls that surround the city's core. This 1.5 km circuit provides spectacular views of the cityscape and the surrounding hills, and it's a great way to understand the city’s layout and its past defenses.

  • Tour the Museum of Free Derry: This museum offers a profound look into the events of the Troubles, specifically focusing on the civil rights era and Bloody Sunday. The exhibits are personal and impactful, consisting of artifacts, visuals, and testimonies from the period.

  • Visit St. Columb’s Cathedral: Built in 1633, the cathedral is the city's oldest building and offers insights into Derry’s ecclesiastical history, with many artifacts from the Siege of Derry.

  • Enjoy a show at the Millennium Forum: One of Ireland's largest purpose-built theatres, the Millennium Forum offers a range of performances from plays and musicals to concerts and comedy shows, showcasing both local and international talent.

  • Stroll across the Peace Bridge: This architecturally striking bridge spans the River Foyle, symbolizing progress and reconciliation. It's a beautiful spot for a walk, especially at sunset.

  • Admire the Guildhall: The Guildhall is notable for its stunning architecture and the beautiful stained glass windows depicting the history of the city. It also serves as a central hub for various cultural events and exhibitions.

  • Explore local markets: Derry’s markets, like the Walled City Market, are bustling with activity and offer a variety of local artisan foods and crafts. It's a perfect place to taste the local cuisine and pick up unique souvenirs.

  • Take a guided mural tour: Derry's political murals are a powerful reminder of its recent history. A guided tour can provide deeper insight into the stories behind the artwork, told by locals who lived through the events depicted.

  • Relax in Brooke Park: For a quieter moment, visit Brooke Park, an urban oasis that has been recently restored. It’s ideal for a leisurely walk or a picnic, with plenty of green space and a children’s play area.

  • Sip coffee in Craft Village: Nestled in the heart of the city, this charming village of reconstructed historical buildings offers quaint shops, studios, and cafes. It's a wonderful spot to relax and enjoy a coffee or tea in a picturesque setting.

These activities highlight the unique blend of Derry’s historical significance and its vibrant modern life, making a weekend visit both educational and enjoyable.

Things To Do in Derry at Night

Things to do in Derry at night encompass a wide range of engaging and entertaining activities suited for any visitor looking to experience the city's dynamic atmosphere after dark. Derry is well-known for its rich history and vibrant cultural scene, providing both locals and tourists with numerous ways to enjoy their evenings. Whether you're keen on soaking up some local history, enjoying live music, or simply relishing a good meal, Derry's nighttime offerings are sure to enhance your visit. From historic walking tours that illuminate the past to bustling pubs and cozy venues hosting live bands, there’s a nighttime activity to match every interest in this lively city.

  • Historic City Walls Night Tour: Experience the magnificence of Derry’s iconic city walls by night with a guided tour. Learn about the city's storied past as you walk the ancient fortifications under the ambient glow of the street lamps.

  • Legendary Pub Crawl: Dive into Derry’s lively pub scene with a visit to popular spots like Peadar O’Donnell’s, where live traditional music fills the air and locals mingle with visitors in a friendly atmosphere.

  • Live Theatre at The Playhouse: Enjoy a night of drama or comedy at The Playhouse, one of Derry's renowned theatres. Offering a diverse range of performances, it's a perfect spot for culture enthusiasts.

  • Contemporary Art at Void Gallery: Explore cutting-edge art at the Void Gallery. With exhibitions often open late, it’s a great way to engage with contemporary visual arts and often features interactive and thought-provoking installations.

  • Gastronomic Delights: Savor the tastes of Ireland with a dinner at one of Derry’s esteemed eateries. Choose from traditional Irish dishes to modern culinary innovations in cozy, warmly lit settings.

  • Ghostly Encounters Tour: Join a ghost tour and explore the darker side of Derry’s history. Walk through haunted sites and listen to eerie tales that will give you a glimpse into the city's spooky heritage.

Each of these activities offers a unique way to experience Derry after sunset, whether you're looking for history, culture, or just a fun night out.

What are the Top Outdoor Activities To Do in Derry?

Derry, Ireland, offers a variety of outdoor activities that appeal to nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. From serene walks along historic walls to exhilarating water sports on the River Foyle, there's something for everyone. The city combines its rich history with stunning landscapes, providing unique experiences in the great outdoors.

Walk the Derry City Walls

One of the top outdoor activities to do in Derry is to walk the Derry City Walls. These historic walls offer a unique perspective of the city, allowing you to see many of its key landmarks from a vantage point that combines natural beauty with rich history. As you stroll along the 1.5-kilometer circuit, the views across Derry, including the Peace Bridge and the Guildhall, are particularly striking. This walk is not just a journey through the city’s streets but a walk through history, with informative plaques along the way providing insights into Derry’s past.

During my last visit, I started my walk early in the morning when the city was just waking up. The sun was casting a gentle glow over the old stone, and the air was fresh and crisp. I found it peaceful to meander along the path, with only the sound of my footsteps and the occasional bird. Pausing at the cannons, I imagined watching over the city centuries ago. This walk always feels like a personal journey back in time, offering moments of reflection with every step.

Visit the Peace Bridge

Visiting the Peace Bridge stands out as a premier outdoor activity in Derry. This striking bridge, stretching across the River Foyle, not only connects two sides of the city but also symbolizes the progress towards peace and unity. Walking across during sunset provided one of the most serene experiences I've had, with the fading sunlight casting a golden glow over the water. The panoramic views of the city skyline are truly breathtaking.

The Peace Bridge is not just for crossing; it serves as a communal space where locals and tourists alike gather. Whether jogging in the early morning or strolling in the evening, the atmosphere is always vibrant. During my visits, I've paused to watch street performers, engaged with local art displays, and savored moments of quiet reflection by the riverside. This area, rich in scenic beauty and cultural significance, offers numerous photo opportunities and chances to appreciate Derry’s charming environment.

Explore Ness Wood Country Park

The top outdoor activities to do in Derry include a visit to Ness Wood Country Park. Nestled in a picturesque area, this park offers lush landscapes perfect for hiking and picnicking. I remember wandering along the trails, captivated by the towering trees and the sound of the waterfall in the distance. It's a place where the serenity of nature truly envelops you. Bird watching and photography are also popular here, with the changing seasons providing a beautiful backdrop for nature enthusiasts. Whether it’s the vibrant spring blooms or the rich autumn colors, Ness Wood Country Park is a refreshing escape into nature’s embrace. Not far from this natural paradise, you can explore unique local landmarks like the Free Derry Corner and even join the Derry Sub Aqua Club for some underwater adventures.

Rowing on the River Foyle

Rowing on the River Foyle stands out as the premier outdoor activity in Derry. The gentle currents of the river provide a tranquil escape from the bustling city. During my last trip to Derry, I took the opportunity to join a local rowing club for an early morning session. The cool, crisp air mixed with the rhythmic sounds of oars dipping into the water made for a truly meditative experience. As the boat glided smoothly, the sun began to rise, casting a golden glow over the historic cityscape.

This activity isn’t just a workout; it's a chance to connect with Derry’s natural beauty and historical heritage. Paddling under the iconic Peace Bridge, I felt a wave of tranquility as I soaked in views of the ancient walls that encircle the city. Local rowing clubs are very welcoming to visitors, offering both single and group sessions, ensuring that everyone, from beginners to seasoned rowers, can enjoy the river. Equipment and instructions are readily provided, making it easy for anyone to participate.

This serene journey along the Foyle is a perfect way to experience Derry from a different vantage point. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful solo adventure or a fun group activity, rowing here provides an unforgettable experience that combines physical activity with scenic exploration.

Cycling the Foyle Valley Cycle Route

Cycling the Foyle Valley Cycle Route is a standout outdoor activity in Derry. This route provides a wonderfully scenic journey along the River Foyle, framed by stunning riverbanks and vibrant green landscapes. During my rides here, I've often felt enveloped by the tranquility of nature, with the gentle river breeze and the rhythmic sound of birds accompanying me. It’s a serene escape that allows both tourists and locals to soak in the picturesque beauty of Derry at a comfortable pace.

The cycle path is well-maintained and clearly marked, making it accessible for cyclists of all skill levels. There are several spots along the route where you can pause to take in the views or enjoy a picnic by the river. Each season brings a new palette of colors and experiences, from the fresh blooms of spring to the golden hues of autumn. Whether you’re looking for a vigorous workout or a peaceful retreat into nature, the Foyle Valley Cycle Route offers a delightful experience. Enjoy the serenity and explore the charming outdoor settings as you navigate one of Derry’s most beloved pathways.

FAQs On Best Things to Do in Derry Ireland

1. What are the top attractions to visit in Derry?

The top attractions in Derry include the historic Derry City Walls, the fascinating Museum of Free Derry, and the iconic Peace Bridge. Visitors should also explore the Tower Museum and St. Columb's Cathedral.

2. Where can I find the best local food in Derry?

The best local food in Derry can be found in the restaurants and cafes around the Craft Village. Traditional Irish dishes are served at the Walled City Brewery, which also offers a selection of local beers.

3. Are there any good day trips from Derry?

Yes, a popular day trip from Derry is to the Giant's Causeway. It's a stunning coastal area known for its unique basalt columns and scenic views. The nearby city of Belfast is also a great destination, offering rich history and vibrant cultural attractions.

4. What activities are available for families in Derry?

Families in Derry can enjoy activities like walking tours along the historic walls, interactive exhibits at the Tower Museum, and boat trips on the River Foyle. The Brunswick Moviebowl offers bowling, cinema, and dining options for all ages.

5. When is the best time to visit Derry?

The best time to visit Derry is during the spring and summer months from April to August. During this period, the weather is milder and there are numerous festivals and events, such as the Jazz Festival in May and the Foyle Maritime Festival.

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

I am a globe-trotter with a passion for exploration. From the sun-kissed coasts of Portugal to the snow-capped peaks of Switzerland, my travels are as diverse as they are inspiring. My journeys through Spain, Finland, Austria, and Germany have fueled my soul and shaped my writing.