What’s the stooooory?! If you’ve landed here because you’re scratching your head and wondering what to do in Derry during an upcoming visit, then you’re in the right place.
In this guide, you’ll discover LOADS of things to do in Derry.
From the city walls and the Derry Girls mural to temples, beaches and plenty more, we’ve got you well and truly covered.
What to do in Derry in 2019
As there are quite a few things to see and do, I’m going to split this guide up into a few sections to make it easier for you to find what’s most relevant to you.
Just click on any of the sections below to be taken straight there:
Things to do in Derry City
We’re going to tackle Derry City first.
The city is home to an absolute wealth of things to do and places to see.
There are also some great spots for food that we’ll be recommending you nip into.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
1 – Kick start the day with a big aul feed at Primrose
As is the norm with all of our guides, I’m going to kick this one off with a big fat breakfast recommendation.
Why Primrose? Because the food here looks DELISHHHH.
The breakfast (2 Pork and Leek Sausages, 2 Bacon rashers, Black Pudding, White Pudding, Mushroom, Soda Bread, Beans and Egg of choice. Choice of Tea or Coffee) sounds very enticing altogether.
Get in and get fed.
2 – Soak up some history at the Dery City Walls (top of Tripadvisors list of things to do in Derry)
Derry is officially the only completely walled city in Ireland and it’s one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe.
The walls, which were built between 1613-1618, were used to defend the city against early 17th century settlers.
Still beautifully intact, they now form a walkway around Derry’s inner city and offer a unique promenade to check out the layout of the original town.
Standing at an impressive 19-20 feet high, the mile-long oval comes complete with watchtowers, battlements, gates, bastions, and big ass cannons.
3 – Head off on a walking tour that takes in the Free Derry Corner (and much more)
The Free Derry Corner is now an iconic landmark in the Bogside neighborhood of Derry.
It was here (and in many of the streets nearby) where the Battle of the Bogside and Bloody Sunday took place.
The corner was first painted in January 1969 and has seen many iterations over the years.
4 – Take a tour of the city’s murals with the artists that painted them
This tour really does sound excellent.
Will Kelly, Tom Kelly, and Kevin Hasson go by the name ‘The Bogside Artists’.
Between 1994 and 2006, the group conceived and created ‘The People’s Gallery’, a series of 12 large murals along one street in The Bogside.
This is the street that witnessed much of the conflict and mayhem that took place in Derry over the course of three decades.
The Bogside Artists now conduct tours of their murals in what is easily one of the most unique things to do in Derry.
5 – Grab a bite to eat at Pyke ’N’ Pommes
Pyke ’N’ Pommes started out its life many years ago as an adapted van that served food in a carpark.
In 2015, they converted a shipping container and took up permanent residence by the river.
Not long after the container was joined by a carefully converted double-decker bus.
The food here, which is dished up from scratch, is supposed to be out of this world.
6 – Discover the story of the city at the Museum of Free Derry
If you’re looking for places to visit in Derry that’ll educate and enlighten, then this should tickle your fancy.
The Museum of Free Derry opened back in 2007.
It exists to tell the turbulent story of what happened in Derry from 1968 to 1972.
The story is told from the point of view of the people that were most involved in and affected by the events that took place.
According to those that run the museum, their ‘focus is not just to share our history, but to encourage those who come to the Museum to see the struggle for human and civil rights as an ongoing contemporary undertaking’.
7 – Plan your trip around Europe’s biggest Halloween celebration
A welcome like no other awaits you in Derry every October.
If you’re the type of traveller that likes to plan their trip around events or festivals, then you’re in luck – the biggest Halloween celebration in Europe takes place in Derry City, and it’s supposed to be fantastic!
The Derry Halloween event is an 8-day Halloween festival that features over 100 events with 1,400 performers across 40 venues.
Expect local folklore, harvest feats, storytelling, music, fireworks, and lots more.
8 – Ramble along the Peace Bridge
The now-iconic Peace Bridge opened in 2011 and has won a clatter of awards since.
it connects the old army Barracks in Ebrington to the city centre and was intended to end a 400-year-old physical and political gap by bringing the largely unionist east side of Derry closer to the largely nationalist west.
Here’s how the architect describes the design of the bridge:
‘It is designed as two identical halves, each suspended from a single, inclined steel pylon, which overlaps at the centre of the river to form a ‘structural handshake’ – a powerful metaphor for reconciliation, drawing on inspiration from the sculpture “Hands Across the Divide” by Maurice Harron which can be found nearby.’
9 – Take a beer masterclass at the Walled City Brewery
I have a friend that visited the Walled City Brewery a few months back and they ranted and raved about the place.
The Beer Masterclass here sounds top-notch (and it’s seriously good value).
Over the course of a 1.5-hour interactive experience, you’ll be taken through the extraordinary 9,000-year-old story of brewing.
You’ll also get to taste a whopping TEN beers, each of which is paired with artisanal snacks from local producers!
10 – Jump back in time at St. Columb’s Cathedral
St. Columb’s Cathedral is one of Derry’s oldest buildings.
This beautiful cathedral dominates the city’s skyline from many an angle and dates back to 1633.
Standing at an impressive 221 feet, St. Columb’s current tower and main building are that of the original Cathedral.
The spire was added later in 1821.
Interestingly enough, the building is constructed from the same stone as the city’s walls and boasts an ample number of artefacts for you to check out during your visit.
11 – Have a gander at the Derry Girls mural
If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘What in the name of f**k is Derry Girls’, then you need to get onto YouTube and check it out!
In a nutshell, it’s a show set in Derry during the troubles in the 1990s that follows a group of friends (4 girls and one English lad) as they get themselves into all kinds of mad situations.
The mural is painted on one of the walls of Badger’s Bar in Derry.
The owner was contacted by the creators of the show and asked whether they could use the wall at the back of the pub.
The mural depicts the main cast members and was masterfully created by UV Arts, a group that uses street art as a tool for social change.
12 – Check out the magnificent Guildhall
The Guildhall tends to conquer many guides on places to visit in Derry, and it’s not hard to see why.
This beautiful neo-gothic style building was built in 1887 and can be found just outside the city walls, near the Peace Bridge.
In 2013, a £9.5m restoration was completed which introduced a new multifaceted tourism experience to the building.
Those that visit the Guildhall can expect:
- An interactive Tourist Information Point.
- A new dedicated exhibition exploring how the Plantation shaped our history
- Cultural spaces
- A cafe area
- Interpretation panels that bring the buildings features to life
13 – Paddle your way around the city as the sun starts to drop
This looks brilliant!
You’ve seen the city from the ground, now it’s time to see it from the water.
This 2-hour tour takes you onto a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and out onto the River Foyle.
According to the organisers,‘Once on the water, you notice the silence immediately. Calmness emanates from the blue-way through the city. Paddle Boards are an ideal platform to experience this hush. You view nature up close in the middle of the urban centre’.
14 – Get a panoramic view of Derry City from Tower Museum
Now, I know the photo above looks pretty grim, but it’s the best that I can find online.
Bear with me for a minute.
It’s from the top of the Tower Museum that you’ll get access to the only open-air viewing facility in Derry City.
Translation: there’s a pretty damn good view from the top of this place.
There are also some excellent exhibitions inside:
- The Story of Derry: This exhibition takes visitors through the dramatic history of the city, from the earliest prehistory to the present.
- An Armada Shipwreck: The second exhibition tells the story of one of the largest ships in the Spanish Armada, ‘La Trinidad Valencera’. This ship sank off the Donegal Coast in 1588 and was only discovered by divers from the City of Derry Sub-Aqua Club in 1971.
Places to visit in Derry (across the wider county)
We’re going to escape the city and move out to the wider county of Derry next.
Below, you’ll find everything from beaches and temples to waterfalls and parks.
15 – Marvel at Mussenden Temple
The Mussenden Temple is one of those places that looks like it’s been whipped from a movie.
Located in the stunning surroundings of Downhill Demesne in Derry, the temple is perched dramatically on a 120-foot high cliff overlooking the ocean.
Bizarrely enough, the temple was originally built to act as a summer library for those that owned the estate that temple sits within.
It was constructed in 1785 and its architecture was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome.
Make sure this is on your list of places to see in Derry during your visit.
16 – Dive into a wild camping, canoeing, and slow food experience
Right, so this is actually part of a tour that costs €179 per person.
We’re in no way affiliated with them, but this sounds absolutely class (an Irish expression for great).
Here’s how the organisers describe it: ‘Allow the tidal River Foyle to take you on a spectacular two-day journey and spend your evening wild camping, cooking and enjoying some locally sourced Slow Food and brewed beer by the fire’.
Here’s what’s included:
- A Guided canoeing session (6 hours canoeing over 2 days)
- Slow Food Cooking Demo and Dinner
- Evening snacks and locally brewed beer
- Camp craft and survival skills demo
- Simple campfire breakfast
- All teas/coffees and beverages (inc. a beer from Walled City Brewery)
17 – Head for a well-earned ramble along Portstewart Strand
Nestled between the town of Portstewart and the River Bann lies the golden sands of Portstewart Strand.
Arguably one of the best beaches in Northern Ireland, Portstewart Strand is perfect for swimming in the summer (or winter, if you’re feeling brave!) and for long walks.
It’s also one of the few beaches that you can still drive onto.
The perfect spot for an early morning walk to banish the cobwebs.
18 – Give glamping a bash
If you fancy staying somewhere a little different, then the folks at Swanns Bridge Glamping have just what the doctor ordered.
Situated on the banks of the River Roe at the foot of Binevenagh Mountain, visitors here can enjoy spectacular countryside views along with some very unique accommodation.
An evening spent sat around a campfire toasting marshmallows before kicking-back in a cosy Yurt tent is something I need in my life right now…
19 – See Ulster’s biggest waterfall at Ness Country park
This is one of those places to visit in Derry that people tend to miss.
You’ll find Ness Country Park in the wooded Glen of the Burntollet River, south-east of Derry.
This park boasts 55 hectares of woodland, open parkland, and riverside walks.
Oh, and the biggest waterfall in Ulster.
The perfect place to clear the head.
20 – Visit the Seamus Heaney HomePlace
Now, it’s time for a bit of culture.
A visit to the Seamus Heaney HomePlace will take you on a journey through the life and literature of Seamus Heaney, the renowned poet and Nobel Laureate.
You’ll find everything from personal stories and artefacts to dozens of family photographs and video recordings over a packed two floors.
If you’re in search of things to do in Derry when it’s raining, then this indoor attraction is the perfect spot to spend an afternoon.
21 – Visit the earliest known settlement of man in Ireland
This is insanely interesting.
I’d never heard of Mountsandel Wood up until now. Which is crazy as it’s here that the earliest known settlement of man in Ireland was based between 7600 and 7900BC.
Flint tools were found on the grounds of Mountsandel, which indicates that Stone Age hunters camped here and fished for salmon in the nearby weir (a low dam built across a river).
You can head off on a forest walk here that’ll take you around this historic little chunk of Derry.
22 – Ramble through Roe Valley Country Park
This tranquil park offers stunning riverside views and woodland walks to those that chisel out some time in their itinerary to visit.
The river in Roe Valley Country Park plunges through stunning gorges and its banks are clothed in mature lush woodland.
Grab a cup of coffee in Ritters Tea Room (located on the left bank upriver of the Dogleap Centre) and head off for a stroll.
Things to do in Derry at night
If you’re spending a night in Derry and wondering what to do, then we’ve found a few ideas for you to steal below.
If there’s something that we’ve missed that’s worth doing, let me know in the comments section at the end of this guide.
23 – Kick back with a pint and some live music in Peadar O’Donnell’s
No guide is complete without the recommendation of a fine pub.
You’ll find Peadar O’Donnell’s in Derry City.
This well known Irish pub will go down well with the Guinness drinkers, as it’s reputed to serve a fine velvety drop to those that ramble through its doors.
I’m sold already but the fact that there’s traditional and contemporary music played every night of the week is the icing on the cake.
24 – Catch a show at the Millenium Forum
Fancy skipping the pub?
No hassle – there’s always a full schedule of shows on offer at the Millennium Forum.
This stunning building is one of Ireland’s largest purpose-built theatres and boasts a calendar wedged with comedy, drama, music, and much more.
The perfect spot for those of you looking for things to do in Derry at night that don’t involve alcohol.
25 – Get fancy at Browns in Town
Another fine way to spend an evening in derry is with a swanky feed.
I need to stop looking at the plate in the photo above…
Moving swiftly on – you’ll find the award-winning Browns in Town situated in the heart of Derry City.
This trendy venue dishes out top quality food combined with excellent service and exceptional value (and specialty cocktails…).
Get in here and make your belly happy.
What places to visit in Derry have we missed?
The guides on this site rarely sit still.
They grow based on feedback and recommendations from readers and locals that visit and comment.
Have something to recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!