Northern Ireland’s second city might be small, but oh is it might good craic! Let’s a romp around Derry/ Londonderry.
Whether you’re flying in to City of Derry Airport, arriving by train along the banks of the River Foyle, or getting the 212 bus up from Belfast, there’s no denying that the views on the arrival to Derry are just incredible. A city divided in two parts by the large river that flow through it, it is one of the most historic sites in the country. From its complicated history as a walled city in the 17th century, to its prominence during the Troubles and notoriety as one of the friendliest cities in the UK, a romp around here is unique to say the least.
Before I start with my advice, here’s a tip I quickly learned. Everyone who lives here calls it Derry. If you ask anyone on either side of the community where they’re from they say Derry. So do the same and you won’t be met with raised eyebrows.
So it’s good to start with the most notable sight in the city: the large stone walls that wrap all the way around them. I’d never seen anything like. The entire city centre is for the most part encased in here . Up to 35 feet high in certain points, a tour around them is a rather nice walk through the history of the town and why after 400 years they’re still standing.
Paolos Pizza’s/ Rockets
On a night out bars will close at roughly 1am. After this, hundreds of locals descend upon William Street to get a bite to eat and hail a taxi home. Now from everyone I met out here, almost every person was eating something I’d never seen before; the fame chicken box. It’s a Styrofoam takeaway box with chips, chicken, coleslaw, cheese and different variations of sauce on it. It’s the kind of thing you’d only ever eat after a few bevvies and believe me when I say it looks terrible but tastes like heaven.
The two hotpots to get one are Rockets & Paolos Pizza. They’re right be one another and will have a bust queue almost every night after midnight. I can’t say I’ve ever eaten anything like it, but it is a true Derry delicacy.
Paeder O Donnell’s/ The Gweedore
While we’re in Waterloo Street, it’s the unofficial drinking street of the city. There are roughly 8 bars in a space only 150 m long (it is a really steep hill though). The most popular in terms of being a tourist spot are Paeder O Donnell’s/ The Gweedore where you’ll get arguably the city’s best Guinness. Every night of the week there will be live lands and traditional Irish music sessions on the go. Even though I walked in there by myself I left with about 10 new friends after just a few hours. The friendliness people have here towards tourists is unique. Even just walking down the street in the day time, every second person seems like nod and say Hello.
Free Derry Corner
This is a really weird and striking local attraction. In the middle of the road is the former wall of a house. It’s been painted white and in big black lettering says “You are now entering Free Derry”. It was done as a protest against the army at the time but has become renowned as a symbol for the historic Troubles period in the town. The surrounding neighbourhood has three storey high paintings and murals on the sides of apartment buildings, making for an art gallery experience slightly different from the norm.
Walled City Brewery
Although it’s situated across the Peace Bridge on the Waterside area of the city, the Walled City Brewery is the city’s first craft brewery and restaurant that has an amazing view looking across the river in to the city side. It has all the usual craft offering with a mixture of pilsners and beers that dip their toes in the hoppy range of the scale. I recommend Kicks, a great crisp lager named after the city’s famous punk band, The Undertones.
It might not be the first place on your travel list, but with it being really cheap here and a great place for a night out, a romp around Derry is well worth a look.