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There’s no shortage of amazing things to do in Derry, especially now that it has shot to fame after the huge success of Derry Girls. Whether you’re a Michelle or a Clare (like me) there’s something to suit everyone in Derry.
Not only is there plenty to do in Derry itself, but it’s also a brilliant base for exploring The Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coast in the opposite direction. However, with all there is to see in Derry you’ll have barely have time to think about exploring further afield.
Derry Things to do – Must sees, Eats and Experiences
1) Time Your Visit With a Festival
Derry is known as the festival city for a good reason. There is a festival for every season. The Derry Halloween Festival is WORLD FAMOUS and has been named as the best Halloween celebration in the world. There’s also an amazing Jazz Festival, a Maritime Festival. Check out the full calendar of festivals on the Visit Derry website.
2) Talk to the people
The people of Derry are some of the most friendly in Ireland. I received multiple compliments on my dinosaur pinafore while wandering around the city. The warm welcome is what keeps me coming back to Derry again and again. So stop and have a chat with whoever you encounter.
3) Coffee and shopping in the Craft Village
The Craft Village is a lovely spot within the walls of Derry. There are lots of artisan shops full of beautiful souvenirs. The Cottage Craft Gallery and Coffee Shop is an adorable thatched cottage and it’s the perfect spot to sit and watch the world go by with a coffee. Blue Moon is a great little alternative shop full of wind chimes, crystals and all things spiritual.
4) Brunch at Primrose (mac and cheese sandwich)
This foodie hot-spot is in a beautiful spot on the Quay and boasts an excellent menu. If you only eat one thing, let it be the mac and cheese sandwich – UNREAL. It’s a good idea to book in advance as it fills up quick. After you’ve eaten you can go for a nice stroll along the Quay. You can read more about Primrose here.
5) Kayaking with Far and Wild
If you like a bit of outdoor adventure and fresh air, like me, then you’ll love this. Lawrence was my guide and he was a wonderfully calm guide, full of local knowledge and inside info. You can kayak up the river Foyle and get a photo under the peace bridge. Far and Wild also offer Paddle Board tours, cycling tours and more. You can check out prices and tour options on their website here.
6) Beer and Cheese Tasting with Northbound Brewery and Dart Mountain Cheese
It doesn’t matter if you’re an expert in micro brews or a complete novice, you will LOVE this tour. I mean, beer and cheese, what’s not to love? Well, unless you have some sort of intolerance but I’m working off the assumption that you don’t. Visiting the Northbound Brewery is so personal and you can really feel the passion for brewing. The Dart Mountain Cheese is mouth-wateringly magical and pairs with the beer incredible well. 10/10 would recommend.
7) Walk Across the Peace Bridge
This famous Peace Bridge is beautiful, functional and symbolic. You can cross by foot and cycle. It connects the Waterside and Cityside areas of Derry. You cannot visit Derry without taking a stroll across the bridge. There are benches built into the bridge if you want to just sit, chill and take in the views of the river Foyle.
8) Check out the Visit Derry Centre
Really, this should be your first stop in Derry. I probably should have put it top of this list of things to do in Derry. The Visit Derry Visitor Information Centre is modern, full of local info and has an incredible gift shop. Drop in and ask the staff for their recommendations, pose with the Derry Girls or use one of the interactive maps to plan your visit.
9) Visit the Guildhall
Just across the road from the Visit Derry Tourist Info Centre you will find the Guildhall. It’s a stunning building full of history, gorgeous stained glass windows, a cute little coffee shop and (most importantly) toilets. Admission is free and it makes for a great rainy-day activity if you are unfortunate enough to have bad weather during your stay in Derry.
10) Tour of the Murals
If you’re a fan of street art/murals then you will LOVE Derry. The Derry Girls mural is an absolute must visit. It’s right in the heart of the city next to the Foyleside shopping centre. You can book a walking tour of the bogside murals which will give you all the information you need about the artists, the meaning of the murals and the political conflict/history that inspired them. Of course, you don’t have to book a tour, the murals are all within a short walk of each other so it’s easy to do a self-guided tour. All the info you need about the murals is available online here.
11) Derry Girls Afternoon Tea
The Everglades Hotel is just outside Derry city on the other side of the Foyle. In the hotel they offer a signature Derry Girls Afternoon Tea. It costs £30 pp which is very good value for what it includes. The cost includes a Michelle rubber duck, a Derry Girls cocktail, unlimited refills on tea/coffee, bottomless chips and a towering afternoon tea spread. Crisp sandwiches (drooling at the thought of it), cream horns and sausage roll baps are served as part of the spread. Oh and the service is absolutely outstanding!
12) Martin McCrossan Walking Tour
I did this tour and had the most wonderful, bright-eyed tour guide who showed us around the city at a leisurely pace. You can pre-book or you can show up on the day. It costs £6 per person. The tour starts just outside the entrance to Foyleside shopping centre near the Derry Girls mural. The tour lasts about an hour and takes you around the city walls where you’ll learn all about the history of the city.
13) Wander Along the Walls
The walls of Derry are its most iconic attraction. They date back to the 1600s and when you walk on them it feels like you’ve been transported back in time. Derry is the last completely walled city left in Ireland. It only takes about 45 mins to walk the entirety of the walls and there are plenty of access and exit points.
14) Spot of Shopping at Foyleside
Foyleside is the main shopping centre in the city centre. If you just want some basic retail therapy then this is the place to be. It has all the high-street stores like M&S, Dunnes, H&M and more. There’s a big food court upstairs as well if you need some affordable eats.
15) Pyke ‘n’ Pommes
This famous Derry landmark started as a food truck perched beside the River Foyle, serving authentic street food using fresh and local ingredients. Now they have grown to inhabit a shipping container, double decker bus and even a full blown restaurant in a separate location. Take your pick from creative burgers or tacos (vegan options available), sit, devour and savour! Check out their website here.
16) Have a Drink on Waterloo Street
Waterloo Street is just on the other side of the city walls and is lined with bars and places to eat/grab a coffee. Check out Gweedore Bar, Dungloe Bar and basically any bar on this street. It’s the ideal place for a very convenient pub crawl. If you’re not feeling the alcohol make sure to check our 9ine Hostages for a coffee or Yum Cakes for spectacular sugary treats.
17) Walled City Markets
The walled markets take place in Derry on the first Saturday of every month. It takes place in the Guildhall Square from 11am to 5pm. There’s always a great buzz about the square when there’s an event on. It’s just nice to wander, browse the stalls and maybe pick up a snack as you go. You can check out the dates and local artisans here.
18) Explore Further Afield
Derry is ideally located between the start of the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route. It’s the perfect place to stay while exploring either direction. If you head along the Causeway Coastal Route you can see beautiful places like the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Dunluce Castle. In the opposite direction you have Malin Head (Ireland’s most Northerly point), Murder Hole Beach, Inishowen Head Lighthouse and much more.
Final Thoughts on Things to do in Derry
Hopefully my list has given you a free ideas of what to do in Derry. Of course, I couldn’t cover everything, but I’ve given you a taste of this festival city! Feel free to send me a message on social media if you have any suggestions for me to add to the list. Please do tag me (@whereistarablog on Insta) if you take a trip to Derry and follow any of my recommendations, I’d LOVE to see your photos.