Many of these articles are about the best things to do or places to go, due to its size, many of these articles revolve around activities and attractions in southern Ireland. Today we are going to take a look at some of the best things to do in Northern Ireland and see what is on offer in the city of Londonderry.
This city is known simply as ‘Derry’ locally and is the second largest city in Northern Ireland. It sits on the River Foyle and is known as one of the finest walled cities in all of Europe, and is the only surviving walled city in Ireland. The walls date back to the early 1600s and extend for approximately a mile forming a walkway around the city.
Derry is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in all of Ireland. So if you are going there for a visit then here is a list of attractions and things to see while you are there.
1. The Tower Museum
This large and informative tourist attraction spans 5 whole floors and offers spectacular views across the city, the River Foyle and historic city walls. The Tower Museum covers the city’s history and describes the life of the inhabitants in years gone by in the Story of Derry. There is also a large and interactive display telling the story of the shipwreck of one of the largest ships in the Spanish Armada that wrecked off the Donegal Coast in 1588.
The Tower Museum is frequented by visitors all year round and is an extremely popular attraction among locals and tourists alike. It has won a total of 4 awards since its opening in 1992.
2. Mussenden Temple
Perched on top of the cliffs and overlooking the dramatic coastline is The Mussenden Temple. The views from this Northern Irish headland are just astounding and on a clear day, the Isle of Jura and the Isle of Islay can be viewed from these cliffs. The Mussenden Temple was built in 1785 and is part of the Downhill Demense estate.
The exterior of the temple and the surrounding lands are impressive to say the least, so much in fact that several scenes of the popular HBO series Game of Thrones were filmed here using the exterior of the temple as a backdrop. There is a lovely expansive beach below at the base of the cliffs that can be walked along at leisure.
3. Explore the Walls
As the only remaining walled city remaining in Ireland, many visitors come to marvel at the completely intact and well-preserved architecture. Derry has the notable acclaim of being one of the finest walled cities in the whole of Europe and it’s easy to see why. Visitors can walk the walls which are built in various widths and enjoy seeing the four historic gates that remain standing.
The city is home to a fine antique cannon collection which are all traceable to their origins. Many were used in one of the cities two 17th century sieges. In recent years 24 of the cannons have been cleaned, refurbished and restored to their former glory and can be seen on display in various locations.
Don’t miss the famous ‘Roaring Meg’ situated on the double bastion, a favorite among tourists and photo opportunists.
4. Play a round of Golf
While Northern Ireland is not the first name that springs to mind when thinking about golf, it is home to several nice courses. The Portstewart Golf Club is the most famous and hosts an annual European tournament. Portstewart is home to several courses ranging in difficulty but the Strand Course is that one that many professionals come to play. With its striking scenery of sand dunes and undulating terrain, this course has become a firm favorite.
Other courses are a little easier in terms of difficulty but no less striking when it comes to their scenery. The Old Course has been hosting players since 1889 and the Riverside Course stretches all the way down to the River Bann. The Golf Course has hosted qualifying rounds for The Open and British Seniors and was the site of the 2017 Irish Open.
5. Halloween Celebrations
If you happen to be visiting Derry in the month of October then you are in for a (trick or) treat! The city hosts some of the finest and most attended Halloween celebrations in all of Ireland. Thousands of people dress up as witches, ghouls, or zombies and take to the city streets in an annual parade. This is a ticketed event but features music, parade walkers and performers that bring the streets to life in this celebration of the dead.
Local area businesses like cafes, bars, and restaurants also get into the spirit of things by providing drinks, snacks and street food that can be enjoyed along the way. Tourists and visitors in their thousands make their way to the city center for this ‘Awakening of the Walls’ celebration.
6. The Causeway Coastal Route
To enjoy the finest scenery that Northern Ireland has to offer then consider traveling along the Causeway Coastal Route. Running from the headland area that is home to the Mussenden Temple and stretching along miles of dramatic coastline this route will provide the best views that Northern Ireland has to offer.
Enjoy traveling along the beaches, or travel part of the route by car. Find the filming locations for series like Game of Thrones and other popular productions. Enjoy sightseeing along the way and have a picnic at one of the many beautiful scenic spots along the way.
7. Welcome to the Jungle
If adrenaline seeking is your thing or you have children with you on your trip then the Jungle is well worth a visit. This popular Londonderry attraction has something for kids of all ages from arcade games to adrenaline pinching zip lines.
It was originally an outdoor paintball site and still provides an area for games and competition, but over the years had added more games and attractions to become one of Northern Ireland’s leading activity centers.
The wide variety of activities includes archery where you can practice your target shooting skills, the High Ropes Tree Top Adventure for all ages with rope swings and climbing frames, and Llama Trekking and Mountain Biking where you can experience trails and enjoy the scenery.
8. The Peoples Gallery
If you would like to experience some art in the city then there is no better way to view the cities 12 murals. Known as ‘The People’s Gallery Murals’ these giant works of art have been designed and adorn the gable ends of 12 houses. They can be easily seen from Derry’s city walls and were painted between 1997 and 2001.
The murals contain poignant scenes of the Troubles in Bogside and are images painted by 3 of the men that lived through it. The murals depict memorable scenes from events like the 1981 Hunger Strike, Bloody Sunday and Operation Motorman. Some of the scenes are thought provoking some are filled with gritty realism such as The Petrol Bomber and Death of Innocence.
The murals relay scenes and images of a time when Ireland was under much unrest and though some may be uncomfortable in nature they do relay an important part of Ireland’s history. The final mural is the Peace Mural that inspires hope and the promise of a peaceful future.
9. St Columbs Cathedral
Built in the early 1600s this was the very first reformation church to be erected in the entire country. Fashioned from the same greenish gray material as Derry’s city walls this is the oldest surviving building in the area. It has survived through the Great Siege of the late 1600s and there is a mortar shell embedded in the porch wall as a reminder of the battles.
St Columb’s Cathedral is a popular tourist site and sees visitors from all over the world. It houses many artifacts of historical value within the nearby Chapter house including artwork, historical documents and the 4 ancient padlocks that were used to secure the city gates.
There are many things to do in this intriguing and historic Northern Irish city, and many attractions still to discover. This selection is some of the most popular visitor sites that should not be missed but when planning your day make sure you research local museums, stately homes, churches, and other interesting locations.
The city of Londonderry has much to offer and you can easily spend a whole day learning about this fascinating city and its lengthy history.