Londonderry Mini Guide
Wasn’t Londonderry Where the Most of the Troubles Were?
It was, in fact it was the setting for one of the most infamous events in the Troubles, Bloody Sunday, but don’t worry, Londonderry is as safe as any other European city today providing you are sensible. The coming of peace to Ulster has meant that the city now focuses on its attractions and has drawn thousands of visitors to see its sights. The city is very close to the border with the Irish Republic and County Donegal and within a short drive of Ireland’s premier seaside resorts at Portrush and Portstewart.
What’s the Best way of Getting There?
Without doubt the easiest and quickest way is to fly into Derry Airport which is only six miles from the city. Transport links into the city are frequent and numerous but the consensus is that the most reliable ways are either to take a taxi, costing around £12, or to hire a car which then gives you the benefit of independence during your stay.
So What Should be on my List of What to see and do?
One of the first things any visitor does is to walk the city walls. These are incredible as they are the only complete set of city walls in Europe which are still in perfect condition. Dating from the 17th century they give a fantastic view out over the old part of the city. To find out more about the history of the city visit the Tower Museum which charts the city’s development from the early days.
The city is home to some wonderful architecture too in its churches with the two cathedrals being particularly of note. If you’re in the city at the end of October you’ll find yourself in the midst of one of the biggest celebrations of Halloween in Britain with over thirty thousand people taking to the streets. Finally, for a view on the nationalist struggles, take a tour of the Derry Murals around the area known as Free Derry.
What’s There to Shop for in the City?
Generally the shopping is the same as in many European cities with modern malls full of high street names however the city is home to what’s thought of as the oldest department store in the world, Austins. The Guildhall Square houses a daily market where you can buy souvenirs and goods more typical of the area including traditional musical instruments and local produce.
What About the Local Food?
Depending on your viewpoint, eating out is either good or bad. There are very few traditional places to eat and a limited range of local food options to try. This is made up for by a wide range of international cuisine available in restaurants to suit every budget.
There are a lot of great places to spend a fun and entertaining evening but the key thing to note here is the continuing tensions between the communities that make up the city. Whilst having a good time, be careful to keep off controversial topics such as religion and politics and be warned that some of the edgier areas of the city aren’t far from where tourists go.
A new BMI service is once again operating flights between Londonderry and London, with flights direct to London Stansted airport.
If you're a fan of Irish music, one of the biggest events in the Irish music calendar takes place in Londonderry on the 17th and 18th of August. Already, the Stendhal Festival has a great line up of acts with more to be disclosed in the coming weeks. More details can be found at www.stendhalfestival.com