The ultimate guide to city-breaking in the Maiden City
As one of the most culturally stimulating destinations in the UK and Ireland, Derry has city break appeal written all over it.
The thriving culture, arts and foodie scenes, the gorgeous riverside setting and wealth of history and fine architecture are all presided over by the glorious seventeenth-century city walls. As the final destination on the Causeway Coastal Route, the Walled City offers wall-to-wall inspiration – and every reason to get away for a few days together.
In this vibrant, yet compact city the hotels are varied, so you will certainly be able to find the right spot to suit your tastes and budget. However, for those wanting to enjoy luxury and to be close to the main sights and attractions, the multi-award-winning Bishop’s Gate Hotel will fit the bill.
Named as Hotel of the Year for Northern Ireland at the AA Hospitality Awards 2018, this lavish urban oasis blends plush modern facilities with stunning Edwardian architecture in what was once a private members’ club hosting the likes of Winston Churchill and famed Irish poet WB Yeats. The listed building is now a place of great elegance, complete with The Wig champagne bar and The Gown restaurant, the culinary focal point of the hotel. With a wonderful, friendly staff ready to cater for your every wish, your stay at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel will be a real treat.
Once settled in, jump right into the Walled City with a walk or a guided tour of its most famous landmark. Derry’s Walls, the largest ancient monument in Northern Ireland, surrounds a network of streets full of character and charm. A stroll around the mile-long ramparts provides a unique promenade to soak up the history and view the layout of the original town.
Other must-see city landmarks include The Guildhall, full of stunning stained glass windows, and the iconic Peace Bridge. A walk or a cycle over the distinctive S-shaped bridge from the city centre yields beautiful views and photo opportunities along the River Foyle. On the other side, explore Ebrington Square and be sure to stop for some craft beer and tapas at the Walled City Brewery.
The vibrant cultural life that helped Derry capture the UK City of Culture title is waiting to be discovered in a host of creative venues offering an eclectic mix of everything from music, theatre and visual art to Irish language, Ulster-Scots song and dance and digital arts. There’s lots of history to absorb too, and much of it can be explored in a cluster of museums around the walls.
Delve into local history at the Tower Museum, which boasts an open-air viewing platform with panoramic views of the city and River Foyle. At the Siege Museum, unpack the story of the Apprentice Boys and the famous siege of 1688, or take in Northern Ireland’s more contemporary history in the Museum of Free Derry, dedicated to the story of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
With a host of top-class eateries to choose from, the Walled City’s food scene is flourishing, although foodies might prefer to munch their way around on a Made in Derry Food Tour, where you can meet chefs, artisans and producers and sample a range of local specialities.
Derry is also a fantastic place for shopping, but for a unique souvenir of your city break seek out the Craft Village on Shipquay Street. This eclectic mix of artisan craft shops, restaurants and coffee shops lets you step back in time and spend an afternoon browsing for one-off gifts for all occasions.
For more city break ideas in Northern Ireland, visit www.discovernorthernireland.com
Other nearby attractions
St Columb’s Park
If you cross over the Peace Bridge in the Walled City, make a bit of extra time to explore this excellent park. With the River Foyle flowing gently alongside, St Columb’s Park is just the place to stroll, relax and enjoy the splendours of Mother Nature in the city. Call in for coffee and lots of history at the beautiful old St Columb’s Park House.
Mussenden Temple and Downhill Beach
Even if you are not on the Causeway Coastal Route, it’s worth taking a trip out of the city to one of the most photographed scenes in Ireland. Mussenden Temple is located in the stunningly beautiful surroundings of Downhill Demesne near Castlerock. In the care of the National Trust, it’s perched dramatically on the edge of a 120-ft cliff. The views over Downhill Beach are quite unbelievable.
A few minutes away from Mussenden Temple, the breath taking Benone Strand stretches for seven glorious miles. Whatever the weather, these golden sands are perfect for a hand-in-hand walk and some precious time together.
Belfast Telegraph Digital