Visiting County Derry - What to See and Do
(City of Derry Airport LDY, Northern Ireland)
Although its official name is still under debate, County Derry
is one of the most beautiful regions of not only Northern Ireland
, but the entire British Isles. The region is part of the Ulster Province, stretching from Lough Neagh in the south-east to Ireland's northern coast. A sightseeing tour of the entire area is recommended, as plenty of magnificent cities, towns, natural attractions and man-made marvels dot the green landscape of this Irish county.
Served by the City of Derry Airport, the county's main city is Derry (also called Londonderry). This is certainly the perfect spot to begin a sightseeing adventure of the county, as plenty of magnificent sights are found here. The historic City Walls, Guildhall, cathedrals and museums make up an exciting list of landmarks. From here, the towns of Limavady, Portstewart and Coleraine are easily reached.
Outside of the main cities and towns, County Derry contains a host of majestic natural treasures. The Giant's Causeway is just a short drive from Coleraine, while the nearby Binevenagh Mountain, which overlooks the thriving township of Limavady, is another worthy highlight. However, this is only the beginning. The county is a gift basket of Irish goodies just waiting to be sampled.
Ten things you must do in County Derry
- Tourists shouldn't pass up an opportunity to uncover the Giant's Causeway. This attraction is only a 25-minute road journey from Coleraine, so it remains easily accessible. The causeway is the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Northern Ireland. Full of myths and legends, this site is a must visit for travellers in the area.
- Stroll the serene Portstewart Strand, which is a lengthy beach at the town of Portstewart. It is often regarded as the premier beach in Northern Ireland, especially when it comes to golden sands and water cleanliness. The sand dunes behind Portstewart's best beach are also worth discovering. Understandably, this spot receives many of its yearly visitors during the warmer months of June, July and August.
- Hike the stunning Binevenagh Mountain, which has been given status as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This picturesque mountain boasts a pretty lake near the summit. This means that fishing is a great way to stay entertained when at the peak.
- Swimming is quite possible in County Derry, as Benone Beach (the Benone Strand) stands at attention year round. It is one of the most alluring Blue Flag beaches in the United Kingdom, and one of the longest. If it gets too cold for a swim, then try kite flying or kiteboarding to pass the time. During windy days, this beach is popular with kite surfers and wind surfers alike.
- Visitors can head to Coleraine and explore the former site of Mountsandel Fort. Not only does the area offer a spectacularly beautiful forest, but this spot is also renowned for being home to the oldest remaining human settlement in the whole of Ireland. The site welcomes many thousands of visitors over the 12-month calendar, making it a significant stepping stone for any County Derry trek.
- Derry is the centre of Irish Halloween, so it is only fitting that this city hosts the annual Halloween Carnival. Visitors from all over the world flock to see the majestic performances and costumes on display, which can be quite breathtaking at times. More than 30,000 people attend the festivities each year, held on 31st October.
- Catch Derry's less majestic but still significantly beautiful Bogside district. Once a harsh area of conflict during the civil unrest in Northern Ireland, Bogside is now the home of several magnificent murals. These depict the horrors and events of the 'Troubles' between 1967 and 1998. The Bloody Sunday memorial is a must-visit.
- Tourists can stroll around and take in the awesome sights of the old City Walls. Derry is home to the best-preserved city wall in Europe, as it still circumnavigates much of the inner city. The walls were originally built during the 17th century and were never breached by foreign invaders. This led to Derry being called the 'Maiden City'.
- Within Derry, the Tower Museum is a memorable landmark, as it stands as the main museum in the city. Everything about the city's early, medieval and late history is on display within the museum. Several years ago, it was voted as the best museum in Europe. Tourists will find information about such historical chapters as the Irish famine of the 19th century, and the Troubles of the late 20th century.
- Take a stroll to Guildhall Square and explore the city's main public space and Guildhall. The Guildhall is a unique edifice located in the city centre. Tours of the site take visitors through interesting parts of Northern Ireland's history. These two landmarks connect the main shopping sites within the city of Derry too, so tourists can go bargain hunting when the sightseeing tour of local attractions is over.