You’ve arrived in the walled city of Derry-Londonderry and you don’t know what to do first. Let us take that tricky decision from your shoulders with our 5 Things to do in .
1. Walk the 17th-century walls
Have you ever spent hours staring at your walls at home thinking ‘They could be so much more?’ No? Well, we’ve had some quiet weekends recently. For wall lovers, history lovers and atmosphere lovers, are tops. Speeding towards their 400th birthday, here are one of the most intact city walls in Europe. Originally built as security for Scottish and English planters, the walls are six metres thick and complete with gates, watchtowers, canon, battlements, bastions and platforms. The builders did their job: the walls have never been breached. Best enjoyed with a slow, stony stroll along their length the walls make a smashing spot for photos as the cityscape is modest in height and a perch on the walls gives your inner Cartier Bresson the chance to shine.
2. Get the gossip
Romance of the illicit sort and 16th Century shipwrecks – if you like your history pumped with drama, you’ll like the . Our, ahem, unusual love story comes in the shape of Bishop Frederick Augustus Hervey and the mistress of Frederick William II of Prussia. The Spanish Armada famously ran aground on the Irish coast and it wasn’t far from Londonderry, on‘s coast, where the Armada’s lost its fourth-largest ship La Trinidad Valencera in 1588. Grizzly details are provided with an audiovisual twist.
3. All aboard for open air art
A Peace Bridge, a Peace Statue and UK City of Culture title on the way for 2013 mean one thing: the ‘troubles’ are history. Derry-Londonderry’s history is a rich one. It’s so rich that they’ve painted it on the walls. For a visual and aural insight into what makes this city what it is, the Mural Tours are essential. This isn’t just any tour, either. Your guides are the very artists themselves. As insight goes, this is as good as being there.
4. Try the traditional
With the lovely UK City of Culture people making Derry-Londonderry their home for 2013, there’s no hiding that this is city likes an arty party. The lovely-in-lights language centre Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin is right at that arty centre. Colmcille is Derry-Londonderry’s patron saint and a bit of a celeb round these parts. The Cultúrlann is where you’ll find out all about the man and the saint via the Colmcille Experience. Think of it as a righteous mix meshing traditional skills of some of the city’s best singers and dancers. Before the show has kicked-off, you’ll have been charmed – wander through the zig-zag interior of the centre and you’ll see why it’s been nominated for architectural awards.
5. Indulge in some indoor visual snacking
Right now, Derry-Londonderry is slipping the UK City of Culture sash around its shoulders in preparation for 2013. Awards like that don’t grow on trees. So, why Derry-Londonderry? We’d suggest dipping in and out of the city’s galleries and art spaces to answer that question. Cutting-edge spots such as the Void showcase established Irish and international art with smaller galleries including Context, Gordon, Eden Place and the above Cowley Cooper offering more cosy culture.