Want to explore Northern Ireland? Derry-Londonderry makes a great day or overnight trip from Belfast.
About two hours away from Belfast, in the Northwest of the country and along the border with Donegal, is the second biggest city in Northern Ireland: Derry-Londonderry. Named the UK ‘City of Culture’ in 2013 and the inspiration for the new series on Channel 4 ‘Derry Girls’, there is plenty of history to explore, going back to the 6th century to more modern times, and beautiful views to enjoy while walking along the River Foyle.
One of the most beautiful train journeys in the world
The train to Derry-Londonderry from any of the Belfast city stations departs every hour or so in each direction, and takes a total of about two hours. The final portion from Coleraine to the Derry-Londonderry lasts about 30 minutes, and has been called one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. The journey will take you along Benone Beach, right along the Cliffside where Mussenden Temple sits, and among other magical views, will reveal beautiful sights of the mountains of Donegal across the bay of water. On the way back to Belfast at night, the sunset behind the stunning scenery is unforgettable.
The city walking tour
Departing from outside the mall in the city centre, four times every day of the week, are the Martin McCrossan City walking tours. The tour takes about one hour, and for £4, has been called the best value walking tour on the island of Ireland. The tour will give you the story of the city, spanning over about 1,500 years and with events that have been consequential to the history of Ireland as a whole, alongside those that have had unexpected global connections.
The Old City Walls
Derry-Londonderry is Ireland’s only completely walled city, earning it the moniker ‘the Walled City’. The city walls are built into the city’s infrastructures, allowing for scenic walking paths above the streets and views spanning across the entire city and surrounding countryside. While taking in the views, you can also enjoy the historic buildings and infrastructures built along the walls centuries ago, from cannons, to look-out posts, and churches.
The Peace Bridge
Opened in 2011 with a distinctive architectural design, the Peace Bridge links the city across the River Foyle. It represents a link across the predominantly nationalist community on one side of the water, and the predominantly unionist community that historically lived on the other, and was opened by key figured from the peace process. By walking across the bridge, you can honour the legacy and join the company of leaders, such as the Dalai Lama, who have done the same.
The Political History
If you interested in learning more about the city’s history, stop by the Museum of Free Derry. There, from the perspective of the local community, you can learn about the civil rights era and later the Troubles. Then by visiting the ‘Bogside,’ you will see some of the most famous murals and areas where relevant events themselves took place.
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Masters in Global Security and Borders | 1st year | Connecticut, United States of America
Hello! I am from Connecticut, USA, where I grew up and attended university. I spent a semester studying abroad in London, which in large part inspired me to pursue my Masters degree abroad. I studied political science and economics in undergrad, and am a self-confessed political junkie, having worked as a campaign manager and for my Congresswoman back home. I am passionate about learning, travel, meeting new people, and trying new things. In my free time I enjoy reading, running, and exploring around Belfast and the North Coast.