A cultural weekend within the walls of Derry

I’m looking for somewhere to go on a short weekend trip in Ireland with my girlfriend. We love history and culture so we would love any suggestions on where you think we should visit and what to do while we are there.

I’m looking for somewhere to go on a short weekend trip in Ireland with my girlfriend. We love history and culture so we would love any suggestions on where you think we should visit and what to do while we are there.

If you are looking for a short break away, the city of Derry is a great location for a weekend. The city enjoys a picturesque riverside setting, several fascinating historical sights and was recently named UK City of Culture 2013 so there is plenty to see and do!

Derry is the only completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe. The walls are home to a number of museums, galleries and theatres, as well as a thriving musical and literary scene.

Top of your list at the walls should be a visit to the impressive Tower Museum which tells the story of Derry’s history. It covers everything from its geological formation millions of years ago, right up to the present day, including the Plantation, Siege of Derry and the city’s troubled political past. The museum also houses the Armada Shipwreck exhibition which deals with the recovery of La Trinidad Valencera which was shipwrecked off the coast of Donegal in 1588.

The Apprentice Boy’s Memorial Hall is where the Siege of Derry celebrations take place each year and it is well worth a visit. One building that amazingly survived the Siege of Derry is the magnificent St Columb’s Cathedral. Built in 1633, the cathedral is the city’s most historic building and is filled with centuries of relics and artefacts.

Another must-see is the magnificent Guildhall located just outside the walls. The red sandstone building is of neo-gothic architecture; with Tudor overtones. In 1972, the Guildhall was destroyed by a number of bomb attacks and was carefully restored and reopened in 1978. The interior houses some of the finest stained glass windows in Ireland with many having been restored using the original watercolour designs.

The Museum of Free Derry in the Bogside encapsulates the city’s living history of the troubles and the story of Bloody Sunday. The Harbour Museum places emphasis on the city’s maritime connections. You will also be impressed by the wall murals that dominate the skyline of the Bogside, as well as the Waterside area of the city. The murals are a poignant reminder of key events in Derry’s more recent history.

Another Derry landmark to visit is the Peace Bridge which was inspired by Maurice Harron’s Reconciliation/Hands Across the Divide sculpture in Derry’s Carlisle Square.

The bridge is seen as an iconic symbol of the city and signifies the coming together of what once was a divided city. Having opened just a year ago, the bridge has acquired four prestigious awards during this time.

Once you have soaked up the history that the city has to offer, next on the list is a spot of shopping. The city of Derry is a shopper’s paradise with something to suit every taste and every pocket. Among the many meccas for indulgence is the Foyleside Shopping Centre, which is the biggest shopping centre in Northern Ireland. There is also the Richmond Shopping Centre and don’t miss the unique Craft Village. If you’re shopping for souvenirs, you’ll find something extra special, from traditional Irish gifts, stone crafts, local handmade jewellery and crystal.

After a day full of sightseeing and shopping you are sure to have worked up a hunger and will need to re-fuel. You will be spoilt for choice and won’t be disappointed with local chefs using local produce, transforming it into a wonderful culinary delight. You must try some of the locally caught seafood, which is amongst the best in the world. The city prides itself as being the hospitality champions of Ireland and service with a smile is always guaranteed to be on the menu.

Where to Stay:

Tower Hotel (****)

Prices start from €97 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

This four-star hotel is situated in Derry’s walls and is close to the Diamond, the Craft Village and the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall. Guests can enjoy complimentary use of the hotel gym and relax in the sauna after a day of sightseeing. Enjoy a meal in The Walls Bar and Restaurant where there is something on the menu for every taste. There is also complimentary onsite parking for all guests.

The City Hotel Derry (****)

Prices start from €91 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

The four-star City Hotel Derry is perched on the banks of the River Foyle and is within walking distance of Harbour Museum, Tower Museum, and Museum of Free Derry and Bloody Sunday Memorial. The hotel has an indoor pool, steam room and sauna which guests can enjoy complimentary use of. For dining options, guests can choose between the restaurant, coffee shop or the bar.

Ramada Da Vinci’s Hotel (***)

Prices start from €63 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

The three-star, Ramada Da Vinci’s Hotel is located on the river walk and close to Magee College, Tower Museum, and Museum of Free Derry and Bloody Sunday Memorial. Guest can unwind in the award winning Main Bar, enjoy a meal in the Grillroom Restaurant and dance the night away in The Spirit Bar nightclub.

For more information and travel tips on planning your holiday visit www.Hotels.com or call 1800 55 3338 to wake up happy on your holiday!