By Johnny Ward of Onestep4ward.com
A city rich with history yet pulsing with modern energy, Londonderry is packed with great things to do – it was named by Lonely Planet as one of the “Top Ten Cities in the World to Visit in 2013” for a reason!
For such an old city, Londonderry has got one of the youngest populations in Europe so there are tons of lively pubs, restaurants, and a booming progressive art and music scene. Put away your wallet and get going on this list of free things to check out in Londonderry:
See our Ireland page for more on travel to the Emerald Isle.
1. Walk around the city walls…
… and discover the treasures to be found in this city, such as the first cathedral built after the reformation, countless museums and art centres, pubs and the lively public square.
2. Explore Ness Forest
Ness waterfall is the largest waterfall in Northern Ireland, plus you can marvel at the world’s most dangerous long jump: Shane’s Leap. Legend has it that Shane O’Mullen, an Irish Robin Hood who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, leaped across this waterfall to escape the pursuit of soldiers. Plenty of wonderful hiking trails around the forest will keep you active all day.
3. Experience Londonderry’s “City of Culture 2013” event
Throughout 2013, Londonderry is promoting tonnes of art and cultural events in every genre from jazz and blues music to archaeology, poetry, children’s cinema and martial arts. Check out their website for a full list of the events; there’s literally something for everyone going on in the city this year, and plenty of the events are free to check out!
4. Read the complete Ulysses
James Joyce’s “Ulysses” is handwritten on the walls of the Verbal Arts Center, one of many spots in the city promoting the written and spoken word. While you’re there, check out the gorgeous marble floor designed by Irish artist Louise Le Brocquy.
5. Visit the Amelia Earhart landing strip
This is where the female aviator touched down after completing the first solo transatlantic voyage nearly a century ago (she was aiming for England but hit a field in Derry instead!). It’s now Culmore’s biggest claim to fame, and any trip to Northern Ireland isn’t truly complete until you visit this monument’s tourist attraction. The best way to access Culmore is to head to central Derry’s bus station and take the bus from there.
6. Fly a kite at the beach
Dip your toes into the water at one of the many quiet yet beautiful beaches to be found just a half hour from the city center. You’ll also find some of the biggest waves in Europe, so hit the water with a surfboard if you’re feeling gutsy! Make your way as south as possible, the beaches surrounding Culdaff or Ballyliffen are always blowing a gale!
7. Catch live music
Derry is home to many venues pulsing with live beats seven nights a week. The city’s a hotbed of live music so there’s something for every musical taste in this vibrant town. Sandino’s on Waterstreet is great for a traditional pint or five, but if you’re looking for something a little more raucus be sure to check out Sugar nightclub on the weekends. Prepare to get messy.