Derry or Londonderry? How about Legenderry!

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I have told you about the fantastic adventure I had through Northern Ireland, chasing the Game of Thrones filming locations (did you watch Monday’s episode? Epic!). In today’s post I will focus on the perfect itinerary for your visit to Derry, the second largest city in Northern Ireland, giving you suggestions on where to sleep, where to eat, where to party and what to see.

 

But first, what’s with the name?

Is it Derry? Is it Londonderry? Is it Derry Londonderry? Derry City Council by any chance?

Officially it is Londonderry. The city has been added the London prefix in 1613, when it was granted a Royal Charter by King James I. While the unionists prefer to call it Londonderry, the nationalists prefer Derry. Visiting the city however I noticed that locals have actually adopted Legenderry as their unofficial name and no surprises here! Derry is a gem waiting to be discovered by tourists!

In my article I have used mostly the name Derry because it is shorter.

 

How to get To Londonderry?

The easiest way to get to Derry is by plane, with the city airport being located only a 15-minute drive from the centre. BMI Regional has recently launched a direct route to Derry Airport from London Stansted with prices starting from only £44 including 23 kg hold luggage, allocated seating and a speedy 30 minutes check-in. I was surprised that for such a short flight, just over an hour, we got offered free soft drinks. The plane is tiny but our flight was very smooth. Before landing I could even spot some lavender fields.

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Where to stay in Derry?

Situated on the opposite street side of the Peace Bridge and minutes’ walk from the Walls, the City Hotel is the perfect place to stay at when you visit Derry. My room was spacious, with a small living room area next to a desk, which made a perfect working station. The décor was modern, with an elegant wallpaper, a gigantic comfy bed and a TV. The view from the window was so beautiful, overlooking the historic old town.

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The breakfast at the City Hotel is a feast, catering for all type of guests. The buffet is quite large, serving the traditional ulster fry but also a continental selection, fluffy pancakes covered in maple syrup, scrumptious chocolate muffins and fresh fruits.

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Where to eat and drink in Derry?

 

Walled City Brewery

As soon as I stepped inside the Walled City Brewery I knew that we were going to be spoiled. The interior is modern, with quirky lights made from beer bottles and old wooden beams supporting the ceiling. On the wall behind the bar you can read the large selection of draft beers, all brewed here. Each beer has a name inspired by the local history, events or even celebrities that have connections with Derry.

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The Walled City Brewery produces small batches of craft beer with recipes developed by James Huey, the owner and Masterbrewer. He is proud that the Brewery doesn’t stock any commercial brands (so you won’t find Coke here) and every product is locally sourced. They also have quite a large selection or artisanal gin, like raspberry and mint or rhubarb. Shall I say they also make a chai infused bourbon?

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We started our feast with a beer flight tasting, the ideal way to try out at least 3 out of the 10 beers on tap. I went for the Gin and Juice (botanical pale ale), the Pink Sunglasses (Keller Pilsner) and the Cherry-Londoncherry (Politically correct beer). We paired the beer with a platter of pintxos, a selection of small plates including: chargrilled pita with basil and lime hummus, Tuscan bean and smoked chorizo salad, marinated black and green olives, smoked baby ribs with tandoori BBQ sauce, Thai pork cakes with sweet chilly jam and some house pickled vegetables.

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For the main course we tried the PIG burger: smoked beer braised pulled pork, gherkins, house slaw on a toasted brioche bun. I can’t even tell you how delicious it was. The entire burger was juicy and flavorsome, with the meat simply melting in my mouth.

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We finished our meal with a couple of cocktails (and we would have probably spent the entire day there if we didn’t have a plane to catch). I highly recommend you the Ready for the Hills cocktail, a mix of rum, lavender syrup, lime, mint and soda water. I wish I could return to Derry just to try this cocktail again.

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Brickwork Derry

We had lunch at Brickwork, one of the newest restaurants in town, with a modern and hip décor. I fell in love with their bicycle on the wall. What makes Brickwork special is their menu, a fusion between classic pub dishes and Asian flavors, especially Chinese.

We arrived at Brickwork Derry for lunch and were welcomed with a sharing board of starters, including the most delicious goats cheese wontons I have ever had in my life, a selection of tempura vegetables with chilly jam, dragon chicken wings with blue cheese aioli and a delicious chicken and pancetta Caesar salad. I am one of those people who gets excited every time they hear goats cheese so the wontons were by far the best dish on the board for me. The cheese was still warm inside while the Szechuan dressing gave it a nice spicy kick.

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For the main I chose a Bao Steamed Bun filled with a cod fillet, lettuce, minted mushy peas and tartar sauce, accompanied by Asian crackers and sweet potato fries.  One word: delicious!

 

Browns in Town

For dinner we chose to go to Browns in Town, one of the two restaurants in Derry recommended in the Michelin Guide 2016. The menu is not very large, with a very affordable offer from Sunday to Friday: two courses for £19.95 or three for £21.95.

To start, we were given a complimentary cup of soup of the day to warm us up (the weather wasn’t the best when I visited).

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After a weekend full of food, we decided to skip the starters and order directly from the mains menu. I went for the Greencastle fish of the day (which was cod), with caponata vegetables and lemon mayo, accompanied by a side of mash. The presentation of the dish was elegant and the fish was complimented nicely by the vegetables. Cod can be quite bland but the caponata pairing completed a flavoursome dish. I have to mention the mash, it was so fluffy and creamy. We all agreed that the mash was a total delicious success.

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We were too full to order dessert each so we just got some for the table. The Turkish delight cheesecake with the chocolate ice cream was a delicious surprise, sweet and full of flavour. The kind of desert you would lick your fingers after.

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Peadar O’Donnell’s bar

I can’t end my restaurants recommendations without telling you about Peadar O’Donnell’s pub. Do you remember that scene from PS I love you, in which Hilary’s Swank character, Holly, is swept off her feet by Gerry (Gerard Butler) with his “Galway girl” song, in a very lively local bar? That kind of atsmophere is exactly what I found when I stepped inside Peadar O’Donnell’s bar. Crowded, loud, with live Irish folk music blasting through the speakers, with jolly people dancing and singing. Even if the pub is quite tiny it definitely has personality, with its ceiling covered in flags (I even spotted the Cuban flag among them), barrels as tables and a lot of memorabilia integrated in the décor. It’s the place to go if you are looking for a fun night of traditional entertainment.

 

What to do in Derry?

 

Go on a walking tour of the city and its walls

For only £4 per person you can join the award-winning city walking tour organised by Martin McCrossan City Tours. We only had time for a private tour of the 400-year-old city walls which was fabulous, led by a passionate and knowledgeable guide.

The tour took us on a historic walk over the city walls. Derry is a city with a troubled recent history and by taking part in the tour you will find out more about it.

Derry is the only remaining intact walled city from Ireland and Northern Ireland. With a circumference of just under a mile and never breached by the enemy (Derry is also called The Maiden City because of this), the walls offer beautiful views over both the inner and outer city.

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During the 17th century the city went through a major siege that lasted for almost three and a half months. Today we can still see on the walls the original cannons used in 1689 by the city to defend themselves.

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Take a walk in Free Derry

As I mentioned before, Derry has a long history of tension and violence, the most recent events being as recent as the 1990s. As you reach the section of the wall called Grand Parade the panorama of the Bogside neighbourhood reveals in front of you. Today, a space for concerts and other open-air events, the Bog is the place where Bloody Sunday took place. In January 1972, 28 unarmed civilians have been shot while protesting peacefully against the internment. Many of the people who have been killed were teenagers.

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While today it is safe to walk on the streets of Bogside, the commemorative murals created by the Bogside Artists will always remind visitors about The Troubles. The murals are part of the People’s Gallery which you can visit with the artists themselves. The tours can be arranged by appointment, on their website.

 

Cross the Peace Bridge

The Peace Bridge has been built as a friendship passage between the “Waterside” unionists and the “Cityside” nationalists. The design of the bridge, in the shape of an S, represents a handshake across the water meant to join all the communities living in Derry through peace and harmony.

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The Peace Bridge was inaugurated in 2011 with a weekend long party attended by thousands of people, including the First Ministers of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

 

Learn how to ride a longboard

When I first tried to step on the longboard it slipped from under me feet and I almost ended up on the pavement. That’s when I told myself that no way I could ever be able to go downhill on a board with wheels without breaking my neck. But as soon as Daragh, the helpful guide from Far and Wild Adventures explained how we should get on the longboard and how to steer, I got my confidence back.

We started on a small hill. Equipped with a helmet, knee and elbow pads, holding Daragh’s hand, I tried stepping on the longboard again. And hey, I did somehow manage to keep my equilibrium and don’t fall. I even had the courage to ride downhill, alone! I can’t really call that a hill but still, I was making progress!

By the end of the hour, I was riding through the fountains in front of the Guildhall, confident, like I was doing this since forever. It was so much fun!

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Photo courtesy of Gavin Connoly

Longboarding is similar with skateboarding, but with a longer board and larger wheels which offer more stability. Professionals can reach up to 50 miles per hour when they race downhill. 50 miles per hour! That’s impressive!

A 2 hours initiation in longboarding (at the end of which you will not want to get off the board), finished with a visit to the Walled City Brewery costs only £25. You can book your lesson on the Far and While Adventures website.

They don’t only do longboarding lessons but also a range of exciting activities for every adventure lover: Derry city tour by stand-up paddle board, Wild Atlantic Way Coasteering, kayaking at the Giant’s Causeway and even a disability mountain biking tour (using a Cimgo fully accessible Mountain bike)! They are pretty awesome!

 

Learn how to make Irish coffee

Did you know that starting from only £10 per person you can get a lesson on how to make Irish coffee in Derry? In the beautiful crafts village, inside the charming traditional Thatched Cottage, you will find the Irish Coffee Connoisseur (Darren on his human name) ready to teach you how to pour the perfect Irish coffee.

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Did you know that Derry used to be one of the world’s whiskey exporters? In the demonstrations Darren uses Quiet Man Irish Whiskey which is a locally distilled. Luckily none of us failed at creating the perfect layered Irish coffee, which we surely enjoyed drinking afterwards.

Did I convince you to book a flight and go to Derry?

 

Thank you so much to Tourism Ireland for this amazing trip to Northern Ireland.  

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

104 Comments

  1. Joanna,this was my favorite blog I read today!! Beautifully writen and …..you’re a cat lover too???
    I have a cheetah myself!!! How many cats do you have? And I subscribed as well!!

  2. We have spent so many holidays in the Republic of Ireland but I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been to Northern Island before. We keep talking about a trip to NI – Now I’ve seen how gorgeous Londonderry (I didn’t know where the name came from!) and how amazing the food looks, I’m even more determined to pay a visit.

  3. Beautiful post! This post successfully made my stomach rumble – the food there look seriously good! I knew very little about this city so thanks for introducing me 🙂 The architecture looks amazing.

  4. What’s in a name! Honestly, I always thought that Londonderry was a suburb on London…how wrong could I be. In fact, this is my place, I loooove to eat, and it all looks so delicious.

  5. Love hearing about new places like this. Derry is such a wonderful city and has some pretty incredible food. I would love to taste pig burger and of course this delicious Turkish delight cheesecake with the chocolate ice cream… Now I get my mouth watering 🙂

  6. What an amazing trip! It looks like an absolute blast from the brewery to learning to make an Irish coffee. I did watch GOT on Monday and it was amazing! I would love to chase down some of these filming locations. So jealous!

  7. Wauw your photos are gorgeous!! Really beautiful shots! I’m going to Northern Ireland for the second tiem this week so loved reading everything you’ve done there! Some very helpful tips! Thanks so much 🙂

  8. Love your post! I did visit Derry recently, but I didn’t stop for very long. This makes me think I should have! and long board lessons?! What a random place to do this, but very cool!

  9. Oh my goodness! Derry (or LegenDerry haha) is officially on my bucket list! Your photos are amazing, especially all the amazing shots of that mouth-watering food!!!! Oh my! And Walled City Brewery definitely looks like the coolest brewery in the world. Thanks for the post!

  10. Um, all that food looks AMAZING. I love when lesser-known cities have fabulous food scenes. Also it sounds like Derry-Londonderry has a fun offering of different tours and lessons and things. I’ve never thought about taking a lesson like longboarding in a different city, but it sounds fun to try!

  11. I love that the locals have taken to calling their town Legenderry! The Walled City brewery looks fantastic. What are bargain those airfares are and it looks like a private jet!

  12. I really enjoyed my time in Derry (I guess we called it by it’s short hand too!) and as I have a particular interest in historical conflicts, understanding them etc, Free Derry was a place I spent a lot of time. The commemorative murals still stick out very vividly in my mind. Sounds like it has an incredible food scene, this is something I missed – will have to get back and dive straight in!

  13. I never heard about Londonderry, but it looks like an amazing city. I would love to try the £4 city walking tour organised by Martin McCrossan City Tours!

  14. This looks like a fantastic place to spend a weekend or short break. The food in your photos looks outstanding, and longboarding looks like such a fun way to explore the city! It’d probably be safer for me to go on the regular walking tour, though, lol. 🙂

  15. Loved this article so much – Northern Ireland is such a beautiful country. I had an ex-boyfriend who was from Ballynahinch (just outside Belfast) and I’d visit him often. I never really saw much outside Antrim though, so after reading this I really wanna go back there and explore more. Ulster fry is delicious, I much prefer it to an English fry-up – did you try white pudding with yours? x

  16. Love this article! I went to Northen Ireland last year, and I fell completely in love with it. I just want to see all of it now! Unfortunately I didn’t get to see this part, but I can’t wait to go back x

  17. Wow you couldn’t get a more complete guide than that! I love the beautiful photos of this gorgeous place. The architecture and the character is very evident. Plus, the food photography is beautiful – I love that you tried a lot of things because food is a huge part of travel for me.

  18. The name bourbon chai sounds so fancy and tempting.Looks like Derry or Londonderry is what is heaven for people who love food like me ❤️❤️I read your previous post about Northern Ireland too it sounds like such a fascinating place

  19. Looks really inviting I envy you for having this awesome adventure. I love the pics and love the total of Londonberry offers to tourist and visitors. Thanks for the awesome share.

  20. Derry looks so magical and cute little place. Flying in a small little plane, over the Lavender fields and with free soft drinks must be a great experience. Your stay also looks comfortable. I would like to try that Lavender flavored drink. Beautiful pictures!

  21. Never heard of Londonderry prior to this post! Fascinating – I had no idea this existed. Ireland is so beautiful. I was just there exploring the area of Dublin to Galway to the Cliffs of Moher side of the country. I haven’t had the chance to explore the northern part of the country – yet!

  22. Okay I think I’m going to have to book a flight to Derry asap! It looks awesome, so stunning. I’ve never been to Northern Ireland but when I do Derry is first on my list!

  23. Great post! I love that you did some more off beat things in the city! As a huge Game of Thrones fan I have been meaning to visit Northern Ireland for a while and see some of the shooting locations and i’ll make sure I stop off in Derry Londonderry now after reading this – if only just for the food! The walking tour sounds like a great way to get some knowledge of the recent history, and especially the Troubles.

  24. Longboarding as a travel activity sounds perfect for me! Never even thought about doing it on my travels! I’m ashamed to admit that I still haven’t been to Derry (or Northern Ireland) despite the fact that you can get like 10£ flights to there D: I really have to try to get there within the next year! Loving your food pictures btw – I keep failing to take good pictures of my meals, everything just end up looking like a poop through the lens haha!

  25. How beautiful is that lavender field from the sky?! Derry sounds very interesting, especially after its violent history. All your photos of the food and beer made me really hungry and thirsty, thank you! Would really go to the Irish coffee class, I love them!

  26. Those lavender fields looks beautiful!, though not as much as that pulled pork burger does 😀 I know for sure that my mother in law will love me more if I learn how to make a proper Irish Coffee, I guess Darren must teach us 🙂

    Beautiful read indeed. Well done 🙂

  27. Joanna, Derry looks awesome and thanks for shortening it for us too. The hotel, the brewery especially that burger looks great. I’ve never been to Derry but it certainly looks lovely.

  28. I can still remember that one post you had about touring the places where GoT shoot. And this one’s equally awesome! Ireland has been officially in my bucketlist. Thanks to this post. Haha! Isn’t it Ireland famous for its beer? Have you tried it already? Hehe. Nice photos btw!

  29. Wow! Northern Ireland is such a beautiful country. I have yet to visit but I will make Derry a stop when I do based on this article.

  30. omg, the food looks phenomenal! & I’m not much of a drinker (by any means haha) but that cocktail looks delicious! lavendar and mint sound lovely together.

  31. Wow, food photography is a really tough thing to do well, but you’ve nailed it! You should definitely add a post on tips to get that just right. Next time I’m in that area, I definitely have some ideas of where I’ll be eating.

  32. What a cool post! Of course I watched last episode and loved the Aria Sansa real talk haha. Talking about the location, sounds like a great place for food!

  33. Such a detailed way to help us enjoy, appreciate, and be excited to Londonderry as well. I like how you made your narration, helping us get a place to stay then giving us ideas where and what to eat. Plus going through the places to visit is also something I appreciate.

    You have such an eye for beauty and details.. Very evident on the words youve chosen and way you angle your camera. Love this post honestly.

  34. Wow, thank you so much for clarifying the name, so your readers won’t get confused about this wonderful place. I haven’t heard about this place yet, and truly it is breathtakingly beautiful. I love all the scenery that you have captured. I can only enjoy this place virtually for I couldn’t think to have any chance to get here. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  35. Wow, Londonderry looks like a place I would feel right at home at. I love the patchwork fields, the GoT feeling, and how about that food?! I’d probably gain the weight of a small whale…but then I could just walk it off and go on a few walking tours!

  36. This is such a helpful and detailed post for anyone who visits Londonderry.I would love to have a walking tour.Always walking around the city gives me opportunity to watch beautiful buildings.All these food looks delicious too!

  37. This sounds like a wonderful trip. You can have a lot of fun & learn about history all in one trip. The hotel room looks nice & comfortable. That chocolate cheesecake looks so yummy! I really love all the pictures you included.

  38. As a true anglophile Im ashamed to say Ive never been to derry! I travel to the uk very often ( more often that I should probably ) and now this is definitely on my to-visit-list!

  39. Wow, now I am updated with its official name. Never get the chance to visit this yet but I am already planning too. Your pictures makes me drool over it! Looks so real, it makes me hungry too!

  40. Londonderry is indeed a revelation, so enchanting and retaining an old world charm and elegance. But beneath the beauty there is an air of sadness especially in the area near the Bog, as if the city still retains the grief stricken screams of the innocents who met their death. Lovely guide to the place and a great resource for planning a visit.

  41. I loved your GOT post. If I ever do the GOT tour I will definitely be adding Londonderry to the list. I don’t know why I’ve never been. I don’t even have to get on plane as I live in the south of Ireland! Those food places look really great too!

  42. This is a really helpful article, I’ve been thinking of visiting Derry and you’ve pointed out some great places and things to do. I’m going to try out Browns in Town, the pictures look great and it’s made me hungry! Thanks for sharing your adventure and useful information

  43. Londonderry seems like a legendary place😊…great pics… Ireland tourism is one of the best tourism although I have never been there but after going through your post… I surely wanna go there. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful place…

  44. I remember seeing Derry as one of the destinations in Ryan air. Somehow never ventured there. Love the city walls. Very historic indeed. My kinda places!

  45. I like the name Legenderry. Hahaha Nice! The town looks interesting. Thank you so much for your recommendations on where to eat. The food looks tempting.

  46. I’ve never been to Ireland or Northern Ireland so it’s good to read about it. I remember Londonderry from the news in the 80’s, 90’s. It’s good that there is now peace and Bogside has now become peaceful and now hosts concerts. The peace bridge is very Instagrammable and your cocktail looked delicious.

  47. Oh my this place derry looks so wonderful! I wish it was so easy to go in every country so that i can travel this place.

  48. Oh my, you really had quite a feast! All the food you posted look mouth-watering! The fish appealed to me the most but the pig burger sounds pretty interesting too! Your hotel is also really pretty and it looks cozy. Derry is such a charming place, based on what I’ve seen from your pictures. Great, entertaining blog post! 🙂

  49. This looks like a lovely place to visit! I’ve been wanting to do a trip in Ireland/Northern Ireland for a long time and now I’m thinking I should start planning it!

  50. Londonderry or Derry, be it any name.. it is an amazing place. The food scene is too good, i love visiting place where there is good food. You look super cute in longboard pic.

  51. Looks like a fabulous time was had!

    That flight though, I think I’d love that the most. Almost like you had your own private jet!
    Your images in this post are amazing, you’ve made the food look fabulous x

  52. I haven’ heard of Londonderry before this. Sounds like a brand of icecream..hehe. It’s really beautiful and so many yummy options for food. That Turkish delight cheesecake with the chocolate ice cream looks so divine. Also longboarding looks like fun. And I would definitely want to learn how to make Irish coffee!!

  53. I enjoy visiting locations with history, beautiful and colorful scenery and architecture to photograph and good food to eat. It seems Londonderry has it all!

  54. Northern Ireland is on my bucket list. That landscape picture was so pretty and inviting or maybe it was all that delicious looking food. I would love to just spend a leisurely time there touring, I’ll skip the longboarding.

  55. I guess I would be happy staying here for a day or two with limited wifi service. This place is beautiful, and what i would worry about is empty battery power and memory space for my phone. Exquisite beauty!

  56. Hi Joanna, you have given the perfect lowdown on Legenderry.
    I had read and heard about Derry but thanks to your post, now I know the historical significance of this town.
    Ireland has had a troubled past but I hope that the Irish people from both sides of the divide have learnt to forgive , if not to forget.

  57. Sounds like you had a lovelt trip. I’ve never even heard of this place before. I would honestly not leave the restautants though, all that food looks incredible, and the dessert!!!! <3

  58. Those are very fine photos you have made but I must admit I did not know that Londonderry is in Northern Ireland. I was sure it was just a district in London 😀 😀 I have been to Ireland but have not made it to Northern Ireland. I am generally not a great fan of British food but those meals on your photos look really nice. Loved the beer though and that is enough for me to plan a visit to Northern Ireland too. See you there perhaps! 😀

  59. That is such an amazing experience. If I were to visit Derry too, I would love to do everything you’ve suggested. I think making the perfect Irish coffee also is the best souvenir to bring home. Anyway, the food that you ate made me drool. You had quite a food trip!

  60. You, my dear, go to the coolest places! How I’d love to be a mouse in your suitcase. Whenever my husband and I travel, I’m always inspired for what to cook next. Your post is no exception. My father and husband brew their own beer and wine and they’re always making something a little out of the norm. I know they’d love the idea of naming them after things from the past of people they’ve met. For me, I’ve been looking at the online menus of the places you’ve visited. Wow! I especially need to find a knock off recipe for the marinated olives and goat cheese wontons. And of course that cheesecake! Be still my heart .. the Turkish cheesecake. xx

  61. Londonderry is really new to us and it looks amazing. Indeed, our type of place and we would love to spend some good time here. Your pictures are amazing and i am already craving for food and Irish coffee after seeing those pictures.

  62. I’ve been to Ireland a few times, but I’ve not yet been to Northern Ireland. I would definitely go to Browns in Town if I ever go to Derry: the menu looks amazing and it’s all so affordable too!

  63. Good lord! Your photos made me hungry and eager to pack my bags and head off to Derry! I am bookmarking this post so I wont forget the sites to visit and that Turkish Delight Cheesecake. Yum!

  64. Wow this brings back so many memories. I went to Northern Ireland in 2007 (my ex was a student there ;). So we went on a bus tour from Belfast to Derry (or Deire as I believe I understood the Irish called it). I didn’t understand much of their lovely accent (I am not from the UK myself), most of the time I was listening to them thinking “should I tell them OK let’s switch to English, now?” :)) But I remember the murals and the little church. Strangely enough I don’t remember the bridge, in my head Derry is tiny tiny. But then again we didn’t spend a lot of time there so we probably missed out some parts. It’s strange to think Northern Ireland was this country massively torn by political unrest in the 70’s when it’s became quite posh and chic now!!

  65. So this is the first time I have heard of Londonderry! Sounds like one awesome place to visit that’s for sure. Hopefully my travels take me there some day

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