Since peace has since been restored in Northern Ireland, the region has undergone a cultural and economic makeover. One city that’s sporting a whole new look is Londonderry (or Derry, as it’s officially called). In the midst of cultural tourism renaissance, the historic walled city has followed on the coattails of its big sibling to the east, Belfast. Northern Ireland’s vibrant capital that’s become a tourist hotspot and loved internationally for its lively nightlife and flourishing food scene. It's also easy to add this stop on a longer Ireland vacation; find deals on our Ireland Destination page.
The winner of a bid to be the first UK City of Culture, the historic city has a slew of cultural events on the calendar for this year. The Royal Ballet will perform on March 30, the first time they’ve performed in Northern Ireland in more than a decade. Throughout the year the celebrations will continue with hundreds of events and festivals at Ebrington Square, a former military parade ground that reopened last year as a new public space. The line-up includes a concert by Elvis Costello and a blown-out version of the annual Amelia Earhart festival (2013 marks the 80th anniversary of her heroic solo flight across the Atlantic that ended in a Derry pasture.) This fall, the city will host the world’s largest Irish festival and high-profile Turner Prize, a UK-based contemporary art exhibition.
Named Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities to visit, Northern Ireland’s second-largest city is 70 miles from Belfast. A wander around its 17th-century city walls and trip across the new Peace Bridge, an elegant span that straddles the River Foyle and links predominately Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, is a must for every visitor.
With flights on sale through July, there’s no time like the present to visit the Emerald Isle.