As you gear up for your trip to Derry, one crucial aspect to consider is where to stay. Although smaller than Belfast, Derry still boasts a variety of unique areas, each offering its distinct advantages and disadvantages. Fear not, as we’ll discuss where to stay in Derry in this article, introducing you to seven diverse neighborhoods.
To maximize your experience in the city, I recommend booking accommodations near or at the epicenter of the action. Explore all that Derry has to offer by being able to walk around to all the stores, restaurants, and of course, pubs for your Irish drinks. We’ll delve into the top places to stay in Derry, so you can determine the perfect location for your visit, whether you’re spending a few days in town or stopping by during an Irish road trip.
Before we jump into the details, it’s helpful to understand Derry’s layout. The River Foyle twists through the city’s core, separating the Cityside on the west bank from the Waterside on the east bank. Derry’s city center lies within the well-preserved 17th-century walls, and the neighboring areas create an urban setting brimming with culture and history.
Eager to discover the finest neighborhoods in Derry for your stay and find out what activities they offer? Let’s begin!
Tips on Deciding Where to Stay in Derry
You have several options for places to stay in greater Derry, so you may wonder what to consider.
The first and most obvious consideration would be whether you prefer the city or the country. In Ireland, either is a fantastic experience. In Northern Ireland, it’s even more intriguing, as the history of the county, both mythical and real, play into your experience.
For example, a part of Derry is still walled, as in medieval times. This walled section of the city is an old town, the site of much activity, artistic expression, culture, and nightlife. The city center is also where many festivals and city events tend to occur.
The Derry city center also pays deep homage to the Troubles, the period in Ireland’s history dominated by political protest and violence. It forms a huge part of modern Irish culture and reflects the city’s cultural identity.
Since you’re on holiday, two key concerns are always top of mind:
- Budget: Budget shouldn’t play too much into your choices here, as a good range of options are available for reasonable rates, from entire homes to apartments and hotels.
- Entertainment: In the more rural areas, there may be a lack of late-night activity, but most still are close to pubs and restaurants to try out traditional Irish food.
Tip: Before you board the plane, look at this packing list for Ireland to ensure you make the most of your Irish holiday.
Map of Where to Stay in Derry
7 Best Places to Stay in Derry
From the countryside to the city center, there’s an area in Derry suitable for you. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, Derry has several hotels and guesthouses to match your needs.
1. City Centre & Walled City
The city center of Derry is also called Derry-Londonderry, and some consider it one of the best Irish cities to visit. Incidentally, Londonderry is the region’s long name, at least officially. It’s interesting to remember that Derry is the second largest city in Northern Ireland. This may influence whether you choose to stay here or prefer to bed down in less-busy areas.
One of the iconic landmarks belonging to the city center is its walled section, which dates back to the 1600s. The Part of the city contained within them is officially called The Walled City and serves as a de facto Old Town for Derry.
Amazingly, you can walk atop these walls. This provides visitors with superb views of the city. From this location, you could also reach the area’s main attractions, like the St. Columb’s Cathedral, Tower Museum, and the Guildhall.
Time your visit smartly, and you could become part of a lively celebration — like the Derry Walls Festival, Clipper Festival, and the Foyle Maritime Festival. In all honesty, it seems like festivals are happening here throughout the year!
Pros of Staying in Derry City Center
- Close proximity to most attractions
- Excellent range of restaurants and cafes
- Good public transport
- Historic feel to the architecture
- Lively atmosphere, especially during the festival season
Cons of Staying in Derry City Center
- Crowds and congestion during summer (such as in August in Ireland)
- Can be noisy
- On average, pricier than outer-lying areas
Things to Do in Derry City Center
- The Walled City
- The Gates of the Wall
- St Columb’s Cathedral
- The Peace Bridge
- The Guildhall
- Tower Museum
- Saint Columba Heritage Centre
- Hill of The O’Neill
Where to Stay in Derry City Center
- Rose Park House: A comfortable bed and breakfast guesthouse offering off-street parking, a large living space, and a patio relaxation area. Prices are from $100 per night.
- Windsor House: A property close to the city center, with three bedrooms. It is set in a 19th Century Building, providing classic charm. Rates start at $140 per night.
2. Enagh Lough
If you’re looking for a more nature-based vacation, you may want to consider staying near the lake. The lake in question is Enagh Lough, a freshwater body with the added benefit of surrounding hills and forests.
This is Irish nature at its best. It’s a paradise for birdwatchers who go here to see wild swans, coot, moorhen, and other water birds. The lake is rich in fishlife, too, and was once a popular duck-hunting site for the aristocracy.
Historically, the area has been inhabited for many thousands of years, as evidenced by archeological findings. You’ll find it an interesting place when looking for where to stay in Derry.
Pros of Staying in Enagh Lough
- More rural, so quieter
- More opportunities for hikes and walks
Cons of Staying in Enagh Lough
- Far from major attractions
- Limited shops
Things to Do in Enagh Lough
- Enjoy the lake and wildlife
Where to Stay in Enagh Lough
- Waterfoot Hotel: For a sense of the modern, try the superb accommodation on the River Foyle. On-site is a wine bar and restaurant. Rates start at $100 per night.
This small village on the River Foyle offers everything a calm, Irish riverside village might. Historically at least, the village was located in a key strategic position, which makes its 1,500-strong population today more logical. Otherwise, this might have been a town that would barely register 100 or so.
The town is old and full of fascinating fascinating stories. The Culmore Fort, one of its key landmarks, dates back to the sixth century. Initially, it served as a defensive structure against Norse invasions. It was used as a strategic point as recently as World War II when it served as a signaling station for the allies.
Culmore offers a surprisingly decent pub and restaurant scene for a small village. They provide welcome respite for visitors, including nature lovers, hikers, and bird watchers taking advantage of the nearby estuary.
Pros of Staying in Culmore
- Quiet neighborhood, compared to the city center
- Still close to the city center
- Awesome views and access to River Foyle
Cons of Staying in Culmore
- Not as much nightlife
- Slightly higher crime rates
- Limited shops
Things to Do in Culmore
- Culmore Fort
- St. Peter’s Church
- Foyle Estuary
Where to Stay in Culmore
- Culmore Point: This beautiful redbrick building provides a sunny, neat holiday home with four bedrooms. Minimum two nights from $650.
- Derry City Private Apartment: This private apartment is ideal for couples, with one bedroom, a full kitchen, and a shower bathroom. It even has an ATM! Prices from $160 per night.
4. Newbuildings Area
Looking for a rural country village feel? Try the oddly-named Newbuildings — sometimes written as New Buildings — a little to the south of the Derry City Center.
Newbuildings has fewer hotel offerings, but there is a great option for true country living nearby, which straddles the distance between New Buildings and the main city (see below).
As this is the countryside, it’s a great jump-off point to explore the rural areas of Magheramason and Lissglass as well. Furthermore, Newbuildings sits on the A5, allowing easy access to the southern town of Strabane.
Pros of Staying Near New Buildings
- Newer infrastructure and construction features
- Better, more modern public facilities
Cons of Staying Near New Buildings
- May be more expensive in terms of accommodation and amenities
- Might be a little far from most urban activities
Things to Do in New Buildings
- Walks along the River Foyle
Where to Stay in New Buildings
- Carnafern Country Stay: Awesome mountain views are a key appeal of this home for hire. Extras include a BBQ, garden, and the peace of the country, of course. Rates start at $190 per night.
- Redgate House Bed & Breakfast: Simply beautiful, that’s one way to describe this large building gleaming in the Irish sun. Redgate House is highly rated and superbly positioned a little way up the road from Newbuildings. Rates from $120 per night.
Another country village within reach of Derry offers a more incredible Irish landscape, a lively town culture, and intriguing history. There are also more landmarks here than in the true rural countryside.
One of the popular tourist destinations is Ardmore Point, which touches the Atlantic coast. There are also the legendary Ardmore castle ruins, which sit on Tower Hill. Probably the most notable site to visit is St. Declan’s Church, believed to be the final resting place of St. Declan, a Patron Saint of this region of Ireland.
Beyond that, there’s a truly vibrant and bustling arts and crafts community, as showcased by Ardmore Pottery and Gallery, which displays purchasable artworks by local artists.
Pros of Staying around Ardmore
- Great access to shops and restaurants
- Benefits of residential area amenities like parks and green spaces
- Higher rate of cultural diversity
Cons of Staying near Ardmore
- Traffic congestion during peak hours
- Some parts of Ardmore have poor access to public transport — you may need to walk a few streets
- Parking can be an issue
Things to Do in Ardmore
- St. Declan’s Church
- Ardmore Pottery and Gallery
- Ardmore Point
- Ardmore Castle
Where to Stay Around Ardmore
- Ardmore Log Cabins: Why not opt for a log cabin? It offers the charm of luxury living with an element of rusticity. And it includes a hot tub! Rates range from $150 per night.
- Larchmont House B&B: Stay in a beautiful Georgian house in the country. Breakfast is served in the amazing conservatory adjacent to the garden for an extra old-world effect. Rates start at $150 per night.
6. Strathfoyle & Maydown
The rolling green hills and fields surrounding Strathfoyle make it a wonderful opportunity to holiday near Derry without being in the thick of the city activity. Next door, so to speak, is Maydown, another small town that offers the tranquility and lush beauty of the Irish countryside.
The towns are well within reach of the city center, and you’ll have no trouble dropping in for the day when needed. One great aspect is the ease of access using the local bus system.
Strathfoyle has a fairly busy main street, with many shops and pubs to enjoy. It even has its own variety of small and locally-focused festivals throughout the year to look into.
Maydown, by contrast, finds its roots planted in the industrial sector of Derry and serves as a significant business center for the region. A few of the companies here call it home to their European headquarters. This makes for an interesting and eclectic community of professionals.
One of the annual highlights in the town is the Maydown International Folk Festival. Visitors can experience this growing town and its wonderful countryside surroundings.
Pros of Staying in Strathfoyle & Maydown
- The Immediate areas surrounding these suburbs are gorgeous.
- Decent access to shops
- Fairly close to Derry City Center
Cons of Staying in Strathfoyle & Maydown
- Limited nightlife (though Derry City is close by)
- Public transport is lacking.
- Closer to industrial areas
Things to Do in Strathfoyle & Maydown
- Strathfoyle Church
- Foyle Bridge
Where to Stay in StrathFoyle & Maydown
- A Whole Place: This casual-feeling, easy-going listing is just two minutes from Eglinton in nearby Campsie: Rates from $70 per night.
- Best Western Plus White Horse Hotel: All the cool facilities associated with top-end hotels can be found here. Expect a superb bar facility, swimming pool, exquisite rooms, and even a sauna. Rates start from $140 per night.
7. Eglinton (including Campsie)
One more small village deserves your consideration for where to stay in Derry. Eglinton is around five miles east of the main city. It was named for the Earl of Eglinton, who owned much of the land in the 1800s.
Despite its small population of 2,500 people, it has a surprisingly vibrant restaurant, shop, and pub scene on its high street. A key characteristic for visitors, though, is that it’s the closest workable village stay to the City of Derry Airport, which makes it particularly convenient for your last night in Derry.
There’s more to it than that, though. Hiking, bicycling, and fishing along the River Foyle are all big activities here in Derry, making it a typical Northern Ireland experience. Visitors can also take advantage of the twin village Campsie and its amenities.
Pros of Staying in Eglinton
- Small, peaceful town
- Beautiful countryside setting
- Well-developed amenities like shops and pubs
Cons of Staying in Eglinton
- May be too quiet for those looking for fun late at night
- May feel isolated
Things to Do in Eglinton
- City of Derry Airport
- Campsie Karting Center
- River Foyle
Where to Stay in Eglinton
- Templemoyle Farm Cottages: Get a feel for the country farm life, except with a sense of luxury and comfort. The Entire cottage is yours, complete with BBQ facilities and a garden. Three-night minimum, rates from $550.
- Old School House: A lovely patio with a terrace and a stunning green garden view enhance the colorful adornments of this sizable house. Minimum two nights with rates starting from $430.
Now that you know where to stay in Derry, it’s time to book your hotel and continue planning your trip!