Derry Budget Travel Guide
Derry 10 Easy Ways to Save
Known for its scenic location on the River Foyle and its ancient city walls, Northern Ireland’s second city is far from second best. Derry, also sometimes known as Londonderry, attracts visitors from all over with its lively bar scene, cultural attractions and beautiful countryside.
It’s easy to splash the cash in this metropolitan destination, but savvy travellers can save their pennies by following these ten easy tips on enjoying the best of Derry on a budget.
1. Get Your Walking Boots On
Why would you pay for a sightseeing trip when some of the best views in Derry are waiting for you absolutely free? The ancient walls surrounding the city are the best preserved in Northern Ireland and are worth a visit all on their own!
Once you’ve marvelled at these historic fortifications though, following their route around the city is a great way to while away an afternoon. Take in the beautiful reformation era cathedral, pass through the lively public square and get your bearings for the rest of your trip.
2. Lose Yourself in Nature
They say the best things in life are free, and that definitely includes Derry’s stunning countryside.
A trip to Ness Forest is the very definition of a cheap day out, with a variety of hiking trails and Ness Waterfall, the largest in Northern Ireland to keep you busy.
3. Spend a Day at the Beach
Sometimes you just need to get away from it all, and with an array of peaceful and beautiful beaches just 30 minutes from the city, there’s nothing holding you back.
Enjoy a sunbathing session if your visit to Derry falls in summer, but the beaches are open all year round for scenic walks and water sports like surfing for the brave-hearted.
4. Derry Museums – Fun and Free
Derry has a fascinating and varied cultural heritage, which is celebrated in the city’s many museums. The Guildhall is open seven days a week and has a free exhibition on the Plantation of Ulster.
Meanwhile, the Tower Museum tells the whole history of the city and was voted European Museum of the Year in 1994. While not totally free, admission won’t bust your budget at £4.00 for adults and £2.00 for children, with special rates for families available too. Admission includes two exhibitions.
5. Take a Tour of Bogside
Head down to Bogside to view the visceral, political murals painted by radical, local artists during the height of the conflict in Northern Ireland in the 1990s.
The Free Derry monument and Bloody Sunday Memorial are also found by the Bogside. You can explore the area yourself for free, or book a tour with a knowledgeable local guide and learn the whole history of the area for only a few pounds.
6. Double Up
Get two for one on your admission to the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry. In Ireland’s only attraction devoted entirely to the literary arts you can read the whole of James Joyce’s famous epic poem, Ulysses, handwritten on the walls for free.
That’s not all though as you can also soak up some local interior art, in the form of the stunning marble floor designed by Louise Le Brocquy, an Irish artist.
7. Free Festivals
Keep your eyes peeled for free festivals and street parties taking place during your stay. A particular attraction in Derry is the Halloween Carnival. On the 31st October every year, you’ll find upwards of 30,000 people out on the streets of Derry celebrating Halloween in the biggest event of its kind in the country.
People from all over the world, as far as Australia and Japan are known to attend, so be sure to join in the fun, if you can. Just make sure you have a costume though so you don;t stand out too much in the crowd – just some spooky face paint will do the trick.
8. Eat Cheap
Look for local, independent restaurants and cafes for lunch or dinner, and you can enjoy a meal for around only £5. Plus, many restaurants in Derry offer discounts of between 30 and 50% on Mondays and Tuesdays, so restrict eating out to those days and you could make great savings on your food budget. If you can’t make it down on those days, consider eating early – many restaurants in the city offer early bird rates before the evening rush.
Plus, if any day of your trip to Derry falls on the weekend and the first Saturday of the month, you can visit the walled market, where local artisan traders gather to sell fresh fish and groceries as well as sweet treats like handmade cakes and pastries. That way you can make your own meals with the freshest ingredients at the best prices – don’t forget you can always haggle for a cheap deal.
9. Drink with the Locals
You’re probably going to want to let your hair down at some point on your trip to Derry – with one of the youngest avergae populations in Ireland, the city is known for it’s vibrant nightlife. But with flashy bars come flashy prices, so if you’re looking for value for money, try heading to the Walled City Brewery on Erbington Square, where you can sample local Irish beers, which won’t carry on import cost.
Alternatively, follow other prudent drinkers to the Diamond on Waterloo Street, where you can still pick up a pint for less than £2.
10. Grab a Budget Bed
Accommodation can easily be the most expensive element of your trip, but never fear, as with a bit of careful planning, you can turn it into one of the cheapest. If you’re willing to sacrifice just a few home comforts you can get a bed for next to nothing at one of the city’s many backpacker hostels – the Derry City Independent Hostel by Bogside is one of the best and in a great location.
Derry also has several charming B&Bs, which often charge less than hotels, and you get breakfast included! The Merchant’s House B&B is in a beuatiful historic building, or alternatively, the Bridge B&B offers stunnng views across the River Foyle.
If you crave the hotel experience, you can still get a great deal by making reservations in advance – the Travelodge Derry Hotel offers rooms from just £35 a night to travellers who can book early.