Take a History-packed Derry City Walls Walking Tour

Learn about the history of the city and the region

Derry Londonderry is the only city on the island of Ireland to boast complete enclosing city walls and what better way to get to know the city and a bit of the history of the region than by taking a guided walking tour atop those spectacular city walls?

There are several companies offering tours of the city – see below – but we took the Martin McCrossan city walls tour which is one those where you just show up and pay.

As a quick overview, the tour takes about an hour and in that time you walk around the wide paved pedestrain path at the top of the 17th-century city walls that also happens to take you past numerous very historic points. McCrossan tours has done a very good job of putting together a tour where commentary about these landmarks is woven into a history of the city and the region so that if your knowledge of Ulster history is a little fuzzy, you will come away very much the wiser.

Derry Walls - Looking over the Bogside
Looking over the Bogside – your guide will explain the murals, point out the Free Derry Wall and talk about the Bloody Sunday massacre
 

Martin McCrossan Tour – Fast Facts

  • Tour Length: 1 hour 15 minutes (more or less)
  • When: Every day whatever the weather; 10.00am, 12.00 noon, 2.00pm + 4.00pm
  • Where: The start is well signposted, outside the Ferryquay Gate entrance to the Foyleside Shopping Centre on Bridge Street. 11 Carlisle Road, BT48 6JJ –
  • Cost: £6/head
  • Tickets: Pay the guide directly. No pre-booking required although you can book private tours. (information correct – August 2023)
  • More information at City Walking Tours

Martin McCrossan Tour
The yellow-hatted Martin McCrossan Tour guide talking to an enthralled audience, and the meeting point outside the Foyleside Shopping Centre

Walking the Walls Walk…

I have done the tour twice now, each time with a different out-of-town visitor, giving an indication of the quality of the tour. On the second occasion I picked up quite a bit of information I had missed the first time there’s that much to hear about!

There is no need to book the tour, and the company website promises that the tours take place every day, no matter the weather. Show up at the clearly signed meeting point and the guide kicks off with a quick introduction and your first instalment of city history before taking you up on the walls for more.

The first tour was busier with about 30 attendees, the second tour with around 20; what this does mean is that you have to gather in close to hear the guide at the busy road-side start point. Once on the walls, things are easier going and the guide manages to talk while walking backwards so for much of the tour you are on the move.

St Columb's Cathedral and Bishop's Gate - as it was during The Troubles, and today
St Columb’s Cathedral and Bishop’s Gate – as it was during The Troubles, and today

Expect to hear about the history of the city’s name, how the city came into being, about the Siege of Derry, King William and King James, what the marches are all about, Derry during WWII, a few of the city’s famous characters, Bloody Sunday and ‘The Troubles’, and the more recent peace time, and much more, all told with balance and humour. Amongst other things, you’ll see and learn about the significance of the Fountainside, the Bogside, peace murals and the original catwalk.

The walks ends back where it starts with a complimentary cup of tea at Java, just inside the city walls.

FAQ

Pushchair friendly? Moderately – the top of the walls is paved with stones. Be prepared to carry the chair up and down a few stairs
What if it rains? Rain in Northern Ireland is usually just a passing thing so go with a hooded raincoat, preferably, and/or an umbrella.

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Derry Girls Mural and canons on the wall
Looking down on the Derry Girls Mural, and cannons peer out from gaps in the wall, designed to protect the city
 


Do a Self-guided Tour

If you can’t make the tour you can still access the city walls yourself at any time and do your own self-guided walk. There are plenty of information boards to guide you and with the freedom, you can easily drop down off the walls to explore some of the sites that catch your fancy. Read more in our guide to the city – 10 of the Very Best Things to do in Derry Londonderry

You can also purchase an audio guide which has been created by Derrie Danders, one of the city’s established tour guides. The app works on your smartphone and takes you through a 40 minute guided walk of the walls. Learn more.

Derry Walls - sign board and cafe
If you take a self-guided tour you will find detailed signboards like this all around the wall, and you can drop off the wall for a quick coffee. This coffee shop is at the top of Waterloo Street, famous for its pubs

Other Tours

Bloody Sunday and Bogside Murals Private Guided Walking Tour

  • Private walking tour operated by Derry Guided Tours
  • About 1.5 hours,  £25/head (a minimimum of two people needed to make a booking).
  • In the busy summer months we recommend booking at least 2 weeks in advance

The tour takes you around the Bogside area below the city walls where the Bloody Sunday massacre took place in 1972. The tour provides an insight into the modern history of Derry that led to this event, and ‘the troubles’ that followed. You will learn the history and stories behind the murals, the memorials and the ‘Free Derry Wall.’ Learn more and book


Derry Girls TV Show Filming Locations Tour

  • Private walking tour operated by Derry Guided Tours
  • About 1.5 hours,  £25/head (a minimimum of two people needed to make a booking).
  • In the busy summer months we recommend booking at least 2 weeks in advance

If you have not seen Derry Girls, a witty TV series set in 1990s Derry, then you should before visiting the city. If you have seen Derry Girls then this tour is for you. Not only will you visit Derry Girls filming sites, but you will also learn about the history of the city which will really give you context for the show.  Learn more and book


Derrie Danders

Led by history buff and story teller David Douglas, Derrie Danders runs private tours covering a range of themes including city walls and Bogside tours, but novel tours such as an evening ‘Spooky History’ tour and a LegenDerry Musical Mystery Walking Tour. There is also a tour in French. Learn more and book.


Bogside ToursBogside History Tours

Public walking tours of the Bogside area where you can learn about the history around Bloody Sunday from guides who were directly affected by it. Tours are £10/head and leave from outside The Guildhall at 11am and 2pm seven days a week. The company also runs a city walls and Giant’s Causeway tour.  Learn more and book.

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