Northern Ireland’s second city, Londonderry – also known as Derry – has been named the UK’s most affordable for residents for the third year running, with a chart-topping house-price-to-average-annual-earnings ratio of 4.7 ratio. Meanwhile Winchester was identified as the UK’s least affordable – with homes 14 times annual local earnings, in the research by Halifax.
Here are just a few other reasons to fall in love with about the Northern Irish county capital…
1. The architecture is amazing
Though the city is suffused with architectural gems, the waterfront and Guildhall area is one you generally see on the postcards. The Peace Bridge is probably best in show – a modern, 235-metre footbridge designed to reflect the flow of the River Foyle, and opened in 2011 to symbolically bridge the divide between the city’s traditionally Nationalist and Unionist communities.
The red-brick, neo-Gothic splendour of the Guildhall sits on the west bank, the city historic centre that now hosts a local history exhibit.
2. It was the first ever UK City of Culture
The city enjoyed a mass makeover on becoming the UK’s inaugural City of Culture in 2013, beating out bids from 13 other cities including Birmingham and Sheffield. The award came with a huge injection of arts and culture funding for the city, and a host of new galleries and live music venues continue to contribute to what was an already thriving evening scene.
3. It is extremely historic
Londonderry’s recent history is etched on the city – almost literally thanks to the many murals splashed across prominent buildings and city walls. It’s encircled by 17th century walls, making it the only fully walled city in Ireland and was sieged for more than 100 days in the late 17th century.
4. The surrounding landscape is stunning
Picturesque villages dot the surrounding hills, which slope down to meet the mighty River Foyle on which Londonderry/Derry is set. Roe Valley Country Park perhaps provides the highlights, filled with babbling brooks and woodland walks that more than justify Ireland’s status as the Emerald Isle. Even closer to town is Ness Country Park, which serves up riverside strolls and one of the Northern Ireland’s highest waterfalls.
5. It’s sometimes overlooked
For visitors to Northern Ireland, the nightlife of Belfast, the dockyards that built the Titanic, and the angular columns of the Giant’s Causeway tend to top itineraries. Londonderry slips under the radar in comparison, and canny visitors can enjoy its live music and pub scene relatively crowd-free.
6. It is the Halloween capital of Europe
Unofficially, we admit, but Halloween here is an extremely big deal. Halloween has its roots in the Gaelic festival of of Samhain, and the Londonderry of today celebrates with a full-blown carnival, complete with enthusiastic fancy dress parades and fireworks displays. It was even voted the best Halloween destination in the world by readers of USA Today.