'Not the prettiest' but Londonderry makes Lonely Planet top 10

LONDONDERRY "may not be the prettiest city" but still makes it into the top ten list of attractions in Ireland in the latest edition of the Lonely Planet guide.

The city is graded as the fifth most attractive destination for tourists whilst the spectacular Glengesh pass in neighbouring Donegal also features.

Whilst most citizens will take umbrage at the suggestion the Maiden City is plain they will agree with the guide's appraisal of its ancient history, terrific pubs and can do attitude.

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The new travel bible notes: "Northern Ireland's second city comes as a pleasant surprise to many visitors. Derry (or Londonderry) may not be the prettiest of cities, and it certainly lags behind Belfast in terms of investment and redevelopment, but it has a great riverside setting, several fascinating historical sights and a determined air of can-do optimism that has made it the powerhouse of the North's cultural revival."

The book also contains a combined note on County Londonderry and County Antrim: "Tourists flock to the surreal geological centrepiece of the Giant's Causeway, its popularity challenged only by the test-your-nerve tightrope of the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge nearby.

"But you can also escape the crowds amid the more sedate scenery of the Glens of Antrim, where the picturesque villages of Cushendun, Cushendall and Carnlough lie beneath lush green valleys and foaming waterfalls."

The ninth edition of Lonely Planet's bestselling guidebook to Ireland was published last week and travel editor Tom Hall says it highlights the warmth and friendliness of people here.

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"The Ireland guide also identifies the warmth of Irish people and their welcome as being a real asset, and an important drawcard to tourists. In an increasingly samey world, Ireland's got some precious, unique traits worth preserving.

"This is what keeps visitors coming back," he commented.

Whilst Londonderry gets a positive review other areas fare poorly. Blarney Castle is described as "inexplicably popular" and Navan, Slane and Kells are said to be "blighted with soulless housing estates."