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Visitor's Guide to Durham

Visitor's Guide to Durham
“I got off at Durham... and fell in love with it instantly in a serious way. Why, it's wonderful – a perfect little city.... If you have never been to Durham, go there at once. It's wonderful."
This is how Bill Bryson summed up his visit to the historic capital of the North East in his 1995 book, Notes from a Small Island. And it’s fair to say that he is spot on, for Durham is indeed nothing short of wonderful.

If we had to sum up this city in a few words they would be, breathtaking Cathedral, fairytale Castle and trendy students strolling along quaint cobbled streets. But on closer inspection there is a lot more to Durham than its historic buildings and Gucci-wearing university students.

There are a number of great museums on offer, including the Durham Light Infantry Museum [map], which houses a superb collection of medals, uniforms and regimental record books, and the Oriental Museum [map], the only one in the UK devoted to art and archaeology from cultures throughout the Far East.

Green-fingered visitors will probably appreciate the Durham University Botanic Gardens [map], an 18-acre site set in mature woodland, and Wharton Park [map], which has impressive views of Durham’s countryside along with great floral displays.

Although, compared to other UK cities, Durham’s choice of restaurants, bars, clubs, theatre and cinema is limited you can still enjoy a top night out in the city.

The Gala Complex [map] on Millennium Place is certainly the focal point for entertainment in the city, as it is home to the Gala Giant Screen Cinema and the Gala Theatre.

Durham also has three nightclubs, which are firm favourites with students, along with numerous wine bars, pubs and restaurants that are popular with students, locals and visitors alike.

However, it’s history that Durham is most famous for, with most tourists heading straight for Durham Cathedral [map], which dates back to the 11th century and is dubbed the finest example of Norman architecture in the world.

Another must see is Durham Castle [map], which was the seat of the Prince Bishops until 1832 when it became the foundation college of the University of Durham. It boasts a Norman Chapel, the Great Hall and a 57ft high Black Staircase amongst its treasures.

The city is fairly compact with all the major attractions, including the Guildhall and Town Hall, close together making it easy for sightseers.

Walks along the riverbanks are also worth the energy as they provide superb views of the castle and cathedral, a panoramic shot used on nearly every picture-postcard. Alternatively you could opt for the more relaxing views offered on the river cruises.

Check out our guide to Durham and along the way, if you want to comment on our choices or recommend somewhere, why not use our What You Recommend form to let us know.

christmas Festival

Culture Guide

Events in Durham The stunning cathedral city of Durham can be enjoyed in all its winter glory at the annual Durham Christmas Festival...   Durham Culture Guide If it’s culture you’re after then you’ll be spoilt for choice in Durham, as this city has a heady mix of exciting museums, art galleries, historic buildings...and the finest display of Norman architecture in the world...

Durham History

notable names

Durham History Durham has a vast and interesting past going back more than 1000 years. Click here for our guide to the history of North East England’s original capital city...   Notable Names from Durham From a determined Victorian poet to one of Britain’s most infamous murderers, Durham has been home to many well known characters...

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