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Described by Bill Bryson as a “perfect little city”, once you’ve visited you’ll understand why. Durham City boasts an eclectic mix of shops, bars, restaurants and attractions, set amid charming and historic winding cobbled streets, and overlooked by the dramatic Durham Cathedral and Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site. Trains to Durham City take just 1 hour and 15 minutes from Leeds and 2 from Manchester, so it’s an easy place to check out.
Durham’s world-renowned Cathedral dates back to 1093 and is steeped in history and mystery. With spectacular stained-glass windows and towering arches, be prepared for your jaw to drop when you first step inside. Don’t miss Open Treasure – the cathedral’s award-winning exhibition experience, filled with incredible collections, interactive exhibits and activities all ages can enjoy. Durham Castle, meanwhile, must be the grandest student accommodation in the world. The only way to see beyond the ramparts is by taking a guided tour (something we heartily recommend).
The city’s historic streets are lined with welcoming cafes, coffee shops and eateries. Tango, found on the historic Elvet Bridge serves up mouth-watering burgers and comfort food, and is a great people watching spot. In Durham Cathedral, The Undercroft restaurant serves up tempting local produce and historic recipes in a stunning setting. Cellar Door is another absolute must. This 13th-century cellar conversion can be found – eventually – at the bottom of some very steep steps. But the reward for your nimble sleuthing is truly delicious grub.
Enjoy some tranquil time out and explore the Durham University Botanic Garden, a 10-acre site of learning, research and relaxation. Handily it’s just a 30-minute scenic stroll or a short hop on a bus from the station. Or follow the peaceful riverside walk along the banks of the River Wear for magnificent views of Durham Cathedral.
In the market place you will find Durham Town Hall, step inside to discover the fascinating story of a building which has been central to life in Durham City for more than 650 years.Take a stroll up the quaint cobbled street to the site of the Durham Cathedral and Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site; nestled between both buildings is Palace Green Library. Housing Durham University's special collections, the galleries display treasures spanning millennia and the globe. And finally, with 30,000 items on show, the university’s Oriental Museum is another fascinating find.
In Durham, shopping is a case of wandering through stylish boutiques and craft shops, and browsing top-name brands. At Durham Market Hall, you can grab a bite to eat in a charming Victorian setting, while assessing the wares of more than 50 local traders. Fowlers Yard, in the historic cultural quarter, is home to a unique collection of creative businesses, from artists through to designers. And don’t miss the People's Bookshop. Located in the heart of the city, this independent store has a terrific selection of new and used titles, as well as an exceptional view of the castle.
For more ideas on what to do in Durham, visit This Is Durham.