Activities to do in Durham
With its timeless charm, fascinating culture and spectacular surrounding countryside, Durham is a real gem. From the two UNESCO’s sites, the quirky boutiques and its dynamic marketplace, the city is a destination of choice for many. Whether you’re planning a day trip from rural villages like Darlington and Consett or you’re taking a week to visit it inside and out, there is plenty to do and see here. We’ve rounded up some of the best attractions around the area that you cannot miss.
Sitting proudly on the city skyline, overlooking the River Wear and welcoming visitors with its majestic façade, Durham Cathedral truly deserves its World Heritage status. Attracting over 700,000 visitors a year, you can take a tour around the cathedral, the castle and the old city to enjoy it fully.
The Norman Castle has been fully occupied since the 11th century and is one of Durham’s most notable landmarks. Once the residence of the Bishops of Durham, today is home of the University College, accommodating around 100 students. It was designated as World Heritage Site in 1986 and can be visited through guided tours.
Durham Market Hall
If the weather takes a turn for the worse while you’re visiting charming Durham, Durham Indoor Market Hall is the perfect place to find shelter. Built in 1851, this Victorian venue offers 50 independent traders selling handcrafted jewellery, home accessories and delicious local food.
Located near the town of Stanley, in County Durham, this open-air museum is a celebration of life in northern England in the 1840s, 1900s and 1920s. Here you can try fish and chips cooked in traditional 19th-century methods, steamroller driving and blacksmithing.
Just a short drive away from Durham city centre, make sure you save some time to visit this beautiful open space. This leafy retreat is home to rare wildlife, nature and the pretty Serpentine Lake. Explore the Temple of Minerva, walk around the Gothic Ruin and relax at the local café.
Durham Town Hall
This Grade-II listed building is one of Durham’s best-preserved, built in the 14th century to replace an earlier timber guildhall. Found in the beating heart of the city, you can book a private tour by contacting the Town Hall directly. Craft fairs and concerts are also held here occasionally.
High Force Waterfall
A little further afield, around 40 miles west of Durham city centre, this waterfall is set within the North Pennines and is one of the UK’s natural wonders. Follow the River Tees as it turns into a spectacular 21m (69ft) waterfall. It is found on the grounds of the medieval Raby Castle – also worth visiting.
Palace Green Library
Palace Green Library is home to the University’s century-long special collections, archives and early-printed books. With over 100 Medieval manuscripts, 3,400 metres of artefacts and 100,000 photographs, the library is a brilliant place to learn more about Durham’s fascinating history.
Situated near the University of Durham, the Botanic Garden is set across 25 acres of woodland, perfect for a relaxing day away from the bustle of the city. With a wide variety of plants from around the world, a woodland garden, an alpine garden and a bamboo grove, it is simply a must-see.
Located approximately 5 miles north of Durham city centre, this Grade I-listed building was once the remote hideaway of a retired sailor and merchant called St Godric. The 13th-century ruin is set in the idyllic north-eastern countryside and is a great place for relaxing strolls along the banks of the River Wear.