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
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
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
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.