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What to see and do in Durham


Durham has recently been voted the 2nd best British city to visit, behind Edinburgh. Home to one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the country, it is a lovely city to visit for a short break, and part of the city is actually a World Heritage site. The most famous landmark and top tourist attraction in Durham is the Cathedral. Although entry is free, a contribution towards the upkeep of the buildings is requested. There are exhibitions at the Cathedral, for which an entry fee is charged. Whether you are interested in the religious aspects of the building, the history of the building, or you just want to climb the tower for a wonderful view of the city, the Cathedral should definitely be on your to-do list while you are in Durham.

The Cathedral isn’t the only beautiful building in Durham. Many of the old university buildings date from medieval times and are very impressive. One building owned and used by the university is the castle, which was originally built in the eleventh century. It is not always open to the public but sometimes tours are available. Crook Hall is another building worth a visit. In the centre of the city and in private ownership, it is open to the public at certain times, and the gardens are beautiful. Special events are held throughout the year, including Christmas, and during the autumn and winter there are “Crook Hall by candlelight” evenings. Even if you don’t have long to wander round, why not take time to have a cream tea there?

Another popular activity in Durham is to take a walk along the river which curves around the centre of the city. Some of the best views of the Cathedral are actually from the riverside walk. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy spotting birds and animals in the area, as well as the different plants that grow there.

Outside Durham

Not far from the city you will find an amazing number of things to do. Popular nearby attractions are the Beamish museum which is the living history museum of the north east. This is fantastic place for families to visit, but with something for everyone. Special events are held throughout the year, so why not check the website and see if you can catch some Christmas or Easter celebrations there? Another family fun attraction near Durham is Diggerland. Here children (and grown-up children) can ride on and operate real diggers, although there are age restrictions for some activities.

Durham is a great place to spend a few days, and as a base for exploring further afield in the north east it is ideal. With a range of accommodation options, there should be something to suit every budget and taste.

Alex is a travel writer and blogger. He writes about touring around the UK and Europe by car, train or plane as well as where to find the best coach tours .