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What To Do in This Picture-Perfect City That's Right on Our Doorstep

river with bridge and cathedral
Places to go
September 2022
Reading time 3 Minutes

From Durham's beautiful gardens, meandering river and cobbled streets to its historic cathedral, discover what this picture-perfect city has to offer

The historic city of Durham has plenty to offer, but don’t think it’s all about heritage here – Durham’s food scene is not to be missed.


You can’t go to Durham without stopping at Flat White Kitchen, whether you take a seat for an unforgettable brunch (a heap of pancakes or a lighter avo on toast), or grab a coffee to-go. Dine at The Curious Mr Fox: enjoy snacks in the bar or head upstairs to either the Oyster Room or the floral-themed Ivy Room (both overlook the cathedral). Go down The Rabbit Hole – their part-Oriental and part-speakeasy cuisine is designed for sharing. For fabulous Thai food try Zen, head to Restaurant 17 for a mix of modern European food, or sip a cocktail in The Boat-Club before feasting on a steak cooked your way at Tomahawk Steakhouse. Embrace the beams, crooked ceilings and original fireplaces inside Vennels (something of an institution in Durham) or enjoy a unique experience in Old Cinema Laundrette – a retro launderette and coffee shop by day, and a licensed venue and bar by night.  

pancake stack Flat White Kitchen
The Rabbit Hole
treehouse lit up in the dark Ramside Hall


If you want to be as close as possible to the action, during University holidays you can book bed and breakfast accommodation in Durham Castle; while OYO The Townhouse has individually-themed rooms in Old Elvet. Just outside the city, Host & Stay’s The Old Rectory offers a modern, dog-friendly base from which to explore the wider area; Farnley Tower is surrounded by stunning country views; and Ramside Hall’s luxury treehouses are the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.

Read More: County Durham SAS: Who Dares Wins Champion on Winning the Tough Channel 4 Show


On Elvet Bridge, head to Woven to browse made-to-measure footwear, casual wear and tailored suits. Art-lovers will want to head to Elvet & Bailey. Perfect for gift-giving, they also stock handy homeware and accessories – you’ll find us flicking though the stacks of prints, and pondering over which Rhianne Siân design to buy next. Find the prettiest baby and child outfits, as well as homeware and women’s fashion at Freya Lillie – they pride themselves on sustainability, so they get a thumbs up from us! Don’t miss Mugwump for clothes and knick-knacks, and Durham’s famous covered market packed with independent stalls.


Having reopened to the public this year as part of the National Trust, Crook Hall is a stunning place to explore and its 10-acre gardens, paddock and fields are a beautiful place for a stroll (with views over the city). Equally pretty is Durham University’s 10-hectare Botanic Garden. Get your culture fix at Durham’s Oriental Museum, or hire a rowing boat and explore Durham from the river. But let’s face it, the real reason you’re heading to Durham is to see the spectacular cathedral and castle, now a UNESCO world heritage site. Potterheads will want a photo by the cathedral’s cloisters, but you also can climb 325 steps up the central tower, see the remarkable treasures of St Cuthbert, and marvel at The Rose Window. 


Beamish Museum is a world-famous, award-winning museum telling the story of life in the North East, complete with working trams, a Second World War farm and a colliery. Don’t miss the recent additions to the 1950s town and farm here, including the Coronation Park and Recreation Ground, Middleton’s Quality Fish and Chips, Elizabeth’s Hairdressers and No. 2 Front Street (the home of Spennymoor’s Norman Cornish). 

Crook Hall
old fashioned tram Beamish Museum

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