Durham

Durham is the quintessential English university city, sitting in the heart of County Durham. Visitors will be instantly charmed by its abundance of historic landmarks and quaint cobbled streets. If you’re feeling inquisitive and wish to explore more than just Durham city centre, why not head to some of the other stunning areas that County Durham has to offer? Enjoy the sweeping hills in the Durham Dales, or escape to the Durham coastline for far-reaching sea views and gorgeous beaches.

Our Best Western hotels in Durham are certainly no strangers to awards, as the majority are AA accredited, possessing 3 or 4-star ratings. You will be able to choose from our lovely selection of 12th century castles, 13th century country houses or rural manor houses -  meaning your holiday home will be just as stunning as the historic city.

Durham cathedral in the distant skyline

Things to do in Durham

The most celebrated attractions in this breathtaking city include the world heritage sites of Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle - both over 900 years old. The world-ranked Durham University includes many of its own treasures, such as the Palace Green Library. Open to the public, this library houses over 70,000 printed books, exhibitions on Northern poets and architectural objects – some of which can be dated back 10,000 years.

  • Durham University Botanic Gardens: These beautiful gardens are split into several sections named Alpine Garden, Bamboo Grove and the Woodland Garden. You can also wander around the magnificent desert and tropical rainforest glass houses. These glass houses host a collection of cacti, plants, bugs, scorpions, tarantulas and seasonal flower displays.
  • Durham Cathedral: This magnificent cathedral is known as one of Europe’s greatest medieval buildings - standing for almost a millennium. Entry is free, but a small donation is appreciated to help maintain this breathtaking spot.
  • Finchale Priory: On the picturesque banks of the River Wear you’ll find Finchale Priory, founded in 1196.  The priory was an outpost for Durham Cathedral and functioned as a holiday retreat for the monks.  It’s the perfect place for a reflective stroll and a picnic.

ice cream cones and ice cream laid out for a modern stylish photo

Eating and drinking in Durham

Durham’s great outdoors offers plenty of hearty pub lunches and cosy cafes to fuel your days of exploring. Restaurants in the area are particularly famed for their use of seasonal, local produce, so whatever is on the menu, rest assured it will be fresh and tasty.

  • Vennel’s Cafe: For homemade food served with a smile, you can’t beat Vennel’s.  Nestled on the historic bailey, turn off the cobbled streets and treat yourself to a thick slice of cake.  The menu doesn’t stop there - you’ll find everything from hot chocolates to greek salads.
  • Gilroy's Restaurant: This fine dining favourite is one of the most celebrated restaurants in the Durham area. It boasts a range of menus using only fabulous quality local ingredients to be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Anyone with a sweet tooth will be in the right place as the restaurant puts on a delectable afternoon tea and a Dessert club, that is famous across the whole county!
  • Lickety Split Creamery: This 1950’s-style spot is known as the most premium ice cream parlour in the North West, serving up all kinds of sweet goodness. Think waffles, milkshakes, ice cream sundaes and a whole lot of whipped cream.

Durham at night time

Culture and nightlife in Durham

Durham city centre boasts a vibrant nightlife, with memorising theatre, hilarious comedy, down to earth pubs and fabulous fine dining spots. The Gala Theatre is a particularly popular spot, offering a 2-screen cinema and a modern theatre. You can’t miss the opportunity to visit one of Durham’s traditional pubs, where you can expect a warm welcome.

  • Durham University Oriental Museum: Far off the tourist trail, though just on the outskirts of the city, this museum houses a surprising cornucopia of oriental artefacts.  Almost 30,000 objects, ranging from prehistory to the present day, are thoughtfully in the museum’s galleries and stores.
  • The Victoria: For lovers of a traditional pub, The Victoria is a must.  With three cosy rooms, all decorated in homage to its namesake, authentic furnishings and a roaring fire, it’s the perfect spot to relax after your stroll round the city or along the banks of the river.
  • Durham Museum and Heritage Centre: This free museum tells the story of Durham through the ages, ranging from the medieval times right up to the 20th century. Keep your eyes peeled for the reconstruction of a Victorian prison cell.

shopping bags ready to be picked up

Shopping in Durham

Durham has something for everyone, whether it’s sweet treats, locally produced food or original crafts in the wide selection of shops and markets. For those more inclined to shop in well-known high street brands, you will also be served well in the city centre.

  • Prince Bishops Shopping Centre: Conveniently located in Durham city centre, Princes Bishops proves the best place to get your fashion fix. With plenty of clothes, homeware, beauty and health brands on sale, you’re sure to find everything you’re looking for - and maybe a few things that you weren’t.
  • Dalton Park Outlet: Just a 20-minute drive outside of the city centre will take you to Dalton Park. The outlet boasts plenty of popular high street brands, such as The Body Shop, Klass and New Balance. Once you’ve worked up an appetite from some serious shopping you’ll be able to enjoy a bite to eat in one of your favourite food spots.
  • Durham City Indoor Market Hall: This indoor market is most definitely worth a wander around, as you can browse through the variety of crafts shops, bakeries, butchers, seafood stalls, candlestick shops and cafés.

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