This post is part of my Quick Guides: City Series, designed as a mini introduction to the destination in question: activities, accommodation, how long to spend there, transport, local food – and whatever else comes to mind!
As the city where I spent three years of my student life at university, I will always have a soft spot for the little northern town of Durham. I do think you will always have a different perspective for somewhere when you’ve lived there, but friends and family who would visit me during those years would always say how lucky I was to live in such a beautiful city. For me, Durham will conjure up special memories of sharing a house with my best friends, summers spent drinking in our favourite beer gardens and picnics by the river, drunken walks home from a night out over the river, snowy walks to the library, and all the bliss which the bubble of university life brings (and the memories of deadlines, assignments and days in the library have somehow blurred away into the background).
Anyway, although probably not a city which immediately comes to mind when planning a city break, Durham is a really lovely destination for a weekend away, filled with real ‘British-ness’ – think windy cobbled streets, stone bridges, freezing winds, cosy tea rooms and beautiful cathedrals.
Head up to the Castle, just off one of the town’s main streets
Wrap up warm for a walk along the river Wear
Hire a rowing boat (if it’s warm enough) for gorgeous scenes along the river
Visit the famous Cathedral and its grounds
Shopping trip to Newcastle: if you fancy a few hours out of the city, it is only a 20 minute train ride to the nearby city of Newcastle, one of the UK’s shopping capitals. Otherwise head to Gateshead shopping centre, which is slightly closer and has a really great selection of shops!
Eat scones and drink tea in a side-street cafe
The many times my parents visited me, they would stay in either the Radisson Blu (a more modern choice and located right on the river) or the Marriott (a more traditional hotel and right in the town centre)
For Durham city centre itself, you don’t need to use public transport to get around. If you’re heading out of the city and to nearby towns, the train station and bus terminal is located pretty much right in centre of town, within easy walking distance. Taxis are really not expensive also.
If you wander around the cobbled streets of the town, you will also find really nice boutique and chain restaurants – there is plenty of choice!
Currency & prices:
Having maintained its working-class roots, Durham is really not an expensive place to visit, or to live. The only thing which I found expensive was the train fare to get there, as it is so far from a lot of places in England and depending on times, I would sometimes have to pay up to £80 something for a single fare.