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Durham, North East of England | © hit thatswitch/Flickr
Durham, North East of England | © hit thatswitch/Flickr
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15 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Durham

Picture of Richard Franks
Freelance Travel & Music Writer
Updated: 27 October 2017
Situated in the North East of England, Durham combines modern entertainment with its historical roots, celebrating what made Durham the city it is today. Not to be overshadowed by nearby city Newcastle, Durham can hold its own and is bursting with fun days out, insightful museums and trails, blooming nature and independent venues to suit everyone.

Its Cathedral was central to pilgrimage in medieval England

Durham Cathedral was the centre point of spiritual journeys in mediaeval England, due to being the final resting place of St Cuthbert who died in 687 AD. Now, Durham Cathedral has open its doors to those wishing to visit the Christian Church, whilst celebrating St Cuthbert and hosting regular community events.

Its theatres will entertain you

With multiple theatres hosting events to make you laugh, cry, dance, fear and everything in between, it’s never a dull moment in Durham. The Gala Theatre is the home of comedy, music and drama, along with a two-screen cinema hosting all the blockbusters. Whilst The Assembly Rooms is a 220-seater historic arch in the city, playing host to performances all year round along with student productions.

The River Wear is perfect for a daytime stroll

Stretching 96km, the River Wear rises through the Pennines and flows through County Durham, looping through the city of Durham and ending in Sunderland. Its home to countless numbers of flora, fauna and wildlife, whilst the River Wear Trust devotes its time to educating those about the river and protecting it and the plants and animals that need it to survive.

River Wear, Durham
River Wear, Durham | © dun_deagh/Flickr

Durham’s castles are more than just bricks…

There are 12 castles and historic houses in and around Durham, but these are more than just four walls and a roof. Durham’s Castle is one of many world heritage sites holding guided tours, whilst Walworth Castle is home to many exciting birds of prey. These historic sites have been beautifully preserved, each with their own charm and story to tell.

Durham has a whole theme park dedicated to diggers…

You read that right! Durham is home to Diggerland, a family-friendly theme park where you can drive real diggers! This award-winning attraction is the place to let the kids let off some stream, with 20 different fairground rides and attractions as well as sandpits, indoor play areas and of course, JCB diggers!

It has a gorgeous coastline

Durham is one of the very few cities with its own coastline, world renowned and award winning for its rare plants and wildlife. Stretching 14km, this coastline is home to incredible views as well as quaint areas such as Dalton Park shopping centre and the cliff-top harbour town of Seaham. Just like the rest of Durham, this coastline is rich in history, home to one of few pre-Viking churches and pre-medieval woodlands.

Durham coastline
Durham coastline | © Paul Massey/Flickr

Durham appreciates the independents

It’s important to support local artists and independent venues, which there are many to discover in Durham. Empty Shop is one of them, a bustling hub of art, music, readings and university society nights. Be sure to also check out Old Cinema Laundrette, one of the very few places where you can air your dirty laundry, grab a drink and catch some great live music!

Durham’s gardens are an escape from reality

From the charm of Crook Hall to the illustrious magic of the Botanic Garden, Durham takes pride in preserving flora and fauna alike. Idyllically English, these gardens are perfect to wander in the sunshine, or can play host to a delightful afternoon tea if the rain pours!

You can take a step back in time

The story doesn’t end at the castle gates, as in Durham you can walk the streets of 20th-century North East England at the Beamish Museum. With a full town, farm and pit village, colliery, railway station and much more to explore, Beamish Museum has preserved the revolution of industry throughout North East England to tell the story today.

Tram at the Beamish Museum
Tram at the Beamish Museum | © Draco2008/Flickr

It’s the perfect place for an adrenaline junkie

Five miles outside of Durham is an adrenaline junkies dream. With quad bikes, rage buggies, archery and clay pigeon shooting, Fury Events is the place for an action-packed day. Whether you’re celebrating in a stag or hen party, want a team building exercise with a difference or just want to shake up your day, head to Fury Events – but be prepared to get muddy!

And is invested in its nightlife

After all that exploring, sometime you just need to let your hair down and dance the night away. There are a selection of nightclubs in Durham including ‘Durham’s best nightclub; Loft, the reggae venue Jam Jah and a plethora of bars and pubs to whet your whistle.

Durham remembers what time has forgotten

As well as the countless historical sites in Durham, this city remembers the fallen soldiers in World War I. Installed in 2014, a sculpture named Tommy sits melancholically on the Seaham coast, standing almost 10ft tall. The steel sculpture was created by Ray Lonsdale and was only meant to stay in Seaham for three months. However, local community and the council raised £85,000 to buy Tommy, who is now a permanent fixture at Seaham’s war memorial.

#tommyseaham #seaham #nikon #d5300 #blackandwhitephotography #blackandwhite #tommy #photography

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Its shopping centres are a great place to grab a bargain

Durham has both an outlet centre and shopping centre, making it a great city to grab this season’s must haves. Dalton Park Outlet store is home to big brands, cosy cafés and popular restaurants, whilst Prince Bishop’s Shopping Centre hosts a range of events and pop up exhibitions as well hosting some well known brands.

You can test your skills in Durham

Fancy putting yourself to the test? Look no further than the Escape Rooms in Durham. Round up a group of up to six people and try to solve puzzles and crack codes to break free from the room – are you up to the challenge? If physical strength is more your thing, why not visit Durham’s rock climbing centre, which has seen people scaling its walls for over 10 years.

And finally, learn something new!

Seen as one of the top 100 universities in the world, Durham University is one of the leading institutions for medieval study, with the famous cathedral at the centre. It was one of the first universities to have an equal footing of women to men in 1890 and to deliver Mining and Engineering degrees in 1838 – in the middle of the industrial revolution. Be sure to check their social media for any upcoming events!

Durham University courtyard
Durham University courtyard | © Jean-Etienne/Flickr