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Holidays in Durham

Pretty countryside, a heritage coast and a city bursting with culture

Durham countryside

Perched high above the River Wear and overlooked by one of the UK’s most spectacular cathedrals lies the city of Durham.

With its labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets, vibrant nightlife and rich history, Durham is undoubtedly one of the UK’s most distinctive cities. History-lovers will not get bored in Durham but there’s plenty more to do besides delving into the city’s fascinating past. The city centre is full of excellent independent shops, selling everything from antiques to clothes. Durham is scattered with beautiful gardens, and surrounded with scenic countryside. Nearby Hamsterley Forest has 2,000 hectares of forest to explore, while the Durham Heritage Coast consists of rugged landscapes which are a magnet for hikers.

Durham is undoubtedly dominated by its magnificent Cathedral, which was recently voted the UK’s favourite building in a BBC poll. Durham Cathedral stands imposingly above the city on a rocky outcrop. Below, Durham’s medieval city centre huddles by a sweeping curve in the River Wear.

Durham Castle

Train passengers on the East Coast Main Line know when they are nearing Durham as this colossal structure looms into view.

Next to the cathedral is Durham’s Norman castle, an elaborate structure which is now occupied by 100 or so students at the city’s university. A stone’s throw from the rushing River Wear, the castle is a magnificent sight, and well worth a visit. Guided tours can be arranged, although they are restricted by the schedule of the university.

Durham is home to the Oriental Museum, the north of England’s only centre which is devoted to the arts and culture of North Africa and Asia. It’s a fascinating day out and you’re as likely to get an insight into the production of Nissan cars as ancient Egyptian pharaohs.

There’s an excellent selection of pubs, cafes and restaurants in Durham, many of which are popular with the city’s large student contingent.

“Perched high above the River Wear and overlooked by one of the UK’s most spectacular cathedrals lies the city of Durham.“

For fine dining, head for DH1. It’s well worth booking a table in advance at this popular, modern restaurant, housed in a beautiful, historical building overlooking the city. For excellent coffee, a light lunch or a slice of cake, head for Flat White Kitchen, one of the city’s most popular cafes. If you fancy a plate of mouth-watering pasta or risotto, look no further than Bella Mamma, a welcoming Italian restaurant in the city centre.

While you’re there

Locomotion: The National Railway Museum

Visit the largest railway museum in the world.

Durham Cathedral

Visit one of Europe's most magnificent buildings.

Beamish - The Living Museum of the North

Take a step into the past at this fantastic open-air museum.

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