Things to do in Durham

With an abundance of unique attractions and activities, you’ll never be left wondering what to do in Durham. Locals are no stranger to visitors walking around with wide eyes. A pocket-sized city steeped in history and beautiful relics from the past, it’s hard not to be swept up by the charm of the place. Add to the mix a lively student population and a new shopping and leisure complex on the cards, alongside plenty of nightlife spots, entertainment venues, activities and cosy hotels in Durham, and you’ll see that this certainly isn’t a city stuck in the past.


With the whole city centre a designated conservation area, with over 500 listed buildings, Durham is a veritable gem that historians and architecture enthusiasts will fall in love with. Don’t miss its many incredible historic buildings, including Durham Cathedral and Castle.


If you’re looking to indulge in a spot of retail therapy, there’s a mix of high street and outlet shopping both in the city centre and within easy reach. Look out for The Riverwalk, an exciting new addition to Durham’s shopping and leisure scene coming in 2018.

Video guide to Durham


Tracing the tales of Durham’s long history is easy, thanks to the city’s impressive museum collection dedicated to its heritage, its World Heritage Site status, archaeology, mining, and even a replica town, which literally brings the Victorian and Edwardian eras to life.


With beaches, walking tours and cycling trails leaving you spoiled for choice when it comes to outdoor activities – and an escape room, climbing wall and casino if you need some refuge from the famously unpredictable northern weather – there’s plenty to add to your to-do list.

Beamish Museum

Take a step back in time at the Beamish Museum, a living museum that recreates life in the north east during the 1840s, 1920s and 1940s. From recreated shops, coal mines, public houses and working factories, it’s a truly unique experience that families will love.


A veritable roster of innovative festivals, captivating museums and charismatic galleries lend themselves to a cultural scene that Durham can be proud of.


Boasting three golf courses, the most northerly cricket ground in England, an exciting theatre scene and a charmingly obscure music venue, there’s never a dull moment in Durham.


The Gala Theatre leads a strong charge of theatrical venues where you can enjoy a wide-ranging roll call of stage favourites, from stand-ups to Sondheim to Shakespeare.

Places to eat

From award-winning fish and chips to exotic tastes of the middle east, fragrant flavours of pan-Asian cuisine to European favourites and some cosy cafés to boot, tuck into Durham’s best restaurants with our eating out guide.


Gin joints, whisky dens and champagne lounges are all the order of the day on Durham’s sophisticated bar scene. Add to that a roster of historic, homey pubs and there are plenty of places for you to enjoy your tipple of choice.

Getting around

Whether you’re getting here by plane, train or automobile, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to your visit, including three popular park and ride schemes making exploring Durham city centre a breeze.

Our Durham map

Looking for a hotel in Durham?

Choose from any one of our three main Durham hotels plus our nearby hotels at Newton Aycliffe and Newcastle (Washington) as an ideal base for exploring the fabulous medieval treasures of Durham, an ancient university city that boasts a vibrant cultural scene.