Get the most out of one of the north east’s best-equipped cities by taking advantage of the city’s wide range of things to do. From family adventures, riverboat cruises, all night casinos, cathedral tours and even a trip to the seaside, this city has you covered.
Activities in Durham
Where to go
Escape wet and cold winter weather – and let’s be honest, quite a lot of the summer – and head for some fun indoors.
Get to grips with bouldering – a popular offshoot from climbing – at Durham Climbing Centre, not far from Durham City Golf Club. Open for climbers of all abilities and ages, this large indoor climbing centre has dozens of climbs, inclines and routes with thick safety matting providing a soft and safe landing for those climbing without a rope or harness. Based in Meadowfield, a small town three miles from the centre of Durham, the centre is open from 10am to 10pm during the week and from 9.30am at weekends. A full range of coaching sessions is available, from private lessons to master-climb sessions, with dedicated kids’ classes as well.
If that isn’t enough adrenaline-fuelled fun for you, head to Escape Rooms Durham. It’s a relatively new concept that has taken over the UK in recent years, each room featuring a different challenge – from becoming a super sleuth and figuring out how to escape from a locked study to working your way through a series of puzzles to escape a fiendish laboratory within a one-hour time limit. With helpful hints and clues if you need them, it’s a great bonding exercise and a real test of your grey matter, open until 10.30pm most evenings. It’s just three minutes from the city centre and a 10-minute stroll from our Durham City Centre hotel (or maybe a five-minute run if you’re still powered up). It’s perfectly located for a fun day out.
If you fancy a flutter, Admiral Casino is the place to head. With new offers and rewards every day, the venue has free machine-side food and drinks with a wide range of games, including the very latest and all the classics. Located at 44 Newbottle Street, if you make your way there by car, there’s parking behind the library just a short distance away, or buses 20, 20A, 4, x1 and 35 can drop you nearby.
Explore the north east’s wonderfully wild countryside. From sedate river cruises to Diggerland (yes, that is as ace as it sounds), in Langley Park, Durham and its surrounding county will keep you active from sunrise to sunset and beyond. We’ve listed our favourite Durham outdoor activities on our dedicated page.
Tours and trails
From bike trails that take you 179 miles cross-country to two-mile rides around stunning reservoirs, there’s something for every cyclist in and around Durham.
One of the most popular cycle routes is the Durham to Bowburn loopthat takes in Brandon and Sunderland Bridge on its way. The 10–20 mile ride takes you via road, railway path and off-road terrain through some stunning countryside, several working farms and bustling town centres. And crucially, it takes you past Bailey’s Bar and Restaurant; a perfect place to rest your weary limbs and recuperate with a glass or two.
Other popular routes include the Teesdale Way, 100 miles of trails and paths that follow the River Tees from source to sea, and the Hamsterley Forest trails, which are made for mountain bikers who like to push themselves.
With much of the city easily accessible on foot and many of the city’s historical buildings and sights contained within a small area, Durham is tailor-made for walking tours.
Winding its way across the city and doubling back on itself to create the prominent cathedral and castle promenade, the River Wear is one of the city’s main focal points. Spread over three miles and taking 90 minutes at a leisurely pace, the Durham Riverside Walk takes in plenty of on-river action, including canoes, rowing boats and assorted wildlife. There’s also the chance to take in the real-life myth of Tom Thumb as well as the more definite history of the UNESCO World Heritage protected cathedral and castle.
If you’re wanting a more guided exploration, then sign up for the Durham City tours. These take in the city’s fascinating medieval streets and of course the stunning 11th century cathedral and castle. The guided tours take place daily from the centre of Durham and bring the city’s rich history to vivid life, exploring the cobbled streets, riverside views and hidden gems of the historic city.
A 25-minute drive from our Durham East hotel lies Seaham Beach, a wide sandy enclave that’s perfect for sunny day trips.
Seaham, with its beach – mix of sand and rock – is only 18 miles from Durham. The town has undergone a regeneration in recent years and now features a lovingly restored marina, shops and a long promenade perfect for dog walking, kite-flying and ice cream eating. It’s also home to a WWI monument, a sculpture of Tommy, one of the area’s soldiers returned from war. As you’d expect, the town has plenty of fish and chip shops and coffee shops, as well as interesting landmarks, including the harbour and nearby ruins of the 16th century Dalden Tower.