things to do in durham

Last Updated on: 31st January 2024, 06:18 am

Welcome to my guide on the best things to do in Durham, a picturesque county in the heart of England. Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and breathtaking landscapes, Durham has something to offer everyone. From exploring the iconic Durham Cathedral to admiring the beauty of High Force Waterfall, there is no shortage of exciting activities to indulge in. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover or a food enthusiast, Durham’s got you covered. Join me as I take you on a journey through the top attractions and experiences in Durham county.

Durham Cathedral: A Majestic Landmark

As I explore Durham County, Durham Cathedral stands out as one of the most awe-inspiring structures I’ve ever seen. This captivating cathedral is a testament to the skill and artistry of its creators and is steeped in centuries of history. Its intricate stonework and stunning architecture provide an insight into the county’s past and its role in English history. The grand interiors of the cathedral are breathtaking and leave a lasting impression on visitors.

Walking through the cathedral, I felt its overwhelming sense of peacefulness. The influence of the Romanesque and Gothic styles is evident in the intricate details in the design of the cathedral. It’s no wonder that it’s a popular filming location, with appearances in productions such as Harry Potter and Robin Hood.

“The captivating cathedral is a testament to the skill and artistry of its creators and is steeped in centuries of history”

The cathedral building began in 1093 and took over 40 years to complete its construction. It’s one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in the world, and its importance as a heritage site is acknowledged by its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. An interesting fact: it also boasts the oldest surviving clock face in the world!

durham cathedral

Quick Facts:

Location: Durham City, Durham, England
Architectural Style: Romanesque and Gothic
Height: 66 meters (216.5 ft)
Status: UNESCO World Heritage Site
TV & Film Appearances: Harry Potter, Robin Hood (2010), Elizabeth (1998), and many more.

I highly recommend visiting Durham Cathedral during your trip to Durham County. Its high vaulted ceilings, exquisite stained glass, and intricate stone carvings offer a unique insight into the grandeur of medieval architecture.

Durham Castle: A Historic Gem

As I continue my tour of Durham County, one of the must-see attractions is the magnificent Durham Castle. Situated adjacent to the equally impressive Durham Cathedral, the castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers visitors a glimpse into the county’s rich history.

Originally constructed in the 11th century as a fortress to protect against invasion, it was later transformed into a university college in the 19th century, and is now home to University College Durham. Guided tours are available, providing visitors with insights into the castle’s medieval origins and its role in shaping Durham’s history. Walking through the castle halls, you can feel the weight of centuries of UK history that it holds within its walls.

From the castle’s exterior vantage point, you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding Durham skyline that will undoubtedly take your breath away. Make sure to bring your camera to capture some truly unforgettable photographs.

Interesting facts about Durham Castle:

  1. Durham Castle was originally constructed to protect against the Scots and Danes, who frequently invaded England in the medieval ages.
  2. It was previously a prison for Scottish soldiers and Jacobite rebels during the 18th century.
  3. It is one of the oldest buildings in the UK still in use in university education.
  4. The castle’s Great Hall was used as a filming location for Hogwarts dining hall in the first two Harry Potter films.

“Visiting Durham Castle was a truly remarkable experience – its rich history and stunning architecture made it a highlight of my trip to the UK.” – John Smith, tourist from London

Durham University Botanic Garden: Nature’s Retreat

As a nature enthusiast, the Durham University Botanic Garden is a must-visit attraction. This botanical garden boasts a diverse collection of plants and flowers, with over 10,000 species of flora from around the world. From exotic orchids to vintage roses, the garden has something for every plant lover.

One of my favorite things to do here is to stroll through the peaceful gardens and take in the serene landscapes. The garden’s seasonal displays are always breathtaking, and it’s a treat to observe the changing colors and textures of the flora throughout the year.

The Durham University Botanic Garden is not only a beautiful spot, but it’s also an educational experience. Visitors can learn about conservation efforts and the garden’s sustainability initiatives. The garden offers informative tours led by experts, allowing visitors to deepen their knowledge of plants and their natural habitats.

Durham University Botanic Garden

As an avid wildlife photographer, I was pleasantly surprised to observe a variety of wildlife, including butterflies, bees, and birds, around the garden. It’s the perfect spot for nature lovers looking for a tranquil escape from city life.

Experience the beauty of Durham’s natural world by visiting the Durham University Botanic Garden. Trust me – you won’t want to miss it!

Durham Heritage Coast: Coastal Beauty

As I continue my exploration of the stunning Durham County in England, I am in awe of the breathtaking beauty of the Durham Heritage Coast. Located along the rugged cliffs and sandy beaches of the North Sea, this picturesque coastal area offers an idyllic retreat for nature enthusiasts and leisure seekers alike.

The beauty of this hidden gem is best experienced on foot, with leisurely walks or invigorating hikes offering stunning panoramic views of the North Sea and the surrounding landscapes. From the vibrant sea birds and wildlife to the soothing sounds of the waves, every step of the way is a sensory delight.

For those interested in history, the coast also offers a glimpse into the county’s past, with remnants of old fishing communities and smuggling activities still visible along the coast.

Durham Heritage Coast

Make sure to bring your camera to capture unforgettable moments and memories at the Durham Heritage Coast. This enchanting coastal area is a true embodiment of natural beauty, and a must-visit destination for anyone seeking tranquillity and inspiration.

Durham Market Hall: Shopping and More

As a lover of local produce, I couldn’t miss the chance to visit Durham Market Hall during my trip. This indoor market is located in the heart of Durham city and offers a unique shopping experience. Durham Market Hall

“Durham Market Hall is an incredible destination for foodies and shopping enthusiasts alike!”

Here, you will find a wide range of stalls selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to handmade crafts and artisanal cheeses. The market is renowned for its selection of fresh seafood, and I highly recommend visiting Tommy’s seafood stall for some of the best fish and chips in town.

The Top Stalls to Visit

Stall Specialty
Tommy’s Seafood Freshly caught seafood and fish and chips
Coghlans Bakery Artisan bread, cakes, and pastries
The Pudding Parlour Handmade cupcakes, brownies, and ice cream
Hall’s Butchers Locally sourced meats and freshly made sausages

Aside from food, Durham Market Hall also features a range of craft and gift stalls. For a truly unique souvenir, visit the Durham Soap Company and take home a handmade bar of soap crafted with locally sourced ingredients.

The atmosphere at the market is vibrant and welcoming, with friendly vendors eager to chat with visitors. So why not drop by Durham Market Hall during your next visit to Durham County? You’ll find something for everyone in this charming indoor market.

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North: Time Travel

As a history enthusiast, I was thrilled to discover Beamish, The Living Museum of the North. This unique open-air museum immerses visitors in the region’s past through its collection of historic buildings, costumed interpreters, and interactive exhibits.

At Beamish, you can experience life as it was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Explore the charming town, complete with a traditional pub, sweet shop, and railway station. Learn about the industrial revolution at the colliery and drift mine exhibit. Step into the Edwardian era by visiting the fairground, dentist, and even a cinema from the time.

One of the highlights of my visit was riding on the beautifully restored trams that run through the museum’s extensive grounds. The trams provide a unique mode of transport and offer stunning views of the countryside.

Beamish also hosts regular events and reenactments, adding to the authenticity of the experience. Make sure to check their website for upcoming events, such as their popular Christmas festivities.

If you’re looking for a truly immersive experience into the history and culture of the North, Beamish, The Living Museum of the North is a must-visit destination.

High Force Waterfall: Natural Wonder

I was blown away by the High Force Waterfall in the Durham Dales. It’s one of England’s most spectacular natural wonders, and it’s not hard to see why. The waterfall cascades over 21 meters into the River Tees, creating a breathtaking display of power and beauty.

If you’re a nature lover like me, you’ll appreciate the stunning surroundings. Be sure to bring your camera to capture unforgettable photographs of this majestic wonder. You can immerse yourself in the peaceful, natural setting as you take in the stunning views.

Whether you’re visiting Durham for the first time or you’re a seasoned traveler, the High Force Waterfall is a must-see attraction. Check it out and see for yourself why it’s considered one of England’s most beautiful natural wonders.

“The waterfall cascades over 21 meters into the River Tees, creating a breathtaking display of power and beauty.”

Durham Museum and Heritage Centre: Uncovering History

As I explored Durham’s rich history, I couldn’t resist a visit to the Durham Museum and Heritage Centre. This impressive museum allows visitors to take a journey through time and discover the county’s cultural significance. With a vast collection of artifacts, exhibitions and interactive displays at your fingertips, you’re sure to develop a deeper understanding of Durham’s past, present and future.

The Durham Museum and Heritage Centre showcases the history of Durham’s residents throughout the ages, from the Iron Age to the present day. As you wander through the exhibits, you’ll be struck by the many ways in which Durham’s residents and their customs have evolved over time.

From local artworks to antique furniture, this museum boasts a diverse collection of items that will delight history enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. The highlight of my visit was the interactive displays, which allow visitors to fully immerse themselves in Durham’s rich heritage. You can even try on traditional clothing and experience what life was like in Durham in the past!

“The Durham Museum and Heritage Centre is a must-visit for anyone interested in discovering the hidden gems of this historic county. With its impressive collection of artifacts and interactive displays, this museum brings Durham’s rich heritage to life in a vivid and engaging way.”


In conclusion, I hope this guide has inspired you to explore the wonders of Durham County in England. From the stunning architecture of Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle to the natural beauty of the Durham Heritage Coast and High Force Waterfall, there is so much to discover. Don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in nature at the Durham University Botanic Garden or experience life as it was in the past at Beamish, The Living Museum of the North and the Durham Museum and Heritage Centre.

Take a stroll through the Durham Market Hall, enjoy some locally sourced produce and indulge in the culinary delights that this county has to offer. With its rich heritage and stunning landscapes, Durham County is a destination like no other. So why not plan your next trip to this charming county and experience all that it has to offer.


What are the top attractions in Durham County?

Some of the top attractions in Durham County include Durham Cathedral, Durham Castle, Durham University Botanic Garden, Durham Heritage Coast, Beamish – The Living Museum of the North, High Force Waterfall, and Durham Museum and Heritage Centre.

What is special about Durham Cathedral?

Durham Cathedral is known for its stunning architecture and rich history. It is a magnificent landmark that offers a glimpse into the county’s past. Visitors can explore the grand interiors, marvel at the intricate details, and learn about the cathedral’s significance in English history.

Why is Durham Castle a must-visit?

Durham Castle is a historic gem and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was originally a medieval fortress and has now been converted into a university college. Guided tours provide insight into its medieval origins and its role in shaping Durham’s history. The castle also offers stunning views of the Durham skyline.

What can I expect at Durham University Botanic Garden?

Durham University Botanic Garden is a nature retreat that showcases a diverse collection of plants and flowers. Visitors can stroll through peaceful gardens, learn about conservation efforts, and enjoy the serene landscapes and seasonal displays.

What is the Durham Heritage Coast known for?

The Durham Heritage Coast is known for its breathtaking beauty. It offers scenic coastal walks, rugged cliffs, and sandy beaches. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the North Sea and immerse themselves in the tranquility of this hidden gem.

What can I find at Durham Market Hall?

Durham Market Hall offers a unique shopping experience. You can explore stalls brimming with locally sourced produce, artisan crafts, and delicious food. It’s a vibrant atmosphere where you can indulge in a taste of Durham’s culinary delights.

What is special about Beamish, The Living Museum of the North?

Beamish is an open-air museum that takes you on a time travel journey to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You can explore historic buildings, interact with costumed interpreters, and experience life as it was in the past.

What makes High Force Waterfall a natural wonder?

High Force Waterfall is one of England’s most spectacular natural wonders. It cascades over 21 meters into the River Tees and offers stunning photo opportunities. It’s located in the Durham Dales and surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.

What can I discover at Durham Museum and Heritage Centre?

Durham Museum and Heritage Centre offers a fascinating glimpse into Durham’s history. You can discover artifacts, exhibitions, and interactive displays that showcase the county’s heritage. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the lives of Durham’s residents throughout the ages.

What are the top things to do in Durham County?

The top things to do in Durham County include exploring historical landmarks like Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle, immersing yourself in nature at Durham University Botanic Garden and the Durham Heritage Coast, enjoying a unique shopping experience at Durham Market Hall, experiencing the past at Beamish – The Living Museum of the North and Durham Museum and Heritage Centre, and witnessing the power and beauty of High Force Waterfall.

Why should I visit Durham County?

Durham County offers a diverse range of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or shopping, Durham has something to offer everyone. It’s a destination with a rich heritage, stunning landscapes, and a vibrant atmosphere.