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Durham Tourism And Travel Guide
4.8° C / 40.6° F
March to May
2 to 3 Days
Newcastle International Airport
Tourism in Durham encompasses a variety of local attractions and places to visit that travelers can choose from. With a number of ancient ruins, museums, gardens, theatres, historical buildings and events, the city of Durham in North England gives you a picturesque experience of the English countryside, lovely outdoors and scenic coasts, all within close proximity to local villages and towns with an assortment of activities to explore and places to visit.
From going back in time whilst sightseeing, enjoying the peace and quiet of the Durham coastline or cycling your way through the adventurous walking & cycling routes, visiting Durham will be a memory you’ll cherish forever. Here’s a travel guide to help you get around in Durham.
How to Reach
Situated 264 miles from London, Durham has two airports in close proximity, one at Newcastle and other at Durham Tees Valley, of which we recommend the Newcastle International Airport. There are a number of flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bengaluru to Newcastle Airport.
The distance between Newcastle and Durham is roughly 13 miles. Durham Rail Station is located on the east coast mainline and serves a number of routes across the country. The average train journey between Newcastle and Durham is 20 minutes, with the fastest train reaching in 11 minutes.
There are 3 buses a day between Newcastle and Durham with an average travel time of 35 minutes. On weekdays, the National Express runs three buses departing in the morning with two at breakfast time and the third before noon. Buses from Newcastle depart from the Eldon Square Bus Station. Self-driving or taking a cab are other means of traveling to Durham.
Durham is relatively smaller and hence it is easy to walk around or rent a bike and explore the city via its innumerable walking and cycling routes. There are a lot of local buses with regular stops in Durham, and you can also take a cab, albeit it’s an expensive option comparatively.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Spring weather’s one of the best time of the year to visit Durham with a mix of sunny days and cool/wet weather. The period between March through May see an average temperature of 9°C-15°C during the day.
Summers usually witness mild to warm climate with a possible occurrence of occasional hot days, which are their longest in the season. With an overcast and humid weather condition, the average temperature in July, August is roughly 20°C.
The fall season varies, oscillating between pleasantly mild days at the beginning of September and cooler/colder days in October-November. Autumn is a beautiful time to be in Durham with moderate temperatures and longer days, with some breath-taking and stunning colors of the season to make it even more special!
Winters experience the shortest days with chilly to cold temperatures and a possibility of snowfall. With an average temperature that varies between 6°C-7°C, winter is the time when Durham hosts a variety of fairs and Christmas markets to add to the festive atmosphere, this time of the year!
Things To Do
Enjoy the clean country air at the Hamsterley Forest or the Bowlees Visitor Center where a variety of family events and exhibitions are held inspired by Mother Nature through the year, relax and recharge your tired batteries at their café, before you embark on a scenic woodland walk to the High Force waterfall or head for the Vale of Durham for an exciting rope activity at Beamish Wild. Walking and cycling are brilliant ways of exploring Durham and filled with some of the best hiking and cycling tracks in the country.
The Durham Dales is a calming and serene landscape of grasslands and moors, meandering rivers, valleys, sprinkled with market towns and scenic rural life. The Grassholme Waterside Park is a lovely spot for a perfect day out with its beautiful reservoir that offers spectacular landscapes and views of the water, with a large space to enjoy a picnic or explore the wildlife amidst the wildflowers.
Durham has a popular calendar of events that runs full house through the year with a wide range of activities like the Bishop Auckland Food Festival which brings a blend of local and UK street food makers and merchants with their delicious delicacies amidst an atmosphere of fun and frolic, live music entertainment and other attractions that include live cooking theatre, street food catering & an assortment of lip-smacking food and drinks from across the globe.
Then there’s the Durham Brass Festival which brings the county to life with bands performing different music genres like funk, classical, jazz, SKA and traditional music. The largest festival in the UK, the Lumiere brings back some of the most popular light installations and artwork making it an illuminating experience for all! The Durham Book Festival sees a variety of book-based discussions and live-interactive events to celebrate books.
Durham has a variety of sporting activities you can enjoy from Horseracing to watching International Cricket to playing golf and more. The Sedgefield Racecourse in Durham is located on the southern part of the city and is a left-handed racecourse, meant only for jump racing. Set amidst a stunning countryside landscape and warm and welcoming vibe, the racecourse is renowned for its premium hospitality and horse racing as a popular sport. Durham’s top class golf resort is a 27-hole championship center with captivating sights and tranquil atmosphere to relax and enjoy playing in.
Whether it’s the Retreat at Redworth Hall, Hedlam Spa, or the Serenity Spa at Seaham Hall, with an assortment of treatments, massages, therapies and spa facials, don’t miss pampering your body, mind and spirit at some of the best spa facilities in Durham.
Where To Eat
With an imposing castle, paved streets and dreamy bridges, Durham turns out to be a treat for travellers, foodies and shoppers of the world. From a number of beautiful and captivating views of the River wear to digging into lip-smacking and fattening juicy burgers, Durham is filled with some of the best places to eat and enjoy scenic sights as well. Just 5 minutes from the rail station, Finbarr’s a prior farmhouse with a secluded courtyard and a scrumptious three-course meal on its fixed menu, made with some of the finest local ingredients like Yorkshire asparagus tart, Ribblesdale goat curd, Lintz hall farm eggs and Northumbrian steak.
Down a narrow break way of stairs with a discreet door on the Saddler Street is the Cellar Door with a seasonal and locally sourced carte du jour that includes global cuisines from around the world with the inclusion of tandoori chicken thighs, smoked Northumberland gnocchi. The Riverside 17 is an ideal postcard Durham location with a riverside view and food that’s finger licking delicious, with its bestsellers being Thai Chicken Curry, Chargrilled Steaks, Duck Leg Sausage with Roasted Duck Breast.
The Garden House is a quaint eatery with rickety country furniture and cozy corners with a variety of pub food like cheeseburgers, lobster sandwich or beef dumplings, crafted deliciously with a touch of fine dining elegance. The Flat White is a popular haunt during the day, known for its mouthwatering brunches and coffee, and after-hour small bites from 6.30-9.30pm from Thursday-Saturday with its specials like Korean Quail, Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Brioche, Thai styled Crispy Pork Belly & watermelon salad.
Then, there’s the Altars Café, with a riverside balcony and the chiming ring of the Cathedral bells next to you for an Afternoon Tea Session. The place also caters packed picnic lunches with thoughtful nuances and a free treat for every dog who accompanies his owner!
Where To Shop
A little retail therapy is good for health and a much-needed pampering after a long day of sightseeing! Get the best out of your shopping spree from the city of Durham to Durham Dales, strolling through the ancient lanes of the town with its unique assortment of high street stores, independent boutiques and quirky craft stores behind the Durham Cathedral and Castle. A trip to Dalton Park will be even more exciting for its bargain shopping and popularity as the biggest shopping center in the region. Some other places you can explore include the Chester Le Street, Bishop Auckland, Barnard Castle, Stanhope and Seaham, browsing through a variety of antique shops, arts, crafts and local delicacies.
Some of the notable stores in the realm of arts and crafts in Durham include the Durham Dales Centre Gift Shop with its local produce, souvenirs and bargains to leave a lasting impression on you, No. 42 is an arts & crafts store that supports local artists, where they can display and sell their wares in a special incubator studio and has over a 100 artists selling their work here. The Cathedral shop offers a unique shopping experience with its monastic, remarkable and arched undercrofts and enjoys its repute as one of the most established books stockist in Theology in the North of England.
The Dalton Park Outlet Shopping Centre is an indoor market with over 60 outlets at nearly 50% off on the best brands, in the realm of sports & outdoor gear, stylish home furnishings and fashion accessories that include high-end handbags, sparkling jewellery and footwear. The Durham Market Hall houses independent traders who offer a variety of essential services and supplies in a state of the art Victorian Architecture setting, providing fresh seafood, poultry, cheese, fruits and vegetables, spices and bakery items. You will also have a wide range of fashion, beauty, household items, gifts & souvenirs, hobby supplies and more at the best prices available here.