15 Best Things to Do in Durham, England

15 Best Things to Do in Durham, England

By will

Durham, England is a city of history, culture, and beauty.

It’s the perfect destination for anyone who wants to explore Britain on their own terms with a deep appreciation for its unique offerings.

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or looking for an extended stay, Durham has something for everyone.

From exploring ancient sites to enjoying traditional pubs and beautiful countryside, here are 15 of the best things to do in Durham that will make your visit unforgettable!

1. Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral
Photo by Richard Croft

Durham Cathedral is an awe-inspiring sight that’s sure to stir your soul.

Located in the heart of Durham, England, this grand building has been a place of worship for over 900 years.

It stands tall and proud, dominating the skyline with its ornate spires and imposing facade.

Admire the magnificent architecture from the outside before stepping inside to explore a wealth of history, art, and culture.

Marvel at the ancient stained glass windows and learn about its fascinating past as you wander around its corridors and chambers.

Feel free to take part in one of their daily tours or drop into their café for a bite to eat while you soak up the atmosphere.

Durham Cathedral offers a unique opportunity to experience something truly special – an oasis of peace amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Take time out here to reflect on life’s wonders and be inspired by one of Britain’s most iconic buildings.

2. High Force Waterfall

High Force Waterfall
Photo by Chris McAuley

Leaving the awe-inspiring Durham Cathedral behind, there is another natural wonder that awaits you on your journey through Durham.

High Force Waterfall, located in the Teesdale area of County Durham, is an impressive sight to behold and offers a chance to experience the beauty of nature at its finest.

The 70-foot waterfall forms part of the River Tees and can be reached by a short walk from Bowlees Visitor Centre.

Here you can take in the majesty of this dramatic cascade as it cascades into the plunge pool below.

The waterfall is even more spectacular after heavy rainfall or during periods of snowmelt when its flow increases significantly.

You can take a leisurely stroll along the path which leads right up to the edge of the pool and watch as water thunders down with tremendous force.

High Force may be one of England’s smaller waterfalls but its powerful display brings nature’s power to life in an unforgettable fashion.

With plenty of photo opportunities and a sense of tranquillity once you reach the top – it’s easy to see why this hidden gem is a must-visit destination when exploring Durham’s incredible landscape.

Enjoy breathtaking views on your way up and savor every moment spent here – you won’t regret it!

3. Beamish Museum

Beamish Museum, Entrance Building
Photo by Paul Buckingham

The Beamish Museum is a must-visit destination for anyone in the Durham area.

It’s an open-air museum that showcases the culture and history of North East England, spanning over 250 years.

You can explore different periods of time, from the Georgian era to World War II, as well as traditions like lace-making and traditional farming.

Stroll through the re-created towns, learning about how life was lived in times past.

Visit a staff canteen or a dentist’s office, or ride on one of their trams.

There are also regular events such as vintage car shows and fairs throughout the year.

The museum has something for everyone – whether you’re interested in old industries or just want to enjoy some fresh air!

Beamish is an incredible experience that will transport you back in time and give you a glimpse into life in North East England.

Spend a day here to learn about history and culture while having fun.

4. The Treasures Of St. Cuthbert

Next up on your list of things to do in Durham is a visit to The Treasures of St. Cuthbert, an exhibition located in the Cathedral’s Open Treasure Museum.

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This stunning display is home to some of England’s most treasured artifacts, including the 7th-century Lindisfarne Gospels, the oldest surviving book written in English.

Visitors are treated to seeing the Gospels’ intricate illustrations and hand-written Latin text up close, as well as many other fascinating relics from St. Cuthbert’s life and times.

For those with a keen interest in history, this is an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with some of England’s most precious artifacts.

The Open Treasure Museum also holds regular events throughout the year, so be sure to check their website for upcoming activities.

From lectures by leading historians to special displays and exhibitions, there’s something here for everyone.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a history buff, you’ll still be captivated by the beauty and significance of these ancient treasures.

So make sure you add The Treasures of St. Cuthbert onto your itinerary when visiting Durham – it promises to be a rewarding experience.

5. Durham University Museum Of Archaeology

If you’re looking to delve into Durham’s history, the Durham University Museum of Archaeology is an absolute must-see.

Located in the heart of the city, this museum is a treasure trove of artifacts and art that tell stories of the past.

From ancient Roman pottery to medieval stone sculpture, there’s plenty to explore.

The museum also offers a range of interactive activities for visitors.

Whether you want to take part in a guided tour or handle replica artifacts in the hands-on area, you’ll be able to get a real feel for Durham’s past.

With its variety of displays, exhibitions, and activities, this museum is sure to keep any traveler entertained and inspired.

It’s a great way to learn about the city and its history without sacrificing your desire for freedom!

6. Oriental Museum

Continuing with our exploration of the cultural attractions of Durham, England, the Oriental Museum is a must-see.

Located in Elvet Hill House, the museum houses a collection of artifacts from all over Asia, including historic Chinese ceramics and jades, Japanese armor and swords, and Indian sculptures dating from 2000 BCE to the present day.

It’s a truly unique experience that offers visitors an insight into centuries of Asian history and culture.

The museum has something for everyone, no matter their interest or knowledge level.

If you’re looking for an interactive experience, there are hands-on activities such as playing traditional Chinese instruments or trying on kimonos.

There’s also an array of permanent exhibitions that feature ancient Buddhist sculptures, Samurai armor and weaponry, and traditional Chinese furniture.

With its extensive range of objects on display, the Oriental Museum is sure to captivate even the most experienced traveler.

Discovering centuries of Asian history and culture in one place makes this museum a must-visit destination in Durham.

Whether you’re interested in archaeology or want to explore a new culture, you’ll be sure to find something that piques your curiosity here.

The knowledgeable staff will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about the exhibits – so don’t hesitate to ask!

7. Hardwick Park

Located in the northeast of England, Hardwick Park is an idyllic spot for a peaceful day out.

It’s home to an impressive array of wildlife, from deer and foxes to a wide variety of birds.

Surrounded by lush rolling hills, it’s easy to lose yourself in this stunning nature reserve.

The park offers a great chance to get out into the fresh air and take in the breathtaking views.

There are plenty of trails for walking or cycling, as well as horse riding routes for those wishing to explore further afield.

In addition, the park is home to several historic monuments including a 19th-century walled garden and Victorian greenhouse, which add an extra layer of charm.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try your hand at geocaching?

This modern-day treasure-hunting game will take you on a thrilling journey around the park and beyond!

Whatever you decide to do, Hardwick Park is sure to provide an unforgettable experience that will leave you feeling relaxed and inspired.

8. Durham Town Hall

Durham Town Hall is a must-see destination when visiting Durham, England.

Its stunning architecture and fascinating history make it an irreplaceable part of the city.

This grand building was built in 1810 and has been an integral part of Durham’s civic life for centuries.

Visitors can explore the historical interiors, wander through the galleries and take in the sculptures, frescoes, and other works of art.

The Town Hall also houses a library, museum, and theatre, as well as a number of restaurants and cafes serving up delicious local specialties.

Whether you’re looking to get away from it all or just want to experience some of Durham’s rich culture, this beautiful building is sure to provide something for everyone.

Take a stroll through its historic halls or visit one of its many shops; there’s something here for every taste.

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With its picturesque views and interesting attractions, Durham Town Hall is sure to be an unforgettable experience on your trip to England’s northernmost city!

9. Wharton Park

Wharton Park is a must-see for anyone visiting Durham, England.

Located just outside the city, it’s a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The park offers plenty of activities that can be enjoyed by all the family, from walking and cycling tracks to children’s play areas and a maze.

Whether you want to take a leisurely stroll or get some exercise, Wharton Park has it all.

The park also features some spectacular views over Durham Cathedral and the River Wear.

There’s something special about being able to enjoy such breathtaking scenery in such an idyllic setting – there’s nothing quite like it!

If you’re looking for somewhere peaceful and beautiful to spend an afternoon, then Wharton Park is definitely worth a visit.

With its stunning views and array of activities on offer, this is one attraction you won’t want to miss out on while in Durham!

10. Crook Hall And Gardens

Crook Hall and Gardens are a must-see attraction when visiting Durham, England.

From medieval architecture to lush gardens, guests will find a wealth of history and beauty here.

The imposing walls of Crook Hall are an impressive sight to behold. Built-in the 15th century, this grand manor house is one of the oldest in County Durham.

A guided tour will reveal its many secrets and stories, including tales of ghosts that haunt its halls!

The beautiful gardens span more than two acres and feature a variety of flowers and plants.

Visitors can explore winding pathways, peaceful ponds, and even a secret walled garden.

There’s also plenty for kids to do such as playing games in the play area or meeting some of the friendly animals.

It’s easy to lose track of time wandering around this stunning setting.

Crook Hall and Gardens provide an idyllic escape from everyday life – perfect for a leisurely stroll or picnic on a sunny day.

Whether you’re looking for historic charm or just want to take in some beautiful nature, this is definitely one of Durham’s best attractions.

11. Durham Riverside Walk

After admiring the picturesque beauty of Crook Hall and Gardens, it’s time to experience a new kind of adventure.

Durham Riverside Walk is the perfect place to do just that.

This stunning route winds along the River Wear and takes you through some of Durham’s most iconic landmarks, giving you a taste of the city’s rich history.

As you stroll along the riverside path, admire views of Durham Cathedral, one of England’s most impressive religious buildings.

You’ll also pass nearby castle ruins and an old stone bridge before arriving at Framwellgate Bridge in the city center.

Here you can take photos of the beautiful landscape or enjoy a picnic with friends on the bankside grass.

Durham Riverside Walk has something for everyone; whether it’s a leisurely stroll or an afternoon jog, this scenic route never fails to impress.

Along your journey, keep an eye out for local wildlife such as kingfishers and otters as they make their way along the riverbanks.

With its breathtaking scenery and unique sights, Durham Riverside Walk is sure to provide an unforgettable experience for all who visit!

12. Palace Green

Located in the heart of Durham City, Palace Green is a stunning open space that should not be missed if you’re visiting the area.

With its ancient castle and cathedral, the area is steeped in history, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the past.

The cobbled streets and medieval architecture will leave you feeling truly captivated; it’s easy to lose yourself in time here.

The must-see attraction is Durham Castle, built in 1072 AD by William the Conqueror as part of his defense system against invading Scots.

An unforgettable experience awaits as you explore this majestic building, with its beautiful chapel and towers providing spectacular views across the city.

You can even take part in an organized tour or join one of the numerous events held at the castle throughout the year.

The next sight on your list should be Durham Cathedral, which stands proudly overlooking Palace Green.

Dating back to 1093 AD, this Norman place of worship is one of England’s most iconic buildings and should not be missed when visiting Durham City.

Explore its awe-inspiring interior or simply sit and marvel at its grandeur from the outside – either way, you’ll be left feeling truly inspired.

No trip to Palace Green would be complete without stopping for a bite to eat at one of its many cafes and restaurants.

Here you can indulge in delicious food while admiring some breathtaking views over Durham City – what better way to spend an afternoon?

Afterward, why not take a stroll along the nearby Prebends Bridge for picturesque views along the River Wear?

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A visit to Palace Green promises an unforgettable experience that will stay with you for years to come!

13. Ivesley Equestrian Centre

After a visit to the grandeur of Palace Green, it’s time to head over to Ivesley Equestrian Centre.

This unique horse riding facility is nestled in the heart of Durham and offers a great way to explore the countryside around Durham.

The center has two outdoor arenas, one for show jumping and one for dressage, as well as a large indoor arena for those rainy days.

With experienced instructors and quality horses, riders of all levels can enjoy a safe and enjoyable experience.

Ivesley Equestrian Centre caters to all ages and abilities – from complete beginners to advanced riders – so no matter your level of experience, there’s an activity just right for you.

You can also take lessons in either group or private classes depending on what suits you best.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even go on guided trail rides through the picturesque Durham countryside.

With its lush rolling hills and breathtaking views, it provides some truly unforgettable experiences.

The center also offers other activities such as pony trekking and polo lessons, so no matter how much time you have there’s something fun to do at Ivesley Equestrian Centre.

If you’re looking for a unique way to explore Durham’s beautiful surroundings then this is definitely the place for you!

14. The Full Moon Market

For a unique shopping experience, head to Durham’s Full Moon Market.

Located in the heart of the city center, this vibrant market is open every Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm.

Here you’ll find an array of vendors selling locally-sourced artisan products such as jewelry, crafts, and clothing.

Although there’s no shortage of food stalls here too, it’s the atmosphere that really brings people in – with live music performances and street theatre adding to the party!

The Full Moon Market is a great spot for those looking to explore Durham’s culture while picking up a unique souvenir or two.

You can easily spend an afternoon browsing through all the different stalls, soaking up the lively atmosphere, and chatting with locals.

Whether you’re after something handmade or just want to sample some delicious local cuisine, you’ll surely find something that takes your fancy at The Full Moon Market.

15. Broompark

Leaving the Full Moon Market, visitors turn their attention to Broompark.

This small, picturesque park sits in the center of Durham and is a must-see for any visitor.

With its colorful flower beds, winding paths, and peaceful atmosphere, it’s easy to see why this park has been a staple of Durham’s life since its opening in 1891.

The park’s beauty is amplified by its location; it lies at the heart of Durham City Centre and is surrounded by some of the city’s most iconic buildings.

From the grandiose Durham Cathedral to the imposing Palace Green Library, visitors can marvel at these fascinating structures as they take a stroll around Broompark.

The park is also home to an array of wildlife including rabbits, squirrels, and ducks – perfect for wildlife enthusiasts!

In addition to its natural beauty, Broompark also offers plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy.

There are numerous picnic areas where guests can sit and relax with friends or family while enjoying their surroundings.

In summer months, there are also events such as outdoor theatre performances – the perfect way to make memories that will last a lifetime!

Best Things to Do in Durham – Final Thoughts

I hope this article gave you some ideas on how to best explore Durham, England.

Whether you’re looking for a historical tour of the city or some fun outdoor activities, there are plenty of things to do in and around Durham for all kinds of travelers.

From the architectural magnificence of the Durham Cathedral to the breathtaking views at High Force waterfall, there’s something here for everyone.

And if you’re looking for a truly unique experience, be sure to check out the Full Moon Market and Ivesley Equestrian Centre.

To sum up, my time spent in Durham: was truly magical! Everywhere I went was filled with history and beauty that left me speechless.

There’s so much culture and life within this city and I’m so glad I got the chance to experience it firsthand.

If you find yourself near Durham, don’t hesitate to take the time to explore – you won’t regret it!

Durham is an amazing place with something for every traveler.

Whether you want to take in some history or get your adrenaline pumping with outdoor activities, it is definitely worth adding to your travel list!


What are the best things to do in Durham with kids?

The best things to do in Durham with kids are visiting Durham University Botanic Garden, Durham Castle, and Palace Green.

What to do during the day in Durham?

The best things to do during the day in Durham are visiting Durham Cathedral, The Museum of Life and Science, and Hall Hill Farm.

Is Durham worth visiting?

Yes, Durham is worth visiting because it is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in England and has plenty of activities for families.

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About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.