Durham is a sweeping emerald canvas with breathtaking dales, a dramatic coastline, a vale steeped in history and a vibrant city at its heart.
Put simply Durham is England at its most fascinating, dramatic and scenic. A city that includes an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the striking Durham Cathedral and Castle, surrounded by a sweeping and rugged coastline and areas of stunning natural beauty - with forests, valleys and dales to explore on foot and by bike.
The writer Bill Bryson called Durham Cathedral the ‘best cathedral on planet Earth’ and together with the 11th century Durham Castle, presents a splendid place to start your Durham visit. It’s easy to be awed by these exemplary examples of Norman architecture, and the cathedral was even used in a number of the Harry Potter films.
Take a cruise on the River Wear for a more dramatic sense of one of the most impressive city panoramas in Europe, dominated by the 1000-year old Durham Cathedral and Castle.
Whilst exploring Durham City, make time for the charming Crook Hall and Gardens, a Grade-1 listed medieval hall surrounded by enchanting gardens – whatever season you visit in. Order afternoon tea in the Georgian Drawing Room and enjoy views of the Walled Garden and Durham Cathedral in the distance while nibbling on dainty sandwiches and cakes.
As you head out of the city into the stunning Durham Dales and North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you’ll discover landscapes that have inspired artists and writers through the ages – none more so than JMW Turner – the ‘painter of light’.
As well as its famous Norman legacy, Durham’s rich heritage is also brought to life at its award-winning attractions, such as England’s largest open-air museum, Beamish – The Living Museum of the North. Set in 300 acres of Durham countryside, this remarkable place vividly brings the senses alive, telling the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s. Take a tram ride into the past and meet costumed folk in homes, shops and buildings as you explore the Edwardian Town, Pit Village, 1940s Farm and Pockerley Old Hall.
Witness the visceral majesty of High Force waterfall, the perfect spot for a picnic and the perfect photo opportunity. Look out for the 320 million year old Fossil Tree in the market town of Stanhope, and spot the deer at Raby Castle, one of the best-preserved castles in North East England – with its fine interiors and architecture spanning the Medieval, Victorian and Georgian periods.
Ramblers and cyclists can soak up Durham’s beauty along its many walking and cycle trails across wild moorland and ancient woodland such as the Teesdale Way and Weardale Way. And if you haven’t got the legs or just fancy leaving the car behind, you can even hire an electric bike to explore the countryside.
For dramatic coastal views and coastal path walks, head to Seaham and experience a life-affirming sunrise as you face east. Pack a day bag, choose north or south, and set out along Durham’s striking Heritage Coast, leading through stunning cliff top scenery into coastal villages, all with their own unique stories to tell.
Durham City is less than 40 minutes south of Newcastle International Airport and 3 hours by train from London.