10 Best Things To Do In Durham, England

things to do in durham

Durham is a historic town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most visited cities in England. The setting of the city is along a beautiful riverside, and with over 600 listed buildings, you can expect to find a plethora of castles, cathedrals, and other structures of historical importance all over the city. If you are a history buff who also loves nature and is not afraid to explore the beautiful countryside, then Durham is a city you have to visit during your UK trip. Scroll down below to learn about our top recommendations for the best things to do in Durham, UK.

1. Take a walk down memory lane at Durham Cathedral

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Merlin-UK used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Durham Cathedral is one of the best buildings you will ever see in Europe. The construction of the cathedral is believed to have started during the 12th century. It boasts epic Romanesque and early Gothic designs. Within its walls, there are plenty of wonderful sights for visitors to explore. The cathedral is also home to the tombs of Venerable Bede (d. 735) and St. Cuthbert (d. 687). Additionally, it houses the Chapel of the Nine Altars and the cloister that every fan of the Harry Potter movies will be excited to see. There is so much to learn and see at the chapel, and it is recommended that you reserve at least two hours for the guided tours.

Durham Cathedral

Address: The College, Durham DH1 3EH, United Kingdom

Website: Durham Cathedral

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 7:30am - 6pm; Sun: 7:45am - 5:30pm

2. Enjoy a quick excursion at Finchale Priory

Finchale Priory (2)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Agnete used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Finchale Priory has been around since the second half of the 13th century, and it remains one of the top attractions in Durham. It is nestled in the meadows and woodlands, and though the priory was suppressed in 1535, most of the medieval workmanship is still intact, including the vaulted refectory that will give you goosebumps as you walk through. Additional points of interest include the church’s blind arches, the double piscine, the sculpted seats, and the beautifully ornamented columns.

Finchale Priory

Address: Finchale Ave, Framwellgate Moor, Durham DH1 5SH, United Kingdom

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free

3. Tour the beautiful Durham Castle

Durham Castle 005
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Carla Brain used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Durham Castle was constructed in the 11th century as a motte-and-bailey castle during the Norman Conquest. The reason for its construction was to protect England and to act as a defense from attack by the Scotts. Some of the most interesting rooms you will not want to miss during your visit to this castle include Norman Chapel, the 14th-century dining hall, the 17th-century Black Stairs, and the 16th-century chapel. You will also be interested to learn that this is also the home to University College, and it currently houses more than 100 students. As a unique structure with more than 900 years of living history, it should top your Durham itinerary.

Durham Castle

Address: Durham DH1 3RW, United Kingdom

Website: Durham Castle

Price: 6 USD

4. Discover ancient culture at Oriental Museum

Interior view - Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago - DSC06925
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Daderot used under CC0

Oriental Museum houses fantastic archeological and art collections from both the far and near east. If you are looking for one place where you will find all the major eastern cultures and periods, from Ancient Japan to Egypt, China to Tibet and India, then this is the place to be. Some of the notable items you will find here include ancient jewelry, antique armor, stone sculptures, and pottery.

Oriental Museum

Address: Elvet Hill Rd, Durham DH1 3TH, United Kingdom

Website: Oriental Museum

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm; Sat - Sun: 12pm - 5pm

5. Enjoy the noble architecture of Crook Hall and Garden

Crook Hall from the gardens
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user TSP used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Crook Hall and Garden is a charming manor house, and some of its oldest parts are believed to have been constructed during the 1300s. The medieval hall boasts of both Jacobean and Georgian architectures. The notable attractions inside the hall include Minstrel’s Gallery, a Georgian drawing room, Jacobean room, the comfy tearoom, and the attic room. Apart from the halls, another alluring part of this manor are the magical gardens. The gardens cover a total area of 5 acres (2.02 ha) and they are designed in a series of “garden rooms” featuring orchard and cathedral garden, silver garden, rose garden, and a Shakespeare garden. Coming here is not just a walk down the memory lane, but also a chance to soak up the peace and serenity of the beautiful gardens.

Crook Hall and Gardens

Address: Frankland Ln, Sidegate, Durham DH1 5SZ, United Kingdom

Website: Crook Hall and Gardens

Opening hours: Sun - Wed: 11am - 4pm (closed from Thu - Sat)

6. Soak up more history at Museum of Archaeology at Palace Green

Durham Union Palace Green
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Uli Harder used under CC BY-SA 2.5

Museum of Archaeology has rare and unique finds from the Norman, Anglo-Saxon and the Roman periods. It houses a decent collection of medieval artifacts, with a good number of them having been dug from the old city center during the 20th century. This is also where you will find the Palace Green Library that houses archives, special editions, and some of Durham University’s special collection of more than 70,000 volumes.

Museum of Archaeology

Address: Palace Green, Durham DH1 3RN, United Kingdom

Website: Museum of Archaeology

Opening hours: Mon: 12pm - 5pm, Tue - Sun: 10am - 5pm

7. See the beauty of Durham University Botanic Garden

Statues at Durham Uni Botanic Garden
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Officially_Mr_X used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Durham University Botanic Garden is on a 25-acre (10.5 ha) stretch of mature woodlands. It features a wildflower meadow, an alpine garden, a bamboo garden, an arboretum, and glasshouses where you will find several tree species from the desert, tropics, and the Mediterranean. A visit to the garden comes with lots of fun opportunities, including bird spotting, picnics, live entertainment, and lots of kids’ activities.

Durham University Botanic Garden

Address: South Rd, Durham DH1 3DF, United Kingdom

Website: Durham University Botanic Garden

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

8. Enjoy the magnificent outdoors at Wharton Park

Victorian-style Conservatory, Wharton Park - geograph.org.uk - 763365
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Roger Smith used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Wharton Park was recently renovated for millions of pounds, and it has been turned into one of the best destinations for spending time outdoors in Durham. The park features a car truck, a putting green, an outdoor gym, and a kids’ play area among other amenities. Access to the park is convenient, given that Durham Railway Station is located at one end of the park.

Wharton Park

Address: 10 Princes St, Durham DH1 4FJ, United Kingdom

Website: Wharton Park

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free

9. Bring your kids to Adventure Valley

Adventure Valley is a leading family attraction in Durham, and a must-visit site if you will be taking the trip with your kids. It has more than 50 attractions, activities, and shows. Also featured is a large indoor play and animal zone to ensure that kids will have plenty to see and do when they visit the valley.

Adventure Valley

Address: Union Hall Farm, The Bungalows Finchale Abbey F, Durham DH1 5SG, United Kingdom

Website: Adventure Valley

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 10am - 4pm; Fri: 10am - 6pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 5pm

10. Discover the history of Elvet Bridge

Durham Elvet Bridge01rect 2010-09-10
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user KlausFoehl used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Elvet Bridge sits across the River Wear in Durham City. It is what connects Elvet to Central Durham. The bridge’s main attraction is its history and design. Its construction started in AD 1160 and it was not until AD 1225 that it was completed. On design and construction, the bridge features the typical medieval masonry style, with a total of 10 visible arches through which the river flows.

Elvet Bridge

Address: Elvet Bridge, Durham DH1 3AF, United Kingdom

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

Enjoy the rich history of Durham

Durham has a lot to offer, and it is a place that history and culture buffs will love to visit again and again. Before your trip, go through our recommendations for the best things to do in Durham and choose the ones you feel will give you the greatest satisfaction.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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