Find out why this fascinating historic city is a must-visit destination
Durham is a city that prides itself on its history, and understandably so. The city occupies an important location which has been a settlement site for over 4,000 years, surrounded on three sides by a dramatic hairpin bend of the River Wear.
In more recent times, Durham still owes much to its magnificent cathedral and castle, which have been attracting visitors for centuries and continue to do so today. There’s plenty to do on a short break here – take a look at our top-rated things to do, places to stay and culinary adventures to seek on your Durham Weekend Escape.
Things to do
Visitors to Durham are drawn to its medieval castle and cathedral. Both date to the 11th century, although the bones of St Cuthbert around which the cathedral was built, were brought from Holy Island much earlier, arriving in Durham in 995. The cathedral has three huge towers, and weighty but decorative columns hold up the earliest Gothic roof anywhere. Despite the impressive stonework on display, the tomb of St Cuthbert himself has just a simple stone slab. The cathedral’s treasury is exstensive, and the relics of St Cuthbert are as popular an attraction as they were to medieval pilgrims of the past.
The castle's origins may date back to 1072, but its most iconic elements came later. The Norman chapel and gallery are well worth a visit on any tour, as are the 18th-century State Rooms and College Chapel.
The castle is home to University College, but the university has buildings all over the city – some ancient, some more modern. A walking tour of the city gives an excellent viewpoint of the city’s most iconic buildings. Its churches, perhaps unsurprisingly, are of particular interest, as are the university botanic gardens. Close to the railway station in the heart of the city, Wharton Park offers fantastic views of the castle and cathedral, as well as walks, play areas and a miniature car track.