The North East holds a special place in my heart. My parents took us on holidays here in my childhood, right up until my angsty teenage years. I spent a lot of holidays on the North East coast and in cities like Newcastle and Durham.
Located south of Newcastle, Durham is a historic city, just over an hour on the train from Leeds so an ideal destination for a day trip or short weekend away if you’re based in the north. It feels very similar to York; steeped in history (and students) with pretty riverside walks and cobbled streets filled with cafes, boutiques and high street shops. Here’s some of my recommendations if you’re planning your next whistle-stop trip!
Walk to Durham Cathedral (Free entry) This is a very special place. I’m not religious but I couldn’t help but be moved by the grandeur of this building, built in 1093. It’s roughly a 20 minute walk from the train station and is signposted well (cross over the Framwellgate bridge and take an immediate right down some steps). Entry to this World Heritage Site is free (donations welcome) and cameras/phones are not allowed inside, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the Cathedral at its best. If you’re a Harry Potter fan make sure you step outside to the Cathedral’s Cloisters (access via doors left of the reception), a location in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I might have got a bit excited about this. Ahem.
Prebends’ Bridge Treat yourself to a takeaway hot drink from a nearby cafe (opposite the Cathedral, as if walking back into town). Then head back to the Cathedral and walk down The Bailey (gorgeous pastel coloured buildings now used for the University) towards Prebends’ Bridge for beautiful views of the city.
Take a riverside walk Autumn is a great time to visit this city with trees lining the riverside banks back into town. Find a bench and watch the world go by; a great spot for photographs or sketching if you’re an artist.
Eat burgers at Head of Steam The bar is situated in a courtyard off North Rd and if we had had more time we would have hung out here longer to sample more of the beers – great music too! The beer and food here was really good. Priced roughly £9 for a burger (I had the marinated chicken burger and the OH ate the house burger). The pizzas looked great too.
Visit Durham Castle The Castle is now home to the students of University College, part of Durham University – VERY different to my student accommodation. Can you imagine living here?! You need to book a guided tour to visit the castle so instead we admired the castle’s exterior (I didn’t do my research!). You can book your tour here.
Gin lovers! Pop into Tin of Sardines, Durham’s smallest bar and probably the smallest gin bar in the world, with over 160 handcrafted gins on offer! Situated on Elvet Bridge (another spot great for views of the city).
What are your Durham recommendations? I can imagine it being really beautiful at Christmas too. Let me know if you take a trip!
More Whistle-Stop trips here
Disclosure: An image from this post was featured for an Instagram ad.