With breathtaking countryside, a dramatic coastline and a picture-perfect heritage city, Durham is no ordinary county.
With incredible things to see and do to please the whole family, places to eat, and a packed programme of exciting events and festivals, Durham is the ideal destination for those looking for their next adventure, whether that’s for a short break, or to relocate!
Durham is in the running to be named the UK’s City of Culture 2025, and it’s no surprise when you see the incredible range of cultural experiences on offer across the county. From award-winning museums and world-class events, to fantastic foodie experiences and family fun, Durham is a county like no other.
Home to buildings as breathtaking as the exhibits within, discover treasure troves across the county. Stroll through themed galleries that showcase stunning collections of art, fashion and design at The Bowes Museum, and at nearby Raby, explore one of England’s finest medieval castles, surrounded by a glorious 18th century walled garden and deer park.
The market town of Bishop Auckland is home to The Auckland Project – which features an incredible array of attractions. Auckland Castle, one of the best-preserved bishops’ palaces in Europe, was home to the mighty Prince Bishops of Durham, whose power was second only to the English monarchy. The Mining Art Gallery showcases works of prominent artists, many of whom were local to the area, including Tom McGuinness and Norman Cornish. And at The Spanish Gallery immerse yourself in the Spanish Golden Age at the UK’s first gallery dedicated to the art, history and culture of Spain.
And if that isn’t enough, the town also boasts the newly refurbished Bishop Auckland Town Hall with its stunning gallery space, café and cinema.
Have an eventful time
Whether it’s the Seaham or Bishop Auckland Food Festivals getting your taste buds tingling, the Brass Festival’s celebration of music getting your toes tapping, or the Durham Book Festival delighting literary lovers, you’re certain to have an eventful time.
Live theatre at Gala Durham will have you on the edge of your seat. Or if live sport is more your thing, get bowled over by Durham Cricket or a catch an international game at their Emirates Riverside ground.
Named in TripAdvisor’s ‘Top 5 performances to see in the UK’, travel through time at Kyrnen and watch legends come to life at the outdoor theatre spectacular. And new for 2021, 11 Arches Park offers visitors a jam-packed afternoon of immersive attractions.
And of course, a list of incredible events for the county wouldn’t be complete without Lumiere, the UK’s leading light festival. This biennial showstopper, which returns November 18-21 2021, transforms Durham into a nocturnal art trail and is a sight not to be missed.
Take a step back in time
From award-winning attractions to iconic buildings, take a step back in time and discover Durham’s fascinating past.
Wander through the historic streets of Durham City to the world-famous Durham Cathedral and Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site – an Instagram-worthy view certain to take your breath away. Step inside one of Britain’s best-loved buildings and marvel at Durham Cathedral’s ground-breaking architecture; film fans might even spot locations used for scenes in blockbusters including Harry Potter and Avengers: Endgame. Dramatic Durham Castle has been occupied continuously since the 11th century, and is now home to students of University College, part of Durham University.
In Durham City’s Market Place you will discover the extraordinary Durham Town Hall, central to life in Durham City for more than 650 years, and a treasure trove of fascinating stories
Hands on history provides the perfect opportunity for family fun.
Children will be amazed by Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, as they experience the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of times gone by. Don’t miss the 1900s Town with its sweet shop, and hear terrifying tales from the dentist’s surgery!
At Locomotion discover highlights from the national collection of railway vehicles in the world’s first railway town, and get up close to incredible feats of engineering. And at Killhope, families will have fun discovering what life was like for the 19th century lead miners of the North Pennines.
For some fun in the fresh air, head to Wharton Park, Hardwick Park or Chester-le-Street Riverside Park for perfect play areas and places to explore. Or make some new furry friends at farm attractions across the county.
Durham’s great outdoors
Explore Durham’s great outdoors and discover landscapes that have inspired artists and writers through the ages.
The Durham Dales, part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and UNESCO Global Geopark, is a landscape of heather moors, dramatic dales, winding rivers, with nature and wildlife in abundance.
For a spectacular sight, head to High Force, one of England’s most impressive waterfalls. A woodland walk takes you to its base, but you will hear its roar long before it comes in to view. Or for another spectacular sight, which you could say is out of this world, enjoy an incredible night of stargazing under Durham’s dark skies.
Whatever your age or ability you will love exploring the county on two feet or two wheels.
Walking and cycling routes weave their way across the county, with everything from a leisurely stroll or ride, to challenging treks and cycle paths on offer. Hamsterley Forest is a magnet for mountain bikers - take on exhilarating trails or enjoy the forest at your own pace with its multi-user path, or head to Derwent Waterside Park to spot wildlife from the water’s edge.
Pull on your walking books and discover the Northern Saints Trails – a series of six new long-distance routes that bring to life the stories of the northern saints, or blow the cobwebs away as you explore the Durham Heritage Coast. Take the coastal path and be led through a colourful mosaic of flora and fauna, and enjoy incredible views across the North East coastline.
And even in the heart of historic Durham City there are opportunities for some tranquil time out. Take a stroll along the banks of the River Wear to view the city from a different perspective, or head to the Durham University Botanic Garden and discover something new around every corner.
Prefer shopping to sightseeing? Head to Dalton Park, the biggest outlet shopping centre in the North East. Or take in the charm of Durham City and the county’s market towns, each with their own unique shopping experience where high street favourites jostle for attention alongside independent retailers.
Get a taste of Durham
Fantastic food and drink is on the menu in Durham - from local produce, farm shops and farmers markets, to foodie events and award-winning eateries.
Durham’s city, towns and villages are home to plenty of places to eat, from fine dining destinations and hearty pub lunches, to tempting tearoom treats and cosy coffee shops. Look out for seasonal menus and local produce for a real taste of Durham.
A county blessed with both countryside and coast was certain to be home to a host of innovative producers, and their meats, cheeses, ales, spirits and more can be enjoyed at eateries or found at farm shops to enjoy later.
Make a break of it
Take a break at one of the county’s stylish hotels, historic houses, cosy B&Bs or homely cottages. And for a night under the stars, you’ll find camping, glamping and caravan sites across the county.
Whether it’s a relaxing spa break, family get-together, or a dog-friendly break with your four-legged friend – you’ll find your perfect staycation in Durham.
Discover for yourself why Durham is no ordinary county at: thisisdurham.com