What To Do In Durham: 8 Things

Table of Contents

Durham is a truly beautiful city, filled with some of the world’s finest architecture, with a famous castle and cathedral.

The city itself has a compact and friendly feel, but still has all the cafés, bars and restaurants you’d expect in a larger city.

When studying in this city, there’s plenty of activities to keep you busy, whether it’s a spot of shopping on the high-street, or a trip to The Gala Theatre, Durham has plenty of options.

To help you out, we’ve made a list of the top 8 things to in this stunning city to give you lots of entertainment whilst living in your Durham based student accommodation!

1. Durham Cathedral

Formally known as The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham is Durham Cathedral, home to the Shrine of St Cuthbert.

The Norman architecture within the cathedral is still very much intact, making the cathedral very rare and valuable.

Did you know? Durham Cathedral famously appeared in the Harry Potter film series too!

The best part is, admission for the Cathedral is completely free, but you can pay £5 to attend a guided tour if you’d prefer.

2. Durham Castle

Sitting at the heart of Durham’s World Heritage Site and occupied continuously since the 11th century, Durham Castle is now home to the students of University College, part of Durham University.

Construction of the castle began in 1072, six years after the Norman Conquest of England and was used to defend the border with Scotland and control local English rebellions.

Today, Durham Castle is a Grade I listed building and a museum, and entrance to the public is by guided tours only.

We’d highly recommend visiting here for the day, as it gives you the perfect excuse to soak up some local history!

3. Seaham Beach

Everybody loves going to the beach, especially if the sun is shining! This pleasant sandy beach with some areas of rock stretches on for around half a mile beyond the north of the town and harbour.

The beach is about a 20-minute drive by car and is worth the trip! It’s also accessible via bus/train, but you may have to allow a little bit more time as it takes slightly longer via public transport.

Did you know? Until the 1920’s, Seaham had one of the country’s largest glass factories. Almost 100 years after the plant closed, Seaham Beach is the best place to come for smooth, multi-coloured sea glass!

A regeneration of the beach has since brought the tourist trade to Seaham, with a whole bunch of quaint shops and other attractions around the harbour, it can get especially busy around summertime.

4. Crook Hall & Gardens

Crook hall, a medieval manor was built in 1217, and is one of the oldest inhabited houses in Durham city.

It’s been home to the Bell family since 1995, with a medieval hall that merges into a Jacobean Manor, which in turn merges into a stunning Georgian Townhouse.

As well as the stunning interior you can also enjoy 5 acres of pretty gardens, filled with colourful flowers.

All four seasons brings something different to the gardens, whether its dark crisp autumn leaves or buzzing bees and butterflies in the summer.

Fancy a treat? Crook Hall & Gardens in Durham have a delicious selection of afternoon tea available in the Georgian Drawing Room, Georgian Study, or one of their beautiful gardens!

5. Durham University Botanic Garden

Durham University’s 10-acre Botanic Garden is filled with stunning woodlands, on the southern outskirts of Durham city.

The garden offers a fabulous variety of landscapes to explore and discover and attracts plenty of guests throughout the year, young and old.

Take a stroll through the winter garden, alpine garden, bamboo grove and glass houses and really lose yourself in the idyllic setting.

The Botanic Garden also has a recently developed woodland garden and wild flow meadow, perfect to explore on a summer’s day.

Only a 5-minute walk from Durham University, this stunning garden is worth seeing when visiting here, whether you fancy a walk with friends, or some time to yourself to relax.  

6. Oriental Museum


The Oriental Museum is the only museum in the North of England devoted to the art and archaeology of the great cultures of Northern Africa and Asia.

Home to a huge range of artworks and archaeological artefacts, this museum has more than 36,000 objects for you to view, ranging in date from prehistory to present day.

China, Egypt, India, South Asia, Japan and Korea are just some of the locations covered at The Oriental Museum, so get yourself down there if you feel like immersing yourself in some culture on a rainy day!

7. Gala Theatre Durham


This beautiful, purpose built building is on the banks of the river Wear in the heart of this stunning city.

Whether you’re into drama performances from leading theatre companies, having a giggle at some of the biggest names in comedy, or seeing some inspiring musicians perform, Gala Theatre Durham has it all!

The Gala Theatre also create their own critically acclaimed theatre work here, including their annual pantomime, supporting young actors to develop and grow.

They also have a revamped studio space, where classic films are screened and there’s even a bar for a few alcoholic tipples!  

Each ticket for the classic cinema studio includes a free tea, coffee, or soft drink.

8. Durham Riverside Walk

This walk is perfect if you want to take in some beautiful Durham riverside scenery, it will take you around an hour to an hour and a half in total!

The full distance is approximately three miles, and passes plenty of popular eateries throughout Durham including Café On The Green and Zen and The Town House, ideal if you want a quick bite to eat.