It may be less than three hours from London by train, but the spectacular county of Durham feels a world away, with stunning landscapes that beg to be explored at any time of year.
Charming Durham City oozes history and culture, and towns and villages across the county are packed with personality. With fantastic places to eat and drink, you won’t go hungry, either. Here’s why Durham should be on your travel bucket list for when we can all holiday freely again…
The path – and trail – less travelled
With walking and cycling trails that criss-cross the county and views that stretch for miles, Durham’s great outdoors are ripe for exploring, whether on two feet or two wheels.
The Durham Dales are stiff competition for their perhaps more well-known Yorkshire counterpart. Think stunning scenery, crowd-free beauty spots, breathtaking natural wonders, including High Force – one of England’s most spectacular waterfalls – picture-perfect towns and villages, and a landscape dotted with cultural treasures.
As day turns to night, discover the majesty of Durham’s dark skies, as the county is home to 12 of the 16 official Dark Sky Discovery Sites in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which encompasses much of the Durham Dales, as well as Britain’s newest observatory at Grassholme.
Durham is packed with exciting attractions and activities to keep the kids entertained, from toddlers to teenagers. The county’s history isn’t behind glass boxes: it’s hands-on and gives families the opportunity to take a step back in time.
Beamish Museum lets you experience the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of times gone by as you explore the incredible open-air site. In the 1900s Town, be tempted by the treats in the sweet shop window and step inside the dentist’s surgery to hear terrifying tales.
At Locomotion, get up close to incredible railway vehicles and discover the fascinating story of the county’s role in the development of the railways.
There’s also plenty of family fun to be had in Durham’s great outdoors, from safe walking and cycling routes, to adrenaline pumping adventure activities and water sports. Spot wildlife from the water’s edge at Derwent Waterside Park, or go in search of the Gruffalo at Hamsterley Forest.
A culture vulture’s dream
Durham is a county brimming with culture. In historic Durham City, stroll through ancient streets to discover the breathtaking Durham Castle and Cathedral UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the Durham Dales, you will discover buildings as impressive as the exhibits within. The Bowes Museum houses internationally significant fine and decorative arts in stunning themed galleries, and at nearby Raby you will discover one of England’s finest medieval castles.
Also, The Auckland Project is set to launch more incredible attractions to join the breathtaking Auckland Castle and Mining Art Gallery, when it reopens in summer 2021.
Bucket (and spade) list
The Durham Heritage Coast is relatively undiscovered, but this stretch of coastline is so stunning we might just keep this secret to ourselves.
The Durham Coastal Footpath stretches for 11 miles and provides perfect opportunities to explore beautiful beaches, rugged cliffs and rare flora and fauna as you take in the dramatic views across the North Sea.
Stop off in the bustling harbour town of Seaham for a very unusual seaside activity – the search for sea glass. A reminder of the Victorian bottleworks factories which used to thrive in the area, pretty glass pebbles wash up on shore having been shaped and smoothed by the sea over decades.
A taste of Durham
A haven for foodies, Durham is home to an abundance of delicious local produce created by innovative producers, from cheese and meats, to real ale and gin.
Dine at a Taste Durham accredited eatery, a sign of great food and service, and enjoy seasonal menus packed with local produce that reflect the stunning surroundings.
Get a taste of Durham to take home at farm shops and farmers’ markets across the county – and don’t miss the county’s annual food festivals at Bishop Auckland and Seaham for fantastic foodie experiences.
And if you still need convincing as to why Durham should be on your travel bucket list, the UK’s largest light festival, Lumiere, is set to return in November 2021 to transform the city in spectacular fashion once again.
What’s more, spellbinding outdoor live action show Kynren will also return in the summer to take audiences on a journey through 2,000 years of history, myth and legend, whilst sports fans will be bowled over by the return of top class cricket to the Emirates Riverside.
And if you prefer shopping to sport, the county is also home to the region’s biggest outlet shopping centre – Dalton Park.
Discover more about Durham and plan a staycation that will definitely be Worth the Wait here