Durham (England)

Durham is a city in the county of County Durham in North East England.

It is a cathedral city with a fine Norman Castle, dating from 1073 (currently a college of Durham University and the oldest student accommodation in the world) and lies within a loop of the River Wear, locally known as The Peninsula.

Durham Cathedral

Bill Bryson was quite taken by Durham, writing in Notes from a Small Island (1995), "Why, it's a perfect little city. If you have never been to Durham, go there at once. Take my car. It's wonderful." The compliment was returned in 2004 when Durham University made Bryson its Chancellor.

Get in

By train

Best arrive by train for breath-taking high view of the city. Trains run on the East Coast Main Line from London Kings Cross and York as far as Newcastle upon Tyne and Edinburgh. Trains also run from lots of other places including Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. Durham train station is a short walk from the city centre and is connected to the Cathedral by the Cathedral Bus, which operates every twenty minutes from circa 0700 to 1740. An all-day ticket costs 50p.

By car

By road, Durham is easily reached from the A1(M). From December 2005, a Park & Ride service has operated from three sites on the outskirts of the city centre. Most useful of which is the Belmont Park & Ride, located approximately 300 yards from junction 62 of the A1(M), towards Sunderland on the A690. A bus service operates every twenty minutes between the Park & Ride and the city centre, 0700 – 1900 hours. There is no free parking in the City Centre, although there are several car parks, and solar powered meters everywhere. There is free parking at all 3 Park & Ride centres, but the P&R bus is £1.70 per person. This includes use of all P&R buses for the day. The P&R is highly recommended as Durham was not built for today's traffic. As a result it is very congested, although cars are generally kept away from the main shopping areas with the help of the country's first congestion charge. The congestion charge is £2 and runs from 10:00 - 16:00 on exit (i.e. you may enter at any time without charge - you are only charged to leave the congestion charge zone between 10:00 and 16:00). Payment is by coin only.

By coach

Durham's Bus Station is served by National Express, Classic Coaches (on their Blackpool to Newcastle service; formerly Primrose Coaches) and some other Summer only services.

By bus

Durham is connected to the rest of the North East by plentiful bus services operated by Arriva North East and Go North East.

Travel times for buses from Durham are available from Traveline or 0871 200 2233.

By sea

North Shields ferry terminal is around 30 km distant and has daily services to and from Amsterdam and a number of Scandinavian ports, operated by FjordLine and DFDS. Travel time to Durham is approximately one hour using the free bus to Newcastle Central Station and a short train trip (around £5), or forty minutes for a taxiride (around £30).

By air

Newcastle Airport is around 40 km North of Durham and is served by many carriers and offers many domestic and medium-haul routes. It is connected to Newcastle Central Station by the Tyne and Wear Metro. Journey time to Durham is around one hour and will cost around £7.

Durham Tees Valley Airport (formerly Teesside Airport as seen on many road signs) is around 40 km South of Durham and was renamed 'Durham' to attract more customers, however it is probably the least convenient option. It is served by mostly charter airlines in the summer only to European resorts, though there are year round services domestically and to Amsterdam. Trains run between Darlington and Durham up to four times an hour and a single fare is around £5. (Durham Tees Valley Airport has its own railway station, but as of 2006, plans to start a regular service have yet to get off the drawing board).

Manchester Airport around 230 km, but with a very efficient hourly train service direct from the airport to Durham. Manchester is one of the main airports in England, serving all of Europe, many domestic locations and some transatlantic and long haul routes such as New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Singapore. Single rail fare is around £45, 65€, but can be less than a third of this if booked in advance. Journey time approximately 3h.

Get around

The centre of Durham is compact, with small roads and the only congestion charge in the UK outside London (actually the first such charge [£2] in the UK, beating London by a few months). There is no need to drive, and parking away from the Park & Ride sites is expensive and in short supply. Traffic can also be extremely heavy in the City Centre at peak times, owing to Durham's cramped mediaeval town planning and, for the non-initiated, driving can be daunting.

For visitors with reduced mobility a Shopmobility scheme operates from the Prince Bishop's Shopping Centre Car Park, but disabled visitors should bear in mind that Durham's pavements are narrow, winding and in some places very steep and many roads are cobbled.


Durham Castle

There are a number of sites worth visiting in Durham:




Durham has all the eateries one would expect to find in any City: the usual burger joints and sandwich shops, but Durham has some hidden gems and supposedly the most restaurants per capita in the country. Particularly worth a mention are:

Tea, Coffee & Cakes




In general, it is only necessary to reserve a table on Friday and Saturday nights. However, around graduation and the start and end of University terms, things can get tight.


Durham is equally as well-served when it comes to watering holes, with more than forty within a mile radius of the Cathedral. Drinking is a major pastime of Durham residents and students alike, and alcohol is very reasonably priced due to competition for student custom:

Durham isn't fantastically well endowed with nightclubs, but should this be your scene then worth a mention are:


Accommodation is in very short supply in Durham, with most being expensive hotel accommodation. During the university holidays, it is possible to stay in some of the college buildings, including the Castle. Accommodation is more plentiful in nearby Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead, with easy access to Durham by rail and road.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 19, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.