Emerge from an East Coast train and plunge into Durham’s world of turrets, towers and teashops. A warren of labyrinthine medieval passageways knits this compact city together, its breathtaking hilltop cathedral and castle in sight at every turn.

Our top attraction

Don’t miss Durham’s standout attraction: the sandstone 11th century Romanesque cathedral that looms over the city from its Palace Green peninsula. Turn up for a tour of its rust-patterned columns and vaulted ceilings to hear its dramatic history. Hike up the Lantern tower for panoramic views, or simply do as the locals do and enjoy the serenity of the hushed cathedral cloisters.

Best for nightlife

Fans of old-fashioned pubs amble to the Viaduct area of the city where some of the pleasingly traditional alehouses make the Rover’s Return look modern. Think Sam Smith brews, ornate wooden bars and friendly staff bantering from behind a lamp-lit bar.

Best for dining

The city where English mustard was perfected knows a thing or two about flavour. Find out for yourself as you wind your way through Market Place to the delis and restaurants along Claypath. This historic street was once lined with artisan workshops and pilgrims heading to the cathedral, but now teems with great places to eat.

Best for shopping

Durham’s compactness means you can easily walk around its shopping quarter north of the castle. Wander down Saddler Street’s medieval cobbles where arty boutiques sit next to cosy cafés and antiques emporia.