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Discover Durham with megabus

The city of Durham is as picturesque as it gets, thanks to its location in a meandering loop of the River Wear. As the river winds back on itself through the city you essentially get two sets of riverbanks to choose from, which means double the number of pretty waterside restaurants, pubs and walks. One of the city’s biggest draws – Durham University – sits below the bottom of the loop, with a huge collection of historic colleges, including one in a Norman castle. Add to that a cathedral so gorgeous it was used to film huge chunks of Harry Potter, and you’ve got yourself a long list of reasons to visit.

Durham: top 3 things to do

1. Climb to the top of Durham Cathedral

The narrow, winding staircase that takes you to the top of Durham Cathedral’s central tower has 325 steps, so it’s not for the faint-hearted. But if you’re prepared to put the legwork in you can look forward to bird’s-eye views of the cathedral and cloister from the top, not to mention city vistas that stretch all the way to the Angel of the North on a clear day. It costs £7.50, and children go free.

2. Wander through Durham University Botanic Gardens

While Durham’s many university colleges dominate the south of the city, the botanic garden at their eastern edge is an attraction in itself. Wrapped in 25 acres of woodland, this pretty pocket of greenery is filled with plants, sculptures and glasshouses that are wall-to-wall with tropical blooms and cacti. When you need a little break from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, this is the place to be.

3. Go for a slap-up brunch

Durham does a great line in top brunch spots, so you’re spoilt for choice if you’re here and you’re hungry. Flat White Kitchen is a must-visit, for starters – this cavernous coffee shop serves up avo on toast, pillowy pancakes and a delicious ham hock hash in a renovated 17th century townhouse. Riverview Kitchen is another one to watch if you like your brunch served with waterside views.


Durham: getting around

The megabus drops you off at Durham University’s Palatine Centre bus stop. If you’re heading into the city centre it’s about a ten-minute walk from here. If you’re a Durham University student, you can use the shuttle bus to get to locations like the train station and the students’ union.

If you’re visiting different areas in the city, there are some handy public transport options. Durham Cathedral bus, for example, connects Durham train station and the coach park with key locations like the city centre, market place and Durham Cathedral and Castle. Tickets cost £1. If you’re exploring outside of the city, there are also special tourist buses running to the Durham Dales and Durham Heritage Coast in peak season.

Durham: best for nightlife

Durham’s watering holes span everything from teeny tiny gin bars – Tin of Sardines, we’re looking at you – to classic pubs like The Dun Cow and The Half Moon Inn. Start on Old Elvet and head into the city centre crossing Elvet Bridge and you can take your pick.

There’s lots on at the Gala Theatre, from big-name comedians in the theatre to blockbuster screenings in the cinema. And it’s worth keeping an eye out for the Full Moon Street Food Market, which tends to run once a month. There’s live music and loads of food and drinks stalls, and it runs from 4-9PM.

Durham: best for shopping

You’re all set for some serious shopping in Durham – this place has plenty places to splash the cash. As well as a clutch of high street stores and cafés, Prince Bishops Place is home to Umbrella Street. As the name suggests, it’s hung with a canopy of colourful umbrellas. And there’s plenty more in the way of shops at The Riverwalk, which also lines up an Odeon Luxe and a range of restaurants with riverside views.

The shops around central Saddler Street and the roads leading off it are a good shout for independents. Circle Vintage Durham stocks flamboyant retro fashion, and you can pick up second-hand reads at the People’s Bookshop Durham.


Durham for free – our top 3

1. Take a riverside walk

Fancy taking in the River Wear? You can do a three-mile circular walk in about an hour and a half, starting from Green Lane, just off Old Elvet. Download a map and it’ll take you along the riverside and through the city, ticking off plenty of Instagrammable cathedral views along the way.

2. Live out your Harry Potter dreams at Durham Cathedral

Harry, Ron and Hermione walked the Cloister corridors between Hogwarts lessons in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. And the Cloister Garth – the grassy square in the middle – featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. There are loads more filming locations you can tick off at the cathedral, and entry is free – although they do suggest a donation if you can.

3. Soak up the view from Wharton Park

Right next to the train station, Wharton Park is the place to head for yet more in the way of great Durham views – this time including the cathedral instead of from it. The park is elevated above the city below, so you get sweeping views as well as a café, kids’ play area and plenty of space so spread out your picnic blanket just a stone’s throw from the city centre. 

Book your Durham coach tickets using the journey planner at the top of this page.