Durham [UK]: practical guide

Durham

As I mentioned in my previous post, we spent a few days in Durham, in the northeast of England, in early December. I was looking forward to visiting Durham because of the cathedral and truth be told, we loved the city. People are very polite as in the rest of Britain but, in my experience, northerners had a friendlier attitude.

Durham

How we got there

We drove from the South West but if you’re in London, you can take the East Coast Railway from King’s Cross.

Durham

Where we slept

We stayed at the Marriott Royal County Hotel. This hotel has a great location at the foot of the Elvet foot bridge, which took us straight into the old town, the prettiest part of Durham. The hotel’s oldest bits date back to the 17th century but it has all manner of modern conveniences, although floors creaked at every step.

Durham

Where we ate

Vennels Café, a tea house set in an ancient building, is one of those places everyone recommends. We got there 30 minutes before closing time but they were already closing. We left and never came back. It looked twee, anyway. We randomly chose a café called Lounge and it ended up being a great find: good coffee and delicious tapas.

A fellow blogger recommended Flat White Kitchen, which turned out to be a fantastic place for breakfast (we chose Marriott points over the breakfast buffet). Every dish was delightful and very fresh, from the eggs Benedict to the house made granola.

Durham

We asked the publican at the Shakespeare for dinner recommendations. He directed us to Lebaneat, where we had the most amazing Lebanese feast.

As to pubs, we patronized the Market Tavern, right next to the Marketplace, a charming Victorian pub. The Shakespeare Pub is said to be one of the most haunted pubs in England. The buildings, or parts of it, dates back to 1109. An inn was in place by 1468. I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary, but then, I never do. We chatted with a man from Newcastle, whose Geordie accent was especially difficult for me because he was drunk, for which he apologized profusely.

What we did

Have I mentioned the cathedral yet? I was in awe of its history and architecture.

We strolled around the winding streets of the historic centre and wondered how the old crooked buildings are still standing.

We walked along the River Wear and around the peninsula. It sounds like a long trek but it actually is not, it’s a relatively short and easy one. We saw the cathedral and the castle from below, an ancient mill on the river, students rowing, the 1877 Durham University Boat Club’s boathouses, and the beautiful old bridges across the Wear: Framwellgate, Elvet, Prebends and the modern monstrosity of Kingsgate.

Durham

We bought two paintings and a papercut by local artists from the lovely young lady who mans the framing shop next to the Shakespeare Pub.

We visited the Market Place, a Victorian covered market with all kinds of merchandise for sale, from haberdashery to wild game.

Durham

I strongly recommend you add Durham to your itinerary on your next trip to the UK.

Thank you, Weekend Candy, for the recs!

Durham, in the northeast of England, is a beautiful medieval town with lots to see and do and great places to eat, as well as an imposing cathedral.

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