Natural Sciences graduate Sophie tells us about her six favourite things to do in Durham. If you have a spare hour or two and want to take your mind off revision, enjoy some fresh air, beautiful scenery or be inspired by some culture, then follow Sophie’s tips for enjoying some much needed time off.
1 – Oriental Museum
The only museum in the North of England entirely dedicated to the art and archaeology of Northern Africa and Asia, Durham’s Oriental Museum offers an intriguing insight into the ancient cultures of the world. Buddha’s Birthday Festival occurs on Saturday 18th May with crafts, meditation, talks on Buddhism and traditional Buddha Bathing, a perfect break from exams! If that wasn’t enough of an excuse, entry to the Oriental Museum is free for Durham University students with your campus card.
2 – Durham Market
Break up your weekend workload and visit Durham’s outdoor market. Held every Saturday, the market boasts a range of stalls and local food stands which provide a pleasant change to university dining. The food market offers a variety of cuisines from the humble hog roast to veggie specialities, and a wide selection of confectionery! Pick up some of your weekly essentials from the fruit or bread stalls, or browse the vintage clothes and selections of handmade goods.
3 – Rowing Boats
Make the most of the lovely weather this week by hiring a rowing boat with friends. Head down to the riverside by the Boatclub where you can hire a boat from Brown’s by the hour and enjoy a relaxing row along the river and see Durham from a new perspective. Bonus if you bring some birdseed to feed the countless ducks, just watch out for University rowers speeding up the River Wear!
Much like Newcastle with their Greggs, Durham has a surplus of cafés ranging from quaint locally owned businesses to big names like Starbucks and Costa. Pop into any one of them to take a break from work, or bring it with you for a change of study scenery.
Esquires is great for a student budget and offers a variety of hot and cold drinks – don’t forget to claim your student discount! If cake is your thing 9 Alters is the place to go but my personal favourite is Vennels, situated behind Waterstones bookshop. This hidden gem is a great cosy getaway from the hustle and bustle of the library.
Durham has loads of lovely cafes read Jess’s blog for some more tips on where to go.
6 – Botanic Garden
Located on the hill not far from the library, the Botanic Garden is a great free break (with your campus card) for anyone who just fancies a walk, coffee or brushing up on their plant knowledge. Right now is a great time to visit the Garden as many of the plants are just coming into bloom. Take the time to visit the tropical greenhouse, complete with rainforest rain and orchids, as well as a cacti room. The Garden is always changing so you’ll see something different every time you visit!
7 – Durham Cathedral
Of course, we couldn’t do an article on things to do on your Durham study break without mentioning the Cathedral! Built to hold the Shrine of St Cuthbert in 1093, this magnificent building has truly stood the test of time. Take a stroll through history and marvel at the architecture, visit the tombs of saints, or just take a time out in the Cathedral café. For Lego lovers, there’s a scale model of the Cathedral, or for those of you who are fans of Harry Potter, head to the cloisters to discover the place where Harry and co. frequented, more recently The Avengers Endgame movie was filmed here! After major restoration work, the central tower reopens from Saturday 1 June, conquer the 325 steps and enjoy spectacular views over the historic city of Durham and see the recently-completed restoration work up close.