Five Unusual Places To Visit In Durham

21st July 2017

Durham has garnered a reputation over the years for being one of the UK’s premier locations for study. It is not only high in the rankings for the top 100 universities in the world, but also has great sporting facilities. But what can you get up to when you aren’t studying?

There are many places you can visit in Durham, but we have picked some of the more unusual spots, so you can enjoy the full experience of the city. After all, every city has its quirks, and the Collegiate team are here to help you find Durham’s.

Out Of The Ordinary Attractions In Durham

The Vennels

An unusually easy outing is to go for walk around the tight and winding alleyways. You will find intriguing insight into the city's past and the hidden architectural gems around the city.

On your way, ensure that you don't miss the old Town Hall off Market Square, and discover its majestic interior.

Also, if you want to find out a little bit more about the history of the city overall, why not visit the Durham World Heritage site to learn more about Durham Cathedral and Castle, built after the Norman conquest?

The Covered Market

Another thing to do on your way round the Vennels, is visit the Covered Market, which is always a bustling hive of activity. It has a range of stalls, from fish, cheese and meat offerings to shoe stands. You might even be able to snag yourself a cheap, handy deal during your visit.

If you are keen to learn more about the unusual individuals who have helped Durham to become one of the most prestigious cities in the country, then this is a great place to do so. Indeed, the market includes figures such as Bishop Desmond Tutu and Bobby Robson, listed above the fish counter. These two historical figures belonged to Durham’s Freemen, who in medieval times were members of craftsmen's and trades' guilds (the equivalent of a trade union).

Durham University's Oriental Museum and the Botanic Gardens

If you are studying at the university then you may well have heard about the Oriental Museum and Botanic Gardens, but not yet visited them. However, when it comes to finding things to do in Durham that are out of the ordinary, they don’t come more fascinating than this.

The gardens are simply stunning, especially in the summer months, and the Oriental Museum has a range of interesting and interactive exhibitions, with the collections originating from North Africa to South East Asia.

So, why not enjoy your time away from your studies guilt-free by learning something? Find out about ancient Chinese tombs, or attend a pottery workshop. Whatever you are looking for there are activities all year long.

The Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum exists as its own entity but has always been affiliated with Durham University since it was founded way back in 1833. It is regularly ranked one of the top two Archaeology departments in the UK. The museum is another attraction that many students overlook when studying in the city, but some of the exhibitions and artefacts are absolutely fascinating.

The original archaeology museum was a Victorian collection of natural history specimens and foreign antiquities. William Proctor was the museum’s very first curator and was appointed "to the charge of the Birds in the Museum" in 1834 at a fixed income of £25.

Proctor was a carpenter's apprentice who developed a love and interest in natural history, and went on to specialise in taxidermy, which you can see in all its glory when you visit this very unusual Durham attraction. The exhibits include a stuffed lion, a polar bear's foot and, rather oddly, hair balls from a cow’s stomach.

Durham’s Waterfalls and Reservoirs

One doesn’t conventionally associate a city with waterfalls, but the city and its surrounding rural areas are actually outstandingly beautiful.

The High Force Waterfall should be top of your list of places to visit in Durham. It is regarded as the highlight of the River Tees, and you can actually get to these areas via public transport. However, we do recommend that you make a day of it and trek through some of the best countryside the UK has to offer.

There is also the Low Force Waterfall and several trout fisheries in the area, all making Durham’s waterfalls and reservoirs one of the best things to witness, especially for students new to the region.

So, those were a few of our top tips to take note of when it comes to finding unusual things to do in Durham. However, both the country and the city have all sorts of great attractions ready for you to explore during your time there.

You can find out more about the merits of studying at Durham University by visiting their website. If you would like to see some of our luxury student accommodation in Durham, then be sure to take a look at our dedicated page.

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