With a whole city centre considered an area of special architectural or historic interest, Durham has one of the UK’s most enviable study locations.

It's a small and friendly city, with cobbled streets and lots of tucked away coffee shops. The cathedral and castle are in the centre of town, and the river runs around the city centre. There's a lot of green space around the city, including the Botanic Gardens which is free entry for students. Everywhere is walkable, so long as you can manage the hills! There is also a woodland behind Grey College, which is full of bluebells when you come back after Easter. Overall a very beautiful, rural, and safe city. (Second year student, Durham University)

What Durham's famous for...

Durham Cathedral

A UNESCO World Heritage site with Durham Castle, the Romanesque Cathedral has a long history of providing sanctuary to fugitives who knocked on its doors.

Durham nightlife, according to students

A big misconception is that Durham has awful nightlife. Despite not having loads and loads of clubs, there is definitely something for everybody. Most clubs will have a specific night when they are busiest (e.g. Wiff Waff Mondays and Players Wednesdays), and there are a lot of themed nights held throughout the term which are fun to go to with friends. (Second year student, Durham University)

The Durham Regatta

On the second weekend of June, thousands turn out to watch Britain’s second oldest regatta on the River Wear. ‘The Henley of the North’ goes back to 1834.

Durham nightlife, according to students

The nightlife is interesting: not your standard clubs, but you get used to it and it's nice seeing people you know there. You can easily move around clubs, and different nights have set clubs, which helps to switch it up a bit. Also, Newcastle is only 15 minutes on the train. But the main appeal of Durham is the cheap drinks in college bars. Many socials will do bar crawls along them, before the club. (Second year student, Durham University)

Narnia

Many believe that Durham’s idyllic scenery inspired C.S. Lewis’ beloved story, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (at least partially). You can decide for yourself.

Student life in Durham

Local gems, tips, and things to do, as recommended by students.
Low on cash
The Cathedral is technically free, although a donation is preferred. For food, The Library bar does special offers on different days: my favourite is Wing Wednesdays, where it's 25p per wing. (Second year student, Durham University)
Treat yourself
You could treat yourself to coffee or breakfast at Flat White. Otherwise, go for a shopping spree in Newcastle, or get the train to York or even Edinburgh, if you fancy going further afield. (Second year student, Durham University)
Friday night out
If I go out on a Friday, it would generally be to Klute. Jimmy's is also quite popular, and free entry, however it does get quite packed. (Second year student, Durham University)
Sunday chilling
The best place to view the city is Observatory Hill. Everyone goes up there after the summer ball to see the sun rise at 5am! The Botanical Gardens are free for students. (Third year student, Durham University)
When family visit
The cathedral is fantastic for both kids and adults, especially when finished with a tea and scone at Cafédral. Every two years there is the Lumiere festival, where Durham becomes home to some amazing light and optical displays. (Durham University student)
Feeling cultural
The Gala Theatre is a great place to catch the latest movies, as well as some less well known films. Student entry is only £5. Most colleges will host their own cultural and music performances so you won't need to search very far to find something you're interested in. (Durham University student)
Catch up with mates
The Swan is a popular pub for students and locals, and has a no phones rule which can be nice. Esquires is my favourite cafe as it’s relaxed and the whole upstairs is used for students to work. (Third year student, Durham University)
Grab a bite
Fat Hippo, a burger place with meat, veggie, and vegan options. It’s a North East special! The peanut butter burger is worth a try – sounds gross, actually delicious. (Durham University student)

Durham in pictures

View from Prebends Bridge

The view from Prebends Bridge, with a rowing boat passing underneath in the shadow of Durham Cathedral. (Michael Crilly, second year student at Durham University)

 

Palace Green 

Palace Green, the square outside the cathedral and castle, in the snow. Woke up to see snow on the ground, and decided to go for an early morning walk before everyone started standing in it! Durham's a very pretty place to walk around. (Douglas Brown, second year student at Durham University)

 

Living in Durham, according to students

Gilesgate can be known as the uncool area to live in in Durham. As it is one of the furthest from the science site, students tend to dismiss it completely. However, if you do humanities and don't feel a need to be going to the science site every day (or you just enjoy a daily 25-minute walk), then this is a great location. It is relatively cheaper than more central accommodations, will be quieter, and will often offer bigger houses. It also has both a Sainsbury's and a Tesco Extra nearby, and other shops like Home Bargains, Matalan, [and] TK Maxx. Quite a lot of students also live in that area, so you won't be by yourself. (Third year student, Durham University)

Observatory Hill

This was taken on Observatory Hill, a popular student spot to visit in the summer and throughout the year. After Summer Ball, many students will come up here to watch the morning sunrise. (AT, Durham University student)

Lumiere Festival

A picture from Durham's bi-annual Lumiere Festival, where I had a lovely time looking at all the brilliant displays with my friends. (Jasmine Burgess, second year student at Durham University)

Living in Durham, according to students

The Viaduct is a majority student area. It is a 20 to 25 minute-walk from the science site (where my lectures are), [and] five minutes from town, so very convenient for shopping. It is about average in terms of Durham house pricing – my house is just under £100 a week per person. The houses are quite old and pretty. There are lots of hills, but that’s true of anywhere in Durham. It’s also close to the bus station and train station. (Third year student, Durham University)

Living in Durham

Housing, travel, and budgeting tips.

Where you'll find students
  • Gilesgate
  • The Viaduct
  • Claypath
Local transport
  • Weekly ticket: £11.90
  • County Durham Student and Young Persons' Saver – Durham City
  • Bus

Student money tips

College bars are really cheap, so if you're on a tight budget, stick to them. Spags is a great restaurant for dates or meals with friends – it's cheap and has really nice food with a good ambiance. (Durham University student)

The cost of living as a student soon adds up, us our budget calculator to find out roughly how much you'll need each month.

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