With so many world-class attractions, incredible activities and unique places to visit across the county, there's no shortage of days out with a difference in Durham.

From historic sites, to breathtaking natural wonders and fascinating museums, start planning your next amazing day out in Durham, with our handy guide to top places to explore in 2024...  

The Auckland Project, Bishop Auckland, County Durham

A place of Power… and the power of nature 

The Auckland Project

Building on more than 1,000 years of history, The Auckland Project offers a collection of unique attractions, galleries, historic parkland and gardens centred around the stunning Auckland Castle, where you can follow in the footsteps of the Prince Bishops of Durham - once the most powerful men in Britain.

Immerse yourself in the Spanish Golden Age at the Spanish Gallery. Discover stories of faith in Britain spanning 6,000 years at The Faith Museum. View an intimate display of industrial art at the Mining Art Gallery, get a bird’s-eye view over the town at Auckland Tower and lose yourself in the 17th Century Walled Garden and ancient Deer Park. 

man and woman linking arms, smiling at each other walking down main Nave of Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral 

No visit to Durham is complete without a trip to Durham Cathedral. Uncover more than 1,000 years of history, visit the resting places of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede, and catch a glimpse of the treasures of St Cuthbert inside the cathedral’s museum. Take in the breathtaking views from the top of the cathedral’s central tower, or see if you can spot the many filming locations featured in the Harry Potter and Avengers Endgame movies.

group of young people sat on rocks smiling and laughing with High Force Waterfall in background.

High Force Waterfall

Experience the drama of High Force, one of England’s most spectacular waterfalls. A true force of nature, you're sure to hear the roar of the water before you see the spectacular waterfall, where the River Tees plummets 70 feet below into the gorge below. A natural phenomenon like no other, throughout history High Force has inspired many artists, photographers, poets, and nature enthusiasts with its unforgettable beauty.

Raby Castle, Staindrop Village, County Durham

Destination with a difference… and different tastes 

Raby Castle 

Raby Castle in the Durham Dales are continuing to write the next chapter of history, with an exciting new attraction - "The Rising", which will restore magnificent spaces to create a destination with a difference. Due to open in spring 2024, The Rising will include remodelled 5-acre walled gardens, restored heritage buildings, stylish shopping and new Vinery Café Restaurant showcasing local produce.

Alongside The Rising development, you'll also find an amazing range of activities to enjoy, from stepping inside the grand castle on a fascinating tour, to long walks in the Deer Park, and letting the little ones create their own adventure in The Plotter's Forest tree-top playground. 

family walking in the grounds of The Bowes Museum, with gran museum building in background.

The Bowes Museum

Expect the unexpected at The Bowes Museum, a stunning 19th century French style building, set within 22 acres of parkland in the historic market town of Barnard Castle. Housing internationally significant collections of fine art, ceramics, fashion and more, alongside an exciting events programme and ever changing exhibitions, you're certain to find something for the whole family to enjoy on a day out. 

couple eating and clinking glasses together at The Rose and Crown Inn, Romaldkirk, County Durham

Taste Durham 

Fantastic food and drink is a key ingredient for a memorable visit - from local produce, quirky farm shops and farmers markets, to fantastic foodie events, experiences and award-winning eateries, its all on the menu in Durham!

Locomotion Railway Museum, Shildon, County Durham

On track… and explore off the beaten track 

Locomotion 

Located in Shildon, the world’s first railway town, Locomotion is a free museum where you can get up close to incredible feats of engineering and historic rail vehicles from the national collection. This spring, a new exhibition hall is set to open on 24 May, which will make Locomotion home to the largest undercover collection of historic rail vehicles in Europe! 

And looking ahead to 2025, Locomotion will be at the heart of celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway – the world’s first passenger railway.

couple cycling through the Durham Dales countryside on a bright sunny day, Balderhead Reservoir, County Durham

Lose yourself in the great outdoors

Escape the hustle and bustle of daily life in Durham’s great outdoors. Whether it’s blowing away the cobwebs on the spectacular Durham Heritage Coast or exploring the wild heather moorlands and tranquil valleys of the Durham Dales – you'll find hundreds of walking and cycling trails to choose from.

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, County Durham

Travel back in time… and see light years ahead 

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

Travel back in time and enjoy unforgettable experiences at Beamish, The Living Museum of the North. This award-winning open air museum will transport you to the 1820s, early 1900s, 1940s and 1950s, with costumed folk, vintage vehicles, period buildings and traditional food and drink creating a fully immersive experience.

No matter what time of year you visit, you're certain to find fascinating exhibitions to explore, alongside an exciting events programme and hands-on experiences. And there’s more to come, with a 1950s cinema and shops, a Georgian pottery workshop and tavern, all opening soon. Plus, for the first time, visitors will be able to stay overnight in new Georgian themed accommodation.

ground of Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens on a bright sunny day

Ushaw 

On the outskirts of Durham City, you can discover centuries of art and history at Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens, a former Catholic seminary. Wander through ornate chapels adorned with exquisite stained glass windows, explore fascinating exhibitions, stroll through beautiful gardens, alongside an ever changing events programme.

view of the starry night sky at Tunstall Reservoir, County Durham and North Pennines National Landscape

Stargazing 

As the lights go down, Durham's skies come alive with dazzling displays. Large open moorland and views that stretch for miles make Durham ideal for stargazing, and the Durham Dales and North Pennines National Landscape have more nationally recognised Dark Sky Discovery Sites than any other part of the UK! Here you'll also find the state of the art Grassholme Observatory, where you can explore the wonders of the universe at workshops and events led by top astronomers throughout the year.

Memorable mentions... 

Adventure Valley - Let the kids run wild and blow off some steam as they explore six huge play zones. Whoosh down the giant slide at Runaway Ranch, zoom around the track on go-karts at Action Creek, meet the friendly farm animals, or put your skills to the test at the 18-hole cowboy-themed mini golf course. 

Bob Abley Art Gallery  - Within Spennymoor Town Hall you'll discover one of the biggest and busiest art galleries in North East England. The Bob Abley Art Gallery spans across two floors, and hosts a wide selection of art created by over 30 renowned artists. The Gallery is home to the permanent 'Coming Home' exhibition by Chris and Steve Rocks, as well as a large collection of original pieces by local artist Norman Cornish.  

Durham Fringe Festival - Returning for its fourth year, from 24 - 28 July, Durham Fringe will be taking over Durham City with a fantastic line up at many different venues across the city. From comedy and dance, to drama, music and more, there's something for everyone to enjoy 

McColl’s Brewery - Love beer? Then you'll love a look out to McColl's Craft Brewery and Taproom, in Evenwood. Here you'll find a tasty range of McColl's easy drinking craft beers to choose from, alongside a full drinks menu, ever changing array of street food, and entertainment that everyone can enjoy.   

Do Durham Differently in 2024, start planning your getaway today > 

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