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Durham City

In Durham City you're among some of the world's finest architecture. This is a truly beautiful city, where the famous Castle and Cathedral - together designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site - dominate the skyline. Depending on which college you belong to, you could be based right in the historic centre of the City or just a short walk away in one of our purpose-built, landscaped colleges. 

With a population of around 43,000 Durham has a compact, friendly feel but still provides the facilities you would expect of a thriving city including excellent cafés, bars and restaurants. We're only ten minutes away from Newcastle by train, here you'll find a wide range of choices for entertainment, culture and shopping. It really is the best of both worlds.

Around Durham City

In Durham City, you will find there is a mix of popular high-street shops (such as Next, Topshop, New Look, Jack Wills, M&S and WHSmith to name but a few) and individual boutiques with their own ranges of goods. The Milburngate development will bring new bars, restaurants and cinemas to Durham from 2018 providing a further leisure destination within the City.

The Gala Theatre and Cinema in the City’s Millennium Square hosts a range of national touring productions as well as amateur shows from student and local groups. For comedy fans, the Comedy Store features big names from the stand-up scene.

And of course there is a busy entertainment programme organised through the University’s colleges and Durham Students’ Union. For example, our sketch group, Durham Revue produces a new show each term and the best material from each year’s shows goes to the Edinburgh Fringe. The Durham Revue recently won the Edinburgh Underbelly Sketch Off and National Student Best University Sketch Group.

There is also a highly successful public concert series, Musicon, which showcases international professional musicians. Many of our colleges also stage theatre and music productions for all tastes, to which all students are welcome.

As well as the spectacular architecture around the City, you can also enjoy some fascinating museums. The Oriental Museum specialises in all the major civilisations of the East, from Egypt to Japan. We are also home to the Durham Book Festival; we work very closely with the organisers and support a Festival Laureate – every year a diverse range of major writers come here to read their work in venues around the City.

The City also plays host to the hugely popular Lumiere Festival. The largest light festival in the UK, this spectacular array of installations and projections illuminates Durham’s buildings, streets and bridges attracting thousands of visitors to the City.

For those moments when you seek a bit of tranquillity, there are plenty of green spaces around and many quiet walks to enjoy, especially along the leafy banks of the River Wear. For the more adventurous you can also hire a rowing boat here or take the Prince Bishop river cruiser.

The University’s Botanic Garden on the southern side of the City, and close to many of our colleges, is an oasis of calm. Set in 25 acres of mature woodland, the Botanic Garden also hosts many student events in summer and has a coffee shop on-site. It often holds exhibitions and other events of interest, making it a great place to relax or spend time with friends. Many students find it is a peaceful place to escape to during busy periods to help relax and unwind.

“I decided to come to Durham University mainly because of its reputation for academic excellence and the college system. I was also really drawn to the traditional feel of the University, and the low cost of living up North. As a city-girl, I love the fact that Durham is small enough for me to walk wherever I need. It’s a gorgeous place to live and the scenery never fails to brighten my day.”

Maroshini Krishna Morgan, Law, St Chad’s College

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