With swathes of greenery and the River Wear looping through its historic centre, Durham is one of England’s prettiest cities. Its glorious cathedral is a pilgrimage site, traditionally to the shrine of St Cuthbert and, more recently, for ‘Harry Potter’ fans seeking Professor McGonagall’s classroom and other magical delights. It’s pleasingly easy to find your bearings in the city without getting lost. But be warned: it’s pretty hilly.
RECOMMENDED: 15 brilliant day trips from London
Travel back to 1920s Shanghai for drinks and nibbles at The Rabbit Hole, Durham’s newly opened speakeasy tucked down tiny Mavin Street. Or squeeze inside The Tin of Sardines, (possibly) the world’s tiniest gin bar which stocks more than 300 different brands. Beer aficionados should book a tour of Durham Brewery.
You can enjoy the city’s leafy scenery with a stroll along the Durham Riverside Walk at any time of year. From November 14 to 17, Lumiere returns to the city for its tenth anniversary. The spectacular light festival and art trail draws thousands of visitors.
Put on your sensible shoes and brave all 325 steps of Durham Cathedral Tower. It reopened this summer and, once you’ve puffed your way up there, the stunning view from the roof really does make the winding, wonky, wobbly route feel like a stairway to heaven.
Enhance your jaunt with a stay at Forty Winks. The guest house is an eccentric combination of vintage touches, carnival-esque shocks and a zoo’s worth of taxidermy. The rooms and suites, however, are rather more reserved – think low-key decadence with lots of doughy white pillows. The Second Floor Suite offers awesome views of the cathedral, which seems like it’s within touching distance. Drag yourself away for a hearty breakfast of avo, eggs and salsa on toast. Now you’re ready to climb the cathedral tower! From £110 a night.