7 Unusual Things To Do In Durham UK – 2024 Ultimate Guide


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Durham, UK, is a charming city known for its historic architecture and picturesque landscapes. However, beyond the traditional tourist attractions, there are plenty of unusual things to do in Durham that offer a unique and memorable experience. From exploring hidden tunnels beneath the city to attending quirky events, Durham has something for every adventurous traveler. Join us as we uncover the most intriguing and offbeat activities that will make your visit to Durham truly unforgettable.

Visit the Durham Cathedral

Essential Information

– Address: The College, Durham DH1 3EH, United Kingdom
– Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 9:30 am – 5:00 pm, Sunday 12:30 pm – 5:00 pm
– Fee: Free entry, donations welcome
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History enthusiasts, architecture lovers, religious pilgrims

Why is it so unusual

The Durham Cathedral stands out as a unique tourist attraction due to its intriguing features and activities that offer visitors a distinctive experience. One of the unusual aspects of the cathedral is the opportunity to participate in guided rooftop tours. These tours allow visitors to climb the narrow spiral staircase to the top of the central tower, providing breathtaking panoramic views of Durham and the surrounding landscapes.

Another uncommon activity at the Durham Cathedral is the chance to attend one of their regular organ recitals. The cathedral boasts a magnificent organ with a rich history, and listening to a recital in this historic setting is a truly memorable experience for music enthusiasts.

For those interested in history and archaeology, the cathedral offers special behind-the-scenes tours that delve into the hidden corners and lesser-known stories of this ancient building. Visitors can explore the crypt, climb the medieval tower, and learn about the cathedral’s fascinating past from knowledgeable guides.

Additionally, the Durham Cathedral hosts occasional evening events such as candlelit tours and concerts, creating a magical atmosphere that showcases the cathedral in a different light. These unique events provide a chance to experience the cathedral in a more intimate and enchanting setting.

Overall, the Durham Cathedral’s blend of architectural grandeur, historical significance, and unusual activities make it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a distinctive and enriching experience in Durham, UK.

Explore the Durham University Botanic Garden

Essential Information

– Address: South Rd, Durham DH1 3TN, United Kingdom
– Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM (Monday to Friday)
– Fee: £4 for adults, £3 for seniors, free for children under 16
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, botany enthusiasts

Why is it so unusual

The Durham University Botanic Garden offers a unique experience for visitors seeking something beyond the ordinary. While many botanical gardens focus solely on showcasing a wide variety of plants and flowers, this garden goes a step further by providing interactive and educational activities that set it apart from the rest.

One of the most unusual attractions at the Durham University Botanic Garden is the opportunity to participate in guided plant identification walks led by expert botanists. These walks allow visitors to learn about the diverse plant species housed within the garden and gain a deeper understanding of their characteristics and uses.

For those looking for a hands-on experience, the garden also offers workshops on botanical illustration, where visitors can learn the art of capturing the intricate details of plants through drawing and painting. This unique activity provides a creative outlet for visitors while allowing them to appreciate the beauty of nature in a new way.

In addition to these activities, the Durham University Botanic Garden hosts special events throughout the year, such as plant sales and themed exhibitions, making each visit a fresh and exciting experience. Whether you’re a seasoned botany enthusiast or simply looking to explore something different, this garden offers a truly unusual and enriching experience for all.

Take a guided ghost tour of Durham

Essential Information

– Address: Durham, UK
– Opening hours: Evenings, check with tour operator for specific times
– Fee: Varies, typically around £15-£20 per person
– Visit duration: Approximately 1.5-2 hours
– Ideal for: Thrill-seekers, history enthusiasts

Why is it so unusual

When visiting Durham, one of the most unusual yet thrilling activities you can partake in is taking a guided ghost tour of the city. Unlike traditional sightseeing tours, a ghost tour delves into the darker side of Durham’s history, focusing on eerie tales and spooky encounters that are sure to send shivers down your spine.

As you walk through the dimly lit streets of Durham, your knowledgeable guide will regale you with chilling stories of the city’s haunted past. From ghostly apparitions spotted in ancient buildings to mysterious sounds echoing through the night, each stop on the tour will leave you questioning the supernatural.

One of the highlights of the ghost tour is a visit to Durham Castle, where ghostly sightings have been reported over the years. As you explore the castle grounds under the cloak of darkness, be prepared for unexpected encounters and unexplained phenomena that will leave you questioning the boundaries between the living and the dead.

For those brave enough to embark on this eerie adventure, a guided ghost tour of Durham offers a unique and unforgettable experience that will leave you with lasting memories of the city’s haunted history. So, if you’re looking to add a touch of mystery and excitement to your visit to Durham, don’t miss the opportunity to explore its spectral side on a spine-tingling ghost tour.

Discover the hidden tunnels beneath Durham Castle

Essential Information

– Address: Durham Castle, Palace Green, Durham DH1 3RW, UK
– Opening Hours: Tours available on select days, check website for details
– Fee: Admission fee required, check website for current prices
– Visit Duration: Approximately 1 hour
– Ideal for: History enthusiasts, adventure seekers

Why is it so unusual

Durham Castle, a historic fortress perched atop a hill overlooking the River Wear, is renowned for its grandeur and medieval charm. However, hidden beneath its imposing facade lies a secret world waiting to be explored – a network of mysterious tunnels that wind their way beneath the castle grounds.

Visitors to Durham Castle can embark on a guided tour that takes them deep underground, where they can uncover the secrets of these ancient passageways. Unlike typical castle tours that focus on grand halls and towering battlements, exploring the hidden tunnels offers a unique perspective on the castle’s history and architecture.

As you venture through the dimly lit tunnels, you’ll encounter intriguing features such as hidden chambers, narrow staircases, and ancient graffiti etched into the stone walls. The eerie atmosphere adds to the sense of adventure, making this experience truly unforgettable.

For those seeking a break from the ordinary tourist attractions, the hidden tunnels beneath Durham Castle offer a glimpse into a lesser-known aspect of the castle’s past. Whether you’re a history buff fascinated by medieval architecture or simply looking for a one-of-a-kind adventure, exploring these underground passages is sure to leave you with a newfound appreciation for Durham’s rich heritage.

Attend a performance at the Gala Theatre

Essential Information

– Address: Millennium Place, Durham, DH1 1WA, UK
– Opening hours: Varies based on performance schedule
– Fee: Ticket prices vary
– Visit duration: Depends on the length of the performance
– Ideal for: Theater enthusiasts, culture seekers

Why is it so unusual

When visiting Durham, one of the most unusual yet captivating experiences you can partake in is attending a performance at the Gala Theatre. This cultural hub offers a unique blend of entertainment that sets it apart from traditional tourist attractions in the area.

The Gala Theatre is not just a venue for typical plays or musicals; it also hosts a diverse range of performances, including stand-up comedy shows, live music concerts, and interactive workshops. This eclectic mix of events ensures that there is always something new and exciting happening at the theater.

Moreover, the Gala Theatre prides itself on showcasing local talent, providing a platform for emerging artists and performers to shine. By attending a performance here, you not only get to enjoy top-notch entertainment but also support the vibrant arts scene in Durham.

In addition to its regular programming, the Gala Theatre often collaborates with community groups and schools to offer innovative and thought-provoking performances that challenge conventional norms. This commitment to pushing boundaries and exploring new artistic territories makes every visit to the Gala Theatre a truly unique and enriching experience.

So, if you’re looking to step outside the usual tourist activities and delve into the vibrant cultural scene of Durham, attending a performance at the Gala Theatre is a must-do. Whether you’re a theater aficionado or simply curious to explore something different, the Gala Theatre promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you inspired and entertained.

Explore the Durham Dales

Essential Information

– Address: Durham Dales, Durham, UK
– Opening Hours: Varies by attraction
– Fee: Some attractions may have entry fees
– Visit Duration: Half-day to full-day
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts

Why is it so unusual

The Durham Dales offer a unique blend of natural beauty and intriguing attractions that set it apart from typical tourist destinations. One of the most unusual activities to experience in the Durham Dales is exploring the hidden underground world of the Killhope Lead Mining Museum. Delve into the depths of the historic mine shafts and learn about the harsh realities of 19th-century mining life.

For a different kind of adventure, head to the High Force Waterfall, one of England’s highest waterfalls, where you can witness the sheer power of nature as water cascades over the rugged cliffs. The rugged terrain of the Durham Dales also provides the perfect setting for off-road cycling, offering adrenaline-pumping trails and stunning views along the way.

If you’re looking for a taste of local culture, don’t miss the Bowes Museum, a grand French-style chateau housing an impressive collection of art and decorative objects. The museum’s eclectic mix of exhibits, including the iconic Silver Swan automaton, offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s history and heritage.

Whether you’re exploring underground mines, chasing waterfalls, or immersing yourself in art and culture, the Durham Dales promise a truly unusual and unforgettable travel experience.

Visit the Oriental Museum

Essential Information

– Address: Elvet Hill, Durham DH1 3TH, UK
– Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Tuesday to Sunday)
– Fee: £5 for adults, £1 for children
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History enthusiasts and cultural explorers

Why is it so unusual

The Oriental Museum in Durham, UK, stands out as an unusual tourist attraction due to its unique collection of artifacts and immersive cultural experiences. Unlike traditional museums, the Oriental Museum offers visitors a chance to engage in hands-on activities and interactive displays that bring the history and traditions of the East to life.

One of the standout features of the museum is the opportunity to participate in traditional Chinese calligraphy workshops. Visitors can try their hand at this ancient art form under the guidance of skilled instructors, gaining insight into the intricate strokes and symbolism behind each character.

For those interested in Japanese culture, the museum offers tea ceremony demonstrations where guests can learn about the meticulous rituals and etiquette involved in preparing and serving matcha tea. This immersive experience provides a glimpse into the refined traditions of Japan and allows visitors to appreciate the beauty and precision of this ancient practice.

Another unusual aspect of the Oriental Museum is its collection of rare and exquisite textiles from across Asia. Visitors can marvel at intricately embroidered garments, delicate silk fabrics, and colorful tapestries that showcase the rich artistic heritage of the region. The museum’s textile exhibitions offer a fascinating glimpse into the craftsmanship and creativity of Asian artisans throughout history.

In addition to these unique experiences, the Oriental Museum also hosts special events and cultural festivals that celebrate the diverse heritage of Asia. From traditional dance performances to storytelling sessions, visitors have the opportunity to engage with living traditions and connect with the vibrant cultures that inspire the museum’s collections.

Overall, the Oriental Museum offers a one-of-a-kind journey through the art, history, and traditions of the East, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a truly immersive and enlightening cultural experience.

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