Find out what life is really like at Durham University

Durham CityStudent experienceUndergraduate

Heading to Durham? Let me take you on a tour…

Tour of Durham

So you’re coming to Durham, and although you may have briefly acquainted yourself with the city by this point, perhaps on an Open Day, it’s important to get the most out of this beautiful place during your three (or four) years here.

Whether it be eating, drinking, shopping, or touristin’ – there’s lots to do, and lots of places to take the family when they arrive for that initial visit to check you’ve managed to survive on your own and are still alive!

So let us begin…

Breakfast or brunch?

Firstly, ‘brunchin’ is most definitely a highlight of Durham life, and something no longer reserved for just Instagram and Tumblr. Places to try? Flat White, their pancakes are phenomenal, and their avocado on toast is just as good! Its rustic interior and great friendly service mean it’s a must-visit. Be prepared for queues though – the average wait for a table is around half an hour!  A new branch of Flat White opened last year, right opposite the campus, look out for Whitechurch!

If waiting around isn’t your thing – Waffly near Elvet Bridge is perfect for a quick and tasty breakfast – serving both sweet and savoury waffles, and the Georgian Town House in Crossgate does the most incredible pancakes – chocolate ice cream with black cherries and fresh cream anyone?

Coffee break

Durham is renowned for its extensive list of coffee shops, and you need to try them all! I have recently discovered Leonards, which is in Fowler’s Yard, a quieter area of the city. They serve very affordable sandwiches, soups, salads and a range of delicious cakes! They also offer a variety of Hot Chocolate flavours, for example, salted caramel and chocolate orange! Can you tell why it’s my favourite?!  Flat White also has a small cafe which is under the archway near Elvet Bridge, this is good to try if the queues at Flat White Kitchen are too long and all you want is a caffeine fix.

Hit the shops

In terms of shopping (that student loan isn’t going to spend itself after all!) Durham has all of the classics, such as New Look, H&M, Next, Topshop, and Accessorise, as well as a Boots, Paperchase and Clarks. However, don’t forget to check out the charity shops to grab some bargains and find that fancy dress you’ll need throughout the year! If you are in need of some true retail therapy, however, hop on the train to Newcastle (only 15 mins and roughly £5 with a railcard) where you’ll be overwhelmed by choice!

See the sites

Besides the shopping there are those touristy bits you need to visit whilst you are here – the Cathedral is simply a stunning space and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. All Durham students matriculate and graduate in the Cathedral – and you can definitely understand how it makes it such a special occasion!

The Botanic Garden is lovely to stroll around and with your Durham University campus card allowing you free entry – it’s the perfect place for a study break!

Lastly, when summer finally arrives, make sure you rent out a rowing boat on the river and give it a try – it’s such a good laugh (you’ll get stuck in the river banks at least once I promise you) and is a true Durham experience.

If you enjoy chilling out in bars – then Durham also has lots to offer! The Library bar is my absolute favourite place to hang out in, if I’m killing an hour between lectures (and cheap – only 99p for a cup of tea!). It also doubles as a great place for drinks in the evening, or a common starting point for socials! The Boat Club is also a fab place for drinks – definitely save this one for summer though, cocktails on the balcony overlooking the river makes for a perfect evening.

Places to eat

Durham is also awash with fantastic restaurants – many of which offer student discount – always ask! Fat Hippo is my personal recommendation, fantastic burgers (and they offer a great veggie burger) and as it’s a franchise that’s isolated to Durham and Newcastle, it’s a must to experience this northern jewel whilst you are in Durham.

Lebaneat is another classic, located opposite Hatfield College, serving authentic Lebanese food. It’s reasonably priced, tasty and the restaurant is always packed – giving it a great vibe. Finally, tucked away opposite the SU, the Court Inn does a great carvery – ideal for a Sunday lunch or Christmas socials!


It’s simply impossible to mention all the bars, restaurants, cafes and coffee shops in Durham, and even I haven’t been everywhere yet (but I’m working on it – Nandon Thai is my next stop!) – if you think I’ve missed anywhere that’s really great, then let us know at

Jessica Lord

Hello! I'm Jess! from Josephine Butler College, I've just graduated with a History degree. I loved my degree because it was so wide-ranging, my modules varied from Japanese political culture - to a study of Robin Hood! I got really involved in college life, I was the elected Services Officer and I 'frepped' (fresher rep) during freshers week! I love Durham (not just for its many coffee shops!) and choosing to study here was most definitely been the right decision.

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