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“... a perfect little city.... If you have never been to Durham, go there at once. Take my car. It's wonderful.” So Bill Bryson described Durham, and he wasn’t overstating it.
Durham is packed with history: a thousand years ago, Christians seeking a permanent resting place for St Cuthbert’s body of Lindisfarne stopped here. They built a church on the site of what became Durham Cathedral, on top of a rocky outcrop bounded on three sides by the River Wear.
Durham is hilly and compact. You can walk the whole of the city centre in less than a morning (although there are plenty of walks that take you out of the city: along the river, perhaps, or out into the surrounding countryside). It’s not really walking country, though.
Durham’s shopping area is largely pedestrians-only, a mixture of small local shops, an indoor market - which is still full of local traders (books, game, hardware, fish, cheap Taiwanese tat, jewellery, you name it) - and the sadly-inevitable charity shops and chains.
But you don’t come to Durham for shopping. You come to wander around a beautiful mediaeval city; to visit the breathtakingly beautiful Cathedral; to walk down by the river (don’t wear your best shoes, or watch out for mud); to visit the Durham Light Infantry (“DLI”) Museum or the (University’s) Oriental Museum; to see the Castle; to drink Pimm’s (half-pint glasses!) at the Regatta in June; to pause in any of a number of cafés (national chains and local) and to eat in one of the range of restaurants. Durham has some chain-restaurants, but there is a number of local eateries which have been open many years and are well worth a visit. There are several very good English restaurants, and European, Italian, Indian, Thai, Japanese and Chinese cuisines are also represented.