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15 Most Romantic Things To Do In Durham For Couples – Durham Date Ideas

Looking for the perfect romantic escape in Durham? Whether it’s a first date or a special anniversary, we’ve lined up the 15 most charming spots and activities that promise memorable moments with your significant other. Here are 15 things to do in Durham for couples.

Quick Navigation – Top 15 Romantic Date Ideas in Durham for Couples

Have the Perfect Date Day/ Night with These 15 Romantic Things to Do in Durham for Couples

1. Visit Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral

Stepping into Durham Cathedral, you’re entering a UNESCO World Heritage site that combines deep history with stunning architecture. Known for its Norman craftsmanship, this cathedral isn’t just a treat for the eyes; it’s a hub of cultural and spiritual activities. It is many couples first choice for date ideas in Durham.

Activities and Features:

  • Explore Architectural Marvels: Witness the remarkable Norman architecture and the intricate geometric patterns on the massive pillars.
  • Visit the Treasures of St. Cuthbert: See ancient relics and artefacts, including St. Cuthbert’s relics, in the cathedral’s exhibition.
  • Interactive Art Installations: Participate in creating Peace Doves or explore seasonal art displays.
  • Harry Potter Filming Location: Walk the corridors and cloisters featured in the Harry Potter films.
  • Guided Tours: Learn more about the cathedral’s history and architecture from knowledgeable guides.

Practical Information:

Opening Times: Open daily; Monday to Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Sunday 12:30 PM – 4:00 PM.

Cost of Entry: Free entry, but donations are encouraged to help maintain the cathedral.

Location: Durham Cathedral, The College, Durham, DH1 3EH, UK.

Parking: No parking on site; nearest is the Prince Bishops Shopping Centre Car Park.

Accessibility: Accessible entrances and routes are available for those with mobility needs.

For more info and bookings please visit: Durham Cathedral Official Website.

2. Enjoy a Picnic at Durham University Botanic Garden

Durham University Botanic Garden

Nestled on the southern outskirts of Durham city, Durham University Botanic Garden spans 25 acres of mature woodlands, offering a serene escape that blends education, nature, and art. This garden isn’t just about flowers; it’s a vibrant ecosystem bustling with activities and learning opportunities that cater to all ages. The peaceful surroundings ensure the perfect place for a quiet picnic, surely one of the simplest and budget-friendly romantic activities in Durham!

Activities and Features:

  • Diverse Plant Collections: From tropical rainforests in the glasshouses to native British woodlands, the garden houses an extensive range of flora.
  • Art Installations: Discover sculptures and art pieces cleverly hidden along the garden paths.
  • Educational Programs: Engage with science and conservation through various educational events and programs.
  • Seasonal Events: Enjoy annual events like the Teddy Bear’s Picnic and art exhibitions.
  • Wildlife Watching: The garden’s diverse habitats attract numerous bird species and other wildlife, perfect for nature enthusiasts.

Practical Information:

Opening Times: Open year-round; summer (April to September) 10 AM – 5 PM, winter (October to March) 10 AM – 4 PM.

Admission Fees: Adults £4.00, Children (5-16 years) £1.50, Under 5s free.

Location: Hollingside Lane, South Road, Durham, DH1 3TN.

Parking: Available on-site with a small charge.

Accessibility: Most pathways are wheelchair accessible, and disability-friendly facilities are available.

For more info and bookings please visit: Durham University Botanic Garden Official Website.

3. Evening Meal at Coarse

Coarse

Tucked away just off North Road in Durham’s city centre, Coarse is a gem of a restaurant that promises a relaxed yet refined dining experience. Chef Ruari MacKay, with two decades in the industry, brings to the table a mix of local flavours and innovative culinary techniques, all served up in a tastefully casual setting. A trip to Coarse is one of the most popular things to do in Durham for couples who want to explore the culinary tastes of the local area.

Activities and Features:

  • Tasting Menus: Choose between a 6-course dinner for £45 or a 3-course lunch for £25, each crafted from locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients.
  • Vegetarian Options: A dedicated vegetarian menu ensures everyone has something delightful to dig into.
  • Wine Pairings: Optional wine pairings enhance your dining experience, carefully selected to complement each dish.
  • Atmosphere: The intimate courtyard setting provides a quiet escape from the bustling city.
  • Local and Seasonal Focus: Commitment to local suppliers and seasonal produce stands at the heart of Coarse’s menu offerings.

Practical Information:

Opening Hours: Open for lunch and dinner with hours from Wednesday to Saturday, 12pm – 3pm for lunch and 5pm – 11pm for dinner.

Prices: Menus priced at £45 for six courses and £25 for three courses at lunch.

Location: Reform Place, North Road, Durham, DH1 4RZ.

Reservations: Highly recommended, especially for weekend dining.

Contact: Reach out at 0191 380 5776 or hello@coarse.restaurant for bookings.

For more info and bookings please visit: Coarse Official Website.

4. Take a Boat Ride on the River Wear

River Wear

Flowing gracefully through the heart of Durham, the River Wear is more than just a body of water—it’s a lifeline of scenic beauty and leisure activities wrapped around the historic city. From walking along its banks to catching a glimpse of the majestic Durham Cathedral, the river offers a peaceful yet invigorating escape for everyone. For one of the more active romantic things to do in Durham, you can hire a boat and enjoy a row on the river, or there’s a guided tour for those who prefer something a little less energetic!

Activities and Features:

  • Walking and Cycling: Miles of paths along the river are perfect for leisurely walks or energetic bike rides.
  • Boating and Rowing: Hire a rowboat or join a guided boat tour to see Durham from a different perspective.
  • Fishing: Known for good catches, the river is a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts.
  • Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for otters and a variety of birds, adding a touch of nature’s drama.
  • Historical Landmarks: Enjoy views of ancient structures like Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle as you meander along the river.

Practical Information:

Opening Times: Accessible at all times, with boat hire and guided tours available during daylight hours.

Cost of Entry: Free access to river paths; boat hires and tours have varied costs.

Location: The River Wear loops around Durham city, easily accessible from multiple points in the city.

Parking: Available at several public car parks in Durham city centre.

Accessibility: Most paths are well-maintained, suitable for walkers and cyclists of all abilities.

For more info and bookings please visit: River Wear Trust. You can also find more great outdoors activities to do in Durham by checking out this link!

5. Walk along the river to Old Durham Gardens

Along the river to Old Durham Gardens

Tucked away just under a mile from the hustle of Durham city centre, Old Durham Gardens offers a tranquil, historically rich haven. Established over 350 years ago, these walled gardens serve up a slice of serenity with their well-tended plots and charming architectural features, making it a perfect picnic spot or a quiet place to escape.

Activities and Features:

  • Historic Walks: Stroll through centuries-old paths lined with lush greenery and mature trees.
  • Community Events: Experience local culture with various events organized by the Friends of Old Durham Gardens.
  • Photography Hotspot: Capture the beauty of floral displays and the picturesque gazebo.
  • Bird Watching: Bring your binoculars to spot a variety of birds that flock to this peaceful environment.
  • Educational Opportunities: Participate in gardening and conservation activities that help maintain and enhance the garden’s beauty.

Practical Information:

Opening Times: Open daily; Lower Walled Garden and orchards available at all times. Upper Walled Garden opens Thursdays and Sundays, 2pm to 4pm (April to September).

Cost of Entry: Free entry, though donations are greatly appreciated to support garden maintenance.

Location: Access via footpath along the River Wear or through the University Sports Fields.

Parking: Limited parking available on Bent House Lane; access via A181 Sherburn Road.

Accessibility: Mostly accessible for wheelchairs and strollers, especially the main paths.

For more info and bookings please visit: Old Durham Gardens Official Website.

6. Go To Escape Rooms Durham 

Escape Rooms

Right in the city’s bustling heart is one of the more unusual date ideas in Durham. Escape Rooms Durham offers a thrilling blend of challenge and fun that will test your wits and teamwork. Situated conveniently in the city centre, it’s the perfect spot to break the routine with a bit of mystery and adventure. Whether you’re a puzzle pro or new to the escape game craze, this place has something to get everyone’s gears turning.

Activities and Features:

  • Variety of Themes: From mystery to adventure, each room offers a unique theme and storyline to immerse you fully.
  • Team Building: Ideal for corporate groups looking to boost collaboration and problem-solving skills in a fun setting.
  • Family Friendly: Suitable for families with older children, providing a great way to bond and challenge yourselves together.
  • Innovative Puzzles: Expect a wide range of puzzles that cater to various difficulty levels, perfect for puzzle lovers and critical thinkers.
  • Online Escape Games: For those who prefer to challenge their minds from the comfort of home, online escape games are also available.

Practical Information:

Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, with sessions available from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

Cost of Entry: Prices typically start from around £20 per person, varying by group size and game choice.

Location: Centrally located in Durham, easily accessible by local transport or on foot.

Parking: Nearby parking available in the city centre, though spaces can be limited during peak times.

Booking: Advance booking is highly recommended, especially for weekends and holidays.

For more info and bookings please visit: Escape Rooms Durham Official Website.

7. Wander Through Durham Market Hall

Market Hall

Nestled in the heart of Durham, Durham Market Hall is a bustling centre of commerce and a local favourite that dates back to 1851. As a historical gem, the market serves as a thriving hub for over 40 independent traders, offering everything from fresh produce to unique crafts. Whether you’re a Durham local or a visitor looking to soak up some authentic local flavour, Durham Market Hall has something to catch your eye.

Activities and Features:

  • Diverse Shopping Options: Shop for everything from artisan cheeses and handmade jewelry to vintage books and boutique clothing.
  • Food Stalls: Indulge in a variety of local and international foods available throughout the market.
  • Regular Events: The market hosts numerous events including seasonal fairs and local produce markets that enhance the community vibe.
  • Support Local Economy: Supports local artisans and producers, keeping the community vibrant and economically healthy.
  • Cultural Experience: Immerse yourself in Durham’s culture and history just by walking through the market’s historic aisles.

Practical Information:

Opening Hours: Open six days a week, Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

Cost of Entry: Free admission for all visitors.

Location: Located at Market Place, Durham, DH1 3NJ, right in the city centre.

Parking: Limited on-site parking; nearby city parking available.

Accessibility: Accessible for visitors with disabilities, ensuring everyone can enjoy their visit.

For more info and bookings please visit: Durham Market Hall Official Website.

8. Relax at Wharton Park

Wharton Park

Wharton Park in Durham is a true gem for locals and visitors alike, offering panoramic views of the historic city and Durham Cathedral. Just a stone’s throw from the city centre, this park combines natural beauty, historical significance, and modern amenities to create a perfect escape for families, fitness enthusiasts, and everyone in between.

Activities and Features:

  • Stunning Views: Enjoy breathtaking views of Durham from various vantage points within the park.
  • Children’s Play Area: Equipped with modern and safe playground equipment that keeps the little ones entertained.
  • Art Installations: Explore artistic sculptures and installations dotted around the park.
  • Miniature Car Track: A hit with kids, providing fun and safe driving experiences.
  • Café: Grab a snack or a drink at the onsite café, perfect for a quick refresh after a stroll or play.

Practical Information:

Opening Times: Open daily, 24 hours, with specific facilities like the café having their own operating hours.

Cost of Entry: Free entry, making it an affordable day out for everyone.

Location: Located at 10 Princes St, Durham DH1 4FJ, UK.

Parking: Available onsite, though limited; additional parking nearby in the city.

Accessibility: Well-maintained paths suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.

For more info and bookings please visit: Durham County Council’s Wharton Park Page.

9. Take in the view from Observatory Hill

View from Observatory Hill

Nestled just a stone’s throw from the heart of historic Durham, Observatory Hill offers more than just a walk in the park. This spot is famed for its panoramic views of Durham Cathedral and the city, making it a favourite for both leisurely strolls and educational visits. With its combination of natural beauty and scientific intrigue, thanks to the nearly two-century-old Durham University Observatory located here, it’s a must-visit for anyone soaking up Durham’s rich heritage.

Activities and Features:

  • Stunning Views: Enjoy unparalleled views of Durham Cathedral and the surrounding cityscape.
  • Stargazing Opportunities: Ideal for astronomy enthusiasts with clear night skies perfect for stargazing.
  • Historic Observatory: Home to the historic Durham University Observatory, adding a touch of scientific heritage.
  • Picnic Spot: A popular location for picnics with several scenic spots to choose from.
  • Photography: A photographer’s delight, thanks to the scenic vistas and architectural beauty.

Practical Information:

Opening Times: The hill itself is accessible at all times, but observatory access is restricted; check specific opening times for events.

Cost of Entry: Free access to the hill; events or special access to the observatory might carry a charge.

Location: Observatory Hill, Durham, DH1 3RR, UK.

Parking: No dedicated parking; nearest options are in the city centre, a short walk away.

Accessibility: The paths can be steep and may be challenging for those with mobility issues; the more accessible route is from Sheraton Park.

For more info and bookings please visit: Durham University Observatory.

10. Attend a Show at Gala Theatre Durham

Gala Theatre Durham

Tucked away in Durham’s Millennium Place, the Gala Theatre & Cinema offers a contemporary, cosy spot for entertainment right in the city centre. Whether you’re in the mood for a blockbuster film, a captivating theatre performance, or a hilarious comedy night, this place has it all. With its modern facilities and a lineup that keeps the local community and visitors buzzing, the Gala Theatre & Cinema stands out as a cultural beacon in Durham.

Activities and Features:

  • Diverse Programming: Enjoy everything from latest movies and live theatre productions to special events and local performances.
  • Intimate Cinema Experience: The cinema boasts comfortable seating and a personal atmosphere that makes movie nights extra special.
  • Youth Theatre: Offers a range of drama sessions and educational programs for young talents aged four to 18.
  • Accessible Venue: Fully equipped to welcome all guests, with accessibility features throughout.
  • Friendly and Welcoming Staff: Known for its helpful and attentive staff, enhancing your visit.

Practical Information:

Opening Times: Varies by showtimes and events; typically open from 10:00 AM until late on show days.

Ticket Prices: Vary depending on the event; check the website for specific pricing details.

Location: Gala Theatre & Cinema, Millennium Place, Durham, DH1 1WA.

Parking: Nearby parking available at Walkergate and Prince Bishops Shopping Centre.

Booking: Advance booking recommended to secure the best seats and availability.

For more info and bookings please visit: Gala Theatre & Cinema Official Website.

11. Lunch at The Cellar Door Restaurant

The Cellar Door Restaurant

Nestled in a charming 13th-century building along Saddler Street, The Cellar Door Restaurant in Durham provides a unique dining experience that perfectly blends historic ambience with modern European cuisine. Just steps from the iconic Durham Cathedral, this spot is ideal for a casual lunch or a special evening out. With its riverside views and cosy cellar dining options, The Cellar Door balances elegance and comfort, making it a must-visit for food lovers and history enthusiasts alike. This is one of the most exciting culinary-based things to do in Durham for couples!

Activities and Features:

  • Seasonal Menus: Enjoy a menu that changes monthly, featuring local and seasonal ingredients crafted into modern European dishes.
  • Riverside Dining: Choose from three outdoor terraces with stunning views of the River Wear, perfect for summer dining.
  • Private Events: Available for weddings, corporate events, and parties with customizable menus to suit any occasion.
  • Historic Dining Rooms: Experience dining in converted cellars that combine historical architecture with contemporary comfort.
  • Award-Winning Cuisine: Recognized for its culinary excellence and innovative dishes.

Practical Information:

Opening Times: Monday to Saturday, 12:00 PM to 9:15 PM; Sunday, 12:00 PM to 4:45 PM.

Location: 41/42 Saddler Street, Durham, DH1 3NU.

Parking: Nearby parking available at Prince Bishops and Walkergate car parks, both just a few minutes’ walk away.

Reservations: Highly recommended, especially for weekend dining or large groups.

Contact: To book a table or inquire about private dining, call 0191 383 1856.

For more info and bookings please visit: The Cellar Door Restaurant Official Website.

12. Visit Crook Hall and Gardens

Crook Hall and Gardens

Tucked away just a few minutes from the bustling centre of Durham, Crook Hall and Gardens offers a tranquil escape into nature and history. This charming venue centred around a Grade I-listed medieval hall, features a variety of themed gardens that delight the senses year-round. From the moment you step through the gates, you’re transported into a world of beauty, tranquillity, and a hint of bygone eras, making it a perfect destination for garden lovers and history buffs alike.

Activities and Features:

  • Themed Gardens: Explore diverse gardens including the Shakespeare Garden, the Secret Walled Garden, and more, each offering unique floral displays and thematic designs.
  • Historic Hall: Experience the ambiance of the medieval Crook Hall, a striking backdrop with centuries of history.
  • Café Delights: Enjoy homemade treats and a selection of beverages at the on-site café, perfect for a relaxing break amidst your exploration.
  • Photography and Art: A haven for photographers and artists looking to capture the stunning scenery and architectural beauty.
  • Events and Weddings: The perfect picturesque setting for weddings, with its historic hall and lush gardens providing a romantic atmosphere.

Practical Information:

Opening Times: Open seasonally; check the official website for current opening hours and visitor information.

Admission Fees: Prices vary; National Trust members may visit for free.

Location: Frankland Lane, Sidegate, Durham, DH1 5SZ.

Parking: Available on-site, including additional nearby options in Durham city centre.

Accessibility: Accessible paths and facilities available to accommodate visitors with mobility needs.

For more info and bookings please visit: National Trust – Crook Hall and Gardens.

13. Take a Cooking Class Together

Cooking Class Together

If you’re in Durham and fancy spicing up date night, why not roll up your sleeves and dive into a Cooking Class Together? These classes are one of the most fun couples activities in Durham, offering a simple, interactive way to bond and learn new culinary skills. Located right in the heart of the city, you’ll find yourself whipping up everything from sushi to Italian classics, guided by expert chefs who are just as enthusiastic about cooking as they are about teaching.

Activities and Features:

  • Variety of Cuisines: Learn to cook dishes from Italian to Thai, perfect for any palate.
  • Hands-On Learning: Engage in fully interactive sessions where you do the cooking, not just watching.
  • Date Night Specials: Classes designed specifically for couples, making for an ideal date activity.
  • Expert Chefs: Instruction from professional chefs with years of culinary experience.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Classes available throughout the week, including evenings and weekends.

Practical Information:

Class Schedule: Check online for available dates and times that suit your schedule.

Pricing: Classes typically range from $75 to $150 per person, depending on the menu.

Location: Various locations across Durham, detailed on the booking page.

Booking: Advance booking required, easily done online.

Parking: Depends on the venue, with some locations offering onsite parking.

For more info and bookings please visit: Cozymeal Cooking Classes. Additionally, check our specialist article on some of the quirky and more unusual things to do around Durham!

14. Walk at Finchale Abbey

Finchale Abbey

Tucked away in a serene bend of the River Wear, Finchale Abbey offers a picturesque escape from the hustle and bustle of Durham city. Once a 13th-century Benedictine priory, today it stands as a tranquil retreat enveloped by nature, combining historical ruins with lush greenery. Perfect for history buffs, nature lovers, or anyone in need of a peaceful day out, Finchale Abbey marries the past with the present in the most scenic of ways.

Activities and Features:

  • Historic Ruins Exploration: Wander through the atmospheric ruins of the old priory, steeped in centuries of history.
  • Riverside Walks: Enjoy scenic walks along the River Wear, offering beautiful views and tranquil spots for picnics.
  • Onsite Café: Stop by the café for refreshments—a lovely spot to relax and take in the surroundings.
  • Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for local wildlife, which can be spotted around the river and green areas.
  • Photography Opportunities: Bring your camera to capture the stunning landscapes and historical architecture.

Practical Information:

Opening Times: Open daily from dawn to dusk.

Cost of Entry: Free entry to the grounds; parking fees may apply.

Location: Finchale Abbey, Finchale Ave, Framwellgate Moor, Durham DH1 5SH, UK.

Parking: Available onsite, with additional options nearby for busier days.

Accessibility: Most areas are accessible, but some parts of the historic ruins may have limited access due to uneven surfaces.

For more info and bookings please visit: Finchale Abbey Official Website. You can also find details of other walks around Durham by following the link.

15. Explore the Durham Art Gallery

Durham Art Gallery

Nestled in the vibrant community of Durham, Durham Art Gallery offers a refreshing and dynamic space for contemporary art enthusiasts. With a focus on nurturing local talent and presenting diverse artistic expressions, the gallery provides a platform for both seasoned and emerging artists. Whether you’re a serious art collector or a casual observer, the thoughtfully curated exhibitions and friendly atmosphere make for an enriching visit. This is one of the most popular date ideas in Durham for art-loving couples.

Activities and Features:

  • Rotating Exhibitions: Experience a wide range of contemporary art exhibitions, with new displays introduced regularly to keep content fresh and engaging.
  • Artist Workshops: Participate in workshops led by exhibiting artists, offering hands-on experiences in various art forms.
  • Community Events: The gallery hosts several community events throughout the year, from artist talks to educational programs, enriching the local cultural scene.
  • Special Projects: Engage with special projects and installations that push the boundaries of traditional gallery presentations.
  • Gift Shop: Browse the gallery’s gift shop, featuring unique artworks and crafts made by local artists—perfect for taking a piece of Durham’s art scene home with you.

Practical Information:

Opening Times: Open Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Cost of Entry: Free admission, making it accessible to all.

Location: 251 George St E, Durham, ON N0G 1R0, Canada.

Parking: Free parking available nearby, making visits hassle-free.

Accessibility: Fully accessible for visitors with disabilities, ensuring everyone can enjoy the art on display.

For more info and bookings please visit: Durham Art Gallery Official Website.

FAQ

Are there a variety of things to do in Durham for couples?

Yes, Durham is a fantastic destination for couples. With its historic architecture, scenic river walks, and cozy dining spots, it offers a romantic setting perfect for spending quality time together.

What are the most romantic restaurants in Durham?

Some of the most romantic restaurants in Durham include The Cellar Door, with its intimate atmosphere, Coarse, known for its exquisite locally-sourced offerings, and Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, which offers stunning views alongside delicious dishes.

Can a couple go to Durham’s Escape Room?

Absolutely! Durham’s Escape Room is a great activity for couples looking to challenge themselves and work together to solve puzzles and escape the room within a set time limit.

Can you get around Durham without a car?

Yes, Durham is quite accessible without a car. The city centre is compact and most attractions are within walking distance. Public transport options like buses and trains are also available for longer distances.

Are there Ubers in Durham?

Yes, Uber services are available in Durham, providing a convenient option for quick and easy transportation around the city. It’s worth noting that they aren’t allowed to head down North Road as this is off limits to all vehicles apart from licensed Taxis and buses.

Is it free to go into Durham Cathedral?

Entry to Durham Cathedral is free, but donations are welcomed to help maintain this historic site. Certain special tours and events may have a fee.

Is Durham worth visiting for a day?

Definitely! Even if you only have a day, Durham has plenty to offer. From exploring the iconic Durham Cathedral and Castle to enjoying local shops and cafes, a day trip can be very fulfilling.