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York vs Durham

Hello Everyone

I am curious what other's opinions are regarding their preferred choice to visit between York and Durham. I have personally been to York before, and although I did like much about it (particularly the medieval / ancient aspect and attractions), I did feel a lot of that historic charm was taken away by a lot of modernization and the larger city feel than what I had expected it to be.

I am returning with a friend who has never been to the UK before this June, and am considering either going to York or Durham for part of my trip. For those of you who have been to them both, do you have a preference over the other and if so, why? Any suggestions would be of much help, as I will have time to stay at only one of these destinations this trip.

Thank you!

Posted by
3980 posts

I would take York any day over Durham. Durham Cathedral is worth a visit, but the rest of the city is missable. York has the old city walls, the Minster, the excellent free National Railway Museum and nearby Castle Howard plus better shopping!

Posted by
4129 posts

We have visited both cities and loved them both.
We didi 3 nights in York and 2 in Durham, York would be my choice.

Posted by
584 posts

York. OK, my locale could be seen to influence my decision but i also spend a deal of time in the north east. Make no mistake, Durham is worth visiting, the cathedral and it’s situation make a visit compulsory, but York has more to do and rewards deeper investigation. For instance, I never hear mention of the Merchant Adventurers Hall here but it’s certainly worth a visit, as is the Holgate Windmill, a working windmill slap in the centre of surburbia! For a more sobering experience visit York’s Nuclear Bunker (English Heritage!). Even a visit to the cafe in Marks and Spencer’s gives you a brilliant view of the Minster!

Lots of layers to peel away....as I said, York rewards deeper exploration, even if it’s just a visit to the two Betty’s cafes, or livelier, the two Houses of Trembling Madness!

Ian

Posted by
54 posts

by a lot of modernization

Would you want to live in the Middle Ages? Neither would the people of York.

Posted by
5817 posts

If your friend has never been to the UK then definitely York over Durham.

York is not just a tourist town set in "historic aspic". It's a thriving regional centre with industry and a university etc and I don't think its particularly lacking in charm?

You tend to find that a town or area that is particularly historically charming is one that at some point in its history failed. Economic decline means buildings aren't replaced or altered. They are then "rediscovered" and gentrification takes place. The Cotswolds are a good example of this. It can also happen in areas of cities, for example the Brick Lane area of London.

York is how it is because it has thrived for centuries.

Posted by
4498 posts

Durham is easily seen in a daytrip from York or just one night. York has more to offer for a few nights. Plus lots to see in the surrounding countryside if you have a car.

Posted by
1067 posts

I’d definitely go to Durham, it’s just amazing and doesn’t get nearly the attention it should. I also like nearby Newcastle.

York is fine, glad I’ve seen it, but I preferred Chester to York.

Posted by
760 posts

Hello from Wisconsin,
Thanks to every one here. I am a free rider on this one. We will be in both cities come April. Staying in York for a week and then outside Durham for 5 days. All I really knew about the two cities are the Cathedral entrance prices ...York Minster is some thing like $20 per person per visit. And Durham asks for a donation.

wayne iNWI

Posted by
1067 posts

Oh, I should add that Durham Cathedral now allows photos to be taken inside. This change is recent so older information is out of date. I assume they just got tired of policing everyone with a phone.

Posted by
4468 posts

York is much less industrial than it was 30-40 years ago with the scaling down of chocolate and the closure of such engineering firms as ABB.

The biggest spoiler to both York and Durham now is the juggernaut that is Harry Potter Theme Park-itis (affects Oxford too). Get to York before the full length of The Shambles becomes Harry Potter memorabilia shops; there are 4 already. Unfortunately the local authority has little magic it can work against this invasion as this doesn't count as a change of use.

Posted by
584 posts

The Shambles: Chocolate, souvenirs, Harry Potter, house of a mediaeval saint who was pressed to death, Harry Potter, Harry Potter.... 😂😂

Posted by
1074 posts

How about a triangle from York to Durham to Hadrian's Wall and back. Read the Venerable Bede's writings on St. Cuthbert before you go to Durham. There are plenty of B&Bs near Hadrian's Wall, and hop on- hop off buses to view the different Roman sites. If you have time, you should go to Castle Howard. Bon Voyage

Posted by
182 posts

Durham mercifully hasn’t become a Harry Potter theme park yet (our isolation from major tourist sites plus Alnwick Castle taking the strain has left Durham mostly untouched) though I doubt it will stay undiscovered forever, especially since you can walk around the filming locations for free.