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One of the highlights of the northeast and County Durham, the city of Durham is a classic English Cathedral city with a university that is regarded as one of the finest educational institutions anywhere in the country. Also popular is the Norman Castle and the local cricket team, which once boasted the great Brian Lara on its roster. Those with their own car can navigate the city in its entirety while also taking the time to visit a series of other destinations located in the northeast corner of England, including well-known haunts such as Newcastle and Sunderland.
Who to Book With
Enterprise, Durham Van Hire and Oakleaf are the most centrally-located car hire companies in the city, while Bike N Groom, Celebration Cars, Hilltop Hire and Dawsonrentals can all be found on the outskirts. Booking online several weeks, or even months, prior to heading to the northeast can help cut the cost of renting a vehicle.
Best Time to Go
The summer months between June and August are when tourists flock to Durham in their droves. This is mainly because the majority of students have already gone home, making the city less-crowded. The County Durham cricket team also plays regular fixtures at this time. At most points of the year, due to people visiting the university's alumni during term time or the popularity of the destination during summer, it pays to have rental vehicles booked well in advance, with the same logic applying to accommodation bookings.
Need to Know Essentials
Be sure to bring the following if you want to rent a vehicle in Durham:
- A British driving license or equivalent
- Photo ID not in the form of a driving license
- The booker's credit card
- Some proof of rental confirmation
The centre of Durham can often become crowded, which is why the only British congestion charge outside of London had to be introduced to the city. Due to the medieval layout of the central roads and related areas, it can take some time to get used to the system here. Many parties opt to leave their vehicles at one of the various Park & Ride sites dotted around the locale.
Due to Durham's age, the city has a public transport network almost as small as its town centre. There is no rail network to get around the destination, so buses or taxis have to be relied upon by those who haven't arranged car hire.
Although Durham lacks an internal rail network, its train station serves destinations around the UK. The East Coast main Line is particularly useful, stretching from Edinburgh to London Kings Cross while making stops at the likes of York and Newcastle Upon Tyne. Conveniently, rail transport is also possible between Durham and other English cities, including Birmingham and Leeds. East Coast and First TransPennine Express are the companies supplying these services.
Taxis aren't really required for travel around the centre of Durham, but those that would like to use them, especially after having enjoyed a night out, can rely on locally-run business including Pollys Taxis, Colors Taxis, Paddy's Taxis Ltd, Macs Taxis and Sherburn Taxis, among others.
The Cathedral Bus is one of the most reliable modes of public transport in Durham, running every 20 minutes between 07:00 and 17:40. There are two routes calling at places of note around the city, with an all-day ticket costing around £0.50. Other services are supplied by Go North East and Arriva.
Those with car rental that have exhausted the sightseeing options in Durham will find plenty of other activities to pursue elsewhere around the northeast. Whether its small towns such as Darlington, larger destinations including Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesborough, or outdoors areas that you wish to visit next, this part of the country has something for everyone.
Newcastle - This is often regarded as being home to the best night out in England, but even those that prefer the quiet life will find plenty to please them in the northeast's largest city. Unmistakable by its iconic Tyne Bridge and St James Park – the home of one of the world's best-supported football teams – Newcastle is a city full of fun and culture.
Whitley Bay - A favoured coastal destination for those in this part of the country, and is only a short distance away from Newcastle. The town is highly-regarded for its seafood its classic English seaside theme park, Spanish City, which has been the subject of songs by local artists, including Dire Straits.
Sunderland - Although it often lives in the shadows of its larger neighbour Newcastle, Sunderland, home to attractions such as the National Glass Centre, is still worth the drive from Durham. Catching a sporting event at the Stadium of Light, if schedules fit, is a must.