County Durham on a Budget

10 Ways to save on a trip to County Durham

Located in the north-east of England, this beautiful county is the ideal destination for both city lovers and beach fans. Cities like Hartlepool and Darlington offer visitors a taste of northern hospitality, while the Heritage Coast is a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts.

It’s the ideal choice if you want to stick to a certain price range too, especially if you take a look at our 10 ways to save on a trip to County Durham.

1. Book travel in advance

It’s easy to reach the main cities from any part of the UK – and from Europe. The main London to Edinburgh service operated by Virgin East Coast Trains stops in Darlington, and you can save on the cost of fares by reserving your tickets up to three months in advance.

Ferries from the Netherlands and Scandinavia arrive at the North Shields ferry terminal which is just 19 miles from the city. If you’re coming by sea don’t be tempted by expensive taxis; take the free bus to Newcastle instead and hop on the train for around £5.

Planning a break with friends? It’s cheap to drive if you take just one car and share the cost of travel.

Man driving car in UK
Travel by Car

2. Find great accommodation, whatever your budget

There are lots of hotels and bed and breakfast style guest houses to choose from in the cities, the countryside, and on the coast.

Avoid peak season and save on the cost of your stay or, if you’re limited to the school holiday period, book in advance or look for last minute deals.

3. See landmarks for less

Durham Cathedral is one of the country’s major tourist attractions and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Entrance is free and there’s even a complimentary bus service to take you from the railway station to the Cathedral and back.

Durham Cathedral at sunset
Durham Cathedral

4. Look for budget-friendly activities

Take a look at the local tourist information websites for offers and deals. Many attractions offer two-for-one deals or discounts for children, students and seniors.

Visit Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle and you won’t have to pay to use the grounds or picnic area. The museum is located in a stunning French chateau-style mansion in the heart of the countryside and there’s and an adjoining gift shop and a cafe.

While there is an entry fee for temporary exhibitions, there’s no charge for some of the guided tours offered by the museum throughout the year. Check the museum website or the local tourist information office for details.

5. Enjoy a family outing

County Durham is a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts. Head for Middleton-in-Teesdale and the Cauldron Snout waterfall for a family day out in the country. Drivers can park at Cow Green Reservoir and from there it’s a 1 1/2 mile walk along a well-maintained path to the falls.

The 200-foot drop makes for a dazzling cascade and the spectacular moorland landscape is breathtaking.

6. Learn about the region’s industrial past

Derwentcote Steel Furnace at Rowlands Gill near Consett offers a unique glimpse into the region’s the past. The furnace was built in 1720 and it’s the only surviving one of its type. The site is managed by English Heritage so there’s no charge.

Or, why not spend the day at Low Barns Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre at Witton-le-Wear near Bishop Auckland? It’s the county’s Wildlife Trust flagship reserve and its comprised of wetlands, woodland and grasslands so there’s lots to see and do.

And, it won’t cost you a penny to see butterflies and insects or birds like kingfishers, ducks and flycatchers from the observation tower. If you’re lucky, you may even spot some red foxes, water voles, otters and roe deer!

7. Eat out for less

Many local pub and restaurant chains have great deals and discounts all year round.

Look for Curry Nights or Fish and Chip Nights at large branded establishments or pick up a local ‘what’s on’ guide for the latest deals in restaurants near you.

English Pub people drinking and eating
English Pub

8. Let them entertain you

You needn’t pay over the top for entertainment either. Darlington is the largest city in the county and its live music venues and pubs are popular with both locals and visitors.

Try Yates’s Darlington, the Quakerhouse, the Voodoo Cafe, or the William Steed and catch great rock, pop, blues and electro from established and up and coming artists.

9. Get fit

You’ll find football lovers and sports fans in every town and city in the north-east. Catch local teams in action or have a go yourself.

Find a list of sports and leisure centres and civic halls in the local newspaper or at the tourist information office. Many don’t charge for the use of facilities, and the ones that do are incredibly cheap.

10. Choose your times

If you visit in the middle of summer or during the Christmas and New Year period, everything will cost more. Be smart – book a stay in spring or at the beginning of Autumn.

Not only will you benefit from less crowded attractions and lower hotel and travel rates, you’ll find it so much easier to stay within your set budget.