The Durham Student Bucket List

As we welcome the beginning of the third week of term, most of us will likely be somewhat settled in our new studies, homes, and lives until next June. For me, the past couple of weeks has been incredibly exciting. I’m in my final year and looking forward to my future. Though, it’s hard not to reminisce on the time that has passed.

Before I begin, I’d like to reflect on the week past. The Conservative party has had an eventful week with the resignation and reappointment of the Chancellor and the ongoing disappointment surrounding Liz Truss. The BBC celebrated its 100th birthday. We said goodbye to Robbie Coltrane, the much-loved actor you’ll likely know as playing Hagrid in Harry Potter. And in Durham, we celebrated the Durham Book Festival and the stunning Life by Luxmuralis in Durham Cathedral.

Although starting my university experience in lockdown, I’ve made some truly wonderful memories. I’d like to share with you my memorable experiences and some activities which I think are utterly unmissable before you graduate. Here are my essential picks, whether you’re a finalist or a fresher.

Tour the Cathedral and go to the Markets

One of Durham’s most notable features is the Cathedral. If you haven’t toured the nearly 1000-year-old building, it’s essential as a Durham student. Take a look at where Avengers: Endgame was filmed and the cloisters where two of the Harry Potter films were shot. It’s a stunning Cathedral, and we are fortunate to have it right on our doorstep. Be sure to take a tour before your studies come to an end! Every Saturday, Durham market hosts wonderful local traders, and there’s sure to be something for everyone. Especially at Christmas, the market on Palace Green is beautiful, and the stalls in the Cathedral cloisters are wonderfully festive must-sees.

The stunning view from the cloisters

Go on a college bar crawl

College bar crawls are notorious in Durham and a popular choice for society socials. It’s pretty hard to avoid one, and why would you want to? Discovering other colleges, grounds, and bars is a great way to explore the university. Of course, trying each college drink is what it’s all about, and they’re cheap! And if you’re into collecting, why not start a collection of all the college cups? They make quite an impressive display… If drinking isn’t your thing, it’s great to check out the grounds and the libraries and meet some new people.

Check out Klute

On a similar note, your university experience is not complete without a trip to Klute. Awarded the title of Worst Nightclub in Europe, how could you not be enticed or at least a little curious? Despite the feint smell of sick and sticky floors, Klute plays some reasonably tasteful tunes and a check off the bucket list at the very list. Who wouldn’t want to say they’ve been to Europe’s worst? It’s quite the claim to fame.

Explore Newcastle and the Angel of the North

Only 15 minutes on the train, Newcastle couldn’t be more convenient. Newcastle has a lot to offer if you’re feeling slightly claustrophobic in Durham or just fancy exploring the big city. My highlights of the city have to be concerts at local venues, pottery painting at Canny Craft, the TWO cat cafes, the dog café, the Craft and Flea market every few months… the list goes on. For nights out, there’s a host of great clubs and Mr. Mulligan’s mini golf if you fancy some drunk putting with your friends. And if you’re travelling by car, get up close to the Angel of the North statue! It’s much bigger than you’d think and is a beautiful sight.

Visit Durham’s many cafes

Durham’s favourite café, Flat White is renowned for its queues and is loved by students. Although I’ve only been once, it does have a lovely atmosphere for a hot beverage and has a pretty tasty menu. Vennels is another cute café you must check out, if only for its alleyway entrance. Cafedral has the best mocha I’ve ever tasted, Whitechurch has a beautiful fish finger sandwich, and Riverview has stunning pancakes and a great menu.

Just look at the pancakes from Riverview!

See a student play at The Assembly Rooms theatre

Ever-changing, there are always fantastic plays on offer at The Assembly Rooms Theatre. Last year I watched a one-man show about the journey into adulthood, which was fantastic. Students put their heart and soul into their productions, and I can’t think of a better way to spend around £6 for a night of talent and entertainment.

Hire a boat on the river

On my bucket list, hiring a boat on the river for an hour or two seems like a fabulous way to appreciate the beauty and peace of Durham. Rowing with friends on a peaceful afternoon is near the top of my list, and I can’t possibly graduate without it.

Explore the Oriental Museum and the Botanical Gardens

In the summer, the Botanical Gardens are stunningly beautiful and are a brilliant escape from studying and the outside world. Once inside with the trees and plants, a sense of tranquillity like no other overwhelms you, and you could be anywhere in the world. It’s beautiful, and you definitely can’t miss it. Also on my bucket list is the Oriental Museum. Sometimes society’s offer themed visits, for example, last year, there was a love and relationships-themed tour of the museum highlighting its most loved-up artifacts.

Having a wander around the Botanical Gardens

Write for a student newspaper

Of course, I’m biased on this one. Seeing your name online or in print is fabulous and truly is something to treasure forever, or at the very least, pop on your LinkedIn. Whether it’s The Bubble, Palatinate, PalTV, or Purple Radio, we’re all welcoming of new ideas. Now is probably the most accessible opportunity to see your name on a publication or radio show, so why not go for it? If you’re inspired to write for The Bubble, drop us an email!


Although university is inevitably about studying and getting the all-important degree, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy yourself. Even if you manage one thing from this bucket list this year, it’ll have all been worth it! Happy exploring and have a fabulous week.


All images by Melissa Rumbold

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