Which? rates Durham second best city for a short break


Durham was ranked the joint second best small city in the United Kingdom for a short break according to the survey conducted by Which? in April 2024. This is significant because it has the potential to bring more tourists to Durham, which already has a large student population.

Which? is a UK-based association designed to encourage informed consumer choices by evaluating various products and services. In the study, they asked 3,967 members to rank the UK’s large, medium, and small cities they had previously visited based on multiple criteria. The City of Durham shares second place with St Andrews, with an overall customer score of 78%, slightly lower than Wells’ score of 86%. Winchester comes in third with a customer score of 77%.

The average hotel price was £107, significantly lower than at St Andrews, where the average was £159. Durham also had a better food and drink rating, with three out of five stars, compared to St Andrews’ two stars. Both cities received the same scores for accommodation, shopping, lack of crowds and parking.

Parking was scored low in five cities, including Durham and St Andrews, with an overall score of two stars, owing to the nature of small cities and an absence of busy traffic. Durham and St Andrews both received four stars for a lack of crowds, presumably due to their huge student populations in comparison to industrial and business areas.

The average hotel price was £107

Shopping availability received a two-star rating, which is predictable given that the store selection is oriented to the needs of students and the local community rather than tourists. Durham and Wells scored four stars for cultural attractions, but St Andrews obtained just three. Durham is famous for its Castle and Cathedral, which are part of the World Heritage site.

St Andrews was ranked higher than Durham with respect to the ease of getting around, receiving three stars compared to Durham’s two. This could be owing to the city’s geographical situation atop hills, with the city centre surrounded by a river, which reduces the number of alternative paths and considerably slows pedestrians. The city centre is also somewhat unsuitable for motor vehicles because the streets are quite narrow, making it difficult for vehicles to travel efficiently.

Finally, Durham scored four stars in the category of value for money, compared to St Andrews’ three.

This current survey, albeit having a small sample size, is important in evaluating city breaks since it takes into account a wide range of criteria and shows where Durham might improve if it wants to attract more tourists.

Image: Charlie Green via Unsplash

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