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24 September 2014
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Top bars in Durham
people enjoying a night out at a Bar Arabia in Durham
Bar Arabia - just one of Durham's hidden treasures.
Dragging your heels in Durham? BBC Wear site user Katherine Brown says don't go for the safe option, ignore the chain pubs and head for the real jewels that our fair city has to offer.
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by site user Katherine Brown
pictures by Barney Britton

The Angel Inn - Crossgate

If you're into rock or anything alternative this is the pub for you. A cracking jukebox and a beer garden with nice views mixes with a friendly clientele and good drink offers. Not the place for pashminas.

Bar Arabia - behind Market Square

Tiny lounge-esque bar of chameleon proportions. You'll find jazz, r'n'b or beach parties depending on what day you go. With cheap drinks and food on offer morning til night and sheesha pipes with a wide variety of tobacco flavours available Monday to Wednesday, this is perfect if you want something different.

The Fish Tank - Neville Street

Located just above Bimbi's chippy, this small but excellent venue plays host to bands, poetry readings, DJ sets and whatever creativity Durham has to offer at the time. Like an intimate evening in your mate's sitting room, with free food, drinks out of the kitchen and low but funky lighting, this beats the clichéd cheesy nonsense churned out by Klute and DH1 hands down.

Brown Sugar - Elvet Riverside

Brown sugar

With huge leather sofas to hide in if you can get there fast enough, a seductive soundtrack and a happy hour zapper game to win you discounts on the wide selection of drinks, this is a great, if quite pricey place to spend an evening. What more do you want? Oh yeah, orgasmic cake and great snacking opportunites...

Duncow Inn - Old Elvet

A fine example of the "nook and cranny" pub, you can't go wrong with one of these. Surely the Duncow was built for falling asleep in front of the fire with a pint at your side and maybe grabbing a toasty at the same time.

The Victoria Hotel - Hallgarth Street

The Vic was voted 2003's pub of the year and has a staggering selection of whiskies and real ale.

The Shakespeare - North Bailey

The Shakespeare is ideal for a quiet drink in one of its lovely hideaway rooms.

Jimmy Allen' s - Elvet Bridge

A cavernous mix of dungeon and hip bar and yet another purveyor of quality armchairs, this is the ideal place to avoid phone calls (no reception downstairs) whilst enjoying a pitcher with the permanent student discount or catching a drum and bass set by the DUBS crew. Check out the skeleton by the exit.

Vennels - The Bailey

Barman at Vennels

Welcome to Durham's treasured Cinderella, as one of the best cafés in the city turns into a hip and chilled out winebar come the evening. Sit upstairs during the day for comfy armchairs, sample the legendary flapjack, then grab a bottle of wine and check out Traveller or a set from one of the many genre-jumping acts that play at night. Enjoy...

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