Stays have been the saving grace for many during lockdown, allowing people to find out exactly what was on their doorstep. Whether it’s culture, history, food or scenery, every city in the UK has something unique to offer and they all give London a pretty good run for their money.
From Brighton’s enchanting seafront to Edinburgh’s hilly streets, there’s an abundance of places to explore and none of them are too far to drive or hop on a train. Here are all the cities voted best for a city break in the UK.
Bath is awash with history dating back to Roman times. The city became famous for its natural hot springs which played a role in the construction of the large spa complex which today attracts thousands of tourists.
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Bath’s food scene has taken off in the last couple of years with tapas bars, street markets, wine bars and pubs. For culture there is the Francis Gallery which features works by emerging international artists and there is also Milsom Street which has boutiques, cafes, delis and restaurants.
Birmingham is no longer seen as a concrete jungle of tower blocks and terraced housing. It has now become a vibrant center for young people and with a strong arts scene and a wealth of restaurants and bars to choose from.
Those who want to experience the restaurant scene will not be disappointed. The city has more Michelin stars than any other British city outside London, including Indian restaurant Opheem, which has won Michelin stars for the past four years. Birmingham also has a lot of history and you can learn all about it in museums like the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Nicknamed “London-on-sea”, the seaside town of Brighton is everything you could want for a mini-break. It is known for its liberal attitude, style and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Londoners should therefore feel at home here.
On the supply side, there is the seafront with the famous pier, the Royal Pavilion and the Lanes, where you can lose yourself for hours in vintage shopping. Brighton is also well known for its nightlife and gay scene with a number of clubs to choose from right on the seafront.
The city of Durham in the northeast may be small, but it has plenty to explore for the weekend. The cathedral has been voted the best building in Britain and the nearby castle is part of our first World Heritage Site.
A riverside walk is a must if you want a picturesque view of the city. There are also the Botanical Gardens spread over 25 acres and the Archeology Museum for all history buffs.
Edinburgh is an enchanting city with plenty to explore, from finding inspiration for JK Rowling to learning about whiskey. Much of Edinburgh city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes 4,500 individual buildings as well as ancient monuments, designed landscapes and conservation areas.
For adventurous travelers, there is Arthurs Seat, an ancient volcano located 251m above sea level, offering an excellent view of the city. There is also Edinburgh Castle which houses the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny. The city’s food scene is thriving, with a mix of Michelin-starred restaurants, trendy cafes, pubs and bars.
Leeds is the fourth largest city in the UK, but the main area is surprisingly compact, making it perfect for a few days of exploring. Despite its size, the town manages to combine the best aspects of city life with strong ties to the rural Yorkshire countryside.
Being a student town there is no shortage of clubs and bars but if that’s not your scene there are loads of restaurants to dine in including a number of rooftop bars for 360 views city degrees.
Liverpool is probably best known for its live music scene, but that’s not all the city has to offer. Expect inspiring architecture, trendy alleys, boutiques, over 2,500 listed buildings and world-class museums.
The town is lively and full of Scousers who are always smiling and happy to chat. Towns rich in maritime history and the Royal Albert Dock are packed with independent shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and local attractions.
Somehow is not number one. Smoking.
If you’ve never been to Manchester before, you’re seriously missing out. As in Liverpool, you’ll find plenty of music and football fans here, but there’s a whole other side to the city. There are a number of exhibitions, art galleries and cultural institutions with a young and vibrant population.
Nightlife is a main attraction point for people with famous clubs like The Haçienda being born right in the heart of the city. Bands like The Stone Roses, The Smiths also hail from Manchester, so expect some heavy rock influences.
Newcastle is famous for being a party town – it’s the kind of town where you’ll want to break out your stilettos and run into town. But it’s not just the nightclubs and bars that this town is famous for – it’s also packed with cultural landmarks like the iconic Sage Gateshead, an open music venue by the River Tyne that’s Newcastle’s version of Sydney Opera.
There’s a thriving local foodie scene and Geordies pride themselves on their friendly nature, so expect to see lots of friendly smiles.
Famous for its college and Gothic architecture, Oxford is one of those cities where international tourists flock in droves. But don’t let that influence your visit, the cobbled streets and restaurant scene make this the perfect romantic getaway.
It’s no surprise that the town is full of history and most people recommend taking a walking tour to really get a sense of the town and once you’re done you can have a pint in a pub medieval.
York has been a big city since Roman times, so there’s plenty of history to immerse yourself in. York Minster Cathedral is definitely worth a visit, as are the city walls, which you can walk through and really imagine what Roman times were like. Shambles is probably York’s most famous street with Harry Potter fans flocking there. Don’t forget to try some of Yorkshire’s famous tea rooms.
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