The best places to visit in UK - depicts UK countryside hills

The 10 best places to visit in the UK that aren’t London

There’s no denying that London is an amazing city to visit and it’s often the first things on the agenda for any visit to the UK. However, many people leave London with a jaded view of what the UK has to offer, having missed out many of the key historic cities and beautiful countryside. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to the UK or you live here, take time to escape the capital and explore the amazing sites, scenery and experiences of one of the most cultural places on earth.

Read on for the best places to visit in the UK, outside of London. You won’t have time to visit everywhere, so we’ve hand selected our top 10!

Bath

Best places to visit in the UK - depicts Bath river and buildings

Bath is one of Britain’s most appealing cities. It’s retained its age-old heritage of Roman and Georgian architecture, and you can walk the whole city on foot within a few hours. The main attraction to Bath is its beautiful buildings, cultural museums and quaint tearooms. It’s a pretty place to visit with your partner and it has a distinct lack of big city buzz – which we love!

The top thing to do here is a visit to the ancient Roman baths. This collection of heated baths will relax you and have you feeling like Roman royalty in astoundingly impressive surroundings. On an evening, take a trip to the theatre or dine in one of the top-class restaurants. Nightlife here is relaxed but fun!

Top tip: Hotels in Bath can be pretty expensive as it’s a small but popular city. Stay in an Airbnb just outside of Bath to enjoy the countryside views and save money.

Top things to see or do:

  • Roman Baths
  • Prior Park and Royal Victoria Park
  • Royal Crescent & The Circus architecture

York

Best UK cities - York old city streets

If you’re heading north (and you definitely should), the legendary city of York should be one of your first ports of call. This compact city centre has the remains of the iconic York castle, which was built by William the Conqueror in 1068. Wandering around York, you’ll find cobbled streets and alleyways, lively corner pubs and a weekend market full of craft and food stalls.

Spend your days visiting museums and learning about the history of the city, which has a strong Viking heritage. There’s also plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to check out, each bearing a rustic atmosphere that will feel like you’re drinking a pint of beer in the middle ages. We particularly like the gift shops in York so be sure to buy a few souvenirs for the family back home. An ‘old fashioned’ sweet shop is also a must-visit!

Top tip: Have breakfast or lunch at Betty’s Tea Rooms. This exquisite Yorkshire café is famous in the area and well worth experiencing. Arrive early to beat the queues.

Top things to see or do:

  • The Shambles streets, market, pubs and shops
  • York Castle Museum
  • National Railway Museum

Edinburgh

Depicts aerial view of Edinburgh city - Top UK cities

Deciding whether to visit Glasgow or Edinburgh can be a tough choice as both cities are great and have their own unique attraction. We picked Edinburgh as it has the most attractions and historic sites to visit and it’s more of a tourist city than neighbouring Glasgow. Noted as one of the best cities in Europe, Edinburgh is a must-see for anyone. The welcoming and down-to-earth warmth of the Scottish people can be felt throughout the city and there’s lots to see and do.

See top sites such as the castle, multiple world-class museums and bustling centre full of markets, festivals, bars and restaurants. Head to Arthur’s Seat viewpoint for sunset and experience amazing views of the city to end your stay here. The best time to visit Edinburgh is during the month of August, where the Fringe festival brings the city alive with comedy, film and celebration!

Top tip: Join a free city centre walking tour to discover the background stories behind the main sites and city areas.

Top things to see or do:

  • Edinburgh Castle and gardens
  • Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat viewing point
  • Royal Yacht Britannia

The Lake District

Depicts valleys and a lake in the Lake District

The UK may be known for its historic cities, but it also has rich green countryside and stunning rural landscapes. The Lake District to the north-west of England boasts some of the best scenery on offer! As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the UK’s largest national park, it attracts over 15 million visitors a year and we can definitely see why. The Lakes are a welcome escape from city life, in a quiet nature retreat.

A visit to the Lake District entails exactly what you wish for. Go for long hikes among the luscious valleys, have a picnic by the lake, or explore the local pubs, cafes and shops on foot, in one of many quaint villages. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, you have a number of adventure parks that have activities such as ziplining, rock climbing, kayaking and more! Couples’ bonding or family adventures is what the Lakes does best!

Top tip: Pack a small bag of essentials before heading out to explore. This can include a rain jacket, torch, map, compass, water, food and camera. And wear good quality footwear for walking!

Top things to see or do:

  • Lake Windemere
  • Hiking the hills of Catbells Lakeland
  • Visit an adventure park

Dorset Coast

Depicts Jurassic coastline beaches in Dorset

If you think the UK isn’t the place to go for nice beaches and stunning coastlines, you haven’t been to the Dorset coast. Arguably the best beaches in the country can be found here, shadowed by tall, crumbling cliffs, impressive land formations and beautiful bays. Go for a tour of the coastline and stop off at the different viewpoints to capture excellent pictures of the scenery, or retire to a golden-sand beach in the warm summer months.

An excursion to Dorset usually involves staying in a cute cottage inland and exploring the area by car. Tucked back from the coast you have grand country mansions, villages and luscious countryside, whereas the beaches are the place to go for adventure. You may wish to stay in the lively city of Bournemouth, which has an active student population and buzzing nightlife.

Top tip: Rent a car and go on a road trip to see as much of the south coast as you can. The Jurassic Coast has some amazing view points and scenery to take pictures of and you’ll need a car to see them all.

Top things to see or do:

  • Explore the amazing scenery of the Jurassic Coast
  • Hengistbury Head Beach
  • Explore Brownsea Island

Newcastle

Depicts the River Tyne and Tyne Bridge in Newcastle

Out of all of the UK cities we could have picked, Newcastle had to be on our list. This cheery northern city has the friendliest people in the UK, a vibrant nightlife and a culture that mixes modern working life with rich cultural heritage. It’s a superb location for a weekend break and prices are a lot cheaper than other UK destinations – perfect if you’re on a budget!

Take a stroll down the iconic Quayside to see the famous bridges, catch a performance at the Sage or Theatre Royal, and generally get lost in a compact city that mixes modern shops, bars and restaurants with cobblestones of the past. The architecture here is enchanting and the whole city oozes a cultural appeal that you’ll love. No-one ever visited Newcastle and didn’t have a good time! Be sure to check out the nightlife – whether you want a relaxing cocktail bar or comedy venue or a long night of clubbing.

Top tip: If you’re staying in Newcastle for at least 3 days, venture out to the wider area and explore what the North East has to offer! Alnwick Castle, Seahouses and Beamish Museum are all excellent.

Top things to see or do:

  • Gateshead/Newcastle Quayside, a glorious collection of bridges old and new. There’s also a market and plenty of bars and restaurants with a view
  • The Gateshead Angel
  • See a football match at the mighty home of Newcastle United, St James’ Park

Cornwall

Where to go in the UK - Cornwall coastline

Cornwall is the south-western most point of the UK; a land once inhabited by the Celtic tribes and an alluring coastline of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s best known to Brits as the place to visit for relaxed holidays in the sun and the ideal retirement retreat. It also attracts a lot of creatives, inspiring the rise of quirky cafes, bars and restaurants, mixed with traditional countryside bistro’s and fish and chip shops.

Once you reach Cornwall, you’ll spend your week surfing the most beastly waves in England, relaxing on the beach and sightseeing a coast of castles, coves and ancient ruins. The entire stretch of land is like a scene out of Game of Thrones!

Top tip: Hotels can be busy in the summer months. Rent an AirBnB holiday home for more space at a cheaper price. Glamping is another quirky and affordable option. Bonus tip #2: Stop off at the highly interesting ‘Eden Project’ on the drive down to Cornwall.

Top things to see or do:

  • Relax on Fistral Beach in Newquay
  • Go surfing on one of the many beaches
  • Watch a performance at Minack Open-Air Theatre

The Cotswolds

Depicts quaint village in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are the cosy villages and meadows situated to the west of London and Oxford. It’s a place that Londoners visit for a romantic and quiet weekend away from the big city. Featured in many British films and famous novels, the Cotswolds is an idyllic gathering of cottages, fields, nature parks and small towns that are postcard-pretty. Life here is simple and reminiscent of the old days, and we’re sure you’ll love it!

Escape to the Cotswolds for a quiet retreat with your partner, going for long walks through the fields, gift shopping in small villages and generally getting lost in some of the best natural environments in Southern England.

Top tip: Rent a car to explore the Cotswolds to the fullest. Drive the narrow winding streets and stop-off wherever you see the perfect picnic spot.

Top things to see or do:

  • Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens
  • Wander through the fairytale-perfect Castle Combe Village and Bourton-on-the-Water
  • WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Cambridge

Depicts a group of friends on a boat on the Cambridge river

Cambridge is one of the two world-renowned University cities in the UK, the other being Oxford. Tourists come here to see the seemingly ‘unchanged for centuries’ buildings, the intruiguing University and botanical gardens, and a small city centre with narrow streets of boutique cafes, shops and restaurants.

Venturing around the outside of the city, you’ll stumble upon winding rivers and meadows where you can relax with a book or have a picnic. The most popular activity here is ‘Punting’, which involves standing up in a narrow boat and paddling down the river at your leisure. It’s a fun activity with friends or the whole family! When you’re not enjoying nature or roaming the city streets, retreat to one of the many museums and learn about everything from polar adventures to ancient Rome and Egypt.

Top tip: Hire a bike to explore the city with ease and escape into the outer meadows. You’ll conserve energy and see more sights!

Top things to see or do:

  • Go punting on the river
  • Cambridge University Botanical Garden
  • Fitzwilliam Museum

Liverpool

Depicts the Beatles statue in Liverpool city centre - the coolest UK cities

Only rivalled by Newcastle and Bristol for nightlife, Liverpool is one of the most entertaining cities you’ll visit! The local Scouse people will make you welcome and the atmosphere is very unlike what you’ll find in the south. Liverpool is culture rich and there’s plenty to see and do during the day, whilst it’s just as eventful at night.

Check out top museums and learn about the life of the Beatles (you can even visit John Lennon’s old home), take a stroll by the docks and enjoy lunch with a view, or go shopping at the excellent Liverpool One centre. There’s plenty of museums, galleries and sights to see in Liverpool and it’ll keep you entertained for a full weekend. Go to a nice restaurant and cocktail bar on an evening or venture into the depths of Liverpool clubs and pubs.

Top tip: If you’re a football fan, get tickets to a Liverpool FC or Everton match. These rival clubs both have some of the best Premier League atmosphere in England and you’ll meet plenty of funny, down-to-earth locals.

Top things to see or do:

  • The Beatles Story
  • Prior Park and Royal Victoria Park
  • Royal Crescent & The Circus Architecture

The above is our favourite collection of places to visit in the UK outside of London, however there’s countless other small towns, large cities and countryside retreats to visit, including Wales, Manchester, Glasgow and Canterbury. Research the destinations to their fullest and explore the places that best suit you! If you live in the UK and haven’t been to any of the locations on our list, what are you waiting for? Sometimes the best things to do are closet to home! Get in touch if you have any questions about the destinations we’ve featured.


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