London is the world’s center of art, theatre, literature music and culture as it houses the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, the British Museum, Big Ben, and several other British icons. Not to mention, the cities great shopping, colorful markets, and gorgeous greenery.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and the sear of its Parliament. This university city encompasses historic qualities in a dramatic setting. In Edinburgh one will find one thousand year old castles, a mountain called "Arthur’s Seat" smack in the middle of town, as well as the world’s largest performing arts festival.
Manchester is commonly regarded as the first modern city. During the 18th century, Manchester city was the cotton making capital of the world. Only thirty miles from Liverpool, this Northwestern city planted seedlings of the industrial revolution. The many industrial tycoons and entrepreneurs showered the city with theatres, galleries, museums, libraries, and breathtaking civic architecture. However, 1996 an IRA bomb hit the city leaving it with a dramatically new 21st century city scapes. The city’s highlights now include the home of Manchester’s Halle Orchestra, Bridgewater Hall and the Daniel Libeskind designed Imperial War Museum.
Throughout the 19th century and into the first half of the 20th, Birmingham was the manufacturing engine of Britain. The steam engines, Orient Express and Transatlantic Cable were both Birmingham built and were the beginning stages of the British motor industry. Presently, Birmingham is the United Kingdom's second largest city with a population of over a million. Birmingham is best known for its history, vivid arts, vast music scene and some of the best shopping in England.
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the third biggest city within the United Kingdom. During 1995, Glasgow was known as the European Capital of of Culture and then in 2008 was named one of the top ten cities for tourists to visit. Glasgow was even named one of the world’s top fifty safest cities to travel to. Not to mention, it was thirty spaces above London on the safest cities list. Today, Glasgow is known as hip destination for travelers to view beautiful contemporary art, and to visit noteworthy fashion boutiques, comedy clubs, and jazz hangouts.
Most people immediately associate Liverpool with the Beatles. One is not wrong in doing so but Liverpool does have a lot more to offer than a Beatles tour bus. Liverpool may have had its ups and downs over the past years but the historic city’s most recent revival truly has placed it higher up on the must see list. When visiting Liverpool you must go to the UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Albert Docks and visit the International Slavery Museum discussing Britain's slavery/spread of trade. Plus, there is plenty of trendy hotels, dining, clubs, shopping and the ever famous Tate Gallery to see as well.
Bristol may be a smaller city, but it is just as attractive and full of history as the larger cities within the UK. Stonehenge, Warwick Castle, Cheddar Gorge, Bath, Longleat, as well as Stratford-upon-Avon are all found within Bristols borders and are well worth taking the trip to explore. Bristol is a destination you seriously do not want to miss. It is rich in culture, history, and innovation.
Not only is Oxford home to England’s oldest University, Oxford University, it also dates all the way back to the 11th century. Thus, it is not a surprise that the oldest public museum in England, The Ashmolean, resides in Oxford too. In Oxford one can enjoy shopping covered farmers markets, discovering hidden pubs, exploring haunted castles, staying a night in a hotel that was once a jail, joining in University tours, and visiting locations where the infamous Harry Potter movies were filmed. Oxford is the perfect day trip getaway from London.
Cambridge is home to Britain's second oldest university, Cambridge College. Cambridge was founded in 1209 so needless to say it is full of fascinating galleries and museums immersed in the city’s history. Plus, visiting the local colleges like Kings College Chapel to view its majestic Jacobean architecture is a sight to see all on its own. Although, Cambridge is smaller and less developed than Oxford, it is nevertheless, a beautiful place to visit with an ever improving scene of tasty restaurants and pubs.
Wale’s capital, Cardiff, is the largest city within its borders. During 2006, the city underwent a major renovation and redeveloped the Cardiff Bay waterfront as well as the Senedd. And in 2004, the Wales Millennium Centre performance theatre opened its doors welcoming visitors to enjoy free performances daily. The building is striking with its bronzed steel, Welsh slate, and reflection of the breathtaking Welsh Landscape. Cardiff does have its own history which can be viewed at the 2,000 year old Cardiff Castle.
Brighton is best known for its hip and vibrant seaside resorts. Just sixty miles from the capital you will find the city known as "London’s Beach". Brighton is great for shopping, dining, water excursions, aquariums, theaters, night outings, and Regency Houses. Needless to say, the breezy sea ambience is enough to make anyone want to visit the city. Although Brighton may be known as London’s Beach, do not plan on heading straight into the water. The water is typically on the colder side but the views and atmosphere definitely make up for this factor.
Newcastle began as a Roman fort meant for defending the Hadrian's Wall eastern end. Today the fort is now apart of the Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum and is filled with several archeological finds from the historic site. Newcastle is now known for its legendary nightlife, performance artists, and spawning bands. Jimi Hendrix even lived in Newcastle during the 1960s. After the millennium, Newcastle/Gateshead were transformed into an artsy and futuristic landscape. Not to mention, the city is home to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art which is the biggest exhibition of contemporary art in the world. A short drive away from the Centre is the Sage Gateshead, a super modern performance music and learning center.
Many call Leeds "The Knightsbridge of the North" because the city was built upon a tradition of clothing, wool, and textile manufacturing. Leeds is one of the United Kingdom's biggest hubs for fashion and retail. There are numerous shops throughout Leeds full of glamorous clothing in some of the most breathtaking Victorian arcades along the Yorkshire countryside. Plus, the Leeds nightlife isn’t too shabby either. Presently, Leeds is most well known for its IT companies as the city itself hosts more than a third of the entire United Kingdom's internet traffic. Leeds also holds more ISDN lines per person in population than any other major metropolitan city in the world.
York is a small northern English city that has played an important role in the Uk’s history for at least two thousand years. York is home to several Medieval, Viking, and Roman monuments that are considered architectural treasures. The city itself is great for walking, exploring ruins, visiting organic farmers markets, and shopping at trendy boutique shops. One of the greatest gothic cathedrals in Europe, York Minster, is also located in the city and can be viewed from any vantage point within its borders. The stained glass windows bigger than a standard sized tennis court are hard to miss.
Inverness is less a city to solely visit on its own, but serves more as a gateway to Scotland. Right outside of Inverness, is the Culloden Battlefield where one of the greatest losses in Scottish history occurred and it is truly a sight to see. To the Southwest of Inverness is Loch Ness, a great body of water located at the northern end of the Great Glen. The Loch Ness is apart of a greater water system consisting of many canals that lead throughout Scotland. On the Caledonian and Coach canals tours can be arranged to visit the loch where one can try to spot the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Urquhart Castle is also a great place to look out for Nessie as well. Lastly, East of Inverness, surrounding the River Spey, is an area best known for Scotch whisky tourism. Speyside distilleries are known for cooking up some of the most treasured whiskies in the world. Be sure to take a tour here when visiting Inverness.
The entire city of Bath is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its two thousand year old Romans Baths, Georgian terraces, and historical Pump Room. Not to mention, Bath is a great place to visit delicious restaurants, shop some of the world's best fashion, see unique museums, and visit a multi-million pound thermal spa. Bath’s many sights to see include the Bath Abbey - a 1,200 year old Christian place of worship, The Jane Austen Center - where 18th and 19th century Roman Baths and Pump Room are located, and the No.1 Royal Crescent - a museum converted from the first house built on the 18th century Royal Crescent.
Nottingham is home to over three hundred bars, restaurants, and clubs with a vastly large music scene. These factors are no surprise as Nottingham holds the third largest student population in the United Kingdom. However, Nottingham is not just full of students, it is also full of history. Many visitors come to Nottingham in search of the Mayflower Trail as Nottingham was once known as the heart of Pilgrim Country. The Mayflower Trail is a circular route that leads through the villages of Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, and Lincolnshire. Nottingham is also famous for the origins of Robin Hood that began at the Nottingham Castle. And just North of the city lies the remains of the legendary Sherwood Forest - visitors are still welcome to visit the 450 acres of Britain's oldest oak trees.
Reading was once a city highly influential in the Middle ages but presently is known as a very commercial city focused on technological advancements. However, some of England’s iconic sites lay just outside the border of Reading such as Windsor Castle, and the Henley regatta. But, Reading is probably most famous for its two popular festivals - the Reading Comedy Festival and the Reading Music Festival.
The Reading Comedy Festival takes place every Autumn and is a three week long event full of dozens of British and Irish comedians. Several fans throughout the United Kingdom travel to see this festival annually. The Reading Music Festival is one of the United Kingdom's largest festivals all year. Each August, the Reading Festival and the Leeds Festival pair up lineups and host the same bands on the same weekend. After an artist plays a set at one festival they rush across the country to appear at the other.
130 miles Northeast of Edinburgh is Aberdeen. This North Sea coast city is what boomtowns are made of. Prior to the North Sea oil discovery in the 1970s, Aberdeen was Scotland’s third largest fishing port. Although once the oil tycoons took over, Aberdeen became chock full of hotels, designer shops, and restaurants with prices comparable to London. Not to mention, the city is built entirely of local granite and in good weather you can see the mica in the stones sparkle from the sun.
Chester’s streets are filled with beautifully kept half-timbered buildings - something you would picture in an old timey theme park. It almost doesn’t look real. These partial Victorian reproductions of earlier buildings are some of the best medieval replicas you will witness. It is as if a gallery came to life. The Three Arches on Bridge Street are worth a visit. They contain gallery shops from the 1200s that survived the 13th century Black Plague and even the 17th century English Civil War. Plus, the luxury hotels are notably worth a stay.
See also Save on UK Travel.