No-one would disagree that London is a fabulous place, but there are other UK cities to visit that offer a fabulous experience. Whilst not having the sheer quantity of attractions or the pomp and circumstance of London, all UK cities are full of character, history and tons of things to see and do. Out of the 66 there are, here are my suggestions for UK cities that should be on a travel itinerary.
Readers of The Telegraph newspaper voted the Scottish capital top of the UK cities to visit before they died. The majestic Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat (an extinct volcano) look down on a beautiful city that has one of the best shopping streets in the UK (Princes Street) and a wealth of historic buildings. Princes Gardens are a lovely place to relax while Holyrood House will satisfy culture vultures. Of course, the biggest attraction of the city, known as the “Athens of the North,” is arguably the Fringe Festival.
Known as the “City of Gleaming Spires,” Oxford is one of the world’s greatest seats of learning. The hallowed halls of 39 colleges that make up Oxford University dominate with their magnificent architecture and gorgeous grounds. Go punting on the river, make like a student and take to the streets on a bike, enjoy a cold beer in ancient pubs, listen to the choir in Kings, or browse the trendy shops.
So long shunned because of the “Troubles,” Belfast is emerging from years of travelers’ fears to be among the top UK city destinations. 2012 was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of The Titanic, and the city where the tragic ship was built went all out to showcase itself, including the opening of a magnificent exhibition dedicated to the Titanic story. Elsewhere, Belfast has benefited from massive regeneration projects including the old dockyards and Victoria Square, and the waterfront now boasts some of the best nightlife in the UK.
We’ve been to Scotland, and Northern Ireland, so we can’t leave out Wales. Cardiff is one of the most pleasant cities in the UK. The docklands, a magnificent castle, the Norwegian Church and Llandaff Cathedral provide the historical interest and have been joined by the more modern Millennium Centre and Stadium and the Welsh Assembly building. St. David’s shopping centre has all the shops you need as well as a Jamie Oliver restaurant, and sci-fi fans will love to know that the BBC Dr. Who Exhibition is one of the great attractions of Cardiff.
Bath has had glorious periods in its history and both are related to the same feature. Firstly, when the Romans ruled Ancient Britain they discovered thermal waters and built magnificent baths on the site. The baths still stand today and are a hugely popular attraction. Secondly, the age of elegance came to Bath during the Regency period when the good, rich and fashionable of society descended on the city for the “Season,” to take to the waters and be seen promenading the streets and dancing in the Pump Rooms. Nowhere is the elegance of these times captured like in the Royal Crescent.
Just a couple of decades ago you’d have probably stayed clear of Glasgow. Today however, thanks to having been a European City of Culture and the preparation for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the Scottish city has much to commend it. It has thrown off the shroud of neglect and decay to emerge vibrant and worthy. There’s a long history of outstanding culture in the city, particularly associated with the Glasgow School of Art and the likes of Charles Rennie McIntosh. The waterfront has been revitalized and there’s a raw edginess to the fabulous club culture here. Great shopping in Sauchiehall Street too.
Arguing with Birmingham to be named the second of the UK cities after London, the best way to describe Manchester to the uninitiated is that it is like a grown up campus university. It has some of the best sport in the UK, some of the best shopping (Trafford Center), a great food scene (a trip to Curry Mile is a must-do) and arguably the best club and music scene outside of London. Love the bohemian chic of the trendy bars and boutiques of the Northern Quarter, the full-on pinkness of the Gay Village or get down with the sweet smell of success in stylish Castlefield.
Another one of the cities in the UK with a marvelous history, York is quaint and charming. Its long association with the Vikings is commemorated in the excellent Jorvik Centre, whilst the nest of winding and cobbled streets of The Shambles are so redolent of a bygone era, you’ll wish the Machine Age had never happened. You can really soak up the culture here with the magnificent York Minster being hailed as one of the greatest churches in the land and a whole clutch of interesting museums.
Any Brits reading this will ask how come I’ve included Manchester but not Liverpool, Oxford but not Cambridge etc etc, but I had to choose 8 only. To be honest you really could pick another 50 UK cities or so – each of them with plenty to commend them – including my city of birth, Birmingham. What are your recommendations, and why?
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