Rolling hills, afternoon tea and the Queen. British culture summed up in three words, right? Wrong! London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world (for lots of good reasons!) and a magnificent insight into British culture. However, there’s so much more to see in all corners of the UK. We’ve chosen five top cities highlights that represent different side of the country.
Undoubtedly a gem of the UK and the beating heart of Scotland, Edinburgh truly is a magical place full of castles, paved streets, and of course, deep-fried mars bars. The birthplace of the Fringe, one of the oldest and historic arts festivals in the world, its artistic credentials are top notch. August is the best time to experience its vibrant, animated and exciting vibes, with comedians and musicians lining the streets in a real circus atmosphere!
Other highlights include walking around Princes Street in New Town, loaded with a whole range of quirky second-hand clothes shops and cozy Scottish pubs perfect for a dram of traditional Scottish whiskey.
Arthur’s Seat is s must-see, if you don’t mind a little walk. Once described by Robert Louis Stevenson as ‘a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design’, it features heavily in the myths of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and is also perfect for views of the magnificent countryside.
But wait there’s more! Edinburgh castle is another landmark of note and a key figure in the city skyline. As you can see in the picture, it has dominated the city since the 2nd century. The castle also hosts the royal crown jewels of Scotland. Parades occur there frequently, and provide great entertainment for tourists. Finally, if you’re offered some haggis, make sure you ask what it is before you try some!
Welcome to the land of sheep, singing and rugby!
A particular favorite of ours is a day trip to Cardiff Castle. It has recently undergone large scale renovation works and is ideal for all tourists, but especially young families, as the tours are active, engaging and full of interesting history. 2000 years of it to be exact!
Cardiff Market is also a hotspot. Under one great glass roof you will find a hub of buzzing activity, rows of small, independent businesses and a wealth of products ranging from traditional Welsh cuisine to artisan coffee; vintage clothing to second hand records; and even fruit and veg to a ‘psychic medium’!
Above all, make sure to check out the sports venues that this city has to offer - especially the Principality Stadium during a rugby Six Nations match!
Oxford is called the city of dreaming spires and we agree. With beautiful buildings everywhere, the aesthetics of this city are sure to blow you away.
It also has the history to match its beauty. The Bodleian Library, which lies in the center of the city, is one of the oldest and biggest libraries in Britain, surviving since the Middle Ages. The building you can see in this image is actually the Radcliffe Camera, situated just in front of the old library. Although only the university students are allowed to enter, its 360° panoramic views are some of the best in the world: yes, you heard that right!
Sunny days are perfect for punting along the River Cherwell, adjacent to Magdalen Bridge. If the weather isn’t so pleasant, (which is always a possibility!) then book tickets to the Ashmolean Museum for a wonderful trip through history and art exhibits.
Conveniently, Oxford is only a 90-minute drive from London and has a direct train service from Paddington and Marylebone. If you're lucky, some colleges will be open for tours, and you can visit some of England's most magical gardens and buildings!
Full of elegance and tradition, water features, and green spaces, Bath is ideal for a day trip spent walking around gazing at the sights.
Naturally, the main attraction of the city is the network of Roman baths. In the museum surrounding this strange natural phenomenon, there are plenty of Interactive exhibits and CGI reconstructions which bring this unique ancient site back to life, showing how important the baths were to our Roman ancestors.
Right next door to the Roman Baths, you can find Bath Abbey, the city's centerpiece. Founded in the 7th Century, it is one of the highest buildings in Bath. Fun fact: Built with Bath Stone, the Abbey matches the rest of the city. This is because Bath stone has a distinct color and is protected to preserve the same traditional atmosphere.
Sports fans can also take a matchday trip to visit the Rec, home to Bath rugby and one of the most scenic sports venues in the UK!
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Next, we move across the Irish Sea to Belfast, Northern Island. The city has historic landmarks such as Belfast Castle and Belfast City Hall along with a unique blend of traditional and modern culture. This vibrant cultural hub is located on northern Ireland’s eastern coast, and only a 1.5 hour flight from London!
You can get a good hang of Belfast’s history by just walking around its streets packed with lively pubs, iconic buildings, boutique shopping and a myriad of historic museums. If you travel to Queens Road, you’ll find Titanic Belfast, the site of the launch of one of the most famous ships in history. The adjoining museum has nine galleries that take you through the story of the Titanic.
Want to be surrounded by nature? The Botanic Gardens nearby present an incredible range of flowers, trees, and even a bowling place and a playground. If you’re looking for views, then we recommend Cave Hill, where you can enjoy panoramic views across the city from different viewpoints.
One of our top picks are the Peace Walls, detailing the conflict between Nationalists and Loyalists. Similar to the Berlin Wall, they are a series of decorated walls full of peace-themed paintings and graffiti. Make sure you hurry, as the government is planning to remove these in the next 18 months!
There you are! We hope you enjoyed our take on these five magnificent English, Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish cities in the UK. We’ve given you all our top tips for sights, tourist attractions, history, and beautiful architecture. Make sure you try the food and see all the different cultural differences with each location, Maybe even pick up an accent! Be sure to let us know if there are any other cities we should mention and should you decide to visit the capital, check our guide to London here.