The popularity of the ‘staycation’ has seen a renewed interest in UK towns and cities as annual holiday destinations. If you’re not a fan of flying, or you’re looking to save cash, British shores can be a great, simple option. The same goes for the city break. While Barcelona or Prague may have certain appeal, there are plenty of UK cities with hidden delights of their own. In fact, for those looking to do something different with spare weekends, it’s all about the British city break now.
Ideal UK city break destinations
A historic town in southwest England, Bath is renowned for its Georgian architecture and Jane Austen’s influence. The old Roman Baths here provide a site of local interest and have also inspired a wonderful and luxurious modern spa. A wealth of shops, restaurants and bars give the city a cosmopolitan, as well as ancient, appeal.
- St Ives
Wild and bohemian, St Ives is a city break by the sea that is also a gateway to the dramatic Cornish coast. This is a perfect spot for art lovers as St Ives has its own Tate, which has a garden dedicated to artist Barbara Hepworth who lived nearby.
Again, a destination by the sea that has more to offer than just sandcastles and candy floss. Brighton is a wonderfully eccentric city with a thriving restaurant scene that is renowned for its vintage shops and artsy corners. Spend your day shopping for treasures in the Laines, try a coastal walk, have a cream tea or browse the markets. When the sun goes down enjoy the legendary Brighton nightlife, whether that’s the thriving gay scene, or a night at the theatre.
It’s impossible to leave London off the city breaks list as there’s just so much to do in this sprawling metropolis. Foodies can head to Borough Market for cheese, wine and cakes. History buffs can explore everything from the Elizabethans to the art collection of the current queen. Be a tourist and take a bus or boat tour or get pampered at one of the city’s spas. Explore famous art galleries and museums or shop until you drop on Oxford Street. Whatever your budget, there are quick break options for you.
Second only to London, Edinburgh is a hugely popular destination for city breaks. Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Park are must-see spots and whisky tasting is a great way to spend an afternoon. Drop in on the Royal Yacht Britannia to see the British royals’ 1950s floating holiday home. Buy a deep fried Mars Bar from a local chippie for a totally new culinary experience. Walking tours are a great way to explore the town. Themed tours, such as ghost tours or literary pub tours, provide insight into local history and legend.
Positioned right on the edge of the South Downs National Park, Winchester is the perfect location for ramblers, hikers and cyclists seeking open horizons and country routes. The town itself has plenty to offer too, from the historical cathedral, to the monthly antiques markets. Have tea at Lainston House or wander through the water meadows. See King Arthur’s medieval round table at the Great Hall and finish your day with a real ale in a pub with a roaring open fire.
The dreaming spires of a renowned university are enough to draw many people to Oxford. However, the city isn’t just about students and Inspector Morse. There are glorious parks, museums and theatres across the city that offer tranquility, entertainment and interest beyond the academic kind. The Bridge of Sighs, Iffley Lock and the covered markets are popular with visitors. The city also has a thriving nightlife scene, particularly when it comes to live music.
Once a grim, industrial town, Liverpool is now an artistic and cultural hub that attracts visitors from all over the world. Whether you want to connect with some Beatles heritage, browse the Walker Art Gallery or wonder at the cathedral, there is plenty to see and do.
This Welsh town is actually one of the UK’s most popular visitor spots. Take the tram up to the summit of the Great Orme to see the famous copper mine. Alternatively, enjoy a ride in the cable car or go mountain walking. Indulge in the local Conwy mussels, Cenarth cheese and Taffy Apple Cider. When you’ve finished, walk it all off on the picturesque promenade.
York was built by the Romans and captured by the Vikings so history is everywhere in this pretty city. Visit the Yorkshire Museum and Gardens to explore this heritage through exhibits. Alternatively, wander around York Minster and York Castle to see it first hand. If more modern history is what you prefer, the blast proof nuclear bunker is a fascinating spot. York is the foodie capital of the county so leave plenty of time for pubs, markets and perhaps an afternoon tea.
Football, music, canals and shopping provide a firm foundation for a fantastic weekend away in Manchester. Whether your interest lies in the music of Oasis or the works of the Lowry Art Complex, the city has something for everyone. Canal Street, the Arndale Centre and Old Trafford are a few of the modern draws. For history-rich locations, try the Manchester Opera House, the Town Hall and the People’s History Museum.
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