There’s so much more to the UK than London. Yes, London is an amazing city and all that but the UK has so many different beautiful and exciting cities that most people miss out on thanks to appeal of the bright lights of London. I have lived all across the UK and experienced life in different parts of the country and even though I currently call London home, it seems right and quite apt to put together a list of some of the UK’s amazing cities (asides London) that you definitely need to visit.

14 Cities Outside of London That You Need To Visit In The UK!

1.) Edinburgh: This is the second most visited city outside of London already and is a city that is truly defined by its beautifully preserved historic buildings, strong and rich culture, food and people. Edinburgh has been home to me for many years in the past and is the perfect city in that there is so much to see and do here and yet it still manages to be intimate enough (definitely more so than London) that you can actually get to know your neighbours and truly call this amazing city home.

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2.) Glasgow: This might sound slightly controversial to some but Glasgow is perhaps best defined as Edinburgh’s grittier, savvier and perhaps edgier sister. Glasgow is the biggest city in Scotland by population and is a truly vibrant city. It arguably has better shopping and nightlife than Edinburgh although Edinburgh might boast historical architectural treasures. Glasgow is louder, wilder and more fiery than it’s sister city while still packing in lotsa of sights guaranteed to keep you entertained and is definitely worth visiting when you’re in the UK.

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3.) Newcastle: Newcastle is one of those cities that always surprises people. Everyone comes back from the city impressed when they realise it’s so much more than what MTV and tabloid magazines would like to portray it as. The people are very down to earth and the city is actually quite charming. The nightlife here is pretty fantastic too and seeing as it’s partway between London and Edinburgh, a trip to Edinburgh definitely requires a stop over in Newcastle.

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4.) Cardiff: The Welsh capital city is one of those cities you would expect to be quiet and a bit more laid-back but it is actually one of the busiest cities to visit (especially on a Saturday night out). Cardiff is a good starting point for anyone who’s never experience Welsh life and Welsh hospitality and is easily one of my favourite cities in the UK (I kid you not, I planned on moving here at one point). It may not have as many sights to see as say London (but let’s face it, no other city has as many sights to see as London really) but what will keep you in Cardiff long after you’ve arrived is the sheer openness, fun attitude and warmth of its people!

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5.) Bath: Famed for it’s Roman Baths (hence the name) Bath is one city everyone needs to visit in the UK at least once! The city has such an amazing history – along with some of the UK’s more exclusive postcodes outside of London. Visitors all over the world flock to Bath each year and it’s once of the most popular cities to visit so if you’ve never considered it before, you probably should now.

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6.) Oxford: The ancient seat of academic learning (i.e. Oxford University) pretty much defines this city but that’s not a bad thing. On the contrary, it lends itself to some amazing architecture, a ridiculously detailed and documented history and a good balance of activities to get involved with even outside of sight seeing. Oxford is also ridiculously close to London (just over 1 hour on the train from London Paddington station) so you have no excuse for not visiting if you ever find yourself in London.

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7.) Cambridge: Cambridge is, without a doubt, one of the prettiest places to visit in the UK! Like Oxford, the University defines quite a lot of the look and feel of the town but unlike Oxford, Cambridge is spread out over a smaller space so it’s so much easier to see all the sights in Cambridge on foot or via bicycle than perhaps one could in Oxford. Also, and maybe this is just the Cambridge man in me speaking but the buildings have so much more character than Oxford as Cambridge didn’t have its own local stone during the early days of the University and so the stones used to make the buildings were all different – hence why you’ll find the different colleges and buildings all have different colours unlike Oxford which has it’s own local stones and hence has more uniform looking buildings.

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8.) Liverpool: Another city that people are constantly surprised by is Liverpool. Again, everyone I know who’s visited has been surprised by the startling amount of sights to see in the city, the activities to get up to and the nightlife on offer. It’s a truly vibrant city also characterised by the down-to-earth honest that one can expect from a Northern city.

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9.) Inverness: The appeal of this city is not so much so the city itself (there’s that too) but instead, its proximity to amazing natural sights! Inverness is one of those cities that’s fantastic to visit and set your based in while you explore more of Scotland’s natural heritage. It is by no means as large (or as busy) as some of Scotland’s larger cities but that in itself has its own charm.

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10.) Bristol: Bristol is a charming city not too far west of London and is another one of the UK’s more vibrant cities. It’s famed for the artist Banksy (you can still see his murals on the walls of the city) and with Bath really close to Bristol, a trip to one should really go hand in hand with a trip to the city city.

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11.) Belfast: The Northern Irish city is the UK’s pocket of Irish charm, wit and culture. It’s one of the trickier cities to visit as it’s not on the UK mainland but it’s a fairly easy city to get to. It’s definitely worth spending some time in Belfast to get to see another side of the UK you would otherwise miss on the mainland.

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12.) Brighton: The UK’s famed beach town. You know a place is worth visiting when even people from the UK recommend going there. Brighton is known for being a fun place to visit and a quick respite from crazy city life in London. It’s also quite easy to get to from London and so if you fancy sometime by the seaside, head over to Brighton for a day or two (or maybe even more).

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13.) Manchester: This is another one of my favourite cities and I’d long been plotting ways to move to Manchester. It’s a city with a surprisingly different mix of the old and new with new building merging and weaving into old ones and the city is truly filled with it’s own unique character and sense of fun. This probably explains why Manchester is (and has been for a while) the 3rd most visited city in the UK!

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14.) York: York is probably best described as one of the UK’s most charming city. It’s not the biggest, or the loudest or even the one with the most sights outside of London but what it does have are charming old British buildings, oodles of teas, some amazing pies famed across the UK (along with other amazing food) and some of the funniest people you’ll ever meet (and I mean this in a very good way). Walks through York will leave you wanting to extend your stay in the city over and over again!

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  • Cambridge is by far my favourite city outside of London! But I would also add Birmingham and Nottingham! xx

    http://debsbug.blogspot.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Cambridge is so pretty! It’s such a great place! πŸ™‚

      Lloyd

  • mariel

    thanks for this list Yaya, can’t wait to visit these cities one day…truly shows that there’s more to the UK than just London πŸ™‚

    http://amelodyofdiaries.blogspot.co.uk/

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Awwww, your welcome Mariel – there is definitely so much more to the UK than just London. If your planning on visiting any, let us know… I’m happy to help with info etc. πŸ™‚
      Yaya

  • 4 down, 2 planned, 8 to go…. Love this list, I can’t wait to tick all these places off my list!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Yay! 8 to go! You will love them. For sure!

      Lloyd πŸ™‚

  • Edimburgh, Edimburgh! I get all teary-eyed just thinking about it, I love that city so much. I’m going next year again so yay. I’ve been to 5 of the 14. You convinced me to go to Cambridge, now I want to; and Bristol, I always see it on British shows.

    I didn’t like London, to be honest. It made me feel very small for some reason and I didn’t like that.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Such a great insight Natalia. Thank you for sharing. I know what you mean about London. The sheer size and the amount of people can make you feel like that. Totally know the feeling you are talking about.
      Let us know if you need any info for your future trips to some of the cities. Happy to help in any way we can! πŸ™‚
      Lloyd & Yaya

  • And yes I’ve covered 13 of them…I haven’t visited Oxford! Edinburgh and Brighton are my favorites!!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      13 is amazing, Anna! Wow. Definitely head to Edinburgh if you get the opportunity. Especially right now with the Fringe Festival that is there every summer. You will love it! πŸ™‚
      Lloyd

  • 4 ticked off, 10 to go! Although I’d also love to get back to the places I’ve already been, especially Edinburgh. Luckily I’m moving to London in 3 weeks so I can get started ASAP!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Yay!!!! London!!!! How was the move? Hopefully nice and easy! πŸ™‚

      Lloyd & Yaya

  • I haven’t travelled to the UK yet but my family and I are planning sometime soon. I really can’t wait to get to Scotland because my dad was born there. I will definitely keep your post in mind when we plan our trip.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You will love it, Christina! Especially Edinburgh – there are so many beautiful places on he north west coast of Scotland too! Have a lovely time! Send us an email if you need any advice for your future trip! πŸ™‚
      Lloyd & Yaya

  • I have barely visited anywhere in the UK which is ridiculous given the fact that I’ve lived in England my whole life! I’m really surprised by the photos of Newcastle, looks beautiful and definitely negates the “party central” image that the city has!

    Danielle | http://www.escapingessex.wordpress.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      I know what you mean about Newcastle. It might have been one particular reality show that gave Newcastle its party identity? Not sure?! πŸ˜‰
      Totally feel the same as you though, the rest of the UK feels as if it’s always possible to visit, but somehow we never make it. πŸ™‚
      Lloyd

  • I live in England and of these list, I’ve only been to oxford! Shocking, I definitely need to get these places ticked off!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You should definitely head to Edinburgh, Vanisha. The Fringe Festival is on right now and it’s only 4 hours from London on the train. πŸ™‚
      Lloyd

  • I could look at these pictures ALL DAY. Gahh, Edinburgh is so beautiful. It looks straight out of a fantasy novel. I never would’ve thought about Newcastle before this!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      That’s great to hear, Holly! You’re right! Newcastle is such a beautiful city! πŸ™‚
      Lloyd

  • Great selection. Let’s make a trip to these cities and print a Memeoirs, I can picture the title “14 cities around the UK”. Awesome! https://goo.gl/KPuVqJ

  • kamari

    Can you all tell me the city that is not more than 1 hour away from London? I want to come there to complete my graduate degree. Thank you for your help!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Cambridge, Oxford, Brighton, Warwick are all great places that are less than an hour from central London πŸ™‚
      Lloyd & Yaya

      • kamari

        Thank you! What about Essex?

        • HandLuggageOnly

          You’re right. Essex is really close too. It borders London really and is more of an area than a particular city.
          Lloyd & Yaya

  • I’ve been to every one of these and if it weren’t for Loch Ness, I would stay Inverness is one of the dullest places ever. You also have missed off my adopted city of Sheffield which is one of my favourite places in the country for its proximity to the Peak District, Manchester and Leeds. Can’t disagree with any of the others although I have bad memories of Liverpool after my last half marathon!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Sheffield! Yay, such a great city to explore and you’re right – so close to the Peak District.

      Ahhh! I can only imagine after running over 10 miles that you were exhausted… I couldn’t do 2! Hats off to you for such an incredible achievement πŸ™‚

      Lloyd x

      • I know how you feel. I currently have a bulging disk which has kaiboshed all my running plans!! x

        • HandLuggageOnly

          Oh no! Lots of rest, recovery or physiotherapy even… does that work for a disk?!?

          I definitely need to gain some running stamina and finally complete a running challenge! πŸ™‚

          xx

  • Sunny

    Hello! I’m Sunny from Taiwan. πŸ™‚ I found this post great, plus a lot of Taiwanese people are in love with the UK, and so I am wondering if I would be allowed to translate this article into Mandarin (traditional characters) and repost it on my blog. At the beginning of my post, I wrote where the post was originally from and linked it to your blog, and I mentioned that all the content, pictures and links are owned by you instead of me. I apologise to use your pictures before getting your permission. I would delete my post immediately if you don’t agree with me reposting it, but if you do, I would be really glad. πŸ™‚
    Here is my post : http://sunny861011.pixnet.net/blog/post/63272074
    Please let me know if it’s okay that I translated it on my blog, I appreciate that! I really love this article and the UK – it’s one of the countries I want to visit best! πŸ™‚

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Hey – that is no problem. We are happy that you found it useful! Have a lovely day! πŸ™‚

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Gorgeous photos!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks Johann πŸ™‚

  • Duk Young Lim

    I just came across this article looking for some near places to go from Oxford. Im gonna stay in Oxford for a week for my business but i’d love to visit some of different cities nearby so could you let me know some cities that I can go within 1:30-2hrs from Oxford?

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Hey! That’s great – if you’re driving you should definitely think of Bath, Cambridge or Salisbury – all beautiful places… especially Salisbury that is only 15 minutes drive from Stonehenge! πŸ™‚

      Lloyd & Yaya

  • I was scrolling scrolling scrolling wondering where’s Manchester? And there it was πŸ™‚ Just the best city in the UK for atmosphere, music, nightlife, museums, architecture, shopping… I’d also really recommend my home city of Durham – it’s a pint-sized beauty.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Yay! So glad you love Manchester as much as us! We’ve yet to visit Durham but we really want to discover the city! We even passed through a few days ago (on the train) and it looked so pretty! πŸ™‚

      Lloyd & Yaya x

  • I’ve done five cities from this list:)

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Yay! We’re really lucky we’ve got so many amazing cities! πŸ™‚

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • VN Kaul

    I am going to UK this month end. May not be able to do all 14. Can u guys recommend 4 or 5 for first timers like me. I have three days in hand and last day to return back to London and catch my flight back to India. Looking forward to your reply

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Oh, amazing – you’re going to love it!

      From London you can easily visit Cambridge, Brighton and Bath (all amazing cities to see) πŸ™‚

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Ange Kelly

    Thanks so much providing such useful information and putting these cities and points of interest into some context!

    i’m in the process of planning my UK trip, and I’ll be flying in and out of London, however, I want to do a round-about tour of England, and get up to Scotland for a few. Is this feasible via train? Or are most of these trips best for getting out of London for the day and then returning later?

    It seems like there are direct trains to Edinburgh, but i feel planning city to city is going to be costly/hectic. And perhaps not worth it if finding lodging will be more difficult to find/expensive than staying in the bigger cites. Could you provide some advice if possible?
    thanks!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much for Ange – you’re going to love your visit.

      You can definitely travel between the cities by train and you can also get yourself a 16-25 young persons railcard from any train station (cost Β£30) and get a 1/3 off any off peak ticket you buy – this should really help with costs. You could always take the bus like National Express too, these are cheaper but tend to take a little longer.

      You can easily do places like Brighton, Windsor, Oxford, Cambridge in one day – they only take about 40 minutes or so. Even places like Manchester only take 130minutes on the train.

      It’s pretty easy to find a lodgings in any city in the UK (regardless of budget). Obviously, places like London will be more expensive and regional cities a little cheaper. We’d recommend booking everything in advance and book yourself some advance train tickets that are discounted if you only take the specified train. You can see these here: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/default.aspx

      Hope that helps,

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

      • Ange Kelly

        Thank you so much for your super helpful advice! Much appreciated, and made it less overwhelming to plan train routes and book lodging. Very excited to explore this beautiful country!

        Cheers xo

        • HandLuggageOnly

          You’re going to love it Ange! πŸ™‚ No problem at all, just so happy we could help too.

          Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Ursula

    Love Cambridge. But it has been a city since 1951. Just sayin’ πŸ˜‰

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Cambridge is incredible isn’t it! πŸ™‚

      Ahhhhh, you’re so right.. I’m hanging my head in shame right now (I even studied at Cambridge) *gulp* haha! πŸ˜‰

      Yaya xx

  • Tamsin Craddock

    I love all of your posts! Your blog is really inspiring <3 my boyfriend and I are lmoving to the UK next year and your blog is really getting me excited about what to expect. I've also recently started a blog- http://www.wheretheheartis.co.za

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Tasmin. You’re going to LOVE the UK!

      Let us know if you have any questions or need advice.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Emily Yannone

    This post is unreal – such good info and pictures and the fact you’re responding to everyone – Finally dragging my family out of the country mid July to the UK. We’re staying in LONDON for 4 days, 2 people are back to work then, and I’ll have my parents for the next 5 days – we were hoping to stay with same accommodation to make things easier – the less stress the better – but def want to take advantage of seeing places outside of London with being there for a full week. What’s the easiest places to go and would it be feasible to get up early see things and head back without it being so late? (outside of London) THANKS SO MUCH!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ahhh, you’re going to have the best time, Emily!

      There are so many amazing places to visit. We have a post for day trips from London, right here:

      http://handluggageonly.co.uk/2017/03/01/10-idyllic-places-to-visit-on-a-day-trip-from-london/

      If you’re driving it’s easy to get to places like the Cotswolds (2 hour drive). Stonehenge (2 hours). Little villages like Bibury are gorgeous too (in the blog post).

      If it’s by train, you can go to Cambridge in 45 minutes, which is a pretty special place πŸ˜€

      Hope that helps? You’re going to LOVE it!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

      • Emily Yannone

        Thanks so much for the reply! We won’t have a car so all by train. Do you have the best “areas” we should try to find a place to stay while in London that will be central to most of th attractions while being able to get to the train to see the other areas after the days we’ve explored London?! thanks πŸ™‚

        • HandLuggageOnly

          London as a city is very well connected and depending on which area you want to explore outside of London will determine which train station you will depart from (in London). London has about 6 or so main train stations, with each servicing different areas of the country.

          For instance;
          Victoria station – south of England
          Euston – West and North inc. Scotland
          Kings Cross – East coast to Scotland (inc Cambridge)
          Liverpool Street Station – Cambridge

          You can really stay in any area of London as the city is well connected. Though, staying in zones 1-2 will make it slightly easier. Areas around the the Southbank or Tower Bridge are good, but also places like Mayfair and Covent Garden. You really can’t go wrong in zones 1-2.

          Shoreditch is the cool area of the city… a little like the meatpacking district in NYC. They have lots of cool bars, a hipster feel and lots of restaurants.

          • Emily Yannone

            So amazing! Thank you x1000 – I think will all due of coaxing loads of info out of you thus far I have to simply ask one last question. Although my boyfriend is from the UK he’s not travelled much around his own neck of the woods hence why I’m coming to the professionals πŸ˜‰ He says the train trips alone are a bit price so staying in London for almost af ull 2 weeks whilst day trips and back to london to lay our heads will add up quickly, Is there anywhere 1/2 way between London and Cardiff that would be ok after our 4 nights in London to then pack up and travel easy to, saving a bit of money and still being near a train station and lots of sights you could recommend?

            • HandLuggageOnly

              No problem at all. Any time! Have you thought about Bath? It’s a gorgeous city and one place I’d definitely recommend you staying (it’s perfectly between London and Cardiff.

              Hope that helps πŸ™‚

              Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Thank you for this kind of a thorough list! I’m going to London for the first period next weekend break. With one totally free day I now have various choices to pick for my day journey from London. http://www.tripindicator.com/view/attractions/london.html

  • Peny Pujiati

    Thank you for the information! looking forward to Cotswold Villages that you recommend to visit.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re going to love it, Peny. Have an amazing time! πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§

      Lloyd & Yaya xx