Last Updated on February 22, 2023
The United Kingdom has a rich and vibrant culture, which makes it the ideal travel destination for people all over the globe. Whether you’re looking to visit iconic landmarks, watch some contemporary music performances, or are just an avid history lover, you’ll find it all in the best cities in the country.
With there being so many cities throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, it’s difficult to choose where to go, given your visit may only be short. In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the best cities in the UK that we recommend visiting that will make you want to book your next trip immediately.
It’s no surprise that the nation’s capital is first on this list since it is the most visited city in Europe. London is probably best known for being the home of the Royal family, the seat of the Government of the United Kingdom, and the residence of Big Ben, but it offers so much more to those who visit.
The diversity of the residents here is evident in the food scene, from exceptional street food to traditional British pubs and fine dining restaurants. The shopping district is even better, varying from quaint boutiques to market stalls and big designer brands.
Whilst the city is often bustling all year round, there are plenty of opportunities to escape, in the form of museums and art galleries. The most famous is the Tate Modern and National History Museum, which also have free entry should you plan to stretch out your budget during your trip.
There is also an abundance of green spaces in London, covering almost 18% of the city. This is perfect for a picnic on those warm summer days.
The walled city of York is home to the most attractions per square mile, offering visitors everything you would expect for another major city except for its unique history. As you take a walk down the cobbled streets, you’ll be met with buildings from several centuries ago that have been preserved magnificently.
Be sure to check out The Shambles whilst you’re here, a charming old street in the centre of York that has previously been voted ‘Best Street in Britain’. Here you’ll find an array of quirky shops and overhanging buildings, which may look slightly similar to Diagon Alley from Harry Potter.
Amongst the many different attractions found in York, the city’s cathedral, York Minster, is likely the most popular – and one of the largest in the whole of Europe. If you’re brave enough to reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city.
York is also home to one of the best racecourses in the country, which tends to have events running throughout the year.
York is undoubtedly one of the most accessible places in the country, being positioned within the heart of the country. There are trains to York from many of the major cities in the UK, such as London, which typically take around a few hours in total.
Scotland’s capital city really does have the best of both worlds. On one side you can find the New Town, which is filled with quirky shops and trendy bars. On the other, you’ll be met with the historic Old Town, containing a rich history just waiting to be discovered.
The highlight of any trip here is to trail up to Edinburgh Castle, one of the oldest fortified places in the whole of Europe. The castle overlooks the whole city and provides visitors with an incredible panoramic view. The city also has a fascinatingly dark past, which can be explored through its many graveyards and underground streets via a guided tour.
The relatively small size of the city means that most sights can be completed within a day or two but you’ll always find something else to do here – there are usually festivals that take place throughout the year so keep an eye out!
Whilst relatively small compared with the other capital cities on this list, Belfast still provides plenty of opportunities for visitors to spend their time here. The size of Northern Ireland’s capital means that the majority of attractions are within close proximity and a lot can be packed into each day.
Belfast has a great selection of museums, particularly the Titanic Belfast, which takes a look at how the infamous ship was constructed. You’ll also find places celebrating the history of Belfast’s linen industry and when the city experienced a time of political upheaval, more commonly known as The Troubles.
If you’re after a bit of greenery during your visit, look no further. The Botanic Gardens in Belfast are found near the Queen’s University and are an essential part of the Victorian heritage here in the city. The site contains many species of exotic plants and trees and is highly popular among the locals. There is also the Ulster Museum located nearby, where you can go see a real Egyptian mummy.
With more green space per capita, the Welsh capital may be relatively small in stature but has a lot to offer visitors. Cardiff is mostly well-known by sports fans for its impressive stadium, the home of Welsh rugby and the location for Britain’s Speedway Grand Prix.
There are lots of venues to please adrenaline junkies in Cardiff as well, particularly in the sports village by the bay. We recommend going white water rafting, which typically takes around two hours and will leave your arms like Jelly.
Finally, of course, there is Cardiff Castle, an immaculate piece of architecture perched in the middle of the city. Apparently, the castle was transformed by one of the world’s richest men in the 19th century, which explains its extravagance. You’ll definitely want to explore the Castle Apartments, which are specifically designed around Victorian Gothic Fantasy.
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