13 Beautiful UK Cities To Visit Besides London (I Know, How Dare We?)

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We’ve made a list of the best places for a UK city break, besides London.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere for a romantic getaway, a solo adventure, or an impromptu trip for absolutely no reason at all, here are some of the best city breaks that the UK has to offer. (FYI, we haven’t included London because that’s too obvious.) It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the idea of travelling the world that we forget to consider all of the beautiful places that are right under our noses. We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and can literally hop on a train and be exploring somewhere new in less than 2 hours. Here’s some inspiration:

Cambridge

📸 by @liolaliola
📸 by @liolaliola

👍 What to do: Punt along the River Cam, tuck into delicious street food at foodPark, or explore the university colleges.

🍴 Where to eat: Steak & Honour for banging burgers, Smokeworks for some of Britain’s best BBQ food, or Fitzbillies for their famous Chelsea buns.

📍 Distance from London: Approximately 1 hour by train.

📸  Who to follow on Instagram: @cambridgelittlegems

Liverpool

📸 by @snackophagus
📸 by @snackophagus

👍 What to do: book onto a Beatles walking tour, head to the top of the Radio City Tower for amazing views of the city, or venture out to Port Sunlight to discover beautiful architecture and parkland.

🍴 Where to eat: Maray for stunning small plates and cocktails or OH ME OH MY for their secret roof garden.

📍 Distance from London: 2.5 hours by train.

📸  Who to follow on Instagram: @snackophagus and @melbrookephotography

Bath

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📸 by @thatgirlfleur

👍 What to do: Visit the Roman Baths, fill the ‘gram with pictures of Pulteney Bridge, or relax at Thermae Bath Spa and unwind in their stunning rooftop pool.

🍴 Where to eat: Noya’s Kitchen for bright and colourful Vietnamese food or Bath Pizza Co. for… take a guess.

📍 Distance from London: 1.5 hours by train.

📸  Who to follow on Instagram: @batheats and @the_valeriegomez

Manchester

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👍 What to do: Go on a Coronation Street tour, ride the East Lancashire Railway for some stunning vistas, or revel in the buzzing nightlife. (Head to secretmanchester.com for more tips!)

🍴 Where to eat: Mughli for its excellent curry and its sassy décor, or Moose Coffee for a damn good breakfast.

🚗 Distance from London: 2 hours by train.

📸  Who to follow on Instagram: @secretmanchester (obvs), @mcrfinest and @loafandpebble

Bristol

📸 by @rachelwotton1
📸 by @rachelwotton1

👍 What to do: Walk over the Clifton Suspension Bridge, hop on board the SS Great Britain, or explore the hipster hub of Stokes Croft – often labelled ‘Bristol’s Shoreditch’.

🍴 Where to eat: Head to The Llandoger Trow for traditional pub grub and discover the many myths surrounding the building (e.g. pirates and secret tunnels), Souk Kitchen for amazing Mediterranean food, Sergio’s for fantastic Italian food and BYOB, or browse the street food at St Nicholas Market.    

🚗 Distance from London: 1 hour 45 minutes by train. 

📸  Who to follow on Instagram: @timmah666 and @igersbristol

Brighton

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👍 What to do: Wander around The Lanes and discover indie cafes, record stores and book shops, play arcade games on the Palace Pier, or be transported to faraway lands by visiting the gorgeous Royal Pavilion.

🍴 Where to eat: Cin Cin for the most incredible Italian food (try the giant rabbit croquettes), The Salt Room for amazing seafood and afternoon teas, or Lucky Beach for its delicious burgers and loaded fries (and because it has the highest rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association and it shares its profits to help with community projects in Rwanda).

🚗 Distance from London: 1 hour by train.

📸  Who to follow on Instagram: @foodieeshe, @brighton and @brightoncoffeeshops

Edinburgh

edinburgh-uk-city-breaks
📸 by @karlsaunders_

👍 What to do: Hike up to Arthur’s Seat for stunning views of the city skyline, visit Edinburgh Castle for some history, taste some whisky, or prepare to be completely mind-boggled at Camera Obscura.

🍴 Where to eat: Spoon – a place where JK Rowling used to write – for brunches that will cure any hangover, El Cartel for the city’s best tacos, or Oink for a succulent pork roll on the go.

🚗 Distance from London: from 4.5 hours by train, 1.5 hours by plane, or 7.5 hours by car.

📸  Who to follow on Instagram: @karlsaunders_, @topedinburghphotos, @exploringedinburgh and @edineats

York

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📸 by @moumita.paul_

👍 What to do: Admire the stunning architecture of York Minster, discover the city’s history at York Dungeon, or wander through The Shambles; a narrow, winding street, which is supposedly one of the most picturesque streets in Britain.

🍴 Where to eat: Ambiente for the most incredible, authentic tapas, The Rattle Owl for good food and great wine, and Shambles Market for spectacular street food.

🚗 Distance from London: 2 hours by train.

📸  Who to follow on Instagram: @york.uk

Oxford

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👍 What to do: Visit Christ Church College (which you may recognise as part of Hogwarts), punt along the river, or take a tour around The Oxford Artisan Distillery (that’s TOAD for short).

🍴 Where to eat: Head to Edamamé for authentic Japanese cuisine, The Handle Bar for its funky decor and smashing brunch dishes, or Oli’s Thai for magnificent, fresh food (but plan ahead – this place gets booked up weeks in advance).

🚗 Distance from London: 1 hour by train.

📸  Who to follow on Instagram: @emeliafaye and @wandering_oxford

Norwich

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👍 What to do: Explore the Norwich Lanes for lovely independent shops and cafes, take a trip to Norwich Market for everything from old records to fresh fruit, or get lost in the Norfolk Broads.

🍴 Where to eat: Make a trip to Farmyard for psychedelic interiors and local, seasonal dishes, Warwick Street Social for a slightly fancier meal, or The Library for an excellent and reasonably priced meal in a Victorian library (don’t worry, you don’t have to keep the noise down).

🚗 Distance from London: 2 hours by train.

📸  Who to follow on Instagram: @eatnorwich

Winchester

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📸 by @sasha_in_london

👍 What to do: Marvel at one of the country’s greatest cathedrals, embark on one of Britain’s loveliest national trails, The South Downs Way, and try and time your trip so you’re there for their fortnightly Farmers’ Market – one of the UK’s largest. (There are plenty of biggests and bests in Winchester.)

🍴 Where to eat: The Chesil Rectory which, dating back to 1425 and bursting with charm, serves up some delightful modern British grub.

🚗 Distance from London: 1 hour by train.

🎓 Fun fact: Winchester claims to be the ancient capital of England (there are a number of conflicting stories, but this appears to be the strongest claim). This was right up until the eleventh century when William the Conqueror arrived and decided that both London and Winchester would be capitals. However, by the fourteenth century, Winchester had lost its status and London took the sole title. Classic London.

Durham

durham
📸 by @bekkacollinsphoto

👍 What to do: Row along the River Wear, climb Durham Cathedral for excellent views of the city, or visit the beautiful Botanical Gardens. (You could also make a trip to Klute, which is officially the worst nightclub in Europe. You know, just to say you’ve been.)

🍴 Where to eat: For great food and possibly the best hot chocolate you’ll have in your life, head to Claypath Deli. Head to Zen for amazing Thai Asian fusion, La Spaghettata (affectionately known as Spags) for cheap yet brilliant Italian food, Whisky River for riverside cocktails, or pop into any of the many cute coffee shops that Durham has to offer (e.g. Chapters, Leonards, Flat White and 9 Altars).

🚗 Distance from London: 3 hours by train.

Lincoln

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📸 by @kmurphster

👍 What to do: Marvel at the Cathedral of St. Mary, wander up (or down) Steep Hill and discover a variety of independent stores, or explore the medieval Tattershall Castle.

🍴 Where to eat: Make a trip to Olé Olé for tempting tapas, or make a lunch trip to The Cheese Society for all things cheese.

🚗 How to get there: 2 hours by train.

📸  Who to follow on Instagram: @visitlincoln and @kmurphster

Georgie Hoole

Georgie Hoole

Georgie is Deputy Editor at Secret London. She loves a trendy café and is all too familiar with the extortionate price of a coffee in the capital. She enjoys the finer things in life (like red wine on a school night and eating Ben and Jerry's straight from the tub) and hasn't quite grasped the concept of adulthood yet.