For a small country, England packs a big punch. It has jaw-droppingly stunning countryside, incredible award-winning beaches and lots of character. A visit to England should top everyone’s must-visit bucket list.
There are so many English Cities you need to visit, that it can be hard to know where to begin?
Luckily, Amy Trumpeter from the Templeseeker website has created a guide for you.
UK travel is all about variety. It’s about unearthing a combination of iconic sights and hidden gems. There are so many brilliant city staycations in England that it can be tricky to decide where to go first?
Spend some quality time in England ticking famous landmarks off your bucket-list one day and then stumbling across a quirky local museum the next.
English Cities you need to visit
Take the plunge into a vast variety of activities in England. Whether you’re a die-hard hobbyist, an adrenaline-junkie or simply want to try your hand at something new?
There’s a huge variety of activities available across England. You can try abseiling and mountain biking, hiking, trekking, seal spotting, bird watching, and more.
English cities also have a huge amount of activities, tours and things to see.
Visit shopping centres, splurge on Afternoon tea, see fantastic museums, castles and street art in vibrant cities across the country.
Places to visit in England
The UK’s diversity is emulated in its landscape also. From its rugged coastline studded with gold-sand beaches and secret coves to rolling countryside dotted with patchwork fields.
There’s also crops of ancient woodland, tall peaks set above gleaming lakes and moors.
You can also find traditional seaside resorts, historic villages and attractive market towns.
There’s no shortage of places that you can go and visit in the United Kingdom. UK city breaks provide something to please all wallet sizes and tastes.
Be its fascinating heritage and history, cutting-edge museums, markets and culture, indulgent retail therapy or brilliant dining and nightlife. There is something for everyone in the UK.
Best time to visit England
Thanks to the temperate climate, going to England year-round is pleasant as there are very few weather extremes.
Summer is the peak tourism season in England, temperatures are the warmest during the summer but rarely ever go above 86°F (30°C).
Although tourist sites and attractions will be teeming with people, there’s also a great atmosphere during the summer months.
People tend to make the most of the warm weather here, it can be in limited supply after all.
There are always tons of festivals and events happening all over the UK in the summer.
Spring (late March to June) and autumn (September to November), are also fantastic times to visit England.
Temperatures are still warm and it’s drier than other times throughout the year.
When the seasons change in England, you’ll see either gorgeous spring flowers in bloom or the leaves turning colour in the autumn. Just be prepared for a little rain here and there.
Winter in England tends to last from around December to February and tourism crowds will thin out noticeably during this time.
You can still do loads of sightseeing in the winter, although further north some attractions could be closed for the season.
Temperatures rarely dip below 41°F (5°C). Keep in mind that England is famous for its gloomy, dreary weather.
It can rain a lot in England, so please be sure to pack some cold weather clothes and waterproof gear.
Wondering what to pack for a city break in England? Check out my City break packing guide for inspiration.
Inspired? Read this guide to The 11 Best English Cities you need to visit by my friend and fellow travel writer, Amy Trumpeter from the Templetseeker website.
Start planning your UK staycation now and to see what cities you need to add to your bucket list.
London is the centre of politics, finance, shopping and culture in England, and remains the best city to visit in England.
It is hard to pin down just one must-see attraction in London, but first-time visitors might want to make Westminster a priority.
Westminster is home to Downing Street, the residence of the Prime Minister, as well as the Houses of Parliament and the famed Westminster Abbey.
Also, in Westminster, and perhaps one of the best-known structures in the world, is Buckingham Palace.
Known as the ‘Walkie-Talkie’ due to it’s shape, this unique structure provides the best aerial view of London. You can also grab a bite to eat with a view at their all-day drinking and dining space.
Manchester is one of the biggest cities in England, and it is sometimes known as the Capital of the North.
Honestly, Manchester will always hold a special place in my heart as my University city. While certainly not as large or as busy as London, Manchester does give the capital city a good run for its money.
Architecture fans may want to check out the impressive Manchester Cathedral, located in the Millennium Quarter, which also boasts a visitor’s centre and guided tours.
For some international cuisine, head to Manchester’s Chinatown and dig into some tasty Cantonese and Mandarin fare.
Looking for a good night out with drinks and live music? Head to the Northern Quarter.
Liverpool, my current home town is a massive draw for tourists and digital nomads alike due to the lower cost of living in comparison to London and Manchester.
Many travellers know of Liverpool because of the Beatles, but the thriving, vibrant city has a lot more to offer than its musical heritage.
Liverpool is home to two major football teams, Everton FC and Liverpool FC.
Even if you can’t catch a home game played by either team, you can tour both of the stadiums and embrace the football culture in Liverpool.
You can also hang with the Liverpudlians at one of the many pubs and bars on nocturnally popular Wood Street.
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
Located either end of the aptly named Hope Street are the two famous Liverpool Cathedrals.
The magnificent Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (Catholic) are vastly different in architecture but both majestic and beautiful.
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is Britain’s biggest Cathedral and took almost 75 years to build from when the foundation stone was laid in 1904.
The Anglican Cathedral has a full programme of events and hosts many conferences, large-scale gala dinners and functions.
Grand Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King was originally conceived as a huge structure in a similar style to the neo-gothic Anglican Cathedral.
This modern, circular Cathedral, known locally as the ‘Wigwam’ opened in 1967, and features modern works of art and glorious multi-coloured windows.
With a population of more than a million, Birmingham is the UK’s second-largest city.
It’s a vibrant, multi-ethnic destination with lively arts and music scene and some of England’s best shopping.
Birmingham’s Selfridges, the company’s first store outside of London, is an ultra-modern building that looks like it just landed from outer space.
With its great shopping and the huge NEC conference centres, Birmingham has high numbers of national and international visitors.
Sadly, it doesn’t have nearly enough hotels to meet the demand. So, if you are planning on heading there for a special event, plan on booking early.
As the name implies, Bath is a spa town. This destination in England’s West Country has Roman roots, and many of its ancient Roman baths and structures still stand and are available for guided tours.
One of the most famous (and Instagrammable) landmarks in Bath is the Royal Crescent – a curved structure erected in the 18th century with a beautiful garden sprawling out of the front.
Of course, no trip to Bath would be complete without visiting the namesake Roman Baths, which are hot springs that are over 2,000 years old.
The city of York is a truly ancient destination, and it boasts an impressive collection of architectural remains that date to Roman, medieval and even Viking times.
A guided tour of the many ruins is a great way to experience the history of York, and one of the top sites is the York Minster, a cathedral whose origins date to the eighth century.
If you want to bring some of the cultures of the past to life, check out the incredible collection at the JORVIK Viking Centre, where you can see recreations of Viking life in the area.
York Christmas Market
During the wintertime, the annual York Christmas market spreads throughout the historical centre of the city.
Festive pop-ups also feature across its winding streets and avenues. York is one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe.
You’ll find the usual Christmas market stalls, with a Scandinavian feel, thanks to York’s Viking past. It makes the York Christmas market well worth exploring.
There is no question that the main attraction in the city of Cambridge is the University of Cambridge, a campus with hundreds of years of history.
The university is made up of several colleges, some of the most famous of which include King’s College, Queen’s College and Trinity College.
The best way to see Cambridge University is on a 1.5-hour historical walking tour of Cambridge University with a graduate guide.
Visit some of the most famous colleges, such as Clare College and Trinity College.
If you don’t fancy a tour, you can just to stroll through the campus architecture, peeking into halls and admiring the Backs, a park located on the banks of the river.
Things to do in Cambridge
Outside of the world-famous university, there are many things to see and do in Cambridge.
Some of the Cambridge highlights include:
- A Cambridge Punting tour
- Visit Fitzwilliam Museum
- Experience The Cambridge Gin Laboratory
- Wander around the botanic gardens
Just as Cambridge is known for its university, so is Oxford. Yet Oxford University was established in the 12th century, making it the oldest English-speaking campus in the world.
If you only get the chance to see one building in Oxford, make it the breath-taking Bodleian Library. Established in 1601, the library is home to more than 11 million volumes.
Film buffs will appreciate that it has served as the backdrop for countless movies, including several from the Harry Potter series.
Things to do in Oxford
Outside of the university, there are many things to see in Oxford. This gorgeous city has boutique shops, cafes, restaurants and museums.
The city’s historic architecture, cobbled streets, prestigious colleges and traditional pubs make it a firm favourite for tourists visiting England.
If you are short on time in Oxford, why not do a hop on hop off City Sightseeing Oxford bus tour?
You can see all of the major Oxford landmarks on this tour including sights such as Oxford Castle and Queen’s College, as you travel on an open-top, double-decker bus with panoramic views of the city.
The port city of Newcastle is located on the banks of the Tyne River, and it is best known for the strong accents of its residents, known as Geordies.
Not many people realise that Newcastle was built as a Roman fort over 2,000 years ago, making the city yet another one of the historic cities in England.
Spanning the river is the impressive Gateshead Millennium Bridge, a landmark of the city.
Things to do in Newcastle
There are lots of things to do in Newcastle, this northern city has so much to offer visitors.
The city has a buzzing nightlife scene, with a huge array of bars, restaurants, nightclubs and live music venues. Newcastle is definitely one of the best nights out in England.
There are also loads of lovely scenic walks around Newcastle, including many river walks.
If the weather isn’t quite right for a stroll along the river’s banks, head indoors to the Victorian Central Arcade to explore the quaint shops and the local tourism centre.
In Northwest England and near to the Welsh border is Chester, a charming city with Roman origins and full of history.
Its biggest attraction is Chester Cathedral, a stunning structure that was one of the few to survive under Henry VIII because it was simply too beautiful to tear down.
Travel back even further in time by exploring some of the Roman Chester landmarks, such as the ancient walls or the ruins of an enormous amphitheatre.
Just across the street from the Roman amphitheatre is Grosvenor Park, a traditional 19th-century Victorian garden perfect for picnics, strolls or people watching.
Things to do in Chester
There are plenty of things to do in Chester and the surrounding area, there is so much history and interesting architecture here.
Some of the highlights in Chester include:
- Boat trip on the River Dee
- Chester Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
- Catch a performance at Storyhouse Theatre
- Learn about history at The Grosvenor Museum
Bristol is an uber-cool maritime city that has a real hipster feel. There are so many offbeat things to do if you are looking to have a quirky weekend in Bristol.
Bristol is full of hip cafes and colourful streets. There’s also a lively harbourside, delicious foodie finds, funky street art, craft beers and independent shops. It’s one seriously happening city.
Bristol has a varied historical timeline that has shaped the city into what it is today.
From its medieval beginnings to its maritime history, epic maritime endeavours, troubling colonial connections and its post-war reconstruction and development. The city is rich with history and culture.
You can learn more about the city’s history on a Bristol history walking tour. Uncover 1000 years of history, see ancient castles and churches, experience world-leading street art, and much more
Things to do in Bristol
One of the most fun things to do in Bristol is to hunt down vibrant street art. Bristol has some incredible, cutting-edge street including some of infamous street artist Bansky’s earliest works.
If you are a foodie fan, Bristol has all manner of quirky cafes and bars. There’s the retro ‘Bag of Nails’ pub, an old fashioned boozer that is full of cats.
Chance & Counters is another unusual venue, it is a laid back board game cafe/bar that has developed something a cult following with gamers in Bristol.
Coffee lovers will love the Playground Coffee House they are at the cutting edge of the speciality coffee scene in Bristol.
This kooky coffee shop is where you can swing on their indoor swing and sip lattes at the same time.
The best English Cities
What do you think of Amy’s list of the 11 best English Cities you need to visit? Are you planning on visiting any of these cities? Let me know in the comments below.
Planning your trip to England
Ready to book your trip to England? Use these awesome travel resources to get you started:
- Search for the best flight deals with Skyscanner
- Search for the best hotel deals on HotelsCombined
- Get the best travel tips with a travel guidebook
- Book an Airbnb and have £25 towards your first booking
- Get the best destination recommendations from TripAdvisor
Check out all the best travel resources on my bumper travel resources page!