The Absolute Best Cities in the UK to Visit with Map – 2023

Pulteney Bridge Bath

Did you know that there are only 75 cities in the UK? Out of those 75 cities, only two are in London: the City of London and the City of Westminster. Both are amazing to visit, but there are 73 other cities outside London to explore too. Some are day trips from London, others will need longer to enjoy.

In 2022, to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, 8 towns were elevated to city status. These were:

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  • Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland.
  • Colchester, Essex, England.
  • Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England.
  • Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.
  • Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England.
  • Wrexham, northeast Wales.
  • Douglas, Isle of Man – British Crown Dependency
  • Stanley, Falkland Islands – British Overseas Territory

Spread up and down the country including UNESCO heritage sites and a few surprising cities, let’s have a look at some of the best cities in the UK.

Map of the 20+ Cities in the UK included in the post

The Best Cities in the UK to visit

London, England – including the City of London and the City of Westminster

Traffic on Westminster Bridge shot during the Airbnb Photo Experiences in London
The view over Westminster Bridge at night

Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad

London seems to be on the bucket list of travellers as the city in the UK they would most like to visit. London is vibrant, heady, full of culture, art, history, nightlife, daylife and a cosmopolitan blend of cultures.

There is so much to do in London that is hard to know where to start. London actually includes two cities: The city of Westminster and the City of London.

Shopping, there is shopping everywhere, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Harrods, Selfridges. The markets in Camden, Covent Garden and Notting Hill.

There seems to be a museum for just about everything in London. Some of the best known are The Natural History Museum, The V&A and the British Museum and or a day trip to the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio, but also look out for the quirky Museum of Brands, Jack the Ripper Museum and even the Fan museum!

Even though it is one of the most built up cities in the UK, London still has plenty of green spaces to enjoy. Try Green Park or Hyde Park in the centre, or head up Regent’s Park in the north with the open-air theatre.

Theatre is also one of the big draws for London, with theatres concentrated around the west end area of Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue and the Strand but also scattered in small and large venues throughout the whole of London.

London’s many attractions include the House’s of Parliament, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, the modern buildings of The Shard and the Gherkin. Soak up the atmosphere of St Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, wander the streets of Notting Hill, Camden or just around the centre of London.

Must do things in London: Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, British Museum, Tower Bridge, National Portrait Gallery, Covent Garden, visit Big Ben, see a West End Show, Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Borough Market, St Paul’s Cathedral, Hyde Park, Houses of Parliament and much more

Try some of these tours around London.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh – ©The Silver Nomad

Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad

Edinburgh is one of the best-known of the seven cities in Scotland. The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh sits on the east coast and is a very popular place to visit for culture, history, art and amazing nightlife.

Edinburgh is an enchanting city with something for everyone. Walk along Princes Street for some great shopping before heading across the Bridges and up to The Royal Mile. Stay in one of the boutique hotels that are dotted around the centre and everything is within walking distance.

At the top of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle. It has a commanding view over the whole of the city. Built in 1103, you can see over 900 years of history. If you are there around 1 pm, listen out for the 1 o’clock gun – you won’t miss it!

As you walk back down the Royal Mile, you will pass the Camera Obscura where you can get a different look at Edinburgh. Relive your toy playing days at the Museum of Childhood and visit John Knox’s 15th Century house opposite. where you can relive your younger days playing with you. At the bottom is Holyrood Palace, a fascinating palace to wander around.

Head over to Rose Street and George Street for some great places to eat including the Dome. If you are a dog lover head over to the rather eclectic Edinburgh Chihuahua Cafe where you can enjoy your tea while petting the resident chihuahuas.

Although there is always something going on in Edinburgh, it really comes alive in August when the Edinburgh Festival takes place. The city’s venues big and small, indoor and outdoor are filled with artists, performers comedians all out to entertain.

The other famed event is, of course, Hogmanay when the streets are closed and it feels like the whole of Scotland is in Edinburgh to celebrate the New Year.

If you are looking for the best views across Edinburgh, head up to Carlton Hill or the Walter Scott Monument on Princes Street.

Edinburgh is easily accessible by train, plane or by road and would make a nice weekend away from London. Now the trams have been reinstated you can take trams in and around the city.

Must do things in Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle, Mons Meg, Princes Street, Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat, Camera Obscura, Holyrood Palace, Grassmarket, elegant George Street

Sheffield, England

Sheffield Airport  with the colourful Bear of Sheffield statue outside. Sheffield is one of the cities outside of London
Sheffield Airport Terminal – ©VeggTravel

Contributed by Kerry Hanson from VeggTravel

Sheffield, South Yorkshire is one of the best cities outside of London to visit. Sheffield, an industrial city from the past, is well-known for its stainless steel specialization. Once a mining community, it has since been transformed into a vibrant, cosmopolitan urban centre.

The tram service in Sheffield makes it easy for you to move around. If you are looking for retail therapy, Meadowhall and Crystal Peaks are great places to stop by. Ecclesall Road, just outside of the centre is a THE place to go if you are looking for trendy and sophisticated restaurants or bars. If you’d rather stay in the city centre, then Leopold Square is a good place to start.

Despite being the 4th biggest of the cities in England, Sheffield has a lot of green spaces. The west of the city borders the sweeping hills and mountains of the peak district, making beautiful walks and hikes a common pastime. There are several large parks, lakes and woodland areas to explore. If you’d like to experience all three, plus an animal farm and a free golf course, then head to Graves Park in the West of the city.

There are also several arenas and venues that host major events that you can enjoy. Try the Sheffield City Hall, the Crucible theatre or the Sheffield Arena to find tickets to anything from comedy shows, to live bands and the snooker championships. In summer, the city also hosts large music festivals. Tramlines take over the city with huge headliners and Bassfest is a large dance music event that takes place at the Sheffield Arena.

There are many fun things to do in Sheffield that make the trip ‘up north’ well worth it.

Bath, England

Bath Cathedral
Bath Abbey – ©The Silver Nomad

Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad

One of the most beautiful cities outside London is Bath. With Georgian elegance, wide sweeping streets and a history dating back to Roman times. It is one of the few places where the whole city has been deemed a Unesco Heritage site.

The centre of the city is dominated by Bath Abbey. There has been a religious structure on the site since 675AD. The completion of the abbey that we see now was in 1620. However, in 1244, Bath and nearby Wells are both given cathedral status enabling Bath to be classified as a city.

Across from the Abbey are the Roman Baths. There is normally a queue to get in, so try to arrive early, as it is well worth a visit to see the Baths which date back to AD43.

A short walk from the Abbey is Pulteney Bridge which spans over the River Avon. The elegant Georgian bridge is not very wide and has small shops lining it. It is one of the most photographed places in Bath.

If you head up into Bath, you will come to the Museum of Fashion and the Jane Austen Centre. Just up the hill is The Circus. Look out for the Arts and Sciences carvings above the doors of the elegant townhouses.

Two minutes walk from The Circus is the Royal Crescent, one of Bath’s most photographed places. Royal Crescent arcs around the green field in front of it and has beautiful views over the city.

There are plenty of tours around Bath to choose from, walking tours, bus tours, cycling tours or boat tours and you can also go on specific ones for food, Jane Austen, Bridgeton or ghosts and many others.

Don’t miss Sally Luns Bath Bunn served in the oldest house in Bath dating back to 1680.

Using Bath as your base, you can visit many of the nearby Cotswold villages like Lacock or another UNESCO site, Avebury.

Bath is a great day trip from London and there is a direct train from Paddington Station. If you are driving, take J18 from the M4. There is plenty of parking in and around the city centre.

Must do things in Bath: The Abbey, the Roman Baths, Thermae Spa, Royal Crescent, The Circus, Jane Austen Centre, Museum of Fashion, try a Sally Luns Bath Bunn, Pulteney Bridge, the Holburne Musem, a boat trip down the River Avon.

Brighton and Hove, England

view of Brighton Pier with colourful beach huts on the left
Brighton Pier – ©Soul Travel blog

Contributed by Ellie from Soul Travel blog

The go-to seaside getaway from London, Brighton (officially known as the city of Brighton & Hove) is best known for its (pebbly and usually very busy) beach, entertainment, alternative and LGBTQ+ scene. Accessible by direct train routes from London, you can reach Brighton in under an hour and a half from the capital for a few days of fun by the sea or an escape to the beautiful surrounding South Downs national park. 

Brighton & Hove is spread out across unique neighbourhoods that form the city – Hove, to the west of Brighton is home to plenty of classy eateries and bars – book several months ahead to eat seafood at Rockwater along the beach – while the beachfront of Brighton itself on Saturday night is more the terrain of stag and hen parties.

The shops and cafes along the Lanes in central Brighton are perfect for those who love exploring small independent shops with everything from hippy clothing and incense to high-end gift and home decor shops. Seven Dials to the north and near the train station is another nice little area with some great shops and cafes. One of the best-known attractions in Brighton, the British Airways i360 tower gets very mixed reviews and is definitely not worth it on a cloudy day. 

If you’re open to exploring around Brighton, there are some beautiful Sussex villages and views accessible within a few minutes by bus or by car, including the cute village of Rottingdean with its windmill, gardens and beach, Fulking, with views up to Devils Dyke, or you can go for a long peaceful walk in Stanmer park. If you want to venture further, a trip to the Seven Sisters cliffs is well worth it and doable by bus. 

For the best experience of Brighton, you’ll get more of a local flavour without the mass beach-goers if you come midweek instead of at the weekend. Unfortunately, regardless of which day of the week you come, you’ll need to protect your ice cream/chips from the seagulls – you’ve been warned! Due to the shortage of parking and restrictions, Brighton is best reached by train, and regular trains run from London on two different lines or from around Sussex. 

Norwich, England

Ornate tower in Plantation Garden in Norwich with banana trees in the foregroun
Plantation Garden, Norwich – ©The Country Jumper

Contributed by Caitlin from The Country Jumper

Norwich is a hidden gem in the UK. Out in the county of Norfolk, which historically has bad connections, you can now get a fast train from London to Norwich in under two hours. Or you can even fly in from a handful of airports around the UK.

With a rumoured pub for every day of the year, not one but two cathedrals, a thriving arts community, a top-rated outdoor market, and a surprisingly densely populated selection of vegan and vegetarian restaurants, Norwich packs a big punch for a small city.

Daytime sightseeing is best started at the main cathedral which has a gorgeous close and lawn space to sit on. The second cathedral, up on the hill outside of downtown, is also full of stunning architecture – and while you’re there you can pop into the perfectly manicured Plantation Garden next door (make sure you read up on how this garden came to be – it’s a fun historical story!). Stop at the market on your walk between the two.

Frank’s Bar is the best spot for evening drinks, alcoholic or non. And it’s perfectly tucked away on the cobblestone streets that make Norwich what it is. From there, head to The Tipsy Vegan or Erpingham House for vegan food that will please even the meatiest of eaters. Or Gonzo’s if you just want to tuck into a burger. And finish the night at The Playhouse – unless you’re into clubbing, in which case you can join the hoards of Uni students down on Prince of Wales Rd.

Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery - red brick building
Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery

Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad

Although not the capital city of Scotland, Glasgow is actually bigger than Edinburgh. With the city spread along both sides of the River Clyde, and beyond, it has a more industrial less touristy vibe.

That is not to say that there is nothing for tourists to see in Glasgow. The city is known for its art scene with the influence of famous artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh seen in many of the buildings including the Willow Tea Rooms and The Glasgow School of Art.

Lose yourself for hours in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum whether you are looking at the art, the dinosaurs or find out about the Ancient Egyptians. Other museums to explore are the Riverside Museum which looks at the transport history of the area including the shipyards which were such an important part of Glasgow.

Travel south of the river to the amazing Burrell Collection set in the beautiful surroundings of Pollok Estate. The glass walls bring the outside in and create an incredible space for art, antiquities and over 6,000 years of history and art. Artists’ work exhibited include Degas, Rembrandt and Rodin’s The Thinker.

Glasgow had the honour of being the first UNESCO City of Music and you can visit venues like The Barrowlands and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. For a comprehensive tour check out the Glasgow Music City Tour.

The streets of Glasgow have also been used in many films including Outlander, Batman and Indiana Jones. Trainspotting, though based in Edinburgh, was mainly filmed in Glasgow.

Glasgow has its very own subway system, the third oldest in the world. Affectionately called the “Clockwork Orange” as the trains are all orange and one circular route that takes you around the city.

Must do things in Glasgow: Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Riverside Museum, Burrell Collection, Pollok Estate, Willow Tea Rooms, “Clockwork Orange”, Glasgow School of Art, George Square, Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow Mural Trail.

Cambridge, England

Cambridge University with lawns in front of it
Cambridge University – ©TravelKiwis

Contributed by Maura from TravelKiwis

One of the great cities outside London is the vibrant city of Cambridge. You can escape the bustle of London in a little over an hour by train from Kings Cross Station to spend a day absorbing the history of Cambridge.

What makes Cambridge so enthralling is the University of Cambridge. It was founded in 1209 and its famous colleges entice thousands of young students to the city.  

Three of the prominent colleges are Trinity, St John’s and Kings.

Trinity College alumni include Sir Isaac Newton, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and HRH Prince Charles. St John’s College boasts seven Prime Ministers. But it is the impressive gothic building of King’s College founded by Henry VI in 1441 which will have your camera on over-drive.

Across from King’s College is Great St Mary’s Church where after climbing 123 steps you have an aerial view of King’s College on one side and the Cambridge market on the other.

The Market Square is a great place to pick up some tasty treats for lunch. The alternative is one of the many cafes around the square to sit and enjoy the atmosphere of this student city.

But one of the most popular things to do in Cambridge is to take a punt (boat) on the River Cam. It is one of the best experiences visiting Cambridge. There is a sense of serene calmness as you move along the river passing under the Garret Hostel and Clare Bridges.

Another intriguing sight on the river is the Mathematical Bridge, built entirely of wood. Legend has it was designed by Isaac Newton himself.

Another highlight of a trip to Cambridge is the Fitzwilliam Museum. It has an extensive collection of Turner and Monet paintings, as well as Egyptian and Roman artefacts.

Cambridge is one of the most memorable cities outside London for its beauty, history and famous university. So be prepared to start early as there is so much to see and explore in Cambridge.

Liverpool, England

view of Liverpool docks
Liverpool docks – ©C K Travels

Contributed by Caroline from C K Travels

Located less than an hour away from Manchester, the UK’s fifth biggest city is a seamless mix of hipster hangouts and heritage precincts. Despite what you may have heard, Liverpool isn’t just about football or the Beatles, although a love of the fab four does help, given all the attractions dedicated to them! If you are a fan of the band check out the dedicated Beatles museum, and also the Cavern Club – an underground bar where they used to play their early gigs in the 1960s.

Liverpool’s waterfront is the top attraction when visiting the city. Several of the historic areas on and around the waterfront were awarded World Heritage Status by UNESCO including the Royal Albert Dock Area and William Brown Street – a cluster of beautiful buildings along a cobbled street. Sadly the World Heritage status was recently revoked after a UN committee found new developments threatened the value of the city’s waterfront.

Liverpool has some excellent museums and culture lovers should check out the World Museum and the beautiful Central Library. Down by the waterfront is the Museum of Liverpool, and there is a branch of the Tate Gallery located in the Albert Docks which is housed in a Grade I listed building.

There are also many things to do in Liverpool’s urban regenerated spots – the highlight is the Baltic Triangle neighbourhood which is a 15-minute walk south of the city centre. The area is home to many independent creatives and you’ll find numerous bars, cafes, vintage shops, street art and street food pop-ups.

Manchester, England

Mackie Mayor in the Northern Quarter showing diners
Manchester – ©Helen on Her Holidays

Contributed by Helen from Helen on Her Holidays

If you’re looking for a fun weekend city break in the UK, then Manchester delivers on all fronts. The shopping is exceptional, there are loads of things to do, there are some exciting new hotels opening and the food scene is fantastic.

Let’s start with the food. Whether you fancy high rise, high-end dining with a view, or your tastes are more low-key, there’s something for you in Manchester. For a good dinner with drinks afterwards, you can’t go wrong with the Northern Quarter or its up-and-coming little sister Ancoats; both are full of great places to eat, drink and relax. Food hall Mackie Mayor in the Northern Quarter is set in an old market building and is a great spot for when everyone in the group wants something different.

To discover the history of the Northern Quarter during the day, take one of Skyliner’s fascinating street art walking tours. Over a couple of hours, you’ll hear the Northern Quarter’s story, see amazing works of street art and spot details that even people who’ve lived in Manchester for years never knew about. 

For even more history, Manchester has a wealth of world-class museums and historic sights. You can see the oldest public library in Britain (the 350-year-old Chetham’s Library – the Hogwarts-like John Rylands Library is worth a visit too).

See the world’s oldest passenger railway station at the Science and Industry Museum, visit the National Football Museum or see dinosaurs at Manchester Museum. A little further out of the city centre at Salford Quays, you’ll find Imperial War Museum North and the Lowry art gallery and theatre space.

Getting to Manchester is easy from across the UK and beyond. Trains from London only take just over 2 hours and Manchester Airport connects the city to cities across the world. 

York, England

castellated wall leading to York Cathedral
York – ©Get Lost Travel Blog

Contributed by Hannah from Get Lost Travel Blog

York was founded by the Romans in 71AD. And with such a long history, you’ll find lots of things to do in the city on your visit.

If you’re a history lover, make sure you take a stroll along the city walls. York has more miles of intact Medieval wall than any other city in England. Another fascinating historic spot is the Merchant Adventurers Hall. You can enjoy an audio tour that shares the history of this beautiful building, and the fraternity of tradesmen who constructed it.

For those wanting to explore the darker side of York, you can meet some notorious residents at York Dungeon. Live actors bring to life local ne’er-do-wells from Dick Turpin to Guy Fawkes. You can also learn the stories of the York residents who loved the city so much they never left. Known as the ‘city of a thousand ghosts’ a York ghost walk will share the tales of ghostly inhabitants.

Families can also enjoy a visit to York. The National Railway Museum is a free museum that has approximately 100 engines on display at any time. Climb aboard and discover the evolution of rail from Stephenson’s Rocket to the bullet train. Or why not learn about York’s Viking history? At Jorvik Viking centre you can sail your way through a 20-minute ride that explores the day to day life during Viking times.

And finally, one spot no one should miss is The Shambles. This wonky medieval street where the buildings almost touch is a York icon. Top tip, get up early to see it without the crowds! 

Lincoln, England

Lincoln Cathedral from castle walls
Lincoln Cathedral – ©Lincoln and Beyond

Contributed by Alex from Lincoln and Beyond

Lincoln is one of the UK’s most historic cities, but somehow it often flies under the radar as a tourist destination. It was an important settlement for the Romans, who built a fortress in the city. By medieval times, Lincoln became one of the largest cities in the UK.

Much of this ancient history can be found around the city today on the Lincoln Roman Trail. Some of the old city walls are still intact, including the UK’s oldest archway still used for traffic. But the city’s most impressive historical sites are located on the top of its high hill: Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle.

These two magnificent structures were both built in the 11th century, and have been at the heart of many major historic events. The cathedral was the world’s tallest building for over two centuries, and the castle was built by William the Conqueror. Today, the cathedral is still the city’s centrepiece, while the castle is one of the best-preserved examples of its era.

Among all this history, Lincoln has also become a flourishing modern city, brimming with diversity and intrigue. Since the city’s university opened in the 1990s, an array of international cafés and restaurants have burst onto the scene, to compliment the many traditional local eateries and tea rooms. For example, you could have lunch in the historic Stokes High Bridge Café for a local flavour, and then sample delicious Spanish cuisine for dinner at Olé Olé Tapas Bar.

Lincoln is also on the doorstep of the fabulous British outdoors. The city itself has many green spaces and waterways to enjoy. The unspoilt countryside of the Lincolnshire Wolds are not far away, and an hour’s drive takes you to the coast, where you can explore the undiscovered beaches of Lincolnshire.

Wells, England

View of Wells Cathedral through trees
Wells Cathedral – ©Meandering Wild

Contributed by Suzanne from Meandering Wild

Wells is the smallest city in England and is located about 30 miles south west of Bristol and Bath.  While it is small it is full of history and is surrounded by amazing countryside.

While the city has a traditional high street it is unique as it has a constantly running stream that is fed from the wells that give the city its name.  These originate in the Bishops Palace which is the residence and offices of the Bishop of Bath and Wells.  The Bishop’s Palace is fortified and is surrounded by a moat.  It has beautiful gardens to wander in and stunning views of the adjacent cathedral.

Wells Cathedral is located at the top of the high street and has a large green in front as well as secluded gardens adjacent to the cloisters.  The cathedral has a Mediaeval clock that still strikes and a serene Chapter House.   

Close to the cathedral is Vicar’s Close, the longest inhabited street in Europe.  The street is cobbled, and the houses all have individual quirky chimney pots.

Wells may feel familiar as it is the town in Hot Fuzz and used for Assizes Court in Poldark!  From time-to-time other period dramas are filmed around the cathedral and marketplace.

Close to Wells is the deep Cheddar Gorge and Caves and the New Age town of Glastonbury, both of which are easily explored from the city.

Wells has several places to eat and stay but for a unique English afternoon, a cream tea on the green at the Bishops Palace watching a game of croquet cannot be beaten.

Truro, England

Truro Cathedral with two spires
Truro – ©Go South West England

Contributed by Claire from Go South West England

Truro isn’t a very famous city in the UK, but it is definitely one of the best places to visit in Cornwall for its history and culture. 

Its most famous attraction is perhaps Truro Cathedral. This is a baby as far as British cathedrals are concerned – it was only built in 1910, but it still has a beautiful interior and exterior, and it is completely free to visit. 

If you are interested in Cornish history (which is fascinating!), head to the Royal Cornwall Museum. This museum tells the story of the region, including its independent spirit and its long smuggling history, as well as the pros and cons of its modern status as a tourist hotspot. 

Truro also has plenty of places to dine and drink. Check out Lemon Street Market, which has a few different food options. The Hall for Cornwall is also in the city – lots of Cornish and international musicians often play here, including the Fisherman’s Friends who come from Port Isaac on the north coast. 

It’s also very easy to get out of Truro and explore the surrounding nature. You can take a boat to Falmouth, enjoying the stunning Fal Estuary on the day. Or visit Malpas which is an area known for its riverside vistas. There are also lots of cycle trails around Truro, as it is part of the Cornish Way. 

Just out of the city centre, visit Healey’s Cornish Cyder farm where you can sample some Cornish alcoholic drinks, or go to the parkland of Trelissick. 

Cardiff, Wales

cardiff castle wales with kids
Cardiff Castle – ©Wales with Kids

Contributed by Cath from Wales with Kids

One of the best cities outside London to visit is Cardiff. The capital of Wales is easily accessible direct from London by car or train. The train is the best way to visit the city, with a direct line from London Paddington having you arrive in the centre of Cardiff is just over 2 hours.

Much of the centre of Cardiff is pedestrianised, particularly the shopping areas around Queen Street and St David’s 2. Other points of interest are walkable, except the Bay Area which can be reached by bus, train or taxi.

There is a wealth of things to do in Cardiff including Cardiff Castle. Within the walls, you’ll find a Norman Keep, Castle apartments and battlement walls that hold a secret. At times during the summer, medieval re-enactment days take place. It is a great place to visit in the city centre.

Across the road from the castle, you will find the Cardiff Museum and behind it is a great place for a quiet walk away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Bute Park. On the outskirts of the city is St Fagan’s, the National Museum of History. This outdoor living museum is a great place to visit to get an insight into the history of Wales and how buildings evolved over time. Allow at least half a day to explore it fully.

If you are looking for great food, head for the Brewery Quarter where you will find food from all corners of the globe. The food court in St David’s 2 has plenty to offer visitors as well. And of course, this is a great place to refuel after a day’s shopping in the modern St David’s 2 Shopping Centre.

Cardiff Bay is a great place to relax and unwind while enjoying views across the water. Stay at the voco St. David’s Cardiff Hotel and treat yourself to some pampering spa treatments.

Birmingham, England

Brimingham Cathedral
Birmingham – ©The Travelling Twins

Contributed by from The Travelling Twins

Birmingham is a city with a fascinating history and it is the second biggest of the cities in the UK.

One of the most surprising and interesting facts about Birmingham is that the city has over 35 miles of canals which is more canals than Venice. Canals were used for transport and to power machinery and factories in Birmingham. Now they are used for leisure and many people walk, jog or cycle along Birmingham’s canals.

Birmingham is a city of culture and arts with many theatres, museums and galleries. There are weekly events in the city such as the CBSO series by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra which takes place at Symphony Hall every week

With over 80 festivals and events and exciting nightlife, Birmingham seems like there is always something interesting going on in this vibrant city. From the unfolding drama of live theatre to the roar of cheering crowds at sporting events, there are endless options for those who want to explore everything that Birmingham has to offer!

Whether you’re looking for a new film or gallery exhibit or craving some time away from your books, you will find something here that interests you. So next time when you visiting England don’t forget to visit Birmingham.

Oxford, England

the round building of Radcliffe Camera with bricks to the lower part and pillared upper area
Radcliffe Camera – ©Where Goes Rose?

Contributed by Rose from Where Goes Rose?

Charming Oxford is one of the best UK cities outside London. With more than 600 years of history, numerous notable monuments, excellent food and drink, and some Harry Potter movie locations, there’s something for every type of traveller.

A few of the top Oxford attractions include the historical University buildings like the Radcliffe Camera (not a camera but a University library), the Bridge of Sighs and St Mary’s Church – be sure to climb to the top for panoramic views of the city. 

Potterheads can hunt for Harry Potter in Oxford thanks to the movie filming locations. Christ Church College dining hall is thought to be the inspiration for the Great Hall set, while New College, the Divinity Hall and Duke Humfrey’s Library have some filming history too.

For a rainy day in Oxford, some of the best museums are the Pitt Rivers and the Ashmolean. The latter has a lovely rooftop restaurant serving afternoon tea and cocktails!

If you fancy an escape from the city (which does get quite crowded during weekends and summer holidays) there are lots of lovely green spaces in Oxford. University Parks is close to the city centre with a river, play area and plenty of walking trails. For a real oasis, head to Port Meadow, an enormous green space near quirky Jericho neighbourhood.

Don’t miss the foodie scene: there are fantastic food markets (the best being Gloucester Green), pizza restaurants like White Rabbit, coffee shops including the Missing Bean and brunch spots like Nosebag Restaurant and Jericho Cafe.

Chester, England

Chester street with Tudor style buildings
Chester – ©My Little World of Travelling

Contributed by Christina from My Little World of Travelling

Chester, located in the northwest of England, is a city perfect for those who love learning about history, especially Roman history.

The city isn’t only unique for its history, but its location too. Chester is just on the border between England and Wales, and the Welsh influence can be seen in the name of some buildings. 

Chester’s main attractions include Chester city walls and Chester Cathedral. The city walls are indeed one of the best ways to explore the city from a different angle. As you walk through them, you’ll also learn more about Roman history. From the city wall, you can head to Chester Cathedral.

The cathedral is a Grade I listed building that can’t be missed on your trip to the city. This impressive building dates back between 1093 and the 16th century, and although it has been restored several times, you can appreciate all the main styles of English medieval architecture – Norman and Perpendicular.

Other great activities to do in Chester include going for a walk in the riverside area to enjoy the views of the River Dee and the lively atmosphere during the spring and summer months as well as window shopping in Chester’s main street, Eastgate, where you can also contemplate the Chester Rows – half-timbered galleries. 

If you are looking for a place to have a quick bite or a hot drink, Cinderbox Coffee, located at 55 Bridge St, is always a good option. Their menu includes a variety of sweet and savoury dishes that range from paninis, croissants, bagels, sandwiches to cheesecake, cakes and fruit scones.


Winchester, England

Winchester on of the cities outside London showing the statue of King Alfred
The statue of King Alfred in Winchester

Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad

Although London is now the capital of England, it hasn’t always been. Winchester was actually the first capital city of England.

Located in the South West of England, Winchester has long had an association with King Arthur and the Round Table. In the Great Hall, the only part of the 13th Winchester Castle that remains is a medieval replica of the table hanging on one of the walls.

As you go down High Street you will come to the Buttercross. Also known as the City Cross, the monument dates back to the early 15th Century, though was restored in the mid 19th Century. The monument sits on a stepped plinth and has carved saints on each side.

Take a walk through the arch to come out onto The Square which is actually a street. Look out for the artistically painted bollards each with a work of art on them. Painted in different styles including Mondrian, Toulouse-Lautrec, Whistler and Jackson Pollock.

Past the Winchester City Museum, is Winchester Cathedral. The magnificent 11th Century Cathedral sits in the centre of Winchester. Over the centuries it has been remodelled and added to. There are a blend of styles that sit harmoniously, from the Norman crypts, the ornate Renaissance chapel and the Gothic Naves. It is a beautiful, serene Cathedral to spend time in.

Like Bath, Winchester has an association with Jane Austen. Sadly Austen moved to Winchester in 1817 to 8 College Street where she spent the last years of her life. She is buried in the north aisle of Winchester Cathedral.

Must do things in Winchester: Winchester Cathedral, King Alfred Statue, West Gate, Wolvesey Castle, Jane Austen’s House, Winchester College, High Street, Buttercross, Bronze Hog, painted Bollards

Plymouth, England

Plymouth – ©Travels with Eden

Contributed by Sylvie from Travels with Eden

Plymouth, also known as ‘Britain’s Ocean City, is a must-visit destination, located in the stunning county of Devon, just miles away from Cornwall and just over 3 hours by train from London. 

There are so many amazing things to do in Plymouth. Take a walk down to Plymouth Hoe, one of the most famous places in the city, where you can see stunning views of Plymouth Sound out to sea. Just a short walk away from Plymouth Hoe is the Barbican Area, home to the UK’s largest aquarium and some of the best fish and chip restaurants and takeaways in the UK.

Not only is the Barbican a working harbour, but you’ll see some pretty impressive yachts. Above the Barbican is ‘The Barcode’, which houses many amazing places to eat and an indoor golf course. If you love shopping, Drake Circus Shopping Centre is just across the road.

Another must-visit destination in Plymouth is the Royal William Yard, a former military base with a booming art scene and plenty of up-market restaurants.

Plymouth has a wide range of places to eat. Book a table at the Cozy Club in the Barcode and sample the vegan tofu fish and chips or try some of the infamous ‘spicy spuds’ at one of Plymouth’s many kebab houses. Another fantastic place to eat is ‘The Greek’, which serves up Greek Gyros. Make sure you try the Halloumi Gyros! If you like Chinese, try the Sweet and Sour dishes at ‘The New Jade Garden’.

Plymouth has many vast expanses of grass and parks to explore. Visit Plymouth’s biggest park – central park, stroll around Victoria Park or visit the historical monuments and the old bandstand in Devonport Park.

Canterbury, England

Canterbury Cathedral in grounds
Canterbury Cathedral

Contributed by Džangir from Dr Jam Travels

Canterbury is Kent’s touristic pearl. The city is known for its historic sites, cultural scene, place of pilgrimage for the Anglican church, and as vivid place for shopping and dining.

The area was populated from the palaeolithic period, onwards to antiquity times with Romans and medieval times up to today. But the town got listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site mainly because of its medieval buildings. Among those are ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey from the 6th century, the Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr of Eastbridge founded in the 12th century, or Westgate Towers that are left from 14th-century city walls.

But the most important building in town is Canterbury Cathedral. This seat of Church of England and Archbishop of Canterbury, holy seat for Anglican Communion. It dates back to the 11th century and since then it was rebuild in many styles, from Norman to Romanesque and Gothic. The most recognizable feature is the Harry bell tower that is 236 feet high and houses more than 20 bells. If you plan to visit this church, prior to visiting check the hours of rituals while at those times it is closed for the public.

One can enjoy just walking around narrow and cobbled streets in town. If you look for shopping you should check the Whitefriars open-air shopping centre or Fenwick’s store in the centre. After all the walking you should rest at Café St Pierre or Café des Amis. To enjoy nature you should try rowing boat trips on River Stour or visit one of the parks (Dane John Gardens, Westgate Parks, or Howletts Wild Animal Park)

Which are the 75 Cities in the UK

The City of London and Westminster are the two cities that are actually in London and a total of 67 cities outside London: 54 in England, 8 in Scotland, 7 in Wales, and 6 in Northern Ireland and we have touched on just a few of them. If you want to know all of them, here they are broken down into their different countries.

What are the 54 Cities in England?

  1. Bath
  2. Birmingham
  3. Bradford
  4. Brighton and Hove
  5. Bristol
  6. Cambridge
  7. Canterbury
  8. Carlisle
  9. Chester
  10. Chelmsford
  11. Chichester
  12. Colchester (granted 2022 as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee)
  13. Coventry
  14. Derby
  15. Doncaster (granted 2022 as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee)
  16. Durham
  17. Ely
  18. Exeter
  19. 17. Gloucester
  20. 18. Hereford
  21. Kingston upon Hull
  22. Lancaster
  23. Leeds
  24. Leicester
  25. Lichfield
  26. Lincoln
  27. Liverpool
  28. City of London (the smallest city in England by population)
  29. Manchester
  30. Milton Keynes (granted 2022 as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee)
  31. Newcastle upon Tyne
  32. Norwich
  33. Nottingham
  34. Oxford
  35. Peterborough
  36. Plymouth
  37. Portsmouth
  38. Preston
  39. Ripon
  40. Salford
  41. Salisbury
  42. Sheffield
  43. Southampton
  44. St Albans
  45. Stoke-on-Trent
  46. Sunderland
  47. Truro
  48. Wakefield
  49. Wells
  50. Westminster
  51. Winchester
  52. Wolverhampton
  53. Worcester
  54. York

What are the 7 Cities in Scotland?

  1. Aberdeen
  2. Dumfermline (granted 2022 as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee)
  3. Dundee
  4. Edinburgh
  5. Glasgow (the largest city in Scotland by population)
  6. Inverness
  7. Perth
  8. Stirling (the smallest city in Scotland)

What are the 6 Cities in Wales?

  1. Bangor
  2. Cardiff
  3. Newport
  4. St Asaph
  5. St Davids (the smallest city in the UK by population)
  6. Swansea
  7. Wrexham (granted 2022 as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee)

What are the 6 Cities in Ireland?

  1. Armargh
  2. Bangor, Northern Ireland (granted 2022 as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee)
  3. Belfast
  4. Derry
  5. Lisburn
  6. Newry

What are the Cities in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies?

  1. Gibraltar – granted 1842
  2. Hamilton, Bermuda – granted 1897
  3. Jamestown, St Helena – granted 1859
  4. Douglas, Isle of Man – granted 2022 as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
  5. Stanley, Falklands Islands – granted 2022 as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Don’t forget to pin this article so you can come back to it later

Visiting Cities outside of London
Visit cities outside London

15 thoughts on “The Absolute Best Cities in the UK to Visit with Map – 2023

  1. Avatar of Laureen Lund
    Laureen Lund says:

    This is such a great idea for a blog post. I loved it and am saving for my next UK visit. I have been to many on your list but certainly not all and I can’t wait to get back to this beautiful region.

  2. Avatar of Jennifer Mostert
    Jennifer Mostert says:

    69 cities! I had no idea; it seems like such a small number.
    I was pretty surprised to see I’ve visited a couple of them over the years, but Bath and St David’s were my favourite cities. Thank you for your list; I’m definitely going to refer to it when I can travel again.

  3. Avatar of Nancy
    Nancy says:

    What a great list! I can’t wait to get back to the UK to visit some of these places. I loved Scotland and Ireland. Next stops – England and Wales.

  4. Avatar of Stefan (Berkeley Square Barbarian)
    Stefan (Berkeley Square Barbarian) says:

    Very cool collaboration, Larch. I’m a British citizen living in London, but I had no idea that there were less than 70 cities in the UK, if you go by official city status, wow..!! Had no idea that Sheffield was so big or that it was worth a visit. We’ll be spending several days in Bath next week, yay..!

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