The U.K. is no stranger to tourists. Whether you’re an avid traveler or not, you’ve surely heard of London and Edinburgh. But the U.K. is home to so many other magnificent cities that often fall below travelers’ radars.
Dispersed throughout the picture-perfect countryside scenery and the U.K.’s most famous metropolises, lies rich culture, exciting sports, thriving small businesses and locally-made art. These are the things you discover when you venture off the beaten path.
From castles and football games to underground caves and video game arcades, the best cities in the U.K. are equipped with everything travelers are seeking and more. And, the cities that offer these hidden gems are often ones you’ve never considered adding to your bucket list..
Blackburn is a town in Lancashire known for its soccer team and cotton weaving.
The Town’s Best Features
You must spend some time discovering Blackburn’s textiles and famous Asian cuisine.
Things to do in Blackburn
Visit The Parks: There are plenty of parks in Blackburn, so you can get in a hefty dose of fresh air. Try visiting Witton Park, Bold Venture Park, Queens Park and the Billenge Woods mountain bike trails.
King Georges Hall: It’s one of the best concert halls in the northwest. Visitors can see a wide variety of shows and concerts.
Blackburn Market: This traditional Lancashire market is full of fresh produce, food, crafts and textiles.
Blackburn Museum: A true treasure trove of history with Shakespeare’s works on display. The ancient Egyptian mummy is also an exciting feature for people to view.
What Not to Miss in Blackburn
Football Blackburn Rovers FC: Their football club is one of the oldest in England. Try to catch a game at their stadium.
Liverpool is a city of art, music, sport, and culture that sits right on the River Mersey. The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Town’s Best Features
Its historical significance, stunning architecture, and openness to culture.
Things to do in Liverpool
The Waterfront: Stroll around and then take the ferry to Mersey to view the skyline.
British Music Experience: An interactive exhibit that displays British music history starting from the 1950s. Visitors can see rare costumes and instruments.
The Beatles Story at Albert Dock: Learn about the career of the city’s most famous sons at this interactive exhibition.
Tate Liverpool: The home of modern art in the city and a must-see attraction.
What Not to Miss in Liverpool
The Nightlife: It was rated third on Rough Guides travel bucket list, in between the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China. Check out the underground clubs and traditional pubs around the Ropewalks area, Bold Street and Seel Street.
The Georgian Corner: This is where you can visit the town’s two cathedrals, Everyman theater, Unity theater and Philharmonic Hall.
The Stadiums: Liverpool is huge on sports, and is home to two Premier League teams, Liverpool and Everton. Take a stadium tour at Anfield to get the full experience.
Richmond upon Thames, a jewel in London’s crown.Probably London’s most attractive borough, it has long been a favourite retreat for royalty and the rich and famous.
The Town’s Best Features
The River Thames runs for over 10 miles through the borough, linking Hampton Court Palace, Richmond Town Centre and Kew Gardens with London. Richmond rivals anywhere in London with its beautiful Royal Parks and open spaces, historic houses, theatres, museums, galleries, exhibits and town centres bursting with life.
Richmond is situated 10 miles southwest of Central London and can be accessed by tube, train, bus, car, bike, boat and foot. With easy access and a world to see and do, Richmond upon Thames provides the perfect getaway.
Things to do in Richmond
Hampton Court Palace: Visit in the summer to ride the boats along the river – the longest stretch of the River Thames. Daily boats from Westminister Pier to Hampton Court Palace, Kew and Richmond. Discover this magnificent Tudor palace with State Apartments, spectacular works of art and 500 years of royal history
River Boat Rides: Visit in the summer to ride the boats along the river – the longest stretch of the River Thames. Daily boats from Westminister Pier to Hampton Court Palace, Kew and Richmond
Richmond Park: London’s largest Royal Park with 2,500 acres of hills, woodlands, gardens and grassland. Home to herds of red and fallow deer, the gated park is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and Nature Reserve. Adventurers can enjoy a host of activities such a horse riding and cycling. The park also houses the magnificent Isabella Plantation and the gardens at Pembroke Lodge.
Kew Gardens: Kew Gardens is London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the world’s most diverse collection of living plants. Set in over 320 acres, it features iconic glasshouses, a soaring treetop walkway and a spectacular new installation call The Hive which has to be seen to be believed. Beautiful planning provides swathes of year-round colour and Britain’s most intimate royal palace, Kew Palace, two art galleries dedicated to botanical art are perfect if the weather isn’t.
Twickenham Stadium: Catch a rugby game at Twickenham Stadium, an 82,000 seat stadium and the home of England Rugby.
Richmond Hill: Climb up for stunning views of the town below. The view has been Protected since an Act of Parliament 1902.
What Not to Miss in Richmond
The Royal Botanic Gardens: Located in Kew, these gardens are one of the largest attractions in the area. They stretch for 300 acres and offer history from the 18th to 20th centuries. The plant collection here is also one of the best in the world.
River Thames: Not only does Richmond upon Thames have the longest stretch of the river, but it is the only riparian borough to the both north and south of the River Thames. Richmond Bridge is the oldest surviving bridge to span the River Thames in Greater London (built 1774-1777), is an English Heritage Grade I listed structure.The view of the Thames from the top of Richmond Hill, protected by an Act of Parliamtn since 1902, has been a source of inspiration for artists and poets throughout the years
Ham House & Gardens: On the banks of the River Thames, Ham is one of London’s secret treasure houses. With a substantial collection of 17th-century paintings, furniture and textiles, Ham reveals what life looked like during the reigns of Charles I and II. You can learn how later generations protected their heritage by caring for their ancestors’ treasured heirlooms. Outside, there are statues, parterres and avenues to be explored in the formal Cherry Garden, refuge to be sought in the Wilderness and seasonal produce in the Kitchen Garden
Winchester is home to an ancient cathedral city in the countryside, only an hour away from London in Europe.
The Town’s Best Features
It’s proximity to South Downs National Park, it’s history, and it’s views of the countryside.
Things to do in Winchester
Jane Austin: The famous author is laid to rest in the Winchester Cathedral. Her house in Chawton has been turned into a museum for fans to learn more about her life and work. Since 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of her death, the town will be putting on events and exhibits in her honor.
Winchester Cathedral: It’s one of the most historic cathedrals in the country and is visually stunning. Take a tour to learn all about its history.
Winchester Great Hall and King Arthur’s Round Table: The hall is all that’s left of the Winchester Castle and the famous King Arthur’s Round Table is housed here.
What Not to Miss in Winchester
Christmas: Winchester does Christmas big with tons of community events and a large Christmas market at the Winchester Cathedral. There is an outdoor ice rink, festive theater performances and a visit from Santa and his helpers at the zoo.
Nottingham Castle: A fine show of the city’s heritage. It’s undergoing major renovations to really bring its 1,000 year old history to life.
Nottingham Cave Trail: It is an underground labyrinth of man-made caves; over 700 of them. Visitors can see decaying cock-fighting pits, houses and breweries down below.
What Not to Miss in Nottingham
The National Videogame Arcade: It’s the world’s first cultural center for gaming and stretches over four stories. There are interactive displays, a chance to create your own games, and exhibitions the showcase the history of videogames.
Nottingham Tennis Center: With 39 courts, it’s the largest tennis center in the UK. Visit to catch a game with some of the world’s best players.
Robin Hood Tours: Take a walking tour of the city while visiting heritage sites and learning about stories that stem from the Robin Hood legends.
Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.
View all posts by Courtney McCaffrey