8 Great Cities to Visit in the North of England


Bucket List Worthy  

When you think about travelling to England, London is probably the first destination that comes to mind. The capital city attracts more than 15 million international visitors annually and it is known for many iconic attractions including the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the British Museum and more. Also, in the south of England a short drive from London you will discover many other attractions including Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford Upon Avon, the thermal pools of Bath, the scenic seaside of Cornwall and the historic architecture of Cambridge.

However, to visit England without venturing beyond London and the south is to see an incomplete picture of this country. It is my opinion that you must absolutely explore the north as well. As you travel further north, the accents become broader, the gravy flows more freely, the landscapes are increasingly rugged and the pints are cheaper. The people are warm and unpretentious, with an irreverent charm and a dark sense of humour. It’s a whole other world from the south and there are so many fantastic cities to explore.

Here are 8 great cities to visit in the north of England:

1. Liverpool


Known for being the place of origin of John, Paul, George and Ringo, this city also has excellent museums and a buzzing nightlife. It was awarded the European Capital of Culture in 2008 and it has the largest national museum collection outside of London. Take a historic tour to learn about Europe’s oldest Chinatown and Liverpool’s role as a world maritime centre.

2. Manchester


This city is hip, edgy and cool and offers plenty of excellent pubs and restaurants. Go shopping in the Northern Quarter, where you will find vintage clothing stores, quirky local designers, independent coffee shops and tattoo parlours galore. If you are hungry, treat yourself to a delicious spicy rogan josh or jalfrezi on the Curry Mile, a long stretch of authentic and tasty curry restaurants in Rusholme.

Manchester is known for its great music scene and nightlife. Many of the most famous bars are on Canal Street, one of the oldest gay communities in Europe and a fun and accepting place for anyone to party.

3. York


Step into this beautiful northern city and you will feel like you have been transported back in time. York is an ancient cathedral city that is filled with well-preserved historical buildings and is surrounded by medieval city walls built on Roman era foundations.

Wander through the “Snickelways”, which are the labyrinthine narrow cobblestone alleyways in the old centre of the city. Visit the York Minster, an awe-inspiring Gothic cathedral, so that you can climb the steep winding staircase and admire the view from the top. Another popular attraction is the Jorvik Viking Centre, which recreates what Viking Age settlements in the area would have looked like 1000 years ago.

York is also a great jumping off point for hiking in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside – there are plenty of excellent trails throughout the county to explore.

4. Leeds


Leeds is a very attractive city, with plenty of stunning Georgian and Victorian buildings in its historic city centre. It was voted the UK’s favourite city in the Conde Nast Reader’s Traveller Awards of 2003. The compact city centre is easy to walk around and you can reach all of the main sights, including parks, galleries and museums, on foot.

Go shopping in Kirkgate Market and admire the opulent Victorian décor. Leeds is also home to Kirkstall Abbey, which is the largest abbey in the North of England.

5. Chester


Situated on the River Dee in the North-Western county of Cheshire, Chester is one of the great historic medieval gems of Great Britain. The town centre is dominated by Tudor style black and white beamed buildings. The city centre is enclosed in Roman walls, which you can walk along for a great perspective on the city. Visit on a Wednesday or a Saturday so that you can enjoy the Charter Market, which takes over the historic centre of the city and offers arts and crafts, cupcakes, jewllery, freshly baked pies and other local delights.

One of the most popular attractions is The Groves, a picturesque riverside promenade that runs alongside the River Dee. Make the most of a sunny summer day by renting a pedal boat and take a cruise on the river!

6. Newcastle


This port city in the North East is thought to have the best nightlife in all of the UK. It is compact, attractive, lively and diverse and it is a centre for culture and business. It also serves as a great starting point for any tours of the Northumberland coast and Hadrian’s Wall.

Newcastle is also home to some of the most beautiful Georgian architecture in Europe, especially on Grey Street – so bring your camera to capture some of the atmosphere.

7. Windermere


During your explorations of the North, don’t miss the Lake District National park – one of the most scenic regions in England and a wonderful place for hiking and climbing. The lakes and fells here were carved by glacial erosion over millions of years, creating dramatic, rugged and inspiring landscapes. Pick up a map, available in most shops in the area, and plan your route along the huge network of footpaths.

The town of Windermere is home to the lake of the same name, which is the largest in England. It is a good place to base yourself during your explorations of the Lake District, as it has a good variety of hotels and local shops.

8. Lancaster


A small city that was once the county town of Lancashire, Lancaster is home to Lancaster Castle, which is a stunning building with a lot of history. Visit on November 5th for bonfire night and the impressive firework display.

Also, the seaside resort of Morecambe is so close to Lancaster that they are essentially the same city. Take a stroll along the long promenade and enjoy the views of the sea.

Exploring these eight destinations will give you a glimpse into the beauty, history, culture and hospitality of the north of England.

About the Author: Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word. She and her English boyfriend Lee run Global-Goose.com, packed full with guides, stories and inspiration for those who dream of travel. They have been location independent and travelling the world digital-nomad style since 2011, with no address, no car and no fixed schedule.

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