14 Best Cities to Visit in England

Martina Rosado
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Map of cities in England

While England consists of 63,094 square miles, most people only visit the larger cities, and much of the country’s beauty is left uncovered. Although it is the birthplace of the English language, many people from all over the world now live in the small market towns of Britain, following a job or family member to the country.

Tragically, 70% of the population live in England, leaving the large cities to the tourists, and that’s the way most people see it. These are not the best places to begin a tour of England, but rather great places to visit along the way to more popular destinations.

There are many attractions in England, and it is a land filled with history, including the Great English Writers. There is a reason why this peaceful nation has inspired so much fascination from around the world. Here are the best 14 cities that you should consider visiting on your way to other well-known destinations and historic sights in England.

York

York is perhaps overshadowed by the other must-see destinations in the north of England, but remains one of the best places to visit. The city is founded on the remains of Eboracum, the legionary fortress that gave York its name. Although York has some great museums, York Minster is the city’s true star, with its architectural treasures.

York

Cambridge

One of the more well-known colleges in the world, Cambridge University was founded in 1209, making it one of the oldest universities in the world.

The name originates from the name of the city that gave the school its present name. Originally known as the University of Cambridge, the name changed over time to reflect the growing amount of graduate-level degree programs as well as the growing number of schools within the university. Today, the university is composed of 38 constituent departments organized into seven schools, and offers more than 250 undergraduate and more than 90 postgraduate degree programs to over 15,000 students.

Today’s students at Cambridge experience a rich calendar of visits to the numerous alumni’s and other cultural events.

The university is also responsible for the Cambridge University Press, one of the oldest independent publishing houses in the world.

The city of Cambridge boasts of historic buildings, medieval streets, museums, and even an observatory that is one of the oldest in the country.

Cambridge is a great place to visit, and is often the starting point for a great trip in a different direction for picnics in the countryside, and even a sampling of Cambridge’s famous Cider.

Oxford

Birthplace of the English language, with a history dating back to the university founded in 1096. Today it is a world-renowned seat of learning and education. You can take a picture with a Mummy or Daddy on the table while you’re in the Great Hall to get a little extra credit.

Brighton

Manchester

Manchester is the capital of the North West of England, and it’s the third most visited city in the country.

Manchester is a crowded, lively city with a huge variety of places to see and things to do.

In Manchester, the architecture is split into two styles, Victorian and Georgian, and it’s common to visit areas where both styles live side-by-side. The Victorian areas are just as impressive to look at as the Georgian ones, but they are full of working businesses and running cars, so don’t miss out on the Georgian corners of the city.

The city is also full of great old pubs and bars, many of which have both live music and sports on the TV.

Manchester is a very friendly city, and anybody can tell you that the people there are always helpful and friendly.

Manchester is also one of the place in the United Kingdom where you can eat well and cheaply, so it’s a great place to visit on a budget.

Bath

There are many great things about this city, including its famed Roman Baths. Six hundred years after the baths were built, they were rediscovered. However, there is something more that makes Bath city worth visiting. It’s known as the “Home of Georgian architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

England is a country that has been invaded by different powers more than any other. There were conflicts often, especially during the time of the Wars of the Roses. Even today, you can find battle sites scattered around the city of Bath and the surrounding areas.

These battles happened because of the change of the royal succession. You can see some of the wrecks in the surrounding area.

The Roman Baths are an intricate site to visit. They were built in 1843, and you can see the Tyndall Stone. On it are 23 indentations from the sharp edges of the blocks with which the Romans built this house. It was found in 1842 in a quarry. The castle site was discovered in 1976. You can also find the ancient Roman baths that were used for cleansing purposes the city is today known for.

Liverpool

England.

In 1762, the Prince of Wales, Frederick of Wales, visited the city of Liverpool. The Prince later became the King of England, and Liverpool is now the largest city in England. In its heyday, Liverpool was called the Capital of the British Empire.

Liverpool sprawls both physically and culturally as it is home to three rivers. For that reason, it has been described as a "city of neighborhoods." Every corner of Liverpool has its own personality.

Photography enthusiasts will appreciate Liverpool’s architectural history. The 12th-century Metropolitan Cathedral is a notable attraction. This majestic building is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.

The Magic of Manchester

Manchester was once considered the second city of the UK, following London's lead. However, compared to the more developed area of London, Manchester has retained more of its historical character.

You can see the grand buildings of the Industrial Revolution here. The Manchester of the last century is as distinct as the Victorian building that gives this city its name.

Manor House

Manor House, also known as Manchester Town Hall, was built in 1749. It is one of the oldest surviving structures in the city, and it has been used for a number of purposes over the centuries.

Nottingham

Newcastle

A great place to set up your headquarters if you are planning a big trip to Europe is Newcastle. It is a lovely city and the center for all things art and entertainment you can think of. A great hotel is just around the corner with a beautiful view of the Newcastle Science Centre and a lot of shopping and other exciting things to do. The food in this city is just incredible so you won't have to worry about your waistline and there are a number of great places to visit so that you can enjoy yourself and have a wonderful time all over Newcastle.

After spending a couple days in Newcastle, you’re going to start to notice just how easy it is to find homemade food in the city. It’s likely that you’ll be able to find some great food just by following your nose and visiting a few of the commercial places that you see on the street. This is one of the great things about Newcastle because there are a lot of restaurants, pubs, and cafes that offer high-quality food just as you would expect.

St. Ives

Cornwall.

He may not have invented the concept of surfing, but it seems that it was Cornwall’s Thomas Kempis Boswell that did first come up with this idea. In the late eighteenth century, he was a highly-regarded minister who wrote a book called “Aboard The Good Ship Humanity, Or a Journal of a Voyage into The Intensely Dark, Thrilling World of the Soul.” The book was hugely popular and it contained the idea of surfing on horseback and illustrating this with a drawing.

Despite this, he did not have the right type of equipment to make surfing during this period a reality. And in fact, it wasn’t until the publication of the “The Boys of England” magazine that surfing began to create a serious fashion fad across the land. The article called for a tough sport that required a lot of physical strength and that could be quickly learned.

Given this description, the island of Jersey would be a great place to write about, but of all of them, it’s St. Ives that happens to take the title of the first surfing spot.

Bristol

Bristol is the second-largest city in England with a population of about 420,000. The city has a mixture of culture and is quite populated. It offers a one-stop-shop for everything you could ever want, giving you access to everything from Bristol Zoo to the West Country Safari Park.

If you grew up in the United States, you might recognize this city as the one where the final scenes of the movie, The Breakfast Club, were filmed. About the only thing wrong here is the use of the word “chocolate” as in chocolate cake, not the delicious treat (which also has its origin in Bristol).

This city has been called the gateway to the South West. Bristol is a consistently-ranked tourist destination because of the iconic resorts of Clifton, Leigh Woods, Bradley Stoke, and Portishead. There are also a number of museums, galleries, libraries, and theaters. It’s also known for the extraordinary street art in its neighborhoods, along with an array of award-winning restaurants.

Chester

Cheshire.

Chester or the City of the King, as it has been called since the Romans, is a place where history and legend has merged into one. It is said that if you walk the streets at night by the caves and the castle, you will see the ghosts of King Arthur and his knights.

But there are other well-known sites as well. Chester is home to a famous Victorian ice cream parlour and boasts an amazing Roman amphitheatre.

Among the many famous buildings in Chester is the Roman Town Gates, built to fortify the city’s perimeter, which was completed in the late first century AD. Following the Roman withdrawal, the gates were taken over and rebuilt by the Saxons, who expanded them in the eighth century.

History aside, Chester also has a medieval castle that has now been incorporated into a hotel and a private chapel, which has been refined to the extent that it is adorned with opulent ornaments made of Roman glass.

This city will truly open your eyes and mind.

Durham

This city is distinguished by its Gothic cathedral and its historic market quarters. It is the proud home of Baldrick, Monty’s loyal sidekick in the award-winning “Black Adder” series.

Durham is a gateway to the wild North East of England and is surrounded by the beautiful cathedral city of Newcastle upon Tyne. A must-visit daytime hotspot, Durham is famous for its stylish residential streets and its beautiful green countryside.

The cathedral of St. Nicholas is as famous as it is beautiful and a symbol of the city, which, in the Middle Ages, was a haven for students and scholars.

The Victorian graduate almshouses on the High Street and the stunning 13th-century Minster are awe-inspiring. Durham is renowned for its medieval Book Depot, the world’s largest collection of books on the Old Testament.

Durham is a city of learning and so its many historic colleges and medieval halls, including Neville’s Cross and Byker Hall, are home to a rich tapestry of history.

York

England.

York is one of the most picturesque cities, and is the perfect place for travelers to break up their sightseeing with some shopping and dining. The city is rich in history and the architecture of Medieval and Victorian times is still very prominent.

Another reason York is great is because you’ll never have to fight for a parking spot. No matter when you visit, you’ll find a spot to park your car.

York is about an hour and a half drive from the center of London. To get a good feel for the historic city, you’ll need to do some of the walking tours. You could also hire a driver to take you around the city on a tour.

Most importantly, you can get to know your city.

At the beginning of October, the York Minster will be celebrating their 800th year. This is a great excuse to come and look for some good deals. It’s also the perfect time to pick up last minute Christmas presents.

Don’t forget to pick up a good souvenir!

York is also the perfect place for a pub crawl. Try your luck at the many pubs that are available.

One of the most popular pubs is The Minster Inn. The Minster Inn is a great place to start your pub crawl.

London

As Europe’s top tourist destination, London has many attractions for visitors to enjoy. Since you are considering visiting it, you may be wondering what to do in London!

The best time to visit London is during the Summer, when the weather is generally warm but not too hot, and many of England’s most popular attractions are open.

London offers an endless amount of things to do! You can explore art galleries, wander through its many green parks, go to a flea market, watch a soccer match at Anfield, visit one of England’s premier cathedrals or just relax and enjoy a Pimm’s® at one of the many pubs that London has.

If you are looking for a great day trip from London, you can take a train to Oxford and check out the University of Oxford, and then after, you can grab a tasty and healthy farmhouse breakfast in a quaint B&B.