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10 best cities to visit in England + map [2024]

What is the best cities to visit in England I hear you ask!!! I  love being outdoors surrounded by nature… however, I must admit that I also really enjoy a city break!

There is just something about being in the middle of a city, surrounded by people, beautiful architecture, and countless fun opportunities that I just love!

This is why I thought this article would be a great opportunity to discuss some of my favourite cities in England as well as many others that are still on my bucket list! But what is the best city in England?

 

best city in england

What is a city?

Historically speaking a city was classified by whether or not a place had a cathedral- however, this has not been upheld into modern day with the first major exception being Birmingham!

Nowadays, though cities are decided by a more formal process involving the monarch, with most areas becoming cities to mark major events! The last time this happened was in 2022 at the Platinum Jubilee when three new areas officially became cities! These last editions mean that England officially has 55 cities in total to visit!

 

10 best cities to visit in England

55 different cities makes it quite a long list to work through, especially as I can’t yet claim to have visited all myself! So instead, I’ve summarised my 5 favourite cities below that I think definitely deserve a weekend away! Let’s go, here are the best cities in England.

 

1. Exeter, Devon

Best for History and Shopping

Exeter has to be one of my favourite cities of the list; located in the heart of Devon and packed full of vibrancy and history there is so much to discover here!

Whether you want to picnic on the grounds of the beautiful cathedral, check out the historic wall dating all the way back to the Romans or fancy a spot of shopping in the wide selection of shops, there is definitely something for everyone!

Highlights from my most recent trip include the RAMM Museum, the beautiful Quayside and Gandy Street full of independent shops!

best city in england

2. Manchester, Greater Manchester

Best for Culture and Sport

Manchester may be one of England’s most iconic cities! Everywhere you turn here it is exploding with culture and new areas to explore including a choice of museums and art galleries as well as sightseeing spots and tours.

If you are more of a foodie then there is a wide range of cultural and local tastes to try out with microbreweries, gastropubs, restaurant, and cafes opening up all the time.

However, one of Manchester’s greatest draws has to be the football scene, with tours available of both Manchester city stadium and Manchester United as well as the National Football Museum to check out! One of my fave best city in England.

 

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best city in england

3. Brighton and Hove, Sussex

Best for Culture and Creativity

Another great choice for a city break has to be the beautifully bohemian city of Brighton.

Unofficially titled the UK’s LGBTQ+ capital, Brighton has to be one of the most welcoming and diverse cities in England! Plus, when you get tired from shopping and taste testing the great food you can end the day relaxing on the beach and taking in the iconic Brighton Pier.

Some of my favourite things to do in Brighton include visiting the Grand Royal Pavilion and taking an LGBTQ+ history walking tour around the city.

 

4. York, North Yorkshire

Best for Festivals and History

A great city for festivals and history York is perfect for those looking for an active and adventure filled city-break!

The city has routes dating all the way back to the Viking era and there is loads of great history themed locations to visit including the York dungeon, York Minster Cathedral and Jorvik Viking centre.

Don’t panic though if History isn’t your thing because the Shambles market and Food court located in the middle of the city provide amazing opportunities for shopping and taste testing some of the local produce and specialities!

birmingham

5. Cambridge

Best for Culture and History

A city break to Cambridge is the perfect retreat for those looking for history, culture, and beautiful architecture.

Home to the famous Cambridge university there is a huge selection of activities, events, and iconic spots to explore. You can check out the beautiful botanical gardens, take a canal boat down the river and shop till you drop at the cities range of independent boutiques as well as the more well known shopping areas.

My favourite spots in Cambridge include the Universities Zoology Museum, The Corpus Clock, and Restaurant twenty-two! 

 

6. London

London, the capital of England, is one of the most iconic cities in the world offering tourists, food, history, people and culture.

The dynamic city of London is home to a population of around nine million and is a multi-cultural city, blended with traditional charm. London is the largest city in Europe and you could spend a lot of time exploring everything this amazing city has to offer.  

There are so many things to do in London. From the River Thames to Southbank, to Covent Garden to Hyde Park, London is a city of exciting contrasts! London is home to historical sights, world-class shopping, top-notch sporting, and wild nightlife so there so much to do in London in 4 days…

best city in england

7. Milton Keynes

Another one of the best day trips from London by train is Milton Keynes, a town which everyone knows about but no one really has an opinion on.

It is often associated as ’roundabout city’ or the ‘new town’ because of its relatively new representation and growth over the last 50 years.

The town is also often referred to as a city because of its size at 89 km2, incorporating the existing towns of Bletchley, Wolverton, and Stony Stratford, along with another fifteen villages and farmland in between. 

I love living in Milton Keynes, it is a great place with lots going on, a million and one shops and activities to keep you going till Christmas. You’ll never be short of something to do in Milton Keynes; it offers some of the most exciting activities and some of the best entertainment experiences in the UK.

 

8. Bath

The Georgian city of Bath is the perfect destination for a day trip to Bath from London, with glorious architecture, ancient Roman remains sitting alongside genteel airy tearooms and pedestrianised classy shopping streets, there is more than enough to fill a day.

Start your visit with a trip around the Roman Baths which sit at the heart of the city. Here you can walk along ancient pavements and wander through the ruins of the Sulis Minerva temple where the thermal springs still bubble with naturally heated water from deep underground.

A short walk away from the Baths is a delight for literary fans. Set in a classic Georgian building, the Jane Austen Centre tells the story of the author’s life in Bath and how it influenced her much loved novels.

Finish your day trip to Bath with a visit to the Thermae Bath Spa, for a spot of pampering and the chance to watch the sunset over the honey-coloured Georgian buildings from the rooftop pool.

birmingham

9. Bournemouth

Bournemouth is just under 100 miles from London and takes approximately two hours on the train. A London day trip to Bournemouth is an ideal location to visit if you are looking for an escape from the capital.

Bournemouth is primarily known as a seaside resort in the South West County of Dorset in the United Kingdom. Famous for its beaches and amazing views, it’s well worth considering a day trip.

A great way to spend the day in Bournemouth from a local’s perspective would be to head to the centre of Bournemouth, just a mile or so away from the train station. This is accessible via bus, taxi or even walking, and you will find yourself with plenty to keep you entertained.

Alongside the seven miles of sandy beaches, there are plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you entertained. The famous big wheel tourist attraction is located right next to the pier, and a short stroll through the gardens takes you directly into the town centre.

 

10. Leeds

Leeds is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city packed with things to see, eat and do. Just 2 hours by train from London and with many attractions within an easy walk of the train station.

For a leisurely day, start at City Square (opposite the train station) to discover the eight “Drury Dames” of sculptor Alfred Drury. These near-naked bronze lamp-bearers scandalised Victorian Leeds when they were unveiled in 1899. Moments away, along Park Row, is Victoria Square and Leeds Town Hall. Check out the Corinthian colonnades and soaring 200-foot clock tower, then pause for coffee in the Tiled Hall Café (within Leeds Art Gallery), with its beautiful barrel-vaulted, tiled ceiling and walls.

Visit Queen’s Arcade, to see the soaring Victorian ceilings and quirky boutique shops, then cross Briggate, the oldest street in the city, to enter the even grander Victoria Arcade with its warren of high-end independent shops, built on the site of the ancient medieval meat market!

 

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A few more of my favourite cities for mini breaks and holidays include:

  • Bath- Home to the famous Roman bath sites and great for a relaxing trip away!
  • New Castle Upon Tyne- Perfect for shopping breaks with a range of independent and more popular stores such as Fenwick’s or for those looking to learn The Life Centre provides a unique look into science!
  • Canterbury- This one really takes the historical definition of city to heart with its beautiful cathedral and religious significance.
  • City of London- No City list would be complete without mentioning London!

 


If you on a bigger trip exploring more of Europe check out my guides to FranceGermany, Greece, IcelandItalyPortugalSpain and United Kingdom.

 

My Travel Tips and Recommendations

Flights

To book flights, I always use flight search engine, Skyscanner, I regularly use the Everywhere tool to find the cheapest places to travel. It’s how I get to travel so much all around the world. I find it the easiest way to compare flight prices across airlines and get the best deals. 

Accommodation

For accommodation, I usually book most of my hotels or hostels through Booking.com. I love using this platform as it provides me with some amazing deals for accommodation all around the world. Or if you prefer, I also recommend using Airbnb. If you haven’t signed up with Airbnb already, you can use this link to get £25 off your first visit!

Photography and Technology

Here is a list of the technology I always travel with:

Travel Insurance

Picking travel insurance that covers you in all eventualities is an essential part of planning a trip for every single person. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. You never know what’s around the corner.

 

You can also find me on social media: FacebookTwitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Did you know I also vlog my trips? Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel so you get alerted when all my travel videos go live… CHECK THEM OUT HERE

Thank you for reading and as always happy adventuring! If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it for me with all your friends and family!

Sophie X

 

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