For picture postcard scenery and magical atmosphere you can’t beat the United Kingdoms. From the breath-taking countryside and the great British outdoors to arty urban centres and historic cities – there’s so much more to it than its capital. So when heading to the UK during the winter, don’t automatically think of London first. From Scotland’s Edinburgh to Liverpool’s Anfield, here are 10 other places to visit in UK beyond London.
10 Places to Visit in UK Beyond London
1) West Country
Just a few hours west of London, you can immerse yourself in an entirely different world. Many parts of the West Country – including counties Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset – recall gentler times gone by, with windy roads, tiny fishing villages and wild moorland. There is also the rugged coastline and perhaps what you don’t expect to find in England – beautiful beaches.
On your way to or from the West Country, make a stop at the historic city of Bath, which dates back to Roman times and is a World Heritage Site. It’s a wonderful place to visit during the festive season with ice-skating, carol singing and Christmas shopping, which includes the famous Bath Christmas Markets – an 18-day shopping festival in the heart of the historic centre.
Wiltshire – This English county has a lot to offer overseas visitors. There’s Longleat, a safari park set in an Elizabethan country estate; quaint villages with original thatched cottages; the historic cathedral city of Salisbury, and of course, Stonehenge. The well preserved World Heritage Site is one of the top places to visit in UK and now includes a new visitor centre where you can experience the dramatic virtual sunrise and see a permanent exhibition of findings from the site.
In the heart of North Wales, Snowdonia appeals to outdoor types and even if you’re only moderately fit and the weather is fine you can walk to the peak of Snowdon – the highest point in Wales and the UK, outside of Scotland. But if you’re travelling with young children or elderly people, you don’t need to walk because the summit can be accessed by train from Llanberis. It’s a beautiful scenic trip on an historic railway.
In this part of Wales, you’ll hear Welsh being spoken frequently and you’ll feel a world away from London. For those who want to discover some place new and unusual for travellers from our side of the world, this is one of the places to visit in UK that will set you apart.
The Beatles, the rich history of this once-thriving port, the football team (LFC ftw!), the funny people and that strange accent – yes, Liverpool is the most interesting of the northern cities (disclaimer: it’s this writer’s birth place!).
Liverpool has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years and boasts a lively nightlife, restaurants, theatres and a thriving art scene. With most Singaporeans divided mainly into fans of Liverpool Football Club and Manchester United, Anfield is often already on the map of places to visit in the UK. Walk in the footsteps of the greats in Anfield stadium, or even catch a game if you’re lucky enough to get tickets. You’ll never walk alone in Anfield.
Don’t miss the Tate Liverpool gallery in the old converted Albert Dock.
6) Yorkshire Dales
Just four hours by rail or road from London and you can be in the gorgeous rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, which is surrounded by other national parks. The weather can be wild and windy in winter, beautiful in spring and pleasantly mild in summer. There are charming old villages featuring pubs and small hotels with a genuine Christmas feel at this time of year. You may even experience snow in winter, which enhances the magical atmosphere. Find out more about York here.
7) Lake District
The Lake District features rugged hills, serene lakes and picture postcard villages. It’s the land of Beatrix Potter’s characters and was the writer’s adopted home, where she wrote many of her books. The Lake District is a handy stop-off if you’re travelling to Scotland from the south.
Spend a few days here – it’s an idyllic setting among unspoiled beauty and there are many levels of walks for varying degrees of fitness. After a hike, stop at one of the old-world pubs that exude a lovely Christmas atmosphere during the festive season, with or without snow.
CC 2.0 / Lake District
Don’t forget about Scotland! If you’re taking a nice long trip over the June or December holidays, wander into the Scottish highlands. Among all the places to visit in UK, Scotland offers a distinctly different atmosphere and its own history.
While in the UK, Edinburgh – a city of significant historical and cultural interest – is not to be missed. There’s the magnificent Edinburgh Castle and the historic Palace of Holyroodhouse – the Queen’s official Scottish residence. At Christmas it will be decorated in festive style – complete with twinkling lights – and there will be carol singers.
If you happen to be there at New Year, Edinburgh is perhaps the most famous place to celebrate New Year or Hogmanay, with thousands of revellers partying in the streets.
9) The Isle of Mull
No trip to Scotland would be complete without visiting one of the famed Scottish islands. The sight of the small fishing village of Tobermory, with its row of iconic coloured houses as you arrive in Mull from the mainland (about 30 minutes away by ferry) is unforgettable. Mull is the second largest island in the Inner Hebrides (after the Isle of Skye) and is the place to eat fresh seafood, visit more castles (there are six on Mull) and, weather permitting, book an organised wildlife trek to spot sea eagles, wild red deer, otters and maybe dolphins.
It sometimes plays second fiddle to its Scottish neighbour Edinburgh, but many people love the raw grittiness of Glasgow. It’s an old port city with a rich history and it boasts a thriving arts and theatre scene. The people are also famous for their friendliness. Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum for one of Europe’s great art collections.
What’s your favourite place for a holiday in the UK?