If you are heading to the United Kingdom soon, these are UK cities you will want to add to your travel wishlist for a good measure of history, drama, and intrigue. The United Kingdom is comprised of several glorious countries with an extensive and captivating history featuring landmarks, museums, and historical sites that provide valuable glimpses into its heritage. The UK's cultural variety and artistic contributions offer a wealth of experiences.
Visitors can explore the traditions, history, and pageantry associated with the Royal Family. Or visit Shakespeare's country to discover more about the life of William Shakespeare and walk in his footsteps.
The UK is also the perfect destination for movie lovers with famous movies and British TV shows such as Downton Abbey, Ted Lasso, Beatrix Potter, The Holiday, and the Harry Potter movies.
And if soccer is your thing, you have a choice of 20 Premiership teams to visit, with a selection of tours and experiences for soccer fans.
What Are The Best UK Cities To Visit?
Where on earth do you start, and what are the best cities in the United Kingdom? Because there's a lot to choose from and you can't fit it all in one trip.
It's a great idea to start with a wish list of the top locations and set a road trip plan. Use Post-it notes and put all of your top places on a map of the UK and use that as your template for the road trip. From London to Edinburgh, there’s something for everyone from Harry Potter to Manchester United.
As the crow flies, “At its widest, the United Kingdom is 300 miles (500 km) across. From the northern tip of Scotland to the southern coast of England, it is about 600 miles (1,000 km). And no part is more than 75 miles (120 km) from the sea. Thus making the UK easy to navigate,” according to the Britannica website. However, it's also easy to navigate by train and plane.
What's The Most Beautiful City in England?
This question has no right or wrong answer because it's subjective. Whether you want the hustle and bustle of London or crave more of an old-world Edinburgh atmosphere with its Harry Potter-style castle is up to you.
Let's dive in and get to know some of these glorious cities a little better as you outline your UK travel wishlist and find UK cities to add to your roadmap.
5 UK Cities To Add to Your Wishlist
The capital of the United Kingdom is a city of many faces and our favorite of all the UK cities. It’s where every tour of Britain should start or end. London is a city that never feels dull, with abundant cultural, historical, and sporting events that will exhaust even the most seasoned travelers.
London is split into many areas, all with something to offer. Consider whether you want to explore movie locations, royal-inspired destinations, or famous sites.
Our Top Places To Visit in London
London is home to several royal locations that hold historical and cultural significance. We can't fit them all in, but we recommend visiting a few notable sites.
The official residence of King Charles and Queen Camilla symbolizes the British monarchy. Here, you will find the changing of the guard ceremony, which attracts many visitors. Be sure to get there early for a good viewpoint. The changing of the guards gets busy, but it's worth the wait.
Tower of London
This historic castle by the River Thames has served various purposes throughout history, including a royal palace, royal menagerie, prison, and treasury. Plus, it houses the Crown Jewels. You need a day to make the most of the Tower of London; the estate is vast, with so much to tell you about London's history.
The Tower of London is also steps away from the iconic Tower Bridge, which is a perfect photo stop.
The site of royal coronations, weddings, and burials, Westminster Abbey holds a significant place in British royal history and is a site to behold. It is within walking distance of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, which are three not-to-miss attractions.
Our favorite city location offers restaurants, bars, theaters, and extensive shopping. This lively area, with many shops and bars, is also where much of the movie My Fair Lady was set.
Be sure to check out the street performances and the Punch and Judy pub built in 1787 on the piazza; it gives you a feel for what old London was like.
Covent Garden is glorious in all seasons, but we recommend a trip at Christmastime because the tree is always spectacular.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
Known as the V&A, this London museum houses a vast collection of art, design, fashion, and decorative arts. Watch for the special exhibitions because there is always something fabulous happening there.
If you want a bird's eye view of London, head to the Shard. The lift to the top takes no time, and the views are spectacular. Many visitors go to the London Eye to the other side of the river. However, the Shard is more fun, and you can enjoy a glass of champagne at the top.
If you are a fan of the British royal family of pop, you must head to Abbey Road. Liverpool is the place to explore the Beatles and their history, but London's Abbey Road is a must-visit to take that iconic photo crossing the road. Also, head to the M&M's store in Leicester Square for an additional Beatles treat.
Manchester is the home of the 1980s indie music explosion, L.S. Lowry, and some of the best shopping, theater, and dining the UK offers. Plus, two of the UK's soccer giants are based there. The center is friendly and buzzing; you will never tire of this glorious UK city.
Great Places To Visit in Manchester
The Science and Industry Museum
The Science Museum explores Manchesters' industrial heritage through many interactive exhibits and demonstrations; it is an excellent museum for families, offering many interactive exhibits for all ages.
Set in the heart of Manchester, this stunning medieval cathedral — with stunning architecture and a peaceful atmosphere — holds many events and candlelight concerts in the heart of the city. However, the real beauty is when it's quiet and you can take in the breathtaking surroundings.
Watch a Football Match
Depending on your preference, red or blue, visit Old Trafford, home to Manchester United Football Club, or the Etihad Stadium, the home of Manchester City Football Club. Take a stadium tour to explore the grounds and learn about the club's history. A tour typically takes you through the dugouts and even offers the chance to sit in your favorite player's seat in the dressing rooms.
Visit The Football Museum
If you are a football fan, check out the football museum in the heart of Manchester, only minutes from the cathedral. It's packed with history that enthralls even non-football fans.
See the L.S. Lowry Exhibition
Lastly, don't forget to visit The Lowry to see the L.S. Lowry exhibition in Manchester. Lowry was a renowned British artist known for his distinct paintings of industrial life, featuring simplified forms and stick-like figures. He gained recognition for capturing the beauty of everyday scenes.
Liverpool is a UK city that was awarded City of Culture in 2008. Its cultural significance formed in the 1960s when greats such as the Beatles, Cilla Black, and many more UK music icons did their musical apprenticeship at the Carven Club.
The city has a heart that draws you in when you arrive; the rich naval history is everywhere, whether by land or sea.
What To Do in Liverpool
Go on a Beatles Tour
Start your tour of Liverpool with The Beatles Story and Cavern Club. Head to the Beatles Museum in the Albert Dock and Mathew Street to see the statues and Cavern Club. There is even a Magical Mystery Tour bus.
Explore Albert Dock
Explore the historic Albert Dock, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its museums, galleries, shops, and restaurants. You'll find the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the International Slavery Museum, and the Tate Liverpool art gallery there.
Take a Ferry Across The Mersey
Pop over to the Liverpool Waterfront. You can't visit Liverpool without taking “The Ferry Across The Mersey,” just like the famous song by Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Visit The Famous Liver Building
Head to the famous historic Royal Liver Building with its Royal Liver Building 360 experience to see panoramic views of the city from the iconic location.
Visit Liverpool Cathedral and Metropolitan Cathedral
Admire the impressive architecture of the Liverpool Cathedral and Metropolitan Cathedral. offering guided behind-the-scenes tours and special events as well as a chance to join a service.
Edinburgh is a glorious city not to be missed. If you are a Harry Potter fan, this is the perfect opportunity to visit the Elephant House Cafe in Edinburgh, where J.K. Rowling is said to have penned the first book in the famous Harry Potter series.
Things To Do in Edinburgh
Go on a Harry Potter Tour
A Harry Potter tour around Edinburgh is the perfect way to start a Harry Potter UK tour. Begin from the cafe mentioned above, where the award-winning books were originally penned. Continue around Edinburgh to see the streets, graveyards, and castles that are thought have inspired many scenes from the books.
Edinburgh Castle provides an abundance of romance. Perched at the top of Castle Rock, it offers commanding views of the city with its Disney-esque facade.
Enjoy spectacular events such as the world-famous Military Tattoo. See the Crown Jewels of Scotland, do a Castle tour or enjoy afternoon tea.
Princes Street Gardens
Relax in these beautiful gardens in the heart of the city, with great views of Edinburgh Castle. These sprawling gardens are the perfect place for a family picnic and to enjoy the calm despite being in a bustling city.
The garden is also home to several memorials and monuments, including one for Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
If you visit during the winter, you can explore the area's Edinburgh Christmas Markets.
Arthur's Seat, a dormant volcano in Holyrood Park, offers panoramic views of the city from its 823-foot high elevation. The origin of the hill's name is uncertain, though it's potentially connected to King Arthur or an Old English term.
Managed by Historic Environment Scotland, the park encompasses diverse flora, fauna, and well-maintained hiking trails. Thus, it is a favored spot for outdoor enthusiasts and visitors seeking natural allure and historical value.
Visit in August and Check Out The Fringe Festival
If festivals are your thing, plan your trip for August. This is not only when you can catch the world-famous Tattoo event but also when Edinburgh comes alive during the Fringe Festival. Comedians come from far and wide to celebrate life, love, and anything else they can add a comedic spin to.
The atmosphere is electric, the streets are buzzing and busy, and if you are blessed with sunshine, this is the best place to be. However, take a brolly; it's better always to prepare for every eventuality with the British weather.
York is a UK city that blends history and modernity. Its cobbled streets wind through a tapestry of architectural wonders, showcasing everything from medieval masterpieces to contemporary marvels. Visitors can expect history, shopping, stunning architecture, and a lively and fun bar culture.
Great Activities in York
This iconic cathedral is a stunning masterpiece of medieval architecture. Visitors can take a tour to explore its exquisite interiors, climb the tower for panoramic views, and learn about its history.
Alternatively, for a small donation, you can visit to say a prayer and light a candle. Of all the cathedrals we have visited in UK cities, York Minster is one of the most impressive.
This medieval street is known for its charming timber-framed buildings, narrow lanes, and unique shops. The Shambles is like a real-life Diagon Alley with its winding cobbled street and crooked buildings. Shopkeepers have capitalized on this and offer lessons in potion-making, resulting in delicious frothy cocktails and bubbling boozy hot drinks.
Plus, there are opportunities to shop all things Harry Potter. Don’t forget to check out the Christmas shop; it's full of festive gems.
York City Walls
Walk along the well-preserved city walls to understand York's history and enjoy city views from different angles. Visitors should feel comfortable with heights, but learning how UK cities were fortified and protected in old England is excellent there.
National Railway Museum
The National Railway Museum isn't just for train enthusiasts and history buffs — it houses an impressive collection of historic locomotives and carriages, including the carriages of many UK Monarchs, including Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.
Should You Add These UK Cities to a Tour of Great Britain?
Visiting these glorious UK cities offers insight into how British history and modern-day living coexist. celebrating the historical people and places that have formed the fabric of society and modern-day music and culture.
By championing progression while protecting old and new alike, UK visitors have a wealth of choices for where to go. Whether you are a movie fan, a fan of the monarchy, a history buff, a sports fan, or obsessed with the British pop explosion of the 60s, you'll find a city that's right for you in the UK.
Karen Beddow and her family have been running Mini Travellers since 2014 when the children were 4,4 and 5, now aged 12, 11, and 11. Mini Travellers aims to prove that anything is possible whilst trips now require a whole new checklist of essential items and not just a passport, hand luggage and a credit card! Alongside Karen, who loves festivals, trips to Africa and every Greek island she can find, Sarah Christie joined Mini Travellers in 2023, bringing a creative angle; her love of cities, cruising and Disney, she travels with her grown-up family, thus offering a different perspective.