Visit England’s great cities

Inspiration for wonderful places to explore beyond London

All images courtesy of VisitEngland and/or partner destinations.

If you think a city break means flights, passports and a dash to the bank for foreign currency, think again. England’s cities are rich in culture and great for shopping, and each has its own unique charms. Hop on the train and escape for a romantic weekend in a city set in stunning countryside, soothe your stresses on a pampering break, or taste the best in regional cooking.

Get inspired: short hop


This spring the Brighton Festival is curated by choreographer, musician, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter. The city’s streets and venues large and small will throng with comedy, theatre, dance, music and art events as part of the Festival and the Fringe. However, a break by the sea here offers an exciting cultural fix any time of the year. The music scene and café culture in the boho quarter of North Laine and the artists’ workshops in the former fishermen’s storage arches by the pier are good starting places to tap into the independent creative spirit of this city by the sea.

  1. From London: 58 mins by train; 50 miles by car
  2.  East Sussex, South East England
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Easy escape


A city with Paul Smith as its second most famous son – after Robin Hood – and centuries of lacemaking heritage can be relied on for a style break. However, with beautiful boutique hotels such as the Lace Market Hotel, with its fireside lounge and sleek cocktail bar, and grand old country houses turned into elegant spa escapes, you might not manage to make it out of your hotel when you visit the city. But do – Nottingham gives you the chance to see an art exhibition, catch a show, go clubbing and indulge in some fine dining, all within an easily explorable centre.

  1. From London: 1 hr 45 mins by train; 125 miles by car
  2. Nottinghamshire, East Midlands
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Road trip


Go north and discover why Hull was granted the honour of being the UK City of Culture for 2017. With a heritage of art, poetry and music, Hull is one of the unexpected treasures of Yorkshire. It’s a great city for lively and unique venues, from little art galleries to late music clubs, with a picturesque Old Town to explore. Hull’s position tucked in on the Humber estuary on the east coast also means the walking and cycling trails and expansive views of the Humber Bridge Country Park are easily accessible for a short trip out of the city.

  1. From London: 2 hrs 40 mins by train; 214 miles by car
  2. East Riding of Yorkshire, Yorkshire and the Humber
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All the way up


These days, officially, it’s NewcastleGateshead – linked by seven bridges across the Tyne, and boasting some of the best clubbing, art and shopping in the north of England. Head for the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art on the south bank of the Tyne in Gateshead. A world-class art gallery housed in a former flour mill, it’s an exciting contemporary art space, with a great place to eat, SIX at BALTIC, against the dramatic backdrop of top-floor river views. Or cross the water to Newcastle’s Quayside and Terry Laybourne’s Café 21 bistro to find out why he’s the region’s most celebrated chef. And if you’re ready to sample the city’s famous nightlife, it all starts here in the waterside’s best bars…

  1. From London: 2 hrs 37 mins by train; 280 miles by car
  2. Tyne and Wear, North East England
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Visit England's great cities

Brighton, Nottingham, Hull and Newcastle

Glorious beaches, Robin Hood, UK City of Culture and contemporary arts

Colchester, Norwich, York and Manchester

A magnificent castle, lively café culture, Scandi history and a thriving music scene

Stoke, Portsmouth, Lincoln and Bradford

The Potteries, an island city, medieval cobbled streets and the Unesco City of Film

Peterborough, Birmingham, Salisbury and Sheffield

A peek into Bronze Age life, a feast of shopping, cultural treasures and groundbreaking theatre

Visit England's great countryside

Hastings, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Hadrian's Wall

Discover battle relics, giant horses, Robin Hood and more

New Forest, The Broads, Peak District, North York Moors, Durham

Woodland, magical waterlands, historic spa towns, fine views and rugged clifftops

Isle of Wight, Shakespeare's England, East Lincolnshire, Yorkshire Wolds

Perfect beaches, literary history, pretty market towns and rolling hills

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