The image that comes to mind when we say England is pretty clear: Big Ben, Red Buses, everything quintessentially London. However, you only have to venture a few hours out of the capital in any direction before you realize England has a whole array of different sights and experiences on offer. For many travellers, the hustle and bustle of London is far from the idyllic holiday so here are five alternatives that showcase England’s green-and-pleasant lands in all its wonderful variety. Here are 5 Places to Visit in England Aside from London!
Recently brought on to the international stage as host of the Tour De France’s Grand Depart, this northern powerhouse is a bastion of northern charm. Alongside the infectious, loveable attitude of true Yorkshire folk, it offers a vast variety of breath-taking countryside, modern metropolises and fascinating heritage.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is a highlight of any tour of England. Made famous in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, the Dales are an awe-inspiring landscape with highlights including Malham Cove and Gordale Scar. Walkers can embark on the notorious and challenging Three Peaks hike or pop down to Wensleydale to try the local cheese. For those with little ones, it’s just a short trip into North Yorkshire to the Forbidden Corner, a magical labyrinth built right into the landscape itself.
For those looking for a more urban get-away, Yorkshire provides the best of both worlds. The county’s biggest city, Leeds, has a ton to offer travelers. With great high street centers as well as the vast and impressive Kirkgate market, housed in grand, authentic Victorian buildings, the city boasts some of the best shopping in the country. Alongside this, there are an array of museums, theatres and other experiences that give a fascinating insight into the cities long and fruitful history.
- The Lake District
The Lake District lies just north of Yorkshire and holds more spectacular landscapes and natural beauty. This area is the countries capital of outdoor pursuits and the place to be for adventure lovers.
As a collection of small villages, no major city dominates the district; however, urban adventurers can find plenty to do around each of the lakes. The most well-known, Windermere, is perhaps the best place to meet the locals, with many taverns and ale-houses, cafes, places to stop for tea and ice cream and of course opportunities for boat trips out onto the water itself. Wandering around any of the villages surrounding the lake is an enjoyable and picturesque day out for those wanting to enjoy a little more home comfort than the wild terrain of the Lake District has to offer.
With its uncountable opportunities for stunning hikes, the Lake District is undoubtedly the place to be for outdoor lovers. Each of the lakes holds it’s own unique set of experiences, with many centers offering an array of outdoor activities, such as gorge-walking, caving, bike hire and climbing. For those looking to get on the water, there are plenty of sites that offer kayaking, boating and even windsurfing lessons amongst more specialized water sports such a jet-skiing and power boating.
- Bath & the South West
Just a few hours down the M4 from London is one of England’s most hidden gems. The city of Bath is a stunning UNESCO world heritage site that dates back to the Roman era, and the surrounding countryside holds numerous hidden treasures to explore.
Bath itself holds a great amount of charm and can be enjoyed by a simple stroll through the streets. However, it also holds many attractions, most famous of which are the Thermae Spas; the natural underground thermal waters, which gave the city its name, make the spa a unique and unmatchable experience. While one of my fave spas in London is the St. Pancras Spa, there are many more in Bath, where the Roman Baths inspired the beginnings of a great spa day!
Alongside this, other great landmarks include the stunning Georgian architecture of Bath Abbey, the Royal Crescent and, for literature lovers, the Jane Austen center—all of which are accessible by the sightseeing buses. Similarly, just a short trip out of the center lies Prior Park Landscape garden, which, alongside more spectacular buildings, holds a beautiful view over the city.
Bath’s surrounding countryside offers many delights as well. It’s just a short trip to Cheddar Gorge, a picturesque walk that is also home to one of the world’s most famous cheeses. Just across the boarder in Wiltshire is Stone Henge, a famous and fascinating historical wonder, and the lesser-known Avesbury Henge is also a short drive away. For culture lovers, the town of Glastonbury—home to the world famous Glastonbury festival—is also a short drive south, where you can browse local shops or wander up the hill to the Glastonbury Tor.
- The Coasts of Cornwall
Cornwall is the summer paradise of the UK. With many locals packing up and heading south for their august holidays, the breath-taking coastline has come to be known as The Cornish Riviera and for good reason!
Although there is no major city in Cornwall, many of the towns in the area hold their own unique charm. Newquay, perhaps the most well known of the seaside resorts, has a number of beautiful beaches. Here you can bask in all Cornwall has to offer with surf lessons available, many beachside café’s for afternoon tea or to try the famous Cornish ice cream. Further South, Penzance is the ideal place for history lovers, with several ancient pagan sites nearby such as Men-a-Tol, the Merry Maidens and the Chyauster Ancient Village. Its coastline also tells a story from the smugglers era with many hidden caves and crevices to explore.
Although Cornwall’s towns hold so much rich culture within them, many visitors to Cornwall are more attracted to what lies between. The Cornish countryside holds some of the most spectacular coastline in the UK, with many well-known coastal walks offering an unmatchable view of its beauty.
Similarly, there are many holiday cottages available to rent for those looking for a quiet retreat in a magical place or a warm home to curl up in and catch up on TV on those rainy English days. All along the shores there are a vast array of beaches, and you are never far from a good surf spot, as well as stunning landmarks such as Kynance Cove and its famous rock formation—The Lizard.
- Northumberland & The North East
The North East of England is a regularly forgotten treasure. Bordering Scotland, the wild and untamed landscape offers a scenic and peaceful getaway for those looking to escape the more touristy areas of the country.
Although cities in the North East of England are sparse—which some would say is the key to its charm—there is one port of call that cannot be missed. The city of Newcastle lies just below the southern boarder of Northumberland and is an essential stopover for anyone travelling to the very top of the country.
Alongside being the home of the notorious T.V. series, Geordie Shore, a night out on the “toon”—as locals lovingly know it—is sure to never disappoint. From the local pubs, home of the famous Newcastle Brown Ale, to the trendy cosmopolitan bars, the city’s night-life has something to offer for everyone. And for those looking for daylight pursuits, nothing beats a picturesque walk down the Tyne River in the center of the city.
Just north of Newcastle, the undervalued beauty of Northumberland becomes apparent. Far less well-known than Cornwall or the Lake District, this northern retreat offers a solitude that is much more delightfully isolated than anywhere else in England. With stunning sandy white beaches all along the coastline and a vast national park that showcases the best of the British countryside with cottages available to rent and a plethora of campsites, Northumberland has more than enough to offer a peaceful getaway for all travellers.
However, be sure to make sure you have access to Netflix as the bitter cold northerly winds can sometimes call for a day indoors, curled up by the fire of your cottage or a local pub!
Alongside these five places, there are many more hidden gems that England has to offer. Do you have anywhere to add to the list? Or have more information about any of the places we’ve covered? Comment below to share your own English getaway experiences with us!