Passionate travel lovers usually can’t make it more than a few months without having a strong urge to get on a plane, bus, or a train. In many cases, daily life, a full-time job, and other responsibilities don’t always leave much space for frequent or extended trips across the world. One of the best ways to satisfy that never-ending need for travel is to take shorter trips to different, more nearby places. This style of exploring new destinations is gaining popularity, and it’s not a surprise. Such breaks are really straightforward to plan and can often even be fit into a busy schedule. They’re also wonderful options for travelling on a budget, especially if you manage to find and take advantage of available deals and discounts. Taking a city break in the UK enables you to explore the country in a unique way, without going too far or sacrificing too much time off.
Our favourite places in the UK for city breaks
Enthusiasts of great architecture certainly will want to visit Cambridge for a short and sweet city break in the UK. The city itself is, of course, best known for the University of Cambridge, which was founded back in 1209 and is one of the oldest schools in the world. Currently, the University has over 30 colleges, with most open to the public—usually completely for free. The buildings astonish tourists with their glorious architecture and spacious gardens.
The city also offers several marvellous museums, also with free admission. The most notable ones are Fitzwilliam Museum, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University Museum of Zoology, and The Museum of Cambridge. You can also spend your time on the waters of the Cam River, taking a trip on one of the famous punts.
Many may not realise it, but Birmingham is the second largest city in the United Kingdom and serves as a cultural, financial, and social core of the East and West Midlands. The city is known for its extensive canal network, which is even bigger than the one in Venice and one of the leftovers from the industrial revolution. Nowadays, the canals are mainly used for leisure activities.
If you’re looking for the best UK city breaks for couples, visit Birmingham and book a romantic canal trip with great views. In the city, you’ll also find a couple of stunning museums and galleries, such as Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Coffin Museum, The Ikon Gallery, or The Black Country Living Museum. Be sure to visit the Jewellery Quarter as well, which includes over 200 workshops run by jewellers and silversmiths. All together, they manage to produce around 40% of Britain’s jewellery. You can learn more about its history when you visit the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, located nearby.
History lovers will want to choose York for their next city break in the UK. With origins dating back to 7,000 BC, the city has been inhabited by both Romans and Vikings over the centuries. The look of the city perfectly reflects its history, and with every step, you’ll discover the remaining influences of times passed.
Be sure to visit the city centre, surrounded by miles of medieval walls, which are still mostly intact. One of the must-see tourist spots is the most famous street in York called the Shambles. This cobbled street also dates back to medieval times and is enveloped by marvellous overhanging timber-framed buildings from the 14th‑century. In York, you will also find the famous National Railway Museum, which possesses one of the most comprehensive collections of locomotives.
The capital of Scotland is a frequent destination for the best city breaks in the UK and for a good reason. Edinburgh offers a wide array of museums and galleries which showcase the history and art of Scotland. One of the most noticeable ones includes the National Museum of Scotland, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, National War Museum, Scottish National Portrait Gallery and many others. Must-see attractions include Edinburgh Castle, which was named the top UK Heritage Attraction by the British Travel Awards in 2019.
Our list of the best city breaks in the UK would not be complete without the capital of the country. A few days will likely not be enough to visit all the attractions this wonderful city has to offer, but, you can at least see the most famous places—like the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Big Ben, Shakespeare’s Globe, or many others. Remember, London is filled with free museums and other attractions, making the city a perfect candidate for a cheap city break in the UK. Depending on your interests, you can visit contemporary exhibitions in Tate Modern, or choose something more historical like displays shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum.