The UK’s renowned for its rolling hills, seaside cliffs, and idyllic villages.
But what about UK cities? Are there any special cities to visit in the UK that belong on your travel bucket list?
The best cities in United Kingdom are filled with stunning architecture, rich history, and exciting nightlife.
And, contrary to popular belief, the best cities in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have a thriving food scene too — in fact, London boasts the most diverse food scene of any city in the world!
But what else is there to learn about the best cities in the UK?
Keep reading to find out!
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UK Cities: The Best Cities in England
London – the capital city of both England and the UK – seems like a fair place to start.
One of the world’s greatest cities and home to 13 million residents, London’s a thriving multicultural metropolis!
Here you’ll find such famous sites as Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Big Ben.
There are also countless city parks, hundreds of museums and historical sites, and a lively theatre district to explore.
It’s no wonder it’s been said, “When a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life!”
The London Underground is the world’s oldest underground rail network, dating way back to 1863.
Home to the world’s oldest university, Oxford’s more than just a haven for intellectuals.
Visitors love its picturesque streets lined with medieval buildings, including famous sights like the Carfax Tower and the Bridge of Sighs (not to be confused with the Venetian bridge that shares the same name).
Harry Potter fans won’t want to miss a tour of Christ Church College, which was the filming location for the Hogwarts dining room.
An important port city filled with maritime history, Liverpool has something to offer any traveller.
The Albert Docks and the Merseyside Maritime Museum tell incredible tales of sailors and settlers that set off for the New World, while the city is littered with landmarks commemorating the one and only Beatles.
You can visit the homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, as well as explore the life and times of the band members at The Beatles Story museum complex.
Dating back more than 2,000 years to Roman times, Bath is not only one of the best cities in United Kingdom, but also one of the oldest and most beautiful.
Take a romantic stroll through the Royal Crescent, a curved street lined with 18th-century townhomes, then tour the ancient Roman ruins and soak your worries away at the Thermae Bath Spa.
The planet Uranus was first discovered in Bath by astronomer William Herschel in 1781.
Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester has evolved into a lively university town beloved for its fun-loving and football crazy atmosphere.
Visit the Science and Industry Museum to learn how the Industrial Revolution forever changed our society, then learn more about your favourite sport at the National Football Museum — the world’s biggest and best museum dedicated to football.
The diverse residents of Manchester speak well over 200 languages, including Urdu, Arabic, Bengali, Polish, and Chinese.
Dating back to the Roman occupation, York is home to some of the most well-preserved medieval buildings in the world.
In fact, walking its streets is like strolling through a living history museum.
Marvel at the spires and nave of the 7th-century York Minster, one of the most magnificent churches on earth.
Then take a five-kilometre stroll around the historic city walls for a bird’s eye view of the city’s 700-year-old lanes and alleyways.
With over 500 recorded hauntings across dozens of historical sites, York claims to be the most haunted city in the world.
It might not be one of the most famous cities to visit in the UK, but it should be — especially for history buffs!
Durham’s home to no less than 600 UNESCO-designated buildings, many of which date back over 1,000 years.
Durham Castle, Durham Cathedral, and the old Town Hall are must-sees, followed by afternoon tea in one of downtown’s historic teahouses.
Durham Castle has been in continual use for over 900 years and is the only castle in the United Kingdom that’s never been breached.
Fancy a seaside holiday?
Work on your tan while exploring one of the best cities in England, the delightfully quirky resort town of Brighton (also known as “London by the Sea.”)
Located on the British Channel, Brighton’s an eclectic mix of medieval alleys, seaside attractions, huge resorts, and even an Indian-themed Royal Pavilion.
The Swedish band ABBA won the 1974 Eurovision song contest in Brighton for their always-popular song, “Waterloo.”
Just 16 kilometres from the world-famous landmark of Stonehenge, Salisbury easily makes the list of best cities in United Kingdom.
The Salisbury Cathedral is home to the tallest spire in England and the world’s oldest clock, as well as one of four original copies of the Magna Carta.
The well-preserved streets and buildings surrounding the cathedral also date back to the early 1200s.
Salisbury’s summertime fair is the longest-running in the nation — it’s happened on the third Monday of October every year since 1227.
Like Oxford, Cambridge has been a world centre for higher learning since the Middle Ages.
Located less than an hour from London, it’s one of the easiest UK cities to explore as a day trip.
The city is home to 31 colleges, some of which date back to the 13th century.
Once you’ve toured the magnificent campuses, take a leisurely tour in a flat-bottomed punt boat down the River Cam.
In 1863, a group of students created the “Cambridge Rules” of football, which are still the basis for our modern Football Association codes today.
Best known as the legendary home of Robin Hood, this charming UK city is nicknamed “The Queen of the Midlands.”
Although its 1,100-year-old castle was recently closed to visitors, you can still tour the city’s magnificent cathedral, along with a dizzying maze of underground caves.
And yes, you can also wander the trees of Sherwood Forest and relive those childhood tales of Robin Hood.
Some historians believe that Robin Hood was not a single individual, but rather a popular alias used by various outlaws across medieval England.
Once the largest walled city in England, Norwich’s remote location means it was virtually untouched by the Industrial Revolution.
As a result, the city is teeming with traditional Tudor architecture and medieval churches.
Visitors will enjoy the city’s thatched buildings and long rows of brightly-painted merchant’s houses.
There’s also an impressive array of historic pubs serving the finest craft ales and beers.
Norwich is not only a UNESCO City of Literature, but it’s also the only English city located inside a national park!
The Best UK Cities to Visit in Scotland
The capital city of Scotland is surrounded by rolling green hills and, like Rome, is said to have been built on seven hills.
In the historic Old Town, you’ll find imposing neoclassical architecture and the stunning Edinburgh Castle, one of the oldest hilltop fortresses in Europe.
New Town is as modern as you’d expect in a thriving capital city, packed with shops, eateries, bars, and much more.
Once a tired industrial hub, Glasgow has been revitalised and is now one of the best cities in the UK for culture vultures.
Explore the shops and nightlife along the River Clyde, then wander through George Square and marvel at the 12th-century Glasgow Cathedral.
Glasgow’s Victoria Park is home to Fossil Grove, a collection of fossilised tree stumps that are 330 million years old!
With nicknames like “The Silver City” and “The Flower of Scotland,” Aberdeen is a sheer delight for the senses.
You can spend countless hours wandering the city’s gorgeous parks and gardens, which are especially beautiful in the spring and summer.
Duthie Park displays exotic plants and tropical flowers year-round thanks to its enormous greenhouses.
While in Aberdeen, you can stroll across Brig O Balgownie, Scotland’s oldest (and, according to many, its most romantic) stone bridge.
Inverness is both the largest city in the Scottish Highlands, as well as the area’s cultural centre.
Visitors love touring the beautiful Inverness Castle and neighbouring cathedral, as well as shopping at the historic Victorian Market.
Inverness is also the perfect base to explore the region’s famous lochs, including Loch Ness and Loch Lomond.
Inverness Castle is rumoured to be the place where King Duncan is murdered in one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Macbeth.
The Best Cities in the UK: Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s capital city might not be huge, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in things to see and do.
Visit the Titanic Museum to see where the famous ship was designed, built, and launched, then learn about the nation’s tumultuous past with a mural tour at the Peace Wall.
Save some energy for later, though, as Belfast offers some of the best nightlife of all UK cities.
Novelist C.S. Lewis was born in Belfast and used the city (and surrounding areas) as inspiration for The Chronicles of Narnia.
Known as both Derry and Londonderry (depending on your political views), this city on the northern coast of Northern Ireland is steeped in history and culture.
Cosy pubs rest beside modern restaurants dishing out creations from award-winning chefs.
It’s also the only completely walled city in Ireland, with sections of the wall dating back over 400 years.
In 2013, Derry-Londonderry was nominated as the first UK City of Culture.
The Best Cities to Visit UK: Wales
Wales’ capital city is vibrant and multicultural, with a fascinating history stretching back over 2,000 years.
Cardiff Castle, which dates back to the time of the Romans, is a must-see, along with the seaside shops, bars, and restaurants of Cardiff Bay.
And with 37 parks and green spaces, Cardiff ranks as one of Europe’s greenest (and most beautiful) capital cities.
Although Cardiff is the capital of Wales, only about 10% of the population actually speaks Welsh.
If it’s too hard to pronounce, do as the locals do and call it “Aber.”
This beautiful seaside city has been around since the Middle Ages, but today it’s a vibrant metropolis loved for its idyllic setting.
See what’s left of the haunting Aberystwyth Castle, then stroll down the mile-long Victorian Promenade and watch surfers ride the incoming waves.
In the evening, go on a shopping spree through the city’s boutique stores and stop at tapas restaurants and cocktail bars along the way.
Constitution Hill is home to the world’s largest camera obscura, where you can observe over 1,000 square miles of sea and landscape!
Ready to Travel to the Best Cities in United Kingdom?
So, what did you think of our list of the best cities in United Kingdom?
No doubt the “biggies” like London and Edinburgh were already on your radar, but hopefully you added a few more UK cities to your travel bucket list.
From the quirky seaside city of Brighton to the famed centres of learning like Cambridge and Oxford, you won’t get bored exploring any of these UK cities.
Each has a unique experience to offer travellers, so try to visit as many as possible!
Do you need more guidance planning your UK trip?
Check out these UK bucket list destinations!