I’ve lived in England for the majority of my life – other than short stints in South Africa (as a child) and Portugal. Although I hate the British weather with a passion, I love how much history we have here in England. It wasn’t until the Covid Pandemic hampered international travel that I decided to truly dedicate some time to exploring my own country. Why go abroad when there are so many amazing cities to see here in England? The most beautiful cities in England include Oxford, Cambridge, York and Bath. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to visit them all. I hope you enjoy my blog.
Travel Tips for visiting the Most beautiful Cities in England
Before we launch into my list of the Most beautiful Cities in England, here are some travel tips to get you started and help with your planning….
- Pace yourself! – Remember that although the UK is quite small in comparison to the USA, it is still a fair distance between cities and you are better to do at least 3 days in each destination. So for example, if you only have 10 days, pick 3 cities max.
- Focus on one area of England – Pick either the North or the South to devise your itinerary. For example, you could combine London, Oxford and Cambridge or perhaps cities of the North such as Manchester, York and Durham.
- Travel by Train – Trains link most of these cities in England. Train travel is fast and comfortable here. It is cheaper if you book in advance online so download the Trainline app for this.
- Wear sturdy walking boots – Many of the historical cities in the UK (such as York, Bath and Oxford) are very walkable so get your sturdy walking boots on (and break them in before your trip to avoid blisters).
- Travel in the spring or summer – The best time to visit England is the spring or early summer when the weather is mild to warm and the crowds are fewer (summer holidays get packed).
- Pack an umbrella and rain coat – Even in the summer months, the rain can fall at anytime in England so an umbrella and rain coat are essentials!
- Take your Lonely Planet – Although there is plenty of information available online these days, I still love to have a hard copy of the lonely planet when travelling. Buy your Lonely Planet Guide to England here.
The Most beautiful Cities in England – My Top 10
Some of the most beautiful cities in England include Bath, York and Oxford. But it would be unacceptable to deny the capital city of London the number one spot…
London can be expensive. London can be busy. London can be intense. But let’s face it, the English capital city is well deserving of the top spot on this list of most beautiful cities in England. London is known worldwide for its rich history, iconic landmarks, and diverse culture. London was my home for two years at the end of my 20s – even now I still haven’t explored everything!
There are many things to see and do in London as a tourist. Some of the most popular attractions include Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the British monarch; the Tower of London, a historic castle and prison; and the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel offering panoramic views of the city. The city is also home to a number of world-class museums, such as the British Museum and the Tate Modern, as well as theaters, music venues, and restaurants.
London is a large and busy city, so it is important to plan your trip in advance and consider purchasing a tourist pass, such as the London Pass or the Oyster Card, to help you save money on transportation and attractions. It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the city’s public transportation system, which includes the Underground (also known as the “Tube”) and a network of buses and taxis. If you are low on funds, it is possible to do London on Budget.
Where to stay on a Budget: Generator Hostel near London Euston
Where to stay mid range: Double tree by Hilton (several locations in London)
Where to stay Luxury: Claridges, The Ritz
What not to miss: Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, British museum, Buckingham Palace, Parliament, London Eye.
How to get there: Fly into London Heathrow, London Gatwick or London Luton. Heathrow is connected by the London Underground. If you are travelling into London by train the Eurostar comes into London St. Pancras. National trains come into London Euston and London Waterloo.
Oxford is a city in central England known for its beautiful architecture, world-renowned university, and rich cultural and intellectual history. Oxford is clearly one of the most beautiful Cities in England.
The University of Oxford, founded in the 11th century, is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. It is made up of 38 colleges (you can visit some of the best colleges in Oxford) and has a strong reputation in a wide range of academic fields, including sciences, arts, and humanities. Many famous scholars and researchers have studied or worked at the university, including J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Bill Clinton.
The city has a number of museums to explore including the Ashmolean Museum and the Pitt Rivers. It is a popular tourist destination, with attractions such as the medieval Bodleian Library and the punting boats on the River Thames. If you have limited time, it is possible to spend just one day in Oxford and see a great deal as it is one of the most walkable cities in Europe.
Where to stay on a Budget: Central Backpackers Oxford
Where to stay (mid range to luxury): Malmaison Oxford Castle or the Randolph
What not to miss: Oxford Castle, Bodleian Library, Christ Church College, University Church, Botanic Garden, Oxford Town Hall, Magdalen College.
How to get there: Take the train to Oxford train station and you can walk to everything central from there. If you are flying into London Heathrow there is a bus direct to Oxford bus station from there.
Cambridge is a city in eastern England, located in the county of Cambridgeshire. It is known for its beautiful architecture, world-renowned university, and rich cultural and intellectual history.
The University of Cambridge, founded in 1209, is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. It is made up of 31 colleges and has a strong reputation in a wide range of academic fields, including sciences, arts, and humanities. Many famous scholars and researchers have studied or worked at the university, including Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, and Isaac Newton.
In addition to the university, Cambridge is also home to a number of scientific research institutions and high-tech companies. The city has a vibrant cultural scene, with a number of museums, galleries, theaters, and music venues. It is also a popular tourist destination, with attractions such as the medieval King’s College Chapel and the punting boats on the River Cam.
Where to stay on a Budget: YHA Cambridge
Where to stay mid range: Ibis Central Station
Where to stay luxury: Hotel du Vin, University Arms Hotel
What not to miss: Kings Chapel, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge Gin Laboratory, University of Cambridge, River Cam, Cambridge University Botanic Garden
How to get there: Take the National Express Coach to the Cambridge National Express bus station which is a 10 or 15 minute walk from the centre. You can also take the train but it is a bit further out (say a 20 minute walk).
York has a long and fascinating history, dating back to the Roman times and is one of the most beautiful Cities in England. I was lucky enough to live there for 5 years and I got to know the city quite well. The city is home to a number of historical landmarks and landmarks, including York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, and the ancient city walls, which still surround much of the city centre. Don’t miss the Shambles which is one of England’s oldest and most picturesque streets. York is also home to the National Railway Museum, which houses a collection of historic trains and railway artefacts.
If you are interested in going out for a drink in the evening then head to Stonegate where you will find two of my favourite bars – Evil Eye and the House of Trembling Madness.
Where to stay on a Budget: The Fort (Boutique Hotel)
Where to stay mid range: The Ibis
Where to stay Luxury: Hotel du Vin, the Grand, Judges Lodging
What not to miss: York Minster, The Shambles, York Railway Museum, Museum Gardens, Yorvik Viking Museum
How to get there: Take the train to York station and everything is walkable from there.
Bath is home to a number of historical landmarks and attractions, including the Roman Baths, a well-preserved Roman public bath complex, and the Georgian-era Royal Crescent, a row of elegant townhouses. There are also some gorgeous Churches in Bath. The city is also home to a number of museums, galleries, and cultural venues, including the Holburne Museum, which houses a collection of art and antiques, and the Theatre Royal, a historic theater.
Bath is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with a number of parks, gardens, and walking trails in the surrounding area. The city is also known for its natural thermal springs, which are believed to have therapeutic properties and have attracted visitors for centuries.
Where to stay on a Budget: Bath Backpackers
Where to stay mid range: Z Hotel Bath
Where to stay luxury: The Gainsborough Bath Spa
What not to miss: Bath Abbey, The Roman baths, Pulteney Bridge
How to get there: Take the train to Bath Spa station or the coach to Bath bus station – both are walkable from the centre.
Manchester is a city in northwest England, known for its rich industrial and cultural history. It is the second-largest city in the United Kingdom and is a major centre for business, arts, and education. Manchester holds a special place in my heart because it was my University City (and the city where I met my husband!)
The city has a rich history dating back to Roman times, but it became particularly significant during the Industrial Revolution, when it was a major center for textile production. Today, Manchester is home to a number of notable cultural and sporting institutions, including the Manchester United football club, the Manchester Arena, and the Manchester Museum.
The city is home to two universities, the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, and has a diverse population with a strong arts and music scene. For live music, there are concerts on at the O2 Academy and the Albert Hall. Lively areas for going out in the evening are Deansgate and Fallowfield (student nightlife!)
Where to stay on a Budget: YHA Manchester Hostel
Where to stay mid range: Hotel Indigo Manchester – Victoria Station or Motel One Manchester (St Peter’s Square)
Where to stay luxury: The Midland, Stock Exchange Hotel
What not to miss: Manchester Cathedral, Deansgate, The University of Manchester and Oxford Road
How to get there: Manchester Airport is a train ride away, you can also take the train to Manchester Victoria or Manchester Picadilly (the two main stations) from most major cities in the UK.
Bristol is a city located in southwestern England, near the border with Wales. Bristol has a long and varied history, with evidence of human settlement dating back to the Iron Age. The city was an important trading port and played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution.
Bristol is home to a number of notable cultural and historical landmarks, including the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the SS Great Britain, and Bristol Cathedral. The city is also home to two universities, the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, and is known for its thriving arts and music scene.
One of the things I love most about Bristol is the fact that it is home to some of the best street art in the UK. Banksy was heavily involved in a wave of street art in Bristol in the 80’s before moving on to London.
In recent years, Bristol has become a popular destination for tourists and students, attracted by its beautiful natural surroundings, rich history, and vibrant culture. Bristol is located just a short distance from the beautiful Cotswold Hills and the dramatic coast of South Wales, making it an ideal base for exploring the surrounding region.
Where to stay on a Budget: YHA Bristol or Full Moon Backpackers
Where to stay mid range: Radisson Blue
Where to stay luxury: Clayton Hotel Bristol City, Hotel du Vin Bristol
What not to miss: Bristol Cathedral, Clifton Suspension Bridge, SS Great Britain, Banksy Street Art
How to get there: Take the train to Bristol Temple Meads (about 20 mins walk to the city centre) or get the National Express coach to Bristol Coach station (just 10 minutes walk to the city centre)
Canterbury is a city located in Kent, in the southeast of England. So what makes Canterbury one of the most beautiful Cities in England? Canterbury was an important centre of learning and religion in the Middle Ages. The city is home to the Canterbury Cathedral, which is the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and was founded in the 6th century. Canterbury is also home to a number of other historic buildings and landmarks, including the Canterbury Castle, the Westgate Towers, and the Canterbury Roman Museum.
Canterbury is home to the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University, and has a thriving arts and culture scene, with a number of galleries, theaters, and music venues. The city is also known for its vibrant food and drink scene, with a range of restaurants, pubs, and cafes to explore.
Canterbury is located just a short distance from the coast and is surrounded by beautiful countryside, including the North Downs and the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Where to stay on a Budget: Travelodge Canterbury Chaucer Central
Where to stay mid range: Hampton by Hilton Canterbury
Where to stay luxury: Hampton by Hilton Canterbury
What not to miss: Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury Castle, the Westgate Towers, and the Canterbury Roman Museum.
How to get there: Take the train to Canterbury West which is just 10 minutes walk to the Cathedral.
Durham is a city in the northeast of England, known for its rich history and beautiful natural surroundings. Durham has a long and varied history, with evidence of human settlement dating back to the Iron Age. The city is home to the Durham Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most famous Norman buildings in Europe. The cathedral was founded in the 11th century and hosts a number of important artefacts and works of art.
The city is located in the heart of the Durham Dales, an area of stunning countryside that is home to a number of outdoor activities and scenic walks. The city is also located just a short distance from the coast, and is surrounded by beautiful countryside, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This makes Durham a great location if you are an outdoorsy person.
Where to stay on a Budget: Travelodge Durham
Where to stay mid range: Radisson Blu
Where to stay Luxury: OYO The Townhouse
What not to miss: The University of Durham, Durham Cathedral, Elvet Bridge, Botanic Garden.
How to get there: Take the train to Durham train station and the city is walkable from there in just 10 minutes
Brighton is a popular coastal city located in the county of East Sussex, in the southeast of England. It is known for its lively atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and historic landmarks, and is a popular destination for tourists and students alike. I explored Brighton as a day trip from London – something that I really regret as it certainly warrants a weekend at least.
Brighton has a rich history dating back to the Roman era, and was a fashionable seaside resort in the 18th and 19th centuries. Brighton is also home to a number of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Brighton Fringe and the Brighton Festival.
One of Brighton’s most iconic landmarks is the Royal Pavilion, a stunning palace built in the 19th century as a residence for the Prince Regent. The city is also home to a number of other historic buildings and landmarks, including the Brighton Pier, the Brighton Dome, and the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.
In addition to its cultural attractions, Brighton is also known for its beautiful beaches and is a popular destination for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The city is located just a short distance from the South Downs National Park, which offers a range of outdoor activities and beautiful landscapes to explore.
Where to stay on a Budget: Brighton Youth Hostel or YHA Brighton
Where to stay mid range: 99 Steps to the Sea (apartment) or Ibis Brighton City Centre
Where to stay luxury: The Grand, Hotel du Vin Brighton, Sea Spray Brighton
What not to miss: Brighton Pier, the Brighton Dome, and the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.
How to get there: Brighton train station is the best way to get there and it’s a 15 minute walk (approx) to the city centre
Further Reading on the Most beautiful Cities in England
If you enjoyed this article on the Most beautiful Cities in England, here are a few more of my articles on England that you might like to read:
- 7 amazing Churches in Oxford
- How to spend one day in Oxford
- Free things to do in Chester
- Visiting the beautiful Churches of Bath
- Churches in Durham
- 10 days in England Itinerary
- How to see London on a budget
- Solo female travel England
So, what’s your favourite city in England? I’d love to hear from you so please leave me a comment on my blog! You can also follow me on Instagram here.