The United Kingdom has always been a fascinating destination for foreign travellers who want something a little bit different out of their holiday. Stunning landscapes, quirky architecture, picturesque villages, and a healthy dose of eccentricity have all made Britain one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world in recent years.
But it’s not just tourists that can benefit from Britain’s varied culture and beautiful scenery. While lots of towns are being taken over by huge companies that want to make everything look the same, there are still large areas of the UK that refuse to yield, and are fighting tooth and nail to keep their creativity and individuality alive.
So, if you’ve never made the effort to explore Britain’s most interesting communities there’s no better time than now.
Credit: Mai Le
Undeniably cool – Brighton’s mix of fashion, music venues, and youth culture make it the perfect town for a weekend away. If you’re not into your graffiti or trendy boutiques, then there are plenty of impressive landmarks to get you excited. George IV’s Taj Mahal-inspired palace is a great place to start. Read about The Hidden Attractions of Brighton and Hove for information about Brighton’s unknown pleasures.
Top Tip: The Great Escape festival runs during May every year. Working much like the SXSW festival in Texas, every bar and club in Brighton becomes a live music venue and one ticket gets you entry to everything. A perfect festival on the beach without breaking the bank. Check out EscapeGreat.com for more on this.
Host to one of the biggest arts and culture festivals in the world, Edinburgh is a city that can teach you a thousand things. Whether it’s modern art, the zoo, youth theatre, or Scottish poetry you’re after, it can be found in Edinburgh. For those less interested in culture, the nightlife is fantastic and there’s always something exciting going on.
Top Tip: Set your body clock a few hours backwards (especially if you go in August during the festival), as Edinburgh runs on a completely different schedule to the rest of the UK. If you’re looking for an all night party in Scotland, this is 100% the city for you. There’s also plenty more information on the Edinburgh Festival website.
The origin of some of the coolest bands in history, Manchester just had to be included in our cool list. A huge, sprawling metropolis of shops, music venues, art galleries, and museums, Manchester is more than just two football teams and the MEN arena. With a mix of modern and Victorian architecture, it’s whatever you want it to be – historic, contemporary, but always cool. It’s probably best to check out the Manchester Events Guide to see what’s going on before you go and to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.
Top Tip: Hop on a tram or one of the three zero-fare bus services for a cheap and convenient way around the city centre.
After more of a chilled out holiday? Ever wanted to try surfing? Would you rather lounge on a beach than traipse around a shopping centre searching for bargains? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, then Newquay is the place for you. With a laidback community, and more nightlife than you can probably handle, the South West town is the definition of ‘cool’. Here’s a list of some rad events and attractions in Newquay.
Top Tip: If you want to brave the water, take a wetsuit. It’s cold!
5. Camden Town
Camden Town, a borough in London, can be intimidating for the uninitiated. On first sight, the population are a scary bunch; all tattoos, black leather, and piercings. On closer inspection, however, Camden is a haven for more than just fans of loud music. The market is brash, bold, and always a bargain, and there are a wealth of trendy bars and clubs, including The World’s End, which has been open since 1778. If you’re looking for live music, try KOKO or Electric Ballroom. If you’re looking for quirky restaurants Gilgamesh (review) will not disappoint.
Top Tip: Get on the London waterbus service and tour Camden in style. The trip takes in Regent’s Park, London Zoo and Maida Vale.