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Five Cool British Places You Need to Visit

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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.

1. Brighton

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.

2. Edinburgh  

Credit: iphokia

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.

3. Manchester

Credit: salford_ian

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.

4. Newquay  

Credit: crazyeddie

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

Credit: wonker

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.

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About A British Patriot

  • Good list, and I can get on board with it, especially the first two.

    On Edinburgh, I would point out that it’s a contender for most atmospheric city in the world. Not sure if it’s the setting, the buildings, the people, the weather or what – but there’s nowhere else like it.

    BTW, I bet you’re English.

  • Tourmaline

    A little caution advised for Newquay, its reputation has been dented of late as it’s become a favourite for stag & hen weekends. Most of the traditional funtime holiday facilities are still going strong, though – so visit early in the week or off-season if this, rather than watching 20-year-olds not cope with ingesting massive amounts of alcohol – is what you want.

  • Tourmaline

    I’d also give an honourable mention to Birmingham. Regeneration over the past 10 years has transformed the city, it’s now rediscovered its heritage as an early industrial centre and home of the early British banking industry. In addition to civic pride in its past and present, it’s got the largest shopping facilities in the country outside London, a wealth of museums and art galleries, excellent transport links, a diverse arts scene, food from across the world (and from the worldwide communities who have made their home in Birmingham), and nightlife for everyone, including a thriving gay village. Come & visit us! 🙂

  • A city which produced Jasper Carrott can’t be all bad!

  • STM

    The Yorkshire/Durham border, and a little place called Yarm and its surrounds, especially Egglescliff Village on the high bank above the lower reaches of the Tees which has a village green that still has an archery stone for sharpening arrows.

    The Yarm viaduct, built during the Industrial Revolution, seen at a distance from the fields surrounding the town is spectacular, as are the cobblestone streets.

    If there’s a place more picturesque on planet Earth, I’m yet to see it – and I live in the great southern continent and have seen lots I’d describe as picturesque.

    Picture postcard/biscuit box/chocolate box perfect, in high summer and with a dusting of white in winter.

    Nice shops, pubs and places to eat and The Pot and Glass pub up in Egglescliff village near the old church is a great spot for a pint and a feed.

    Now you know about it, going to the UK and not going there? Madness.

    Also spitting distance to York, which is full of great old buildings and museums.

    England, and the UK generally, might seem a bloody strange place at first to visitors, but it’s bloody strange and bloody good.

    Also, in Scotland: I love working harbours, so the fishing village of Troon, across the firth of Clyde from Arran, and Ayshire generally, the home of Robbie Burns. A good spot to base yourself for travels in western Scotland, and not too far from either from Loch Lomond, Glasgow and Edinburgh further to the east.

    Love the UK, and as an Aussie, always nice to be see all these places and be reminded of the very good reason why it is we (still) have a union jack in the corner of our flag.

  • Antonio

    Great list of places to see. Thanks.

  • Thanks for the positive comments. I’m stoked. 🙂

    There are way more than 5 awesome British places!

    @Tourmaline – Thanks for pointing this out, but Newquay has some brilliant locations surrounding it too.

    @STM I like this statement –> “it’s bloody strange and bloody good”

    All too often Britain gets brushed with the bad weather brush. While we do get our fair share of rain, it certainly doesn’t rain all the time.

    My favourite is destination is Cornwall. Such breathtaking scenery.

  • Here’s an alternative choice if you like things a bit more spicy!

    1. Newcastle Upon Tyne. Bigg Market and Quayside. Any friday night. Don’t take a coat. No one else wears them!

    2. Whitechapel. East End of London. Enjoy a few too many beers and a rattling good curry (The UK’s national dish) in a part of town that hasn’t changed for over 100 years.

    3. Any venue hosting a gig by the group Bad Manners. [Edited] If you are prepared to join in, dance and sing, I guarantee you a brilliant night out, regardless of venue and the chance of a glimpse into the English psyche.

    4. The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, Great Langdale, Ambleside, Cumbria. Get your boots on and give ‘Jack’s Rake’ a go on Pavey Ark (A fantastic walk that involves a spectacular scramble to the top) Back to the hotel for food, beers and a restful sleep. Drop off and wake up to the smell of woodsmoke.

    5. Belfast. Start in the Crown Hotel.It helps if you are with someone who knows the city. Despite any reputation(s) it may have, and its association for many with sectarian violence, it is a truly amazing place. Great Craic and wonderful people.

  • @andy Haha, only seen your comment! Very good list. I love Bad Manners, didn’t know they were still going!