It seems that most people who visit the UK immediately plan their trip focusing on London and the South, forgetting about the North and all its charm. Okay, it’s true. Our capital is pretty incredible, but the North of England is seriously underrated, too.
If you never get to head ‘up North’, you’re missing out on some of the most interesting areas of the country. This part of Britain was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, meaning the vibrant and cultural metropolises of Liverpool and Manchester were infused with technical innovation. The North’s numerous museums and galleries testify to its deep industrial history.
Today, these bustling cities are bursting with great music, fantastic attractions and a distinctly ‘Northern’ culture. I’m talking pies, pasties, The Beatles, and a wonderfully diverse range of accents and dialects. Plus, Northerners are known as some of the warmest and most welcoming people you’ll ever meet – they’re always ready to invite you in for a cup of tea.
And don’t forget the North’s alluring countryside – famous National Parks and awe-inspiring views, all surrounded by quaint country villages and towns. Here’s A local’s guide to the North of England, the must-see spots.
The North’s Cosmopolitan Capitals
Home to one of the UK’s most iconic bands and a world-famous football club, Liverpool is a buzzing city with more museums and galleries than anywhere outside of London.
The city is packed with landmarks dedicated to The Beatles – a pilgrimage to where it all began. Visit the famous Beatles Story on the stunning Albert Dock, the Beatles statues at Pier Head, or one of the many pubs and clubs where they played their very first gigs. Sing along with a pint to ‘Let it Be’ to your heart’s content!
The Tate Gallery at Albert Dock and The Walker Gallery are also a must for art lovers. At the same time, the Merseyside Maritime Museum tells the fascinating stories of Liverpool’s famous port, including exhibits relating to the Titanic and its strong ties to the city.
Manchester is a city brimming with passion and pride and is widely known as the birthplace of the industrial revolution. You can visit countless museums to delve into the city’s deep culture and history – most notably the Museum of Science & Industry.
Diverse, energetic and exciting, it’s jam-packed with great restaurants, galleries, shops and some of the best British nightlife. The hipster Northern Quarter area has a similar feel to popular Soho, without the hefty price tag, while the famous Canal Street is one of the liveliest gay villages in Europe.
Manchester is famed for its musical pedigree. It was the home ground of Oasis, The Smiths, Joy Division and countless other musical successes. The city is a major player in the UK gig circuit with a consistently thriving music scene. And if sports are more your thing, Manchester won’t disappoint. The question is, City or United? We’ll let you decide.
This historic walled city is full of exquisite architecture and ancient history. There’s nowhere in the UK which feels quite as medieval as York, with its tangled cobweb of cobbled streets.
Visit the breathtaking York Minster, arguably the most beautiful of Gothic cathedrals in the world, before heading to the city’s myriad of museums, cafes, and traditional English pubs. York is a fascinating city – great for families and history buffs.
The Lake District is the country’s largest national park, and home to England’s highest mountain and deepest lake – Scafell Pike and Wastwater. It’s probably the UK’s most famous scenic area, and with good reason, too. The area’s sixteen beautiful lakes, endless majestic mountains, dramatic valleys and charming villages mean there is so much to see and do in this 912-mile park.
It’s great for the outdoorsy type, with opportunities galore for hiking, walking and water spots. The romantic park is often visited because of its strong literary connections. Beatrix Potter was a dedicated Lake District lover and took much of his inspiration from the breathtaking scenery.
This North-Eastern National Park is the perfect place to escape it all. It’s the least populated park in the UK, making it one of the UK’s most tranquil and secluded locations.
You can truly unwind here, soaking up the silent hills, dark skies, and fresh air. You can try your hand at trail running, cycling, or roaming the park’s numerous nature trails. Most importantly, Northumberland is home to UNESCO World Heritage Site Hadrian’s Wall – the UK’s most impressive Roman monument and historic relic.
Northumberland National Park is only an hour’s drive from Newcastle – another great Northern City which is home to the Angel of the North.
The Dales are home to some of the most impressive limestone scenery in the world. A patchwork of hay meadows, crags, and caves, each deep valley – known as a dale – has its own character waiting to be explored. You can roam around the area by mountain biking, hiking or taking the iconic Settle to Carlisle railway before tucking into a roast at a country pub. Yorkshire puddings are mandatory.
The area has a rich industrial heritage which is shown by scattered former mine workings and rural industries across the dales. Its stunning scenery and remarkable history make this a fantastic place for the whole family to visit.
A truly Northern experience
Each of our incredible cities has its own distinct character and charm (and bold accent), which will welcome you with open arms. Plus, you’re never too far from some of our extraordinary countryside if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of our exciting cities.
It’s settled then – you absolutely can’t visit the UK without venturing up to the North. To explore further afield in the UK, check out some of our rail tours. They’re the perfect way to get the complete UK experience.