I lived in Great Britain for the first 21 years of my life and, during that time, I traveled all over Britain. Britain is world-famous for many of its cities but, in my opinion, you can’t beat these – London, Edinburgh, Brighton, Bath and Cardiff – and here’s why.
London – One of the most famous cities in the world, you can’t possibly make a list of the best British cities without London on the list somewhere. London is the capital of the United Kingdom and home to around 8 million people. London really is a city that has something for everyone – world class museums (British Museum, Victoria and Albert, Imperial War Museum, Natural History Museum etc), art galleries, shopping, the Tower of London, London Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, London Zoo, St. Paul’s Cathedral and about ten thousand other famous places. London is expensive, crowded and difficult to get around but the people are friendly and helpful and London’s history goes back so far, you really can’t miss it on any trip to the UK.
Edinburgh – In the south east of Scotland lies Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland and one of Britain’s most voted favorite cities. Edinburgh, before anything else, is a beautiful city with its large collection of Medieval and Georgian buildings, and Edinburgh Castle sitting atop a piece of volcanic rock, towering over all the town. Edinburgh is worth visiting just to visit the castle, to walk along Princes Street and into Old Town. Learn about Greyfriars Bobby, the little terrier dog that waited on his master’s grave for 14 years before he too died , Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson. Visit Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festival, one of Europe’s biggest cultural festivals, or for Hogmanay, the Scottish term for New Year. The people in Edinburgh are stern and brusque but, deep down, kind and friendly. Edinburgh is one of my favorite British cities because of all of the above and the incredible history, stretching back further than the Iron Age.
Brighton – Brighton is on the south coast of England by the seaside and is just a quick trip from London by train. Brighton is known as a student town and is full of young people, so you’ll notice many hip shops, music stores, vegetarian restaurants, great pubs, fish and chip shops and a couple of cool malls. Famous for Brighton Pier and the Royal Pavilion, the architecture of Brighton has kept much of its history and new buildings are now being built in the Regency period style too. Brighton is also famous for its more than 400 bars and nightclubs, with a lot of musicians coming down from London to play live here. Also, visit some of Brighton’s famous tea rooms – olde worlde charm is still around if you look for it. If you like a fun, relaxed, cool city to hang out in, you’ll love Brighton.
Bath – Named for the Roman baths Bath is famous for, the city of Bath is one of the most beautiful in the United Kingdom. It’s a World Heritage city, full of roman ruins, Georgian architecture and natural hot springs. Bath is one of the most popular tourist cities in the UK, not only for its beauty but also for the many things to do. Check out the Roman Baths, still preserved after almost 2,000 years, The Circus (a famous area of Georgian architecture), the Fashion Museum, the Jane Austen Centre, the Bath Fringe Festival and much more. If you do visit Bath, take one of the open bus tours around the city – the guides are excellent and you’ll learn a lot of Bath’s history and culture as well as see all the sights. Bath is one of the best British cities because of its culture, its beauty and its history.
Cardiff – Another of Britain’s best British cities, the capital city of Wales, Cardiff is known for Cardiff Castle, the National Museum Gallery of Wales, Castell Coch, St. David’s Hall, Millenium Stadium, and Cardiff Bay. Voted by readers of The Guardian newspaper as one of the best cities in Great Britain, Cardiff has become more and more popular with tourists in the last twenty years. It was established around 75AD by the Romans, who built a small fort where Cardiff now stands, with the fort finally being built up to become today’s Cardiff Castle. If you visit Cardiff, don’t miss Cardiff Castle, Cardiff Bay, Mischief’s Café Bar (one of Cardiff’s most popular places to listen to live music), Harry Ramsden’s famous fish and chip shop, and The Red Dragon Centre, an amazing shopping and entertainment centre where you can even see a large exhibit dedicated to the famous British TV series, Doctor Who.
Britain has some truly wonderful cities, but these five top British cities are fabulous places to start if you want to learn something about Britain and British history or just have a fun vacation.