HI Hostels Blog

See another side to the UK with our 5 alternative city destinations

London is amazing. Arguably one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, it offers an abundance of culture, history, restaurants and nightlife. Many visitors usually see no reason to venture out of the capital in order get their fill of British culture. Why would you when you have some of the most popular spots in Europe to visit?

However, despite fitting into the state of Texas almost three times, the British Isles is absolutely crammed with cities providing historical gems and amazing experiences, from top to bottom.

Lets start in the south of UK and head north…


GB copy


Bath –

Julie anne Johnson/Flickr
Julie anne Johnson/Flickr


Best time to go:  April to December (Brave the cold for the Christmas markets!)

What to expect:  Cobbled streets and cute cafes, historical sites and indulgent hot spas.

Making the most of your trip:  Stay at YHA Bath and head to the most famous attraction in the city, the Roman Baths (unsurprisingly why Bath is called Bath!). Taking you back 2000 years to when the baths were built and used by the Romans, this is a historic site with plenty to see and do. Soak up the atmosphere of the baths even further by going next door in the Pump Room Restaurant for some exquisite afternoon tea and scones.

Book your seat on a coach tour to historical Stonehenge – an absolute must if when you’re in this part of the UK. You can wander round the historical formations and get to grips with the astounding history of the site.

Finish off your time with a quintessential gastro pub dinner that won’t stretch your budget too much. We recommend the Marlborough Tavern, with its classic Georgian look and feel, warm atmosphere and great food, you can’t go wrong.

If you decide to head to Bath in the winter, the Christmas markets are a festive addition to the experience. Head there before it closes on 14th December.


Cambridge –

Yudis Asnar/Flickr
Yudis Asnar/Flickr

Best time to go:  April to October

What to expect:  Winding cobbled streets and river punting, historic colleges and cultural buzzes wherever you look.

Making the most of your trip:  To explore every inch of this historic and university influenced city, stay at the YHA Cambridge hostel, a very handsome Victorian building just round the corner from the train station.

Cambridge is renowned for its world-famous university and you won’t walk far to find its influence. One the best ways to see the university and its vast array of diverse colleges is to take a punting tour on the river Cam.

After relaxing down the river, head to the ‘Fitz’wiliam Museum, if art is your thing. This art museum is a hugely impressive building in itself, let alone the neoclassical art collection it holds.

For foodstuffs, Cambridge is a brimming pot of good food and fine wine, however for something different we recommend trying the Urban Shed. Filled with a random array of seating and decoration, you’ll take a step back when you first set through the door; the food will also compliment this experience highly.


Liverpool –

Beverley Goodwin/Flickr
Beverley Goodwin/Flickr

Best time to go:  April to October

What to expect:  A rich musical history and football crazy locals, cultured museums and lively docks.

Making the most of your trip:  Drop your bags off at YHA Liverpool and head out to Albert Dock for a whole host of little gems.

Start your time in the docks by visiting the engaging and moving International Slavery Museum. This one of its kind museum takes you back to the stories of many of those enslaved and the legacy the slave trade has had on modern culture.

Next, head to the Beatles Story. This exhibition, of sorts, goes into a great detail the rise of the greatest band that ever was, the Beatles.  If you aren’t done with exploring the background of this iconic band and their rich history in Liverpool, there’s also an aptly named ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ bus, which takes you to all the quintessential places in this famous city including the childhood homes of the four lads from Liverpool.

For foodies, stop off for some afternoon tea at the very vintage Tea Parlour. This well maintained and intimately gorgeous tea room transports you back to a by-gone era, where you’re able to enjoy some tea, cucumber sandwiches and scones.


York –


Best time to go:  March to October

What to expect:  Characterful and historic architecture, ghost stories and fine eateries

Making the most of your trip:  Stay at the YHA York hostel, set in a grand Victorian Mansion, and discover the intensely rich historical background of this North of England city.

For some unique and ancient historical attractions, go and check out the St Mary’s Abbey. This 11th century ruin is often described as peaceful and serene, so it might be a place to pack a picnic and sit in the grounds admiring the view.

For more historic architecture, York Castle is another one to tick off one your list. Not only is it steeped in history, it also provides amazing views of the city.

For a local, delicious foodie experience in York, try Café No 8 Bistro – a small but huge in stature eatery that has people recommending it all over town for its sumptuous food and welcoming atmosphere.

York is renowned for spooky happenings so if that’s your thing, we recommend going on a ghost walk, as York is actually considered the most haunted city in Europe.


Edinburgh –


Best time to go:  April to November

What to expect:  Historic castles and imposing crags, turreted skylines and convergent old and new culture

Making the most of your trip:  Base yourself at Edinburgh Central SYHA and brave the queues for Edinburgh Castle. This 2nd century castle perched on top of the very Game of Thrones sounding Castle Rock has over 25 different sections to explore, so get there early!

Put on your walking boots for a tricky walk to Arthurs seat in Holyrood Park. This isn’t an actual seat but rather the highest point of a group of hills just outside of Edinburgh city centre, about a mile from Edinburgh Castle.

Head to Edinburgh Old Town and be taken back in time again. This part of Edinburgh is still preserved in its medieval architecture and it’s easy to lose yourself in the character and charm of the many tea rooms and quaint little shops dotted around this part of the city. For almost bohemian and quaint cafes, we recommend Lovecrumbs, providing tea drinkers with a delicious array of cakes and sweet delicatessens.


 Have you been to any of these cities? Tell us about your experiences below or email us your stories by email to socialmedia@hihostels.com.


Related Posts