England! It’s home to lots of things, like fish ’n’ chips, a deep and fiery love for football (the literal kind, not the hand-egg kind), a jillion cathedrals and a lot of history. The issue is that for most people travelling to the U.K. for the first time, England = London and not much more. Okay, there’s York and Cornwall and Oxford and whatever, but there are plenty of other places outside of those to check out. A few of these include…
I’m biased because I live here, but bear with me. Aside from the obvious Beatles-related tours and locations, Liverpool is a great place if you want all the attractions of a larger city (museums, cathedrals, shopping, etc.) but compressed. With two cathedrals that loom over the city (the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals—the best way to tell them apart is that the Anglican one is the longest one in the world and the Catholic one is really spikey).
Aside from multiple museums and tours dedicated to the Beatles, Liverpool also boasts the Tate Liverpool, the Walker Art Gallery, The World Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage waterfront and FACT (an art museum/movie theatre you can drink in—how can you go wrong?). There are also two Premier League teams (Liverpool F.C. and Everton F.C.), if you feel like chanting with thousands of other people.
Located in the East Midlands, this city boasts another cathedral (England is big on cathedrals, but hey, this one was the tallest building in the world until 1549!) and a castle, along with lots of little cafés and shops along the city’s steepest hill, known as, wait for it, Steep Hill. The Lincoln Cathedral also houses one of the four copies of the Magna Carta. While there’s also the Usher Gallery Collection, the Whisby Nature Reserve and the Medieval Bishop’s Palace, you could probably knock most of Lincoln out in a day.
The Lake District
Fine, I’m cheating here because this isn’t a “city” per se (or, uh… at all) but whatever. You’ve also probably heard about it before, but it’s still a nice place to visit. The 30-kilometre area contains 16 lakes and is one of the most picturesque areas in England. (Fun fact: Technically only one place in the Lake District is called a “lake,” that being Bassenthwaite Lake. The rest are meres, waters or tarns. Impress your friends!) Get lost in Lake District National Park or visit market towns like Carlisle or Kendal, but really, the main attraction of the Lake District is, well, the lakes. There are plenty of hiking and cycling trails, so get outside and enjoy some of that English air.
The Cotswolds are one of those areas that are annoyingly photogenic and scenic, what with limestone hills and quaint villages and trails and so on. The area was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by the U.K. government, so if you feel like hanging out in a John Singer Sargent painting, then this is probably where you want to go. If you’re a hiker, a major trail to check out is the Cotswold Way (a 103-mile-long trail that runs from Chipping Campden to Bath), which boasts amazing views throughout.
The New Forest
Located in the south, the New Forest is a 220-square-mile rural area consisting of a National Park, lots of trees and ponies that roam the park and villages. See? I can already hear five-year-old you squealing in delight at the prospect of free-roaming ponies. If you’re in the south but horribly sick of big giant buildings, head to New Forest and check out one of the largest areas of unenclosed pastureland and forest. There are also plenty of small villages scattered throughout so you can grab a pasty while keeping an eye out for all the wildlife scattered through the area, including plenty of deer. But who cares about deer when there are ponies?