It ain’t grim up north – The best cities of northern England

BusinessIt ain’t grim up north - The best cities of northern England

England is an incredible country, with much to offer, stunning history and most importantly some amazing cities that are full ofvibrance, culture and life around every corner. There is, however, an unmistakable north/south divide and many foreign visitors might be surprised at the significant differences between northern and southern cities, particularly given the relatively small size of the UK.

The south of England might boast London, which is certainly one of the most spectacular cities in Europe. But it’s also an incredibly vast and often uncompromising city that can be incredibly intimidating to outsiders. The North, however, is a much friendlier part of the country with bags of character and some of the most culturally relevant cities not only in Europe but in the world. It’s not that grim up north, we promise!

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There are 17 cities in the north of England and each one of them has something to offer tourists. So board that train from Bournemouth to Manchester and join us on a whistlestop tour of some of the very best cities the region has to offer.


Manchester might just be the edgiest city in the north of England, with its creative Northern Quarter and a constant stream of new, hip bars and eateries popping up regularly. It’s a great place for students and families alike, with a thriving city centre offering a range of shops and places to eat and the world-famous Trafford Centre shopping mall located just on the outskirts. Not only the home of indie music in the 90s thanks to the Britpop styling of Oasis and football (Man Utd and City), several culture and art events are also held in the heart of Manchester every year. The city is known for its exceptional transport links too. Indeed, it’s only two hours to London on a good day too! 


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York is the ideal northern city for a quick weekend break, and it’s got the atmosphere of a smaller town if city living is just too much for you. Quirky shops line the many walkable cobbled streetsknown as the shambles and if you want to experience a real roast dinner and an afternoon tea, Yorkshire is the place that invented both traditions. If you want to play pub golf, meanwhile, the city has 365 pubs (one for each day of the year) and if you want to break up the drinking with a little history, head to the Golden Fleece – one of the world’s most haunted pubs.


Just a short drive or train journey from Manchester you’ll find the home of The Beatles and one of the most striking modern docks on the continent. This surprisingly contemporary city was the heart of the industrial revolution and continues to grow day by day. It’s also a place that’s wealthy with history as it was the city that built the ill-fated Titanic and boasts some of the best musical walking tours in the world. Modern pop music was born in the famous Cavern Club, after all.


Here you’ll find architecture at its best. Home to both a 100-year-old cathedral and a 700-year-old Tudor gallery, this is the northern city to hit up if you consider yourself a bit of a history buff. You’ll find some of the world’s most photographed clocks, Chester Zooand the truly unique black and white Rows – a medieval covered walkway which houses many of Chester’s shopping galleries. 

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