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5 under-the-radar city breaks that showcase the best of England

5 under-the-radar city breaks that showcase the best of England

There’s no doubt about it – the UK is a tourism titan.

Routinely attracting a staggering 34 million inbound visitors a year, the country’s booming travel industry generated £21b ($33b) in 2013.

The fact that over half these visitors head straight to London – turning a blind eye to Britain’s more manageably-sized but equally charismatic cities – is a crying shame. (Edinburgh is second, followed by Manchester)

So we thought we’d show some love to five towns – each epitomizing Britain in its own highly individual way – that are sometimes overshadowed by their big brother cities.

Plus we’ve added some handy deals from our friends at Great Little Breaks to take the pain out of planning your next jaunt in Blighty.

Happy weekending!


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Home to over 1 million people, Birmingham is the UK’s second most-populated city – and often appears highly on ‘ugliest town‘ polls. But say what you will about the city’s aesthetic qualities – the list of things to do there is endless. Leading the charge is the mighty Cadbury World with 500,000 visitors a year, proving the beloved chocolatier is a cultural institution in Britain.

Also worth a look are the National Sea Life Centre, the Bull Ring shopping centre, the Lovely Victoria Square [above] and the stunning Library of Birmingham – the largest in the UK, and the biggest space of its kind in Europe.

Check out Great Little Breaks’ Birmingham offer here.


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If you are visiting London anytime soon, do keep Oxford – home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world – in mind for an excursion: the X90 coach service connects the two cities in 100 minutes.

In Oxford, intellect fills the air like oxygen, and a pilgrimage here should be on the bucket list of anyone who’s ever considered themselves even remotely academic. The stunning architecture is straight out of an Angelo-Saxon-meets-Neoclassical dreamworld, and the beautifully-manicured lawns of the city’s many parks and gardens are unparalleled. Head here for the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Museum of the History of Science.

Check out Great Little Breaks’ Oxford offer here.


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Tourism has been on the rise in this blustery seafaring hub since it was named the UK’s City of Culture 2017, beating off stiff competition from Leicester, Dundee and Swansea Bay to win the the accolade. It’s perhaps best known as the home of poet Philip Larkin for more than 30 years; another notable resident was anti-slavery pioneer William Wilberforce; the city’s annual arts and music extravaganza the Freedom Festival (this year takes place from 4-6 September) is dedicated to him.

Hull is also a haven for lovers of all things nautical. Be sure to geek out at the acclaimed Maritime Museum, as well as The Streetlife Museum of Transport. The Deep [above], meanwhile, is a world-class aquarium, home to 3,000 creatures, and a pretty cool building to boot.

Check out Great Little Breaks’ Hull offer here.


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Officially the UK’s most central city, Derby’s USP is its closeness to the stunning Peak District, making it the perfect base for, and antidote to, outdoorsy adventures. What’s more, with an inner-city population of under a quarter of a million, it offers a more relaxed mini break option than nearby Sheffield, Nottingham and Manchester. Be sure to check out the super-cool QUAD creative space [above], complete with cinema, art gallery and cafe.

Check out Great Little Breaks’ Derby offer here.


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We’re certainly not implying Liverpool is short on tourism – it’s is the most-visited UK city on our list (on the nationwide list it comes in fourth, behind London, Edinburgh and Manchester). Instead, we’re including this northwesterly metropolis on our list because we feels it’s sometimes a little underestimated.

Yes, its much-loved football team Liverpool F.C. has made an irreversible mark British culture. Of course, the city’s known worldwide as the home of The Beatles, the biggest-selling band of all time. But there’s still more than meets the eye to Liverpool – the 2008 Capital of Culture – than meets the eye.

It’s worth a visit for its museums alone, the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the World Museum, the International Slavery Museum among the most fascinating.

Check out Great Little Breaks’ Liverpool offer here.