The city break is popular with all age groups. Christmas is still several months away. With the colder nights now firmly on their way, it is a great time to plan a pre-Christmas city break. Whether you are looking for theatre or culture, spa or history, the UK has some amazing sites to see outside of tourist season.
The capital is a great place to visit at any time of the year. But the run up to Christmas is especially magical. London is one of the first cities to switch on its Christmas lights. It’s great for domestic and international tourism. Why not take the time to visit one of the many fabulous museums? The Natural History Museum, V&A and Science Museum are all in the same square. As the lights go down, why not visit the West End for a show or start your Christmas shopping at Piccadilly Circus. With Royal Parks, a zoo and museum, you’ll have no chance of running out of things to do.
The Roman spa city has a magic of its own. Naturally much smaller than London, that’s not to say your visit will be a quiet one. Bath is a great destination for shopping, museums and architecture. There are narrow winding streets that become the epitome of English charm after sundown. Visit the Roman Baths and Pump House during the day, then cross the square to the Abbey. Alternatively, visit the modern spa for a luxurious swim and treatment in the shadow of Bath’s historic quarter. With plentiful pubs serving local ale, the ease with which you can get around on foot means no stress of driving.
The Scottish capital is another magical historic city for the lover of culture and architecture. The rock upon which the imposing castle stands is the centre of the tourist attractions, but it’s not the only choice. The city is home to the National Museum of Scotland, an all-weather event, and Royal Botanic Gardens. As a royal city, you’ll find no shortage of beautiful parks and gardens still worth a visit in autumn with the seasonal plants, trees and flowers. Wander through Edinburgh’s Old Town and marvel at the architecture before finding a nice restaurant as the sun goes down.
Cardiff has come a long way in the last couple of decades. Realising it can’t compete with Swansea Bay for beaches or with Chepstow for Welsh charm, it has forged a reputation as a vibrant place. The renovated docks are home to the Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru (the Wales Millennium Centre), the modern arts centre featured regularly on Doctor Who and its spinoff Torchwood. It is the jewel in the crown of the arts complex of the waterside. For science fiction fans, Cardiff is also home to The Doctor Who Experience.
Belfast is fast becoming an international tourist destination. Sadly, its past continues to taint perception of the present for visitors, but Belfast is delightful for city visitors. Now home to the internationally recognised Titanic Museum, it is on the dockside at the place where the fated ocean liner made its only voyage. Artefacts, letters and details of the sinking bring alive the people and their experiences. The Grand Opera House is always worth a visit. It’s a historic and an operating theatre. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets, make sure you focus on the show and not the décor!
Few cities in England have quite the wealth of history of York. Seat of the effective “Second on Command” of the Church of England, the Minster is a must see. Yet those who visit nothing else do the city an injustice. An important city to the Romans, Saxons and Vikings, York has museums to suit every taste. Be sure to visit York Dungeon, The Castle Museum, and Jorvik Experience (an exhibition of Viking York). As home to the National Railway Museum, York has history to spare. If history is not your thing, catch a live performance or music show at York Theatre Royal.