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If you’re looking for some non-touristy places in the UK to escape to, you’ve landed at the right place! Now, the UK possibly isn’t what springs to mind when you hear about incredible beaches, the best hikes and quirky cities but it really is all here on this little island.
I’m definitely guilty of not exploring much of my home country but one thing I a passionate about is getting people to visit other places besides London. Sure, I get the attraction of it and I can’t deny that it’s one of the greatest cities in the world but if you just go even a couple of hours away from it, that’s when you’ll get to see the real UK.
Take the train a couple of hours north to Norwich, voted one of the UK’s happiest cities or to Liverpool and Manchester to visit a far less crowded but seriously cool couple of cities. Or if you want a piece of the fantastic UK countryside, drop in at Essex. I love each of these
For more fantastic non-touristy places in the UK take a look below. These spots have been brought to you by fellow bloggers who really know their stuff about the UK. So let’s crack on with some seriously underrated but unmissable (and also budget friendly) places you need to add to your UK bucket list!
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1. North Yorkshire Coast
Tucked away on the North Yorkshire coast you’ll find the charming fishing village of Staithes. Attracting hardly any tourists from outside of Yorkshire, Staithes is as underrated as it gets!
Staithes is a great budget destination as most of the things to do there are totally free. Hiking, sunbathing, strolling the gorgeous streets and exploring the rockpools won’t cost you a penny. Pop into any of the village pubs to try some of the freshest fish you can find – straight from the water only hours ago! What’s more, it’ll cost only a fraction of what you would pay anywhere else!
One of the most popular things to do in Staithes is hike along the gorgeous coastal paths. You’ll have the trails almost to yourself as you take in some breathtaking ocean views. The best route is the 3-mile Staithes to Runswick Bay hike, which leads through lush countryside, dramatic clifftop views and secluded coves.
Even if you visit on a rainy day, the Staithes Heritage Museum is a great place to learn about Staithes’ history and its most famous resident – Captain Cook. After exploring the museum, stroll down the cobbled streets and browse the cute shops selling coastal trinkets and postcards.
By Ella from Many More Maps
It’s England’s oldest recorded town with Europe’s largest Norman castle keep plus it has the remains of England’s only known Roman Circus yet you’ll rarely see it on a tourist visitors map. This is Colchester in Essex, where the Roman wall still encircling part of the old town is one of the most intact in the country and where you the current, amazing well preserved Castle sits over the remains of the Roman temple of Claudius. Here you’ll find where Boudicca led a revolt against the Romans and destroyed the town and a treasure hoard that was found under a department store in the high street! Plus, if that’s all a bit too cultural, there’s also a good local pub built into the remains of the Roman Wall.
There’s a free to walk around 11th century Augustine priory, St Botolphs, with stunning architecture right next to the train station and a host of free walking tours to take in Colchester – and these are REAL free tours – all downloadable with maps and some with audio guides, museums that detail Colchester’s history. Colchester has plenty of budget places to stay and eat, but we seriously recommend the Tiptree Jam Tea Room, which has a fabulous garden and where you get to eat sweets and savouries from this world-famous Jam Making company that is based locally.
3. Castleton Village, Peak District
The small chocolate box village of Castleton in the Peak District is one of the best places in the UK for a budget escape. Situated in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, this quaint spot is a favourite for hikers and nature lovers.
Castleton is famous for being home to Mam Tor, also known as the Shivering Mountain, which has dramatic views over the whole of the Peak District. Best of all, this hike, and others in the area such as Winnats Pass and the Great Ridge, won’t cost you a penny, making Castleton such a cheap getaway.
Other affordable things to do in Castleton is to visit the 11th century Peveril Castle which overlooks the village. It is one of England’s earliest Norman fortresses, and the ruins can be visited by enjoying a short hike above Hope Valley. After you’ve worked up an appetite you can head to the village centre and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea or a pub lunch before retreating to one of the best budget accommodations I’ve ever stayed at.
Just a few minutes walk outside of the village is YHA Castleton Losehill Hall, a Grade I listed gothic mansion that has been newly refurbed by the YHA, providing cheap accommodation for all who want to visit Castleton, without breaking the bank. The mansion is surrounded by forests and is filled with old world charm, making Castleton somewhere you’d want to visit over and over again.
By Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
Leeds is the 3rd biggest city in the UK, but a compact city centre means that it’s perfect for a weekend visit. Located in West Yorkshire in the north of England, Leeds is cosmopolitan yet friendly. The city is always buzzing, yet you can experience calm in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside within minutes on a train.
When it comes to things to do in Leeds, there’s something for everyone. There’s a variety of museums and galleries including the Thackeray Medical Museum, Royal Armouries, Leeds City Museum and Leeds Gallery all of which are either free or low cost to visit.
For food and drink lovers, there are plenty of pubs serving local beers, and there are several micro-breweries located in the city centre. You can take a food tour with Leeds Food Tours, a gin tour with Gin Journey or simply eat your way around the various street food hubs such as Assembly Underground, Trinity Kitchen and Kirkgate Market.
For those on a tight budget, there are plenty of free tours and trails in the city centre. You could take the free Kirkgate Market heritage tour, explore the Leeds Welcome Art Trail, the Waterfront Art Trail or the Leeds Owl Trail.
By Ellen from Adventures with Nell
While there are many things to do in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh is an expensive city to stay in and dine at. The Solution? A road trip through The Kingdom of Fife.
Leave Edinburgh early morning, avoiding rush hour traffic. Drive over the new Queensferry Crossing and stop at North Queensferry to admire the three Forth Bridges. After North Queensferry, pop into Dunfermline and see the Heritage Quarter. Fans of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie can visit his birthplace, the library and museum named after him and also the park. Watch out for peacocks!
Grab lunch at one of the many eateries in Dunfermline. Next, drive to Culross, home to Outlander filming locations, this cute village is always a favourite. Leave West Fife, for the beach towns of Aberdour and Burntisland. If you prefer to hike, you can walk between all of the coastal towns via the Fife Coastal Path. Pick up your groceries in Burntisland. Here you can find an award-winning butcher shop, bakers, fishmonger, coffee roaster and a plastic-free grain shop.
Back in the car, head up the picturesque coast to the East Neuk and St Andrews for golf, good food and nature.
By Gemma from Everything Edinburgh
6. Dumfries & Galloway
7. Brecon Beacons
Glasgow is a vibrant, up-and-coming city that gets cooler by the year. The city centre is full of stylish restaurants and impressive buildings like the ornate Glasgow City Chambers which can be visited during a free tour at 10.30 am or 2.30 pm, Monday-Friday. However, when spending a weekend in Glasgow, it’s highly recommendable to explore the cooler outskirts like The West End known for Kelvingrove Art Gallery and famed doughnut store, Tantrum Doughnuts.
Another cool area is the Southside with some quirky and affordable brunch cafes like Gnom (try the breakfast bao buns) and Potluck (try the hotcakes with peach ice cream and candy floss). Not far from Southside is Pollok City Park where you can wander acres of greenery and spot highland cows!
Other must-dos in Glasgow include The Lighthouse which is a modern art gallery full of Scottish paintings and funky exhibitions. Don’t miss the colourful street art which can be found all around the city, showing Scottish wildlife and history. Another underrated place to visit is the Hidden Alley off Argyle Street. Here you’ll find lots of local businesses inside colourful corrugated shipping containers. The perfect place to shop to support locals!
By Rose from Where Goes Rose
9. Isle of Thanet
10. Hartley Wintney
Whether you’re an international traveller looking to get a feel for rural life in England, or you’re a local looking for a day trip somewhere pretty, there’s one Hampshire spot worth putting on your list. Right now the village of Hartley Wintney is a bit overlooked – and it doesn’t tend to have the parking or crowd problems of some other historic spots. It dates all the way back to Saxon times in fact!
In summer the village green comes alive with cricket games – all the locals will be out picnicking and drinking Pimms, making it a great atmosphere. Even if there isn’t a game on, you’ll find welcoming country pubs, one of which has a roaring fire for the winter chill and low timbered ceilings that bring you back through time. Have a browse through the high street’s courtyard cafe, take a look in some chic shops and wander around a pretty church.