Written By Chris Young
This post was most recently updated on June 27th, 2018
When we think about exploring England’s cities, the first one to come to mind is London. While London is a beautiful, enormous city that should definitely be on your list, there are plenty of other cities in England to explore that are just as amazing as London.
We’ve assembled a list of England’s largest and most popular cities. Each city is filled with incredible museums, cultural centers, architecture, restaurants, and of course, shops.
These cities are steeped in history and are multilayered. You’ll see both modern skyscrapers and buildings that are hundreds of years old. You can explore the botanical gardens of restored manor houses or visit museums detailing the city’s industrial revolution past.
Quite simply, there is something in each one of these remarkable cities for each and every visitor, and many more things to be seen than can be listed. These six English cities should be written into every English trip plan.
With so many things to do in each city, you’ll want to budget your time to spend more than just one day in each city.
Great Cities of England (excluding London)
Manchester is a major city in Northwest England with a rich industrial heritage. Through it runs the Castlefield Conservation Area’s 18th-century canal system that was used in the textile industry.
Places to visit include the interactive Museum of Science & Industry, the revitalized Salford Quays dockyards’ Imperial War Museum, and the Lowry cultural center. Lovers of architecture and culture will also enjoy Manchester Cathedral, the John Rylands Library, Arley Hall and Gardens, and the Barrow Bridge Village.
The historic maritime city of Liverpool is in Northwest England, where the River Mersey meets the Irish Sea. Liverpool was a key trade and migration port throughout the 18th and 20th centuries, and more famously, is the hometown of The Beatles.
Ferries cruise in front of the iconic waterfront’s “Three Graces” shipping and mercantile buildings.
Among the best attractions are Albert Dock, the Liverpool Cathedral, and famous Mersey Ferries cruises.
[NB We now have a post on the best things to see and do in Liverpool >>> Click Here]
Sitting beside the River Avon in Southwest England, Bristol, like Liverpool, has a prominent maritime history. The former city-center port has found new life as a cultural hub, called the Harbourside, and the M Shed museum explores the local social and industrial heritage.
The harbor’s 19th-century era warehouses are now filled with a variety of local restaurants, shops, and other attractions, like the art gallery The Arnolfini.
Popular attractions include Pero’s Bridge, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill, Bristol Aquarium, and The Matthew, a replica of John Cabot’s 1497 ship used to discover Newfoundland.
While strolling along Bristol’s streets, visitors may also stumble upon a variety of original graffiti by Banksy.
This major city is in England’s West Midlands region and features multiple Industrial Revolution-era landmarks, as well as an extensive network of canals that are lined with trendy cafes and bars.
In the city center, the Victorian Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is well-known for its pre-Raphaelite masterpieces.
Other popular attractions include Cadbury World, Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum, and the Winterbourne House and Gardens.
Leeds is located in Yorkshire and is split in two by the River Aire. On the south bank of the city, the Royal Armouries house the national collection of arms and artillery, including medieval armor and weapons.
On the other side of the river is the industrial area, which is renowned for its bars underneath converted railway arches. The Leeds Kirkgate Market also features hundreds of indoor and outdoor stalls for shopping.
Other attractions include the tranquil Roundhay Park and Kirkstall Abbey.
Newcastle upon Tyne is a major university city in Northeast England that houses the oldest student accommodations in the world. With its twin city, Gateshead, it was a major shipbuilding and manufacturing hub during the Industrial Revolution. Today, it is a bastion of business, arts, and sciences.
The modern Gateshead Millennium Bridge, famous for its unique tilting aperture, is a symbol of the two cities. Other notable places to visit within Newcastle are Newcastle Cathedral, The Castle, and the enormous sculpture, The Angel of the North.