Top 5 alternative UK city breaks

Posted by SockShop

The UK has a whole host of cities that will both enchant and surprise, so if you’re looking for your next weekend getaway destination, why not look a little closer to home?

While the delights of London, Oxford and Cambridge are known the world over, there are loads of alternative city break options right here on your doorstep.


Here are our top 5 alternative UK city breaks to stir your wanderlust.  

The capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast might have had its issues in the past but these days it’s one of the UK’s best kept secrets when it comes to weekends away. The compact city plays host to endless great attractions, from the Titanic Quarter – home to a museum detailing the tragic liner – to the MAC cultural centre.

Once you’ve stocked up on a traditional Irish fried breakfast at local institution Maggie Mays, head out into the surrounding countryside – AKA Game of Thrones country. Check out the iconic “tree tunnel” along Bregagh Road before heading to the mystical Giants Causeway along the craggy northern coastline.

One of the most influential cities in British history, Portsmouth definitely packs a punch when it comes to heritage attractions. The city’s naval legacy can be traced at the excellent Historic Dockyard, home to Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory and the Tudor-era warship, the Mary Rose.

Portsmouth is the UK’s only island city (although parts of it have expanded onto the mainland), and you can take it all in from the top of the striking Spinnaker Tower perched on the dockside. Nearby Hayling Island is a popular day-trip destination with some excellent beaches and quaint seaside attractions.

A Northern powerhouse in every sense of the word, recent regeneration has turned industrial Leeds into one of the UK’s best city destinations. Its grandiose Victorian shopping arcades feel more Milan than mill town, while a thriving student population has helped craft one of the country’s best nights out.

One of the greatest things about Leeds is you’re always just a short drive away from some of the UK’s most stunning scenery. Just north of the city, the Yorkshire Dales is crammed full of whimsical stone-built villages, exquisite landscape and stirring hiking opportunities.


Cardiff – or to give it its proper Welsh name, Caerdydd – is a city that’s going places. The rejuvenated centre has Wales’ best retail offering, while the history of the city is encapsulated at the gothic Cardiff Castle, a Victorian masterpiece built around Norman and Roman ruins.

The nearby Cardiff Bay is a great seaside day out and has revitalised the city’s docklands. But for a truly moving Cardiff experience, head to the Principality Stadium for a Wales rugby match – and prepare for goosebumps when the locals start singing.

Nicknamed the Granite City, Aberdeen is a harbour city whose unique architectural style gives it a different feel to anywhere else in the UK. Explore the majestic granite-built streets of the city centre before heading to Fittie, the local name for the city’s former fishing community that feels untouched for centuries. 

Escape the city, and Aberdeen’s hinterland is full of surprises. Aberdeenshire is home to eight whisky distilleries and a staggering 263 castles. In summer, head to the famous seaside links golf courses the area is famous for, while in winter Aberdeen is even a great base for the nearby ski resorts.


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