Under-The-Radar Destinations In England That Are Just As Fun As London

The United Kingdom is synonymous with London, and for a good reason. This bustling city brims with medieval architecture, magnificent museums, iconic castles, a blend of cultures, and amusement arcades. In 2019 alone, London attracted approximately 21.7 million overseas tourists, and the number is predicted to reach a whopping 35.1 million by the end of 2023, according to Statista. If shopping is your weakness, you won't be able to help yourself while strolling through Oxford Street, Notting Hill, and Regent Street, among other high-density shopping areas. Does history occupy a special place in your heart? If so, you'll be spoiled for choice when deciding between amazing locales like the Natural History Museum, The Fan Museum, and Jack the Ripper Museum (via The Silver Nomad).

Although London seems to steal the thunder from many destinations in the UK, there's still a lot you can enjoy from other equally exciting places. Better still, you'll beat the crowds by exploring areas off the beaten path, complete with unique ancient structures, legacy in sports, awe-inspiring landscapes, water sports, and other hidden gems. Whether you are attracted to the old, ultra-modern, or a mix of everything, here are awe-inspiring cities and towns worth visiting on your next trip to England.


Would you believe that a city built in the first century AD is still standing? Chester is a city with distinct character, complete with a castle with walls that have literally stood the test of time (via Historic UK). Other iconic buildings you can check out in this city include Chester Roman Amphitheatre, which is the largest in England, and Chester Cathedral, which is about 1,000 years old. If you'd like to shop for some unique or vintage souvenirs, a visit to the Chester Rows will be one for the books. Some of the shops you'll find on these rows, such as the Three Old Arches, were built in the 13th century (via Visit Cheshire).

Now it's time to feast your eyes on something different, and Chester Zoo is the perfect attraction you need to add to your itinerary. This zoo, which covers about 51 hectares, features about 20,000 animals, making it a great spot to visit if you're traveling with your kids. They will be impressed to see Congo buffalos, Bornean Orangutans, black rhinos, Asian elephants, aardvarks, Andean bears, and Asian short-clawed otters (per Chester Zoo). For more thrilling activities you can enjoy with your group of friends who are always on the lookout for parties, attend one of the festivals hosted in Chester, and you'll witness some mind-blowing parades (via Visit Cheshire).


Famously known as the place where Richard III was laid to rest, Leicester is another old city in London that history buffs can't get over. The majority of the tourists flock to this city to explore the King Richard III Visitor Centre, which is a spot that's dedicated to educating the public and celebrating the life of England's last king (via The Culture Trip). It features the Roman Baths where you can check out rare artifacts from Roman Britain and pre-Roman eras, and a great example is Minerva's head. Other historic sites worth visiting include Newarke Houses Museum and Gardens, which features a collection of items that date back to the 1500s, and Leicester Guildhall (per The Culture Trip).

The Leicester Market, which is about 800 years old, is a popular locale to visit for shopping as it boasts many stalls selling products such as vegetables, fruits, jewelry, and confectionery. You can as well sample different types of foods in the restaurants available in the market. If you have more time, check out other attractions like the Grand Union Canal, Botanic Garden, and Attenborough Arboretum, or Leicester Museum & Art Gallery (via Visit Leicester).


Although Norwich is an ancient city with medieval walls, it blends a good portion of modern features that make it an amazing place to visit in case you want the best from both worlds. So where do you start? Well, Norwich Cathedral, which is about 1,000 years old, is a great stop to go back in time. But don't let the ancient setting trick you into believing that this city is always calm without much going on, you can still go wild without anyone judging you since there's a host of lively bars and events. For instance, the Norwich and Norfolk Festival is a celebration that incorporates live music, circus, theater, and visual arts. You can also attend the Norwich Science Festival for motivational talks and to check out fascinating discoveries (per Visit Norwich).

The fun shouldn't end with partying, other interesting places you can visit in Norwich include the Air Defence Radar Museum, The Bridewell, Norwich Castle Museum, Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum, and Strangers' Hall Museum. Wondering where to eat if you're strapped for cash? Norwich features a renowned agricultural market where you can enjoy some fresh delicacies served at different spots, including Brix and Bones, Maids Head Hotel, and The Ivy.


You are a diehard sports fan who can't miss a major match. The good news is that you'll have the time of your life in Leeds since you can enjoy watching rugby at Headingley or football at Elland Road, the home ground of the world-famous Leeds United Football club. But if you find nature more intriguing than sports, you can explore the Yorkshire Dales National Park or take your kids to Roundhay Park to play or watch wildlife. Fun fact! Did you know that Leeds is home to Europe's largest indoor market? If you're wondering how big it is and what items are available for sale, visit the Kirkgate Market for shopping (via Visit Britain).

There's never a dull moment in Leeds because you can always have fun by attending one of the colorful carnivals, events, or festivals it hosts. For example, the Leeds West Indian Carnival is a must-attend for joyous cultural celebrations, music, colorful costumes, and mouth-watering foods (per Leads Carnival). Another one you shouldn't miss if you're a lover of music is the Leeds Festival (via Leads Festival).


Birmingham offers a unique combination of different aspects such as innovation, culture, and history, no wonder it looks and feels like London. You'll find industries majoring in biotechnology, automotive, and aerospace. Some renowned companies you'll find in this city are MG Rover and Jaguar. If you're looking for investment ideas and inspiration, you'll get them in plenty in Birmingham since it's a business hub where products such as electrical equipment, glass, plastics, and machinery are sold in large scale (per Thrillophilia).

It's never that serious, have some fun as you wind up your trip with a visit to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre for refreshing entertainment, including comedy, dance, live bands, and musicals. The National Sea Life Centre is another locale in the heart of the city that you need to check out. There's a lot to enjoy there, and it's not limited to a 360-degree ocean tunnel with amazing sea creatures such as turtles, tropical fish, and rays swimming around you. The spot also features a Marine Mammal facility where you can marvel at sea otters (via Visit Sealife).


When it comes to shopping, you must experience what Newcastle has to offer at least once in a lifetime. From quirky shops to premium shopping premises such as the Eldon Square, there is a place to shop regardless of your budget (via Visit North East England). According to Newcastle Gateshead, this shopping center features about 20 restaurants and 100 stores where you can find everything from homeware and electronics to stationery. If you want to browse the shelves for luxurious items, you'll find major brands such as Marks & Spencer and Fenwick. Flagship stores for major brands like Apple, Levi's, and H&M, and Hollister are also available.

Your visit to Newcastle isn't complete if you don't check out the inspiration behind the name of the city, Newcastle Castle (via Visit North East England). A Trip Advisor reviewer notes, "This is a great visit especially for kids. There is some fascinating history exhibited and the view from the top is awesome." Another Trip Advisor reviewer who has been to the Newcastle Castle stated, "Loads of nooks and crannies ... You got a real feel for what it must have been like in medieval times. Thoroughly enjoyed this visit."


Visit the Cardiff International White Water to quench your thirst for adrenaline pumping activities (via Visit Cardiff). It is a suitable spot to visit with your group of friends on a weekend getaway. Some activities to you can try out are whitewater rafting, whitewater tubing, canoeing, kayaking, hot dogging, river boarding, wall climbing, or gorge walking. Regardless of your skill level, there's a water sport for you to enjoy here (per Cardiff International White Water).

Cardiff also has a rich history to share with the world since the Romans occupied it about 2,000 years ago. You will get a chance to view numerous ancient castles that have evolved in unique styles (per Cardiff Castle). Cardiff Castle is a major attraction where you can take Instagram-worthy photos. Travel With Zied posted a photo on Instagram with a caption that states, "Lost in time at the beautiful Cardiff Castle ... I felt like I was transported back in time as I explored the castle's walls and tower." If the water sports and a visit to the Cardiff Castle don't leave you fully satisfied, fret not. Based on Trip Advisor reviews, some top-rated attractions you can visit are St Fagans National Museum of History, Wales Millennium Centre, Llandaff Cathedral, and Techniquest.


Liverpool is a magnificent city that you can visit if you can't get enough of football, maritime history, or music. You've heard of Liverpool Football Club, but a visit to their training facilities will create indelible memories. How about checking out their official website to buy tickets to watch a match they feature in? Football aside, Liverpool is home to the legendary music band, The Beatles, and many music venues such as Jimmy's Liverpool, The Jacaranda where The Beatles performed, Arts Club, 24 Street Kitchen, and Invisible Wind Factory among others (via Visit Liverpool). So if you love partying and music, these cool spots with unique settings offer amazing options.

To get a better understanding of the history of this city, visit the Merseyside Maritime Museum, which was launched in 1980. Some objects that tell the story of Liverpool, which you'll find in this museum are maritime paintings, full-scale vessels, and ship models. Since the International Slavery Museum is still a part of this museum, you can check it out to hear some unrecounted stories (per Liverpool Museums).

Bempton Cliffs

Unlike most cities on this list, Bempton Cliffs is an excellent place to visit if you're looking to marvel at the beauty of nature and wildlife diversity. This coastal birdwatchers' paradise houses more than half a million seabirds, including herring gulls, gannets, puffins, razor bills, and fulmars, among others. While most birds make this place their home all-year round, some like warblers, thrushes, and finches can only be spotted during autumn. Bottle nosed dolphins and minke whales are among the marine mammals you can spot in this awe-inspiring coastal area (per Yorkshire's Wildlife).

Apart from bird watching, you can visit Bempton Cliffs for tours or to attend the events and festivals it hosts, such as the Diving Gannets Seabird Cruises, Birds of Prey Walks, and Earth Day Exhibitions (via Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). Bradley Crawt on Instagram posted, "What an amazing site! Hundreds of Gannets living off the cliffs at Bempton, this shot is not even a fraction of what you can see." In another Instagram post by Sarah Blowers, the caption read, "Great views at Bempton Cliffs ... Even managed to see a pod of dolphins from Bempton cliffs!"


Whitby offers you a chance to experience the Gothic culture in a coastal setting, and the Abbey ruins are a major attraction here since they tell a story that started about 1,500 years ago. It's a magnificent building with breathtaking views, no wonder it captures the interest of most photographers and artists (via The Whitby Guide). The quirky streets, ancient seaport, cobbled paths give this place a unique character. You can relax by the seaside as you enjoy the breeze, build sand castles with your kids, or go for crab fishing if you feel more adventurous (per Discover Yorkshire Coast).

Other fun activities Whitby offers are whale watching and coastal cruises, which are awesome treats for a couple on a valentine's holiday or weekend getaway. The city doesn't have a shortage of amazing places to visit, so create time to check out the Whitby Brewery, Wetwheels Yorkshire, or Whitby Museum Tea Room. Another idea! Remember to sample seafood and other delicacies available in the restaurants dotting every corner of the city, including The Fisherman's Wife, Mister Chips, and Humble Pie 'n' Mash, among others (via Yorkshire). A Reddit user stated, "Whitby does fish and chips well ... Whitby over Xmas is wonderful, done it a few times myself and it's magical."