With millions of people, incredible vegan food, and enough unique afternoon tea experiences to last a lifetime, London is easily one of the best cities in the world, but there are so many things to do in England besides London.
London is not England and you can’t complete your experience with a short day trip to Stonehenge!
England has more than a few incredible places worthy of exploration, but these six are my top recommendations.
- The Lake District
Keep reading to discover England beyond London!
Things To Do In England (But Not London)
If you’re looking for a quaint, English seaside town that isn’t completely overrun by tourists, Saltburn-by-the-Sea needs to be at the top of your list.
Not only is beach parking free, but Saltburn also has one of the oldest gravity lifts still in operation in the country.
The pier is absolutely picturesque and you’re sure to find surfers facing the cold waves, even as early as March.
The surrounding areas are also completely worthy of a day out.
Staithes, another picturesque town just a short drive from Saltburn, features an overlook that is cinema worthy, even with the steep climb up.
You’ll need a car to get around but these North Yorkshire coastal towns are the perfect stop on a complete England road trip or a weekend trip.
The Lake District
I was first introduced to the Lake District in the spring of 2018 as a weekend trip away with my partner.
We stayed in a lovely cottage and spent the days hiking, enjoying what is surely the best and most unique gingerbread in the world, and kayaking on Lake Windemere.
The Lake District itself is relatively well known and is particularly popular among foreign tourists. Nevertheless, it is easily one of the most stunning destinations in England.
The biggest attraction is Lake Windemere on which you can rent all sorts of water equipment from kayaks to jet packs.
Spend a sunny afternoon in a wetsuit kayaking your way around the massive lake or rent a larger electric boat and bring a picnic out onto the water.
Other must-visit locations include the town of Grasmere where you’ll find some amazing hikes and sweets!
Grasmere Gingerbread is a tiny shop that will almost definitely have a line outside, but it’s worth it.
The unique gingerbread is a cross between a biscuit and cake and has an almost toffee-like ginger mix inside, with delicious crumbs on top.
Save yourself the trouble of waiting in line again and purchase at least one pack of six pieces for each person in your group.
They also freeze, so you might as well just double that order again!
No trip to the UK is complete without a trip to a major university town.
Sure, London has uni students galore, but in Manchester, you’ll find a bit more of a local vibe instead of tourists and study abroad students who chose to go to London (I speak from experience).
Manchester has an incredible nightlife scene that is much more affordable and accessible than London.
Be sure to download the app Dusk (one of many incredible apps for travelling) as there are a few places that this will work in Manchester to get a free drink each night you’re out.
From incredible hidden bars and clubs that you’ll have to deep dive onto the internet to find.
During the day, Manchester’s Northern Quarter is incredibly lively.
Spend some time exploring Affleck’s. This multi-level complex is made up of tiny vintage and food shops.
It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon exploring, but whatever you do, be sure to find Ginger’s Comfort Emporium for a bit of icecream and a quick game of chess.
Known for its quaint streets that likely inspired Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, York is everything you dreamed of when you didn’t get your letter from Hogwarts.
Head out early to be one of the first people along the winding streets with oddly shaped buildings. When hunger hits, pop into one of the many bakeries for an indulgent snack.
You’ll find that it’s easy to spend hours looping through the town and exploring local shops.
The best part?
If you stick to the central area, you’ll be in a pedestrian-only area for most of the time so there’s no need to worry about cars.
Parking is available in paid lots and the walk into the centre is quite easy and manageable.
If you’re willing to venture a little further into the Yorkshire countryside and are prepared to get strange looks when you don’t have a thick North Yorkshire accent, head to Thirsk.
This quaint town is perfect for a day trip or a pit stop on a road trip.
You won’t need to spend a week here to see the town itself. In fact, just a day or a weekend will do.
However, if you’re a fan of hiking, give yourself all of the time that you can! The walks near Thirsk and in North Yorkshire in general are some of the best in the country, as can be confirmed by the marvellous writer Bill Bryson.
If you’re visiting Thirsk and want to go out for longer walks, plan on getting a car as you’ll need to drive to get around.
Sheffield has a similar feel to London and Manchester, although it’s not nearly as large.
It’s not really a destination city for tourists but at the same time because it’s a university town some of its streets have a similar feel to Shoreditch in London.
What’s easily the best part about Sheffield is that it’s still situated in North Yorkshire.
Drive five minutes outside of the city and you’ll find yourself back in the rolling Yorkshire hills, thinking that you couldn’t possibly have just been sitting in city traffic.
Start Exploring England
With so much history, free museums, and everything from beaches and lakes to rolling dales and ancient castles, England is not a country to be missed.
Start planning your trip today!
Alysa and Jack are a full-time travel couple who focus on promoting ethical, sustainable, and plant-based travel. Their website, Voyaging Herbivore details vegan guides around the world as well as sustainable travel hacks and slow travel itineraries.
For more reading on England check out 5 of the best things to do in Kent.
And the 5 best markets in London.
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