Four Must-Visit UK Northern Getaways
We all need a getaway from time to time, but sadly it isn’t always logistically possible to organise a last-minute trip to a far-flung location. Whether you’re a UK native, or planning on visiting the country for the first time, there are a plethora of stunning towns and cities which are ideal for a weekend away. London may attract over 15 million visitors each year, and is renowned for it’s iconic buildings and attractions, but many northern outposts are sadly often overlooked by travellers. There is certainly no shortage of options when it comes to exploring this part of the country, and we focus our attention on four of these must-see destinations.
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The city of Chester is famous for its extensive Roman walls and it is steeped in history. It boasts the largest Roman Amphitheatre in the country, and its 1000-year old cathedral is simply unmissable. The aforementioned city walls provide the perfect platform to view the city as a whole, and additional facts about Chester can be gleaned from the informational boards, which provide the perfect accompaniment to a mid-morning stroll. The entire circuit takes around 90 minutes to complete, and luckily, the terrain is relatively unchallenging, making it ideal for visitors of all ages and fitness levels.
Visitors are also able to walk along the banks of the picturesque River Dee, but for those who would rather put their feet up, the reasonably-priced 30-minute river tours depart regularly throughout the day. It is the perfect way to relax, unwind, and perhaps even spot some wildlife along the way.
Chester zoo is the most-visited attraction outside of London, and is the perfect way to keep younger family members entertained and enthused. The city also has a variety of shops as well as boasting a vibrant cafe culture.
The city’s racecourse is the oldest UK track still in operation, and it holds regular racedays throughout the summer months. It is handily located and is just a short stroll from the main stretch of pubs, restaurants and hotels. Chester also attracts a number of visitors ahead of the Aintree Grand National each year. There is less than an hour’s drive between the two racecourses, making it the ideal stopover point. Over 150,000 spectators descended upon the Merseyside venue last year, with many of them taking in the sights and sounds of Chester en-route. It is one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar, and it is estimated that around 13 million people placed a bet on the world-famous steeplechase in 2018. Wagers will be often placed months in advance, and many online sites now offer new customers a number of free bets, which can used on the four-miler. The 2019 staging is expected to be another thrilling and dramatic spectacle, but for those who can’t make it to Aintree, Chester racecourse will stage a number of hugely competitive and reasonably-priced race-days between May and September.
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York is another hugely popular walled city in Northern England and is located on the River Ouse. Situated close to the north-east coast, York’s major attraction is its 13th-century Gothic cathedral, which is a stunning feat of architecture. Although this is a major pull for many visitors, the city does boast more attractions per square mile than any other UK location.
The York Art Gallery is open to the public, and has recently undergone significant redevelopment in the last four years. Exhibitions will appeal to visitors of all ages with a recent example being the BFG: In Pictures, and it’s undoubtedly worth a trip.
History buffs can visit the York Dungeon, and unearth further information about the city’s past, whilst the National Railway Museum is ideal for transport enthusiasts, and is located adjacent to the city’s train station. Similarly to Chester, river cruises are a spectacular way to enjoy the sights of this historic location, and these are available all year round.
Annual events such as the JORVIK Viking Festival attract thousands of visitors to the city each year, and the 2019 edition will also let members of the public showcase their facial hair in the Best Beard Competition. However, you don’t have to boast significant facial fuzz in order to enjoy this annual gathering within the city’s walls.
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Harrogate is in the heart of North Yorkshire and is described as a fashionable spa town. It is handily located for the North Yorkshire moors, but it is also within commuting distance of Leeds, Bradford and York. It is situated just ten minutes from the A1, and is one of the most accessible destinations in the region.
It is ideal for a weekend getaway, and there is a comprehensive range of accommodation located within the town. B&Bs, hotels and guesthouses are commonplace in Harrogate, and it is rarely difficult to find accommodation within walking distance.
Despite being relatively small in size, there is always a huge range of social events taking place, and the majority of visitors are keen to sample the delights of Harrogate’s extensive portfolio of pubs. There are also many eateries and shops located nearby, with Betty’s tearooms set to celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2019. The traditional afternoon tea is world-famous, and as a result, booking ahead is strongly advised. There is an elegant feel to Bettys, and it is the perfect way to relax and unwind before taking a stroll around one of the town’s well-maintained gardens and parks.
Fans of architecture can also enjoy the town’s vast array of Victorian and Georgian buildings, whilst Harrogate Theatre is a hugely popular 950-seater venue, which attracts a number of big names to the town.
Harrogate is an idyllic spa town which is considered to be the perfect location for a relaxing or romantic getaway.
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Newcastle is in the heart of north-east England, and is a hugely popular destination for party-goers and sports fans alike. It has a terrific buzz and there are always plenty of events taking place. It is located on the northern bank of the River Tyne, and is renowned for being a very friendly and welcoming destination.
Anyone who may be planning on visiting Newcastle for a weekend must prepare themselves for a busy 48 hours, as there is so much to see and do in this vibrant hotspot.
History enthusiasts will be keen to visit the Cathedral Church of St.Nicholas, whilst the city’s seven bridges are impressive feats of architecture and help provide a stunning backdrop to this bustling metropolis, particularly at night.
Younger visitors will be kept busy at the Life Science Centre, whilst the Seven Stories Children’s Book Centre is located in a renovated Victorian Mill and is well worth a visit. Culture vultures are likely to be attracted to the lovingly-restored Tyneside Cinema, which is the last surviving newsreel theatre still in operation in the UK.
Sports fans regularly descend upon the town ahead of Newcastle United home matches, which take place at the iconic St. James’ Park. There is a significant buzz around the city on weekend evenings, and live music fans are spoilt for choice, with numerous venues located within walking distance. Newcastle tends to attract a number of stag and hen parties, but there are plenty of pubs and bars, off the beaten track, which are ideal for a quiet pint or an early-evening slap-up meal.
The Quayside area is particularly lively, whilst Central Station, Collingwood Street and Bigg Market are other areas of town which will also cater for party-goers. Many of these establishments are also open until the early hours of the morning.
If you’re looking for an affordable and enjoyable getaway this year, there are a number of northern destinations which will cater perfectly for a memorable weekend trip. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing, stress-free 48 hours or a lively and indulgent excursion, there is something for everyone in this part of the world.