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From the northernmost tip of Scotland to the southern coast of England, there are plenty of cities within the United Kingdom that are often overlooked by tourists and travelers. These hidden gems come in all shapes and sizes. From bustling metropolises to peaceful coastal havens, each with its unique character. Here we will look at the 15 most underrated cities in the UK, which may not be on everyone’s radar but offer plenty of attractions and opportunities for travelers and locals alike.
From stunning architecture to historic sites and beautiful natural surroundings, these spots in the UK have something for everyone who wants to explore beyond the beaten track. And in case you didn’t know, I wrote a bunch of other posts where I explore underrated cities in Italy, Germany, the Balkans, the United States, and many more countries. But now let’s dive into the list of the 15 most underrated cities in the UK!
Located in the eastern heart of England lies the charming city of Norwich, often overlooked and underrated by tourists and travelers who go to the UK. Norwich has a rich history that dates back to Roman times, and this can be seen in many areas throughout the city. The most notable example is Norwich Castle, which was built over 900 years ago and still stands tall today.
Inside its walls, you can find an art gallery with works from some of Britain’s finest painters and sculptors. There is also a museum filled with fascinating artifacts that tell stories about local life throughout the centuries.
The city center has been developed over time but still maintains much of its old-world charm. Cobbled streets lined with quaint shops selling everything from antiques to vintage clothing. There are plenty of places for people looking for something more modern too – such as designer stores, trendy restaurants, and bustling pubs offering tasty local ales.
If culture is more your thing then don’t forget about the Theatre Royal or Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts which both offer regular programs throughout the year including theatre productions, live music gigs, and art exhibitions. And if you’re feeling like escaping the city center for a while, you can simply take a stroll along one of many riverside paths. Here you can take in views across Norwich Cathedral or catch glimpses of Kingfishers zipping past on their way upstream.
As one of the most populated cities in the UK, Birmingham is often overlooked. However, there is much more to this city than meets the eye!
From iconic landmarks such as the Bullring shopping center to historic gems like St Philip’s Cathedral or Soho House, there’s plenty to explore. The Jewellery Quarter is home to some of the finest jewelry retailers in Europe, creating unique pieces that have been crafted for generations. Meanwhile, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery offers an insight into over 3,500 years of culture and history from around the world, and it’s free!
The Brindleyplace area is a great place to spend an afternoon with its canalside restaurants and bars, while Digbeth is known for its creative energy and independent businesses like bars, cafes, and vintage shops.
For those who love outdoor activities, there’s always Sutton Park, one of Britain’s largest urban parks – which provides miles upon miles of green space with heathland, wetlands, and woodland. Or if you’re feeling adventurous climb up onto Clent Hills for breathtaking views across the West Midlands countryside.
Finally, no trip to Birmingham would be complete without a visit to Cadbury World; where you can discover the story behind your favorite chocolate treats as well as watch live demonstrations by their expert chocolatiers. Whether visiting Birmingham alone or with family there are countless opportunities here that will fill any itinerary with memories that will last forever!
Wales has many beautiful and underrated cities, each with its unique charm. One city that often doesn’t receive as much attention as some of the more popular tourist destinations is Swansea. Located on the stunning coastline of South Wales, Swansea offers a unique cultural scene, stunning natural surroundings, and a rich history.
Swansea is known as the birthplace of renowned poet Dylan Thomas, and you can visit his childhood home, now turned into a museum. The city also boasts beautiful parks and gardens, such as Singleton Park and Clyne Gardens, which are perfect for leisurely walks or picnics.
Swansea’s waterfront area, known as the Maritime Quarter, is a picturesque spot with a marina, sandy beaches, and an array of restaurants and cafes. The National Waterfront Museum is also worth a visit, showcasing the city’s maritime history and industrial heritage.
For those interested in art and culture, the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery houses a diverse collection of artwork, including pieces by renowned artists such as Monet and Rodin. Additionally, the Swansea Grand Theatre offers a variety of performances, including theater, ballet, and concerts.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast like me, you will appreciate the Gower Peninsula, located just a short drive from Swansea. It’s the UK’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is known for its breathtaking landscapes, stunning cliffs, and beautiful beaches, such as Rhossili Bay.
Leicester is a city full of character and culture, often underrated but worthy of more attention. Inhabitants are proud of their heritage and this shows in the many attractions that visitors can explore.
The National Space Centre is one such attraction. It’s an iconic building housing interactive exhibitions and a planetarium with out-of-this-world visuals. Leicester Cathedral is another must-see with its intricate architecture dating back to 1086, while its tranquil gardens provide respite from the bustle of daily life.
And if you are a culture vulture you will not be disappointed either. The Curve Theatre offers an eclectic range of performances, from theatre to comedy, music, and dance.
For those looking for something a bit different, Belgrave Hall & Gardens offers tours of the historic house and workshops on botany and history, while foodies should head to the fascinating Food Park with its quirky collection of street food vendors. Other highlights include Abbey Park with its Victorian lake or perhaps the Jewry Wall Museum where visitors can take in 2000 years worth of history.
Leicester also boasts plenty of independent shops where you can find unique souvenirs to take home as well as some excellent restaurants offering cuisines from around the world including Indian street food at Mowgli Street Food or vegan dishes at HerbiVore Cafe.
Exeter is an underrated city in the United Kingdom that has so much to offer. Away from the hustle and bustle of other large cities, Exeter is a place where you can find peace and tranquility while still being surrounded by plenty of attractions to keep you entertained. Located near the beautiful River Exe, this historic city is home to a wealth of cultural experiences that are sure to delight visitors.
One of the best things to do in Exeter is to take a stroll around the ancient walls built during Roman times and to explore the winding cobbled streets filled with quaint shops and lively cafes, each offering their unique take on classic British cuisine.
For those looking for something more active, there’s plenty to do as well. Exeter is home to many parks and gardens and you can take advantage of the city’s excellent cycling infrastructure which connects various parts of the city. The Cathedral Green in particular offers stunning views over both town and countryside beyond it.
Those interested in history will be pleased to find that many sites remain untouched since medieval times. You can hop aboard a ghost tour at St Nicholas Priory or admire the centuries-old architecture at Rougemont Castle & Gardens. There’s also Underground Passages – an underground network built for water storage purposes that now serves as a fascinating tourist attraction, complete with interactive exhibits detailing its history.
For art lovers, Exeter boasts numerous galleries showcasing works from local artists; you can also witness live performances at Northcott Theatre throughout the year or head outside for some al fresco entertainment provided by street performers who regularly gather on Cathedral Green Square. There’s truly something for everyone in this city and all these attractions make Exeter one of the UK’s most underrated cities!
The historic city of Wells, located in the southwest of England, is often overlooked when people are looking for places to visit in the UK. Often overshadowed by its larger and better-known neighbour Bath, Wells deserves to be recognized as a great destination in its own right.
At the heart of Wells lies its magnificent Cathedral, one of Britain’s most beautiful religious buildings. Built over 700 years ago, it stands as a reminder that this was once an important center for learning and culture. You can also take a guided tour around the many fascinating chambers inside the cathedral walls which include some incredible examples of medieval craftsmanship.
Aside from historical sights, there are plenty more activities to enjoy in Wells. The City Museum provides an insight into local history with interactive displays; perfect for those who want to learn about their surroundings without having to do much research beforehand. If you’re feeling adventurous you can hop on a bike or go for a stroll along the nearby Mendip Hills where you can enjoy stunning views across Somerset’s lush green landscape.
For those who prefer something slightly more laid back, there are plenty of local cafes or restaurants to enjoy. With so many food choices available it won’t be hard to find something appetizing whatever your taste or budget may be!
And finally, there’s still High Street which is full of independent shops selling everything from clothes and jewelry to homeware items and antiques, perfect for picking up souvenirs or special gifts.
Chester is often overlooked as a travel destination in the UK, but it’s a real hidden gem. With its stunning architecture, cobbled streets, and fascinating history, this city has plenty to offer.
The most striking part of Chester is the city walls, one of the best-preserved Roman walls in Britain. Stretching for three kilometers (two miles) around the city center, these are an ideal way to explore some of Chester’s oldest sights. Atop them, you can take in views of the River Dee, while at their base lies The Rows, a unique shopping area where medieval buildings line the street with half-timbered upper stories.
If you’re looking for something more cultural then there are plenty of attractions to check out. The Grosvenor Museum houses exhibit on Chester’s history and collections from around the world, while nearby is St John’s Church which offers guided tours and regular organ recitals. A little further away is Chester Cathedral, an awe-inspiring building dating back over 1000 years ago that stands proudly amongst modern shops and restaurants.
And for those who enjoy outdoor activities, there’s lots to do here too! A walk along the banks of the River Dee will bring you past many interesting sights including Queen’s Park and Grosvenor Park which is home to a variety of birds, ducks, and swans. You could also head outside of town to Delamere Forest, known for its cycling and walking trails through ancient woodland with beautiful views across the Cheshire countryside!
Leeds is an underrated gem nestled in the north of England. Despite its small size, it offers a large variety of activities and attractions, from rolling hills to bustling boutiques.
The Leeds City Museum is a great place to start exploring this hidden gem. With a variety of exhibits ranging from ancient artifacts to modern artworks, you’ll never be short on things to do here. The museum also runs educational workshops and events throughout the year for all ages.
If you’re looking for outdoor adventures, then the nearby Yorkshire Dales are perfect for long hikes and nature walks. The area is filled with stunning scenery where you can take in breathtaking views while taking part in some traditional country pursuits such as fishing or clay pigeon shooting.
For culture lovers, there’s plenty on offer too. In Leeds, you can find everything from traditional pubs showing live music every night to theaters offering world-class performances from plays and ballets through to musicals. It even hosts an annual arts festival that showcases local talent across a range of disciplines including painting, photography, and sculpture.
Shopping fans will not be disappointed either when coming to Leeds. From independent stores selling vintage clothing and antiques to high-end designer boutiques, there’s something for everyone here. There are also plenty of places to eat out too – with international cuisines like Chinese and Italian represented alongside classic British dishes like fish & chips!
Overall Leeds might not be known as one of the most popular cities in the UK, but it certainly has plenty going for it that makes it well worth visiting.
Dundee is a hidden gem of Scotland, tucked away in the northeast corner of the country. It’s a city that many people have never heard of, let alone visited. But it’s well worth seeking out as Dundee has plenty to offer visitors who want to explore its fascinating past and experience life in a unique Scottish city.
The amazing architecture of Dundee is one of its most memorable features. The 19th-century Victorian buildings line the streets near City Square, while St Mary’s Church stands proudly at the center of town like an ancient sentinel from bygone days. Further out, you can find plenty more interesting sights and structures around Tayside, including a castle built by William Wallace himself!
But it isn’t just old buildings that make Dundee so special. There are plenty of modern attractions too. A highlight for many people who come to Dundee is Discovery Point. Here you can learn about Captain Scott’s ill-fated voyage to Antarctica aboard HMS Discovery over 100 years ago. There are also great galleries and museums showcasing art from across the world, as well as family-friendly activities such as ice skating and bowling on offer in this charming city.
For those looking for something different during their visit to Dundee, there are some fantastic outdoor areas nearby that provide breathtaking views across the Tay Estuary and beyond – perfect for long walks or picnics on sunny days! Plus with stunning beaches located close by, there is something for everyone here in Scotland’s forgotten corner – making it one of the UK’s most underrated cities.
Located in the northeast of England, Newcastle is a city that boasts a rich history and culture. It has a fascinating mix of old and new architecture, from the grand Victorian buildings to the modern glass structures of the Quayside.
One of the main attractions in Newcastle is the famous Tyne Bridge, which spans the River Tyne and offers stunning views of the city. Another must-visit is Newcastle Castle, which dates back to the 12th century and offers a glimpse into the city’s medieval past.
If you’re a fan of art, be sure to visit the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, which is housed in a converted flour mill and showcases some of the best contemporary art from around the world. For a more traditional art experience, the Laing Art Gallery is home to a collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the 18th century to the present day.
For those who love shopping, the city center has plenty to offer, with a mix of high street and independent stores. The Grainger Market is a must-visit for foodies, with a wide range of local produce and street food on offer.
If you’re looking for a more active experience, Newcastle has plenty of options. The Quayside is a great place for a walk or cycle along the river, while the city’s many parks and green spaces offer a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city center. Newcastle is a city that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity. Whether you’re looking for art, shopping, or outdoor activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
11) St Davids
Nestled away in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, St Davids is an under-appreciated Welsh gem. From its stunning coastline to its rich heritage and culture, it offers something for everyone, whether that’s a day relaxing on the beach or exploring local attractions such as the St Davids Cathedral.
The city itself is tranquil yet lively, with quaint cafes and pubs where you can find some of the best seafood in Wales. Local shops offer a variety of unique products from handmade crafts to locally produced wines and spirits. If you’re looking for more traditional shopping experiences, you’ll also find plenty of stores selling clothing and souvenirs.
St Davids is also a great base for outdoor activities. Whether it’s walking along one of the many coastal paths or taking a boat trip around Ramsey Island Nature Reserve, there’s something for everyone who enjoys nature at its finest. For those who love water sports, Whitesands Beach is just a few minutes drive away. With excellent conditions throughout the summer months, it’s ideal for surfing or kayaking lessons!
Despite being a small city, St Davids has no shortage of cultural attractions either. You can wander through Oriel y Parc Visitor Centre to discover art galleries showcasing works by local artists as well as exhibitions about Pembrokeshire’s natural history. Or take a stroll through Bishop’s Palace Gardens – thought to be built in 1180AD!
St Davids is truly an underrated destination and perfect if you’re looking for somewhere that combines relaxation with exploration without any hustle or bustle.
Nottingham may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of the UK, but for those in the know, it is a hidden gem. Its cobbled streets are lined with historical architecture and its pedestrian-friendly layout makes it easy to explore on foot. For all of its charms, Nottingham remains an underrated destination – a fact which only serves to make it more appealing to those who seek out a trip away from the hustle and bustle.
The city boasts numerous attractions ranging from cultural landmarks like Nottingham Castle and The Galleries of Justice Museum to outdoor activities such as walking along the River Trent or exploring Wollaton Hall’s deer park. There are also plenty of independent shops, cafes, bookstores, and galleries dotted around town offering something truly unique for everyone who is seeking something off the beaten track.
For those looking for some retail therapy, Nottingham is home to two shopping centers – Victoria Centre and Intu Broadmarsh – providing plenty of opportunities to shop till you drop! Plus there’s always the famous Nottingham Goose Fair held every October where fun fair rides line up alongside food stalls serving up traditional British treats.
When it comes to nightlife in Nottingham, you won’t have any trouble finding somewhere lively among all the pubs and bars scattered throughout the town. From traditional ales at Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem pub (dating back over 800 years) through to live music venues such as Rock City or Rescue Rooms; whatever type of atmosphere you’re after you will find what you need here without any fuss.
13) Derry (Londonderry)
Northern Ireland has many charming cities and towns that often don’t receive as much attention as their more popular counterparts. One city that could be considered underrated is Derry.
Derry, officially known as Londonderry, is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and has a rich history and cultural heritage. The city is famous for its well-preserved 17th-century walls, which are the only completely intact city walls in Ireland and offer a unique perspective on the city’s past. Walking along the walls provides stunning views of the city and the River Foyle.
Derry/Londonderry is also known for its vibrant arts and music scene. The city hosts the annual Derry Halloween Carnival, which is one of the largest Halloween celebrations in Europe, attracting visitors from around the world. The city’s streets come alive with parades, fireworks, and an array of spooky events.
The city’s Bogside neighborhood is a significant historical and cultural area, known for its murals depicting the Troubles, a period of conflict in Northern Ireland. The Museum of Free Derry provides a comprehensive look at the events that unfolded during this time and offers insights into the city’s complex history.
In addition to its historical and cultural attractions, Derry boasts beautiful riverside walks, such as the Peace Bridge, which connects the Waterside and Cityside areas of the city. The Guildhall, a striking neo-Gothic building, is another notable landmark worth visiting.
Derry’s underrated status means that it often offers a more intimate and less crowded experience compared to other popular tourist destinations in Northern Ireland. The warmth and friendliness of the local people contribute to the city’s charm, making it a hidden gem for those seeking an authentic and enriching experience.
Hereford is a city that (almost) never gets to join in the conversation when everyone is talking about the best cities in the UK. But don’t let its unassuming nature fool you. Hereford is a fantastic place to visit and has some of the most beautiful sights you can find throughout England.
With its fascinating history and stunning architecture, Hereford offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient ruins or simply looking for a relaxing stroll through picturesque parks and gardens, Hereford is sure to delight you. Enjoy strolls through meadows full of wildflowers or take a lazy boat ride along the River Wye. There is plenty of outdoor activities to keep even the most active visitors entertained!
The city also boasts many cultural attractions such as museums, galleries, and historic sites. Learn about Hereford’s rich heritage at one of its many museums or explore centuries-old cathedrals like St Mary’s Church in central Hereford. Take advantage of unique shopping opportunities with independent boutique stores scattered around town, offering bespoke items from local artists and designers.
If you’re a foodie you will be pleased to know that there are several traditional pubs dotted around town, perfect for sampling delicious local delicacies. And don’t forget to check out some of Hereford’s famous cider houses too – they have an array of ciders on tap so you won’t be disappointed!
Stirling is often overlooked as a tourist destination, but this Scottish city is bursting with history and culture. It’s an incredible place to explore and enjoy and one of the most underrated cities in the UK.
The city’s skyline is dominated by its imposing castle – a landmark that dates back to the 11th century. The castle offers stunning views of the countryside below, and you can explore its many rooms filled with fascinating artifacts from Scotland’s past. History buffs won’t want to miss out on visiting Stirling Castle – it’s truly awe-inspiring!
For those looking for outdoor activities, Stirling has plenty to offer too. The town lies at the heart of Scotland’s beautiful landscape, which means hiking routes and breathtaking scenery are only a stone’s throw away. There are plenty of trails suitable for both novice hikers and experienced climbers – so no matter what your level you’re sure to find something that suits you.
Nature lovers will also be drawn in by Stirling’s wildlife parks. They provide a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Scotland’s native species such as deer, badgers, foxes, and more. And if golf is your thing then you’ll be spoiled for choice here- there are numerous courses nearby that make perfect use of the stunning scenery all around them.
Foodies will flock to Stirling too, after all, it was home to one of Scotland’s first Michelin-starred restaurants. But if fine dining isn’t your thing then there are lots of other delicious options available throughout the city, including some traditional Scottish dishes like haggis or Cullen skink.
From small hidden gems to larger cities with a wealth of culture, the UK is blessed with many underrated and often overlooked places. From incredible foodie scenes to beautiful natural scenery, you can find something to suit everyone in these lesser-known locations.
Whether it’s for a short break or an extended holiday, a peaceful getaway, or an adventure-filled weekend, the UK has something for all types of tourists and travelers who are willing to step off the beaten track and explore its hidden treasures!
And if you would like to find more underrated places around the world, feel free to check my other blog posts. There you can find the most underrated cities in Italy, Germany, the Balkans, the United States, and many more countries!
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