Situated on the River Severn, this country town is the little treasure of South West England. Be amazed by its cathedral as it is one of the finest medieval buildings in the country. Open daily, you will be inspired by the Great East Window and its extraordinary cloisters used for corridor scenes in three Harry Potter movies. The dock has become another popular free destination where one can enjoy many facilities whilst admiring a fine example of a Victorian port. Gloucester has much more to offer than churches, such as many cultural venues — Nature in Art Gallery and Museum is one of the most interesting. You can find the widest range of nature-inspired art in the world in a stunning Georgian mansion. The collection contains different style creations by around 600 artists, while the museum also offers different activities for children, who can also enjoy the huge garden during sunny days.
Getting there: Trains from London Paddington, around 2.5h. Tickets: £45–50 (open return).
It takes just one and a half hours to reach this intriguing town. As one of England’s major ports, some of its attractions are related to the sea; SeaCity Museum is the most innovative. It is focused on stories by people who travelled in and out of the city by sea, including the city’s Titanic heritage. On the other hand, you can have a little adventure in the Itchen Valley Country Park forest, trying the Tree Top Adventure (set up by Go Ape!) where you can swing or cross bridges 120 feet above the floor or experience high ropes obstacles. For the big football fanatics among you, watching a match and taking in the atmosphere at St Mary’s Stadium is a must-try.
Getting there: Trains from London Waterloo, around 1/1.5 hours. Tickets: £30–40 (open return).
It’s probably not the best time to visit the south of England, but Brighton can be experienced as a pleasure site as well, especially for students. If you plan in advance, you can get train fares for around £5 and breathe some fresh air by the seaside. To get the true Brighton experience, enjoy fish and chips at Brighton Pier, take a tour of The Royal Pavilon — the former royal residence of the Prince Regent — and explore the Victorian aquarium. Brighton offers activities for the entire family, and with its plentiful amount of green spaces, you will find the right way to relax away from the city.
Getting there: Trains from London Victoria Station, around 1h. Tickets: from £5-7; £17–24 (open return).
This country town has become a real tourist destination because of its famous resident: William Shakespeare. This Warwickshire site offers the opportunity to visit the house where England’s most famous playwright and poet grew up (Everyday: 9am–5pm; Adults £16.50, Child £9.90, Concession £15.50). Another must-see location is Anne Hathaway’s (Shakespeare’s wife) cottage, described as the most romantic in England. The town offers many events – the majority of them organised by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), which are staged throughout the year.
Getting there: Trains from London Marylebone / London Euston, around 2h. Tickets: £6; £20–£25 (open return).
Seaford – Seven Sisters
This has to be one of the most exciting and surprising places in England. The Seven Sister Cliffs are a series of chalk cliffs situated in Seaford, East Sussex. From the west to east, the seven hills are individually named and occasionally used in filmmaking and TV productions. To get there, you should pass through the amazing Seven Sisters Country Park, accessed from Seaford city centre and Brighton as well. Entering into the park, you should walk to the beach along the access trail and enjoy the great views from the top of the cliffs. Travel there during spring and summer to enjoy all the breathtaking scenery.
Getting there: Trains from London Victoria (one change), around 1.5h. Tickets: £17–18 (open return).
Windsor is the Queen’s favourite weekend destination – so why not yours, too! She makes the impressive Windsor Castle home. The castle is open all year even when the Queen is in residence, and it’s the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. You can also admire it whilst taking a peaceful walk on the River Thames or hiring a rowing boat. Be amazed by watching the Changing of the Guard, which lasts approximately 30 minutes, and visit the Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House – the largest dolls’ house in the world, created in the 1920s. To discover more about the history of the town, visit the Windsor & Royal Borough Museum, or catch some live entertainment whilst paying a visit to the Theatre Royal Windsor where you can join in some stand up comedy and live music.
Getting there: Trains from London Paddington / London Waterloo, around 30 mins. Tickets: £11 (open return).
Renowned for Geoffrey Chaucer’s tales, it’s one of the most-visited towns in the United Kingdom. Home to many students, the heart of the city is still home to a historic English cathedral – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Part of the district of Kent, there are not only plenty of museums to visit but also many historical buildings and sites to explore. Take a historic river tour, as it allows you to discover hidden parts of this attractive city.
Getting there: Trains from London Victoria / London St Pancras, around 1.5h. Tickets: £30 (open return).
In 2012, this East of England city was designated England’s first UNESCO City of Literature, and it’s the perfect place for a short stay. Discover plenty of events and festivals and experience shopping in its centre. Take the time to visit the Norwich castle, built 900 years ago and now a museum and art gallery, plus one of the finest romanesque cathedrals in Europe. Take the bus to Lowestoft and explore the UK’s largest wildlife attractions while enjoying the sights and sounds of Africa, and experience the public art museum Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA) with its special day and night exhibitions.
Getting there: Trains from London Liverpool Street, around 2h. Tickets: £50 (open return).
Isle of Wight
Less than a two-hour ferry ride from Portsmouth or Southampton takes you to this stunning south England island. Here, there are a wide variety of things to do and places to see that will suit everyone. You can explore some history and culture visiting the main museums and galleries or the holiday residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The island has been recently recognised for its dinosaur remains (especially footprints in stone) and fossils that can be found in the cliffs around the coast. For the adventurous, visit The Needles Landmark Attraction; open seven days a week, it offers a playground, chairlifts, Jurassic golf and a variety of rides.
Getting there: Trains from London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour (around 2h; £30–35 open return) + Isle of Wight Ferry (45 mins; £20 open return). Trains from London Waterloo to Southampton Central (around 1.5h; £30–40 open return) + Isle of Wight Ferry (around 55-60 mins; £9–16 return).
This city in the West Midlands is one of the most populous British cities. The numerous different attractions on offer should be explored over at least two days. Chocoholic adults and children will be fascinated by learning the story and discovering the world of Cadbury chocolate, while others can explore ancient myths and tales at Warwick Castle (around 40–50 mins from Birmingham). The National SEA Life Centre and the Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum will inspire you with interactive fun and learning. You can’t miss The Library, which has recently become a major cultural destination and visit the Wonderful World of Trains and Planes – one of the most exciting attractions in the heart of the city.
Getting there: Trains from London Euston / London Marylebone, around 1.5/2h. Tickets: £25–30 (open return).