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Watching the world go by, Peak District | © Simon Harrod/Flickr
Watching the world go by, Peak District | © Simon Harrod/Flickr
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Why the Best of England is Found Beyond London

Picture of Richard Franks
Freelance Travel & Music Writer
Updated: 2 August 2017
Visitors to England will often flock straight to London, but little do they know that the best of England is actually found outside of the capital. Forget hoards of people on every corner, expensive tourist traps and packed tubes – this country is full of hidden gems, beautiful beaches, rolling countryside and so much more. Read on to discover where you should actually go on your next trip…

First of all, this is not to say that London is rubbish, because it isn’t! Some of the country’s greatest attractions are in London and, of course, it’s the capital of the United Kingdom. But for those who like to head a little off the beaten tourist track, England is a wonderfully unique country with a whole host of different things to offer than the capital does. Whether you’re after a relaxing break, an adventure-filled trek or an historical expedition, England’s got your back.

Peak District

If you’re after breathtaking views, stunning natural scenery and an array of wildlife, look no further than the beautiful Peak District. Set across approximately 555 miles of rolling hills and green countryside, the Peak District covers a large area of Northern England, including Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire. The Peak District is comprised of hundreds of villages and attractions, with the best of the national park seen by foot or bike. It’s not all tranquility and peaceful though – there are plenty of adrenaline-filled activities such as rock climbing and water sports to take part in. The bustling city of Derby is also nearby should you need somewhere to use as a bigger base. Why not visit this beautiful part of the country for yourselves?

Watching the world go by, Peak District | © Simon Harrod/Flickr
Watching the world go by, Peak District | © Simon Harrod/Flickr

Birmingham

Often referred to as one of the friendliest cities in the country, Birmingham is just shy of a 2 hour train ride away from London. The home of Cadbury Chocolate, J.R.R. Tolkien and Black Sabbath, Birmingham is landlocked in the centre of the country but don’t let that put you off… It’s flanked by the beautifully picturesque counties of Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Shropshire, all of which have their own quirky qualities. Birmingham is one of the most perfect bases for exploring both the big city and its neighbouring countryside retreats such as the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire. This cultural hub is also the epicentre of the country’s canal network. Don’t forget to swat up on Brummie, the local lingo!

Narrowboats in Birmingham
Narrowboats in Birmingham | © Neil Howard/Flickr

The Cotswolds

Another of England’s most desirable rural retreats is the Cotswolds, an area of almost 800 square miles between Oxford and Bristol. This Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty offers quintessentially English villages, beautifully lush green rolling hills and an abundance of castles, country houses and palaces to explore. Visitors should explore the region’s 3,000 miles of footpaths (not all at once!) and its historic walls which divide the landscape. A visit to the Cotswolds comes multiple accommodation options. For example, you could stay in a quirky cottage, a family-run B&B or go glamping.

The Cotswolds | © Al King/Flickr
The Cotswolds | © Al King/Flickr

Glastonbury

Renowned across the world for its famous music festival, Glastonbury is also known for its medieval sites and Tor, a tower-topped hill with links to Arthurian legend. The quaint Somerset town is also home to Glastonbury Abbey – a ruined monastery dating back to the 7th century – which hosts a concert each August aside from the festival. Glastonbury will always be a popular destination for those looking to get in touch with their spiritual side…

Glastonbury Tor | © c.art/Flickr
Glastonbury Tor | © c.art/Flickr

Devon & Cornwall

Full of craggy coves, beautiful beaches and perfect for summer strolls, the counties of Devon & Cornwall are up there with the best summertime breaks in England. At the far western end of England, these two counties sit next to each other and are popular with families, surfers and anyone looking to escape the big city. To be honest, it’s probably safe to say that a lot of people escape to the South West just to sample authentic clotted cream – and not to mention Cornish pasties! But in all seriousness, for some of the best natural beauty, you’ll want to head here in summer.

Stunning Cornwall coastline | © Giuseppe Milo/Flickr
Stunning Cornwall coastline | © Giuseppe Milo/Flickr

Liverpool

Another popular city for tourists, Liverpool is a wonderful distraction from London. Famous for its docks, Liverpool is a maritime city that was granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 2004. Birthplace of The Beatles, home of two Premier League football clubs and packed with architecture and history, Liverpool is the perfect trip for the sightseers. There’s also an abundance of museums, galleries and event spaces in the city, with its gritty yet creative edge in areas like the Baltic Triangle juxtaposed with the picturesque Georgian Quarter.

Bird's eye view of Albert Dock
Bird’s eye view of Albert Dock | © albertdock.com

Of course, there is so much more to England than what we’ve listed, but we think this is the perfect start for exploring outside of London. Enjoy!