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Best city breaks in the UK

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Best city breaks in the UK

We asked readers to rate the food, accommodation, sights and attractions and value for money at destinations across the UK.

Best large UK cities for a short break

Edinburgh, Liverpool and York all tied as the favourite large cities for Which? members to visit this year in our annual survey of the UK's best city break destinations.

Liverpool scored highly when ranked on value for money, while the Scottish capital and York both got top marks for cultural sites and tourist attractions.

But which other big cities have all the right ingredients for a perfect weekend break?

Our destination features are based on real insight from readers, who tell us their favourite places to visit before we go undercover to investigate. Find out more about Which? Travel

The UK's best large cities, as voted by you
City Avg hotel rate Accommodation Cultural sights and attractions Food and drink Value for money City score
Edinburgh £111 84%
Liverpool £107 84%
York £107 84%
Belfast £109 82%
Glasgow £90 80%
Newcastle £81 79%
Cardiff £102 77%
London £131 77%
Portsmouth £90 77%
Bristol £97 76%
Hull £55 72%
Brighton £117 71%
Leeds £85 71%
Manchester £102 69%
Sheffield £74 67%
Nottingham £75 66%
Birmingham £77 65%
Plymouth £77 65%
Aberdeen £60 64%
Leicester £72 64%
Derby £64 - - - - 61%
Southampton £89 61%
Swansea £87 61%
Coventry £66 54%
Reading £78 - 43%

Full features table

Using the table: Star ratings range from one to five. A dash (–) indicates we didn’t receive enough responses (30 or more) to provide a rating. Avg hotel rate from Kayak.co.uk Cultural sights and tourist attractions Includes range, quality and price of historic buildings, galleries, museums, parks and city tours. Ease of getting around Includes range of public transport options, ease of understanding transport-related maps/information/ transport ticket pricing systems, ease of walking/travelling between sights. City score Based on a combination of overall satisfaction and how likely people are to recommend the city as a holiday destination to a friend.

UK Weekend breaks in Edinburgh, Liverpool and York

Edinburgh is a city that lends itself to meandering. There are the obvious sites such as the Castle, the palace of Holyrood and the Royal Mile. More time gives you a chance to stroll around the Botanic Gardens, up Arthur’s Seat or on the decks of the Royal Yacht Britannia. You'll almost certainly find a pub or two along the way.

Liverpool was rated highly by Which? members across a number of categories, but especially for value for money. Its centre is relatively compact so you don’t have to walk far to come across its eclectic cathedrals, galleries, cafés and music venues. Start a short break here at Tate Liverpool art gallery and the Royal Albert Dock.

York was one of Britain’s first railways cities, and is still easy to reach directly from most parts of the country without a car. Once there, you’ll discover a wealth of things to see and do in a compact area of twisting streets with layers of history from the Romans and Vikings onwards revealing themselves.  Tip? The Minster is a must-visit, but for the finest stained glass in the city minus the crowds pop into All Saints Church on North Street.

Best medium UK cities for a short break

Chester and Dundee are Which? members’ favourite medium-sized cities for a short break in the UK. Chester scored highly in several categories including accommodation, cultural sites and tourist attractions, getting around and value for money. Dundee leapfrogged into joint highest place with the opening of the V&A museum.

Read on to discover where else in the UK got top marks from Which? members.

The UK's best medium cities and towns, as voted by you
City Avg hotel rate Accommodation Cultural sights and attractions Food and drink Value for money City score
Chester £98 82%
Dundee £76 - - - - 82%
Norwich £92 78%
Winchester £97 78%
Cambridge £127 75%
Oxford £113 75%
Chichester £113 77%
Harrogate £86 73%
Canterbury £97 71%
Cheltenham £114 71%
Worcester £85 68%
Exeter £85 67%
Bournemouth £99 63%
Gloucester £79 63%
Colchester £77 - - - - 62%
Guildford £68 - - 59%

Full features table

Using the table:Star ratings range from one to five. A dash (–) indicates we didn’t receive enough responses (30 or more) to provide a rating. Avg hotel rate from Kayak.co.uk Cultural sights and tourist attractions Includes range, quality and price of historic buildings, galleries, museums, parks and city tours. Ease of getting around Includes range of public transport options, ease of understanding transport-related maps/information/ transport ticket pricing systems, ease of walking/travelling between sights. City score Based on a combination of overall satisfaction and how likely people are to recommend the city as a holiday destination to a friend.

UK weekend breaks in Chester and Dundee

Chester. Roman walls encircle fine examples of Tudor and Victorian buildings and raised covered arcades known as the Rows. There’s two thousand years of history in Chester and few cities in England of this size have a more easy-going charm, which is evident as you discover the thousand-year old cathedral, remains of the Roman amphitheatre (the largest in Britain) or the decidedly more modern Storyhouse mixed-used arts centre.

Dundee. While London has a statue of Lord Nelson, Dundee has Desperate Dan from the comic The Dandy. 'Jam, jute and journalism' used to sum up the city on the banks of the River Tay. But since September the city is now home to the V&A Dundee design museum, making it Scotland’s self-proclaimed new capital of cool. It’s a good base from which to explore the Fife coast, the rich farmland of Angus and whisky distilleries in Perthshire.

Best small UK cities for a short break

The Bishops of Bath and Wells knew what they were doing when they chose to build a palace on the edge of the Mendip Hills in 1180. With whole streets of listed buildings and the 13th-century cathedral, Wells is a compact but perfectly formed gem.

What other small but beautiful towns and cities are perfect for a relaxing and uncrowded weekend away?

The UK's best small cities and towns, as voted by you
City Avg hotel rate Accommodation Cultural sights and attractions Food and drink Value for money City score
Wells £82 86%
St Andrews £132 83%
St David's £105 - - 83%
Bath £126 80%
Stratford-upon-Avon £104 80%
Durham £100 79%
Lincoln £86 78%
Stirling £97 77%
St Ives £159 76%
Oban £108 - 73%
Inverness £105 73%
Perth £82 73%
Salisbury £89 72%
Ely £105 - - - 71%
Truro £108 70%
Windsor £118 - 68%
Eastbourne £65 65%
St Albans £107 - - - - 65%
Warwick £75 - - 65%
Hastings £88 - 64%
Fort William £113 60%
Torquay £79 58%

Full features table

Using the table: Star ratings range from one to five. A dash (–) indicates we didn’t receive enough responses (30 or more) to provide a rating. Avg hotel rate from Kayak.co.uk Cultural sights and tourist attractions Includes range, quality and price of historic buildings, galleries, museums, parks and city tours. Ease of getting around Includes range of public transport options, ease of understanding transport-related maps/information/ transport ticket pricing systems, ease of walking/travelling between sights. City score Based on a combination of overall satisfaction and how likely people are to recommend the city as a holiday destination to a friend.

UK weekend breaks in Wells

Plum on the central green perches Wells Cathedral, an epic endeavour of ecclesiastical architecture raised as England's first Gothic cathedral between 1175 and 1490. Alongside runs Vicar's Close, one of the only intact residential medieval streets left in Britain, with the moated Bishop's Palace close by. All that adds up to the full five stars for Wells' cultural attractions.

Better still, it's walkable: England's smallest city has a historic core that's hardly a mile wide.

Our research

In November 2018, Which? members completed an online survey about UK towns and cities they’d visited for leisure purposes in the past year and stayed in for at least one night. We reported on 6,934 experiences. The city score is based on a combination of overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending it to a friend or family member. Only cities that were reviewed by at least 30 people are included.

 

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