Bridge of Sighs, Cambridge
Bridge of Sighs, Cambridge

For your next trip to the UK, you should stay away from the crowds in London and the hipsters in Brighton. It’s time to forge your own path. This collection of some of my favourite under-the-radar destinations in the UK should help spark your imagination.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England

To most, Newcastle is a student town and the pint prices show it! Besides having a lively, if young, nightlife, there are plenty of other activities a person staying in Newcastle can take part in. Head to the BALTIC, Newcastle’s Centre for Contemporary Art. The BALTIC was once a grain store, but now it rivals London’s Tate Modern for the calibre of artists it exhibits. Head to the outdoor platform on the fourth floor or the viewing box on the fifth floor for scenic views of the River Tyne. Other interesting sites include the Victoria Tunnel and Bessie Surtees House—great for a little historical and architectural exploration.

Chester, England

Chester is home to some of the best preserved Roman walls in the UK. The 2,000 year-old walls are made of local red sandstone walls. They line the town and divide the old historic heart of the city from the newer areas. The wall will take you past a recreated Roman garden and views of the River Dee and the Welsh mountains in the distance. Chester’s shopping area, The Rows, has two levels with staircases and wooden walkways taking you between local artisanal shops and boutiques. Find a place to stay in Chester here!

Oxford, England

Cambridge college
One of the colleges I will never attend

Oxford isn’t just a university town! There are cute cafés, riverside restaurants, and interesting activities. One thing I recommend trying is punting—this traditional boating activity is sure to give you a workout. Careful not to fall in the water! Take your punt to one of the Oxford college lawns and have a picnic with the students before continuing on.

Hounslow, England

Technically Hounslow is a part of London, but it’s really a suburb of the city. I became familiar with Hounslow because of the movie Bend it Like Beckham but this suburban borough has much more to offer than a film credit. The Great Conservatory in Syon Park dates back to 1830 and actually pre-dates Kew Garden’s Palm House and Crystal Palace in South London. Head to the Royal Mail sorting office on London Road to see where Pocahontas (the real one!) lived in 1616-17 with John Rolfe. With riverside pubs and historical treasures, a visit to Hounslow is bound to be an interesting one!

Aberdeen, Scotland

This port city in northeast Scotland is booming because of its oil industry but it’s still overshadowed by Glasgow and Edinburgh. For an extended visit, there isn’t too much going on in terms of culture in Aberdeen (especially for young people) but the area offers excellent skiing, dolphin spotting, and unique gardens. Head to the Castle Fraser—it was built in 1575 and houses an art gallery and antique furniture.

If you’re a fan of the unconventional, these UK destinations are sure to get you off the tourist trail and on to a travel experience that’s all your own.

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