Stuck for ideas for how to spend this year’s long weekends? Why not spend a night or two in one of this nation’s remarkable cities? The UK’s age and heritage can be seen in so many of its settlements, and taking a bit of time to explore some of the more impressive places is a truly worthwhile way to spend a bit of free time.
Here are three top picks for those in search of a short break full of history and cluture:
Edinburgh, the capital of our northern neighbour, is renowned around the world for its beauty and culture. Aesthetically and architecturally it is perhaps the most striking city in the whole of the UK. Attracting a million tourists every year, a figure that is second only to London, which, considering its size (seventh most populous in the country), represents a testament to its beauty.
The city’s age can be felt while strolling around its network of ornate little streets. The historic centre is sliced through the middle by the beautiful, luscious Princes Street Gardens, dividing the Old Town from the New Town. The latter was built mostly in the Eighteenth Century and displays the power and confidence of the Georgian era. The Old Town still has a palpable medieval presence and is dominated by the impressive structure of Edinburgh castle, which sits majestically on top of an extinct volcano.
As well as taking in the sights and history, the capital is packed with things to do and interesting ways to spend your time. Edinburgh’s varied spectrum of shops and boutiques will keep the most hardcore shopaholics satisfied. For foodies, the city’s restaurant scene is second to none. For a truly amazing way to spend one of your weekend breaks, Edinburg is a top choice.
Bath is a hugely popular city, nestled in the rolling hills of southwest England.
Although a small settlement through the bronze and iron ages, Bath really took off and began to thrive during the lengthy Roman occupation of ancient Britain. Attracted to the area by abundant natural resources, the Romans closed in on the site due to the remarkable natural hot springs, which, at the time of invasion were treated as a shrine by the ancient Britons. They settled around the springs and built temples for their Goddess Minerva. The famous Baths, from which the city gets its name, are supplied by natural and hot water from these natural springs and are one of the most famous historical tourist attractions in the country.
Pulteney Bridge, a fantastic artefact of previous ages, is also well worth a visit. It has been designated a Grade I site of historical importance and is one of the very few bridges in the world that is lined with little boutiques, shops and stalls. A walk down the crowded roadway, all hustle and bustle, will transport you back to the Eighteenth Century, the enchanting period in which it was constructed.
Bath Cathedral too, is not to be missed. Like most of the cityscape, it is built out of the characteristic, brown-grey Bath stone that so strongly reflects sunlight, giving the city an open, light and breezy quality. It is one of the largest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture in southwest England.
Perhaps most famous for its University which is (arguably) the third oldest in the country after Oxbridge, the history of this beautiful city can be seen in its refined buildings and architecture.
Archaeological evidence suggests that human settlement of the area first took place as far back as 2000 years B.C. The roots of the city as we know it today, however, can be traced back to about 995 A.D., when a small chapter of monks, looking after the dead body of St Cuthbert, a bishop from Lindisfarne, decided to settle due to the area’s strategic significance. They were seeking protection from the fearsome raids of hordes of Scandinavian warriors – the infamous Vikings.
Durham was a major centre of William the Conqueror’s vicious suppression campaigns in the north of England, known as the ‘Harrying of the North.’ The intimidating castle built by the Normans in 1072 stands as a reminder of Norman authority and oppression. It still stands today and is the only castle never to have been breached in the United Kingdom.
For the rest of the medieval period, Durham remained a significant religious centre, until, in 1538, Henry VIII’s soldiers smashed the shrine of St Cuthbert during first stages of the slap-dash English Reformation.
The University was founded in the early Nineteenth Century and was arguably the first to be built since Cambridge, about six hundred years before. It remains one of the most prestigious in the country and is one of the few collegiate campuses that remain. The University lends the city an air of sophistication and glamour as well an array of impressive facilities including several museums and theatres.
To really appreciate and take in the atmosphere of Durham’s enigmatic streets you really have to visit yourself. The city is at its most special during autumn time, try and pay it a visit for a long weekend this year!
Best Western Hotels have a large selection of hotels in Durham, Bristol, Edinburg and around the UK.