While far from the largest country in terms of land mass, the UK is an incredibly diverse nation that caters to all sorts of backpackers. Whether you are a native resident or someone looking to visit from abroad, there’s plenty to discover within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland that you won’t find anywhere else.
Getting around the country can be done easily thanks to extensive public transport links, just remember to buy your train & bus tickets early where possible to maximise savings!
Peak & Lake Districts – You can’t go wrong with either the Peak District or the more northerly Lake District if you are wanting to take your backpack on some long hikes. Both are so vast they could provide you with weeks of exploration, sending you across some quintessential British countryside. The Lake District attracts 16 million visitors a year and a significant portion come to reach the top of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike. The Peak District is by far the easier of the two to reach though as the train line between Manchester and Sheffield cuts right through it, making it more ideal for backpackers.
Edinburgh – It’s not often you have a major city down as a place for nature lovers but Edinburgh is unique in this regard. It has the benefit of being surrounded by masses of hilly greenery known as Holyrood Park. The main peak, Arthur’s Seat, can easily be reached on foot from the city centre and the views from the top overlooking the city are incredible. Scotland’s capital also boasts a fantastic botanical gardens which features around 13000 plant species, the perfect place to spend a sunny day.
Manchester – There is arguably no place better in the north of England to try out the nightlife than Manchester. The city has an incredibly varied music scene and most places stay open into the early hours of the morning. Manchester has been the birthplace of many musical movements over the decades and it’s where many great bands have originated from including The Smith, Oasis and The Stone Roses. Two universities in the city ensure there are plenty of places to grab cheap drinks too on every day of the week.
Brighton – There’s no place quite like Brighton in the UK, the wonderfully quirky city is full of colourful and bursting with life. After spending a day by the traditional Victorian pier or shopping down the hip boutique stores of the Lanes, it’s time to get ready for Brighton’s vibrant and unique night-life scene. The heavy bass party clubs are lined-up down West Street while not far away you can find Jazz Bars, classic English pubs, cosy cocktail bars or even comedy gigs.
Liverpool – Discover all about the Beatles at the world’s largest exhibition devoted to the Liverpool formed rock band. The Beatles Story museum is located on Albert Dock, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and provides a fantastic afternoon out even if you aren’t even a big fan of their music. Football is a huge part of British culture and in Liverpool there are two historic stadiums to visit, Anfield & Goodison Park, either for a live match or a stadium tour. If you have time, be sure to head down to the Museum of Liverpool (free entry) to explore the city’s fascinating and diverse history.
London – While having a reputation for being expensive, London can be seen on a budget if done right. There are an abundance of hostels offering cheap beds for the night and many of the top attractions have free admission. Places like the British Museum, Natural History Museum, National Gallery and Imperial War Museum cost nothing to visit and will keep you busy for hours on end. In terms of sights, you will want to get a good look at the formidable House of Parliament and its famous tower clock, Big Ben. The majestic Buckingham Palace, home of the Royal Family, is also an absolute must and it’s here where you can witness the Changing of the Guard.
Stratford-upon-Avon – While nowhere near as well-known as other places on this list, the market town attracts approximately 2.5m visitors every year. A large reason behind this is that Stratford was the birthplace of the William Shakespeare and his former home has since been formed into a top attraction. The 16th century half-timbered house has been subject to some fantastic restoration work and this is also true of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife. The delightful farmhouse is located one mile west of the town centre in the wonderful village of Shottery.
York – There are few better places for a slow-paced day or two than York which is an incredibly easy place to reach by train. The walled city is compact in size meaning that once there, you can see all the major sights on foot including walking around the walls themselves. The towering York Minister cannot be missed, quite literally, while next to it stands the remains of the 11th century St Mary’s Abbey. Fascinating in a rather different way are The Shambles, the narrow lanes in the city centre with a history dating back to medieval times. When there, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you had stepped into a time machine that had sent you into to the Elizabethan era.
Bath – One of the most popular day-trips for anyone based in London and for good reason too. Bath offers you a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the capital and many people end up falling in love with this beautiful old town. It’s best known for its stunning Roman-built baths which can be seen up close but there are other attractions too such as the sweeping Royal Crescent and Bath Abbey. Bath is also one of the starting points for Stonehenge tours and the entire trip will take around four hours.