If you have explored the sights mentioned in my previous post, or are simply looking for more engaging ones, explore the 4 cities mentioned here. The rule of the game stays the same. Grab your camera, sports shoes, and a few friends and head out to explore what the UK can offer you to grab within a day.
A two hour train ride, costing about £45 would get you to the Welsh Capital of Cardiff. A seemingly small, simple city, Cardiff has beautiful countryside and English ruins. Start your day at the Cardiff Castle and climb up to the Viewing Tower to view the city as a whole. The Castle is located close to St. Mary’s street which is an old, typical Welsh street, filled with eateries, pubs and souvenir shops. The highlight of my trip was the Wales Art Gallery which is housed in a street full of old, important, beautiful state buildings. The Gallery currently has on display an exhibition of the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and I can promise you even the non-artists would have a grand time staring at his sketches of human anatomy. The Cardiff Bay, about a 25 minute walk from the Old City is a pleasant change. It houses of course the Roald Dahl Plaza and the beautiful Millennium Centre, but what caught my eye was the National Assembly Building, an architectural marvel that allows you to see exactly how transparent the decision making is in the city. Next to it stretches the Mermaid Quay, a beautiful pier with amazing restaurants. Come here in the evening and for a fun, relaxed stroll. Do look out for the art installations as you walk around.
A must-do on the list of all UK Visitors, it’s almost criminal to miss out on the day trip. At £15 a ticket, you will be in Salisbury, the gateway to Stonehenge in an hour and a half. It’s a good idea to book a bus ticket which includes the tickets to Stonehenge and the Salisbury Cathedral as it really is a saving. As you arrive at the Salisbury station, take the bus which starts from right outside and sit back. The bus will take you through the city of Salisbury directly to Stonehenge all the while talking of the history and importance of Stonehenge. In almost 30 minutes, you will arrive at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre. Grab your audio guides without fail as otherwise it really is just a collection of free standing rocks. It takes about an hour to do the whole round of the Stonehenge with the audio guides. I would advise you to start from London early as it’s better to enjoy the view with the sun over you. From the Visitor Centre, take the bus back to Salisbury, another little University town. Grab lunch in the city but do not leave without visiting the Cathedral. It’s beautiful and houses the Magna Carta, the first constitution of the world. Return back to the station to ride back to London.
This is honestly more of a half day trip but ends up being a full day trip if you’re headed out with your friends on a sunny day. It just takes 30 minutes and £7.50 to reach Windsor from London. As a compulsory tip, please buy your tickets for the Windsor Castle in advance, online as there are always long, long queues to buy the tickets as the place is frequented by lots of visitors everyday. The castle is still inhabited regularly by the royal family so the amount of access depends on the day. What’s outside the castle is much more prettier than what is inside. The castle gardens are long, beautiful, lush, and just idyllic. You can often see people lounging around, picnicking in the vast grounds. On a sunny day, it really is so relaxing to just lay in the grass. It is free and so you can just go here if you don’t want to buy a ticket to the castle. There really isn’t much more to see here around the castle but a little outside the city lie 2 extremely interesting attractions – Legoland and Eton College. Personally, I found the tickets to Legoland slightly expensive so do check the prices in advance and make time for it as it is about 30 minutes away from Windsor. If you aren’t yet tired of Oxford and Cambridge (I wasn’t), check out Eton College, the College for UK Royalty.
This is usually on top of everyone’s lists when they come to the UK and so it made sense to put it here, though to be honest, I personally did not enjoy it as much. With £20 you will find yourself on an hour and a half long train to Bath Spa. The city houses the University, the Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent (fun fact, this is where the elusive shoe designer Manalo Blahnik now resides) and is home to the life and works of Jane Austen. The Roman baths have a tour that you need to book for and again it is really advisable to book this in advance as there is a long queue for the tickets on the day. The tour is typically an hour long and self paced so you can walk around, click pictures and more. For me, the city sightseeing bus was quite useful as there were many sights within the city that I wasn’t aware of that the tour talked about. Additionally, the tour talked of the history and the culture of Baths in the city which made more sense to me when I roamed around the spaces after hearing their particular role. The Royal Crescent is a residential building and a photo spot. The market street runs as a central spine and has a nice courtyard feel to it, and is fun to walk around. For literature fanatics like me, the city has many spots from the novels of Jane Austen, as well as from her life personally. The city sightseeing bus does talk about them. Alternatively, you could download a list or a map of those sights online.