The city of Cambridge is a university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia, on the River Cam, about 50 miles (80 km) north of London. According to the United Kingdom Census 2011, its population was 123,867 (including 24,488 students). This makes Cambridge the second largest city in Cambridgeshire after Peterborough, and the 54th largest in the United Kingdom. There is archaeological evidence of settlement in the area during the Bronze Age and Roman times; under Viking rule Cambridge became an important trading centre. The first town charters were granted in the 12th century, although city status was not conferred until 1951.
The Viking city of York is one of the most popular destinations in the UK outside of London, and for good reason. The daunting and dazzling York Minster is one of England’s biggest and finest cathedrals, the Jorvik Viking Centre lets you dive head first into medieval Viking life, and there’s a whole host of other activities to keep you busy for days. If you have time, check out York Dungeons, York Maze, Clifford’s Tower, York Castle Museum, and the National Railway Museum.
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Newcastle is home to some of the best nightlife in the UK, as well as a diverse population with a rich heritage and an even richer accents. Founded as a Roman port some 2,000 years ago, one must see attraction is Hardrian’s Wall, built by the Romans to defend their colony against Pictish tribes. Another well known monument is the Angel of the North, an iconic roadside sculpture. In the city itself, Grainger Town is the picturesque medieval heart of the city.
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This stunning medieval city is the jewel in Scotland’s crown, and ever popular with visitors. Edinburgh Castle sits right in the centre on top of a craggy hill overlooking everything below, with Greyfriars Kirkyard and Mary King’s Close providing plenty more insights into this city’s spooky, creepy history. The Edinburgh arts festival in August is one of the best in the world and not to be missed.
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Often perceived as remote and isolated from the rest of Scotland (and the world), Aberdeen is in fact a thriving cosmopolitan city and well worth a visit. Situated on the North West coast, it has an intriguing maritime history and its Maritime museum is a must see. Other attractions include the stately granite architecture of Union Street, the quaint and charming atmosphere of the old town, and if the weather is agreeable, there’s always Aberdeen beach too.
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Marketed as the ‘Gateway to the Highlands’, Inverness is a picturesque town on the banks of the river Ness. There are many walks to take along the leafy river bank, leading up to the magnificent Inverness castle and beyond to the Ness islands or the Calendonian Canal towpath. Golfing, cycling, and watersports are popular activities, and this town is also home to the biggest myth of all; the Loch Ness Monster. Go searching if you dare!
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Sandwiched between the stunning Loch Linnhe and the foothills of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, Fort William is simply unforgettable. The town makes an excellent base for hiking either Ben Nevis or the surrounding Munroes, or for the less outdoorsy types, a cruise along Loch Linnhe is a great way to relax and spot some local wildlife (don’t worry, there’s no monster in this one). The Jacobite steam train to Mallaig is also a throwback to days gone by.
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Known as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’, Oban is a seaside town on Scotland’s western coast. Regarded as the seafood capital of the country, it’s a true foodie heaven (and not bad for whisky fans either). Use the town as a base to explore the isles by boat, or check out some of the local attractions; McCaig’s Tower offers stunning views, and there are a handful of other historical castles and museums in the area too.
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The biggest city in Scotland and the third biggest in the UK, Glasgow really is a vibrant metropolis (despite what their biggest rivals – Edinburgh residents – may say). Once the centre of the UK’s industrial revolution, Glasgow is now brimming with world class museums, art galleries, and architecture both old and new. It’s also got a booming music scene, and you shouldn’t leave without checking out at least one live venue.
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Harrogate is not considered to be one of the tourist heavy-hitters of England, but it’s still a pleasant stop off on your way to bigger and better things (like the nearby Lake District). This is part of ‘Herriot Country’, where author James Herriott lived and worked. Betty’s Tearooms in the centre of town are a popular attraction and one of the Queen’s favourites – so be prepared to queue! The Valley Gardens are also a great place to spend a pleasant afternoon.
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Where to begin? London is not just the biggest and best tourist destination in the UK, it’s one of the best in the world too. Oozing history, culture, prestige, style, and everything else in between, this city should not be missed. Shop til you drop on Oxford street, stuff yourself silly with fish and chips, catch a West End show, get a glimpse of the Queen at Buckingham Palace, hear Big Ben chime at noon – the list is endless!
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