Here at SuperBreak we’re passionate about our short breaks, and are always keen to recommend the very best things to do and places to stay. But barely a blog post goes by without us banging on about how wonderful York is, how cultural an Edinburgh break can be – and don’t even get us started about London!
Wonderful and cultural though these short break destinations may be, it’s high time we highlighted some of the forgotten quarters of our country, and the city break destinations that we tend to overlook. How better to celebrate our favourite season than to enjoy it in one of the country’s top alternative city break destinations!
Home to one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta, Lincoln Castle leads the celebrations for the 800th year anniversary of the signing of this important and world-famous document in 2015, with its own special exhibition. For fabulous views of the city, be sure to walk around the castle walls when you visit. The gorgeously gothic Lincoln Cathedral was consecrated by William the Conqueror in the 11th century; see if you can find the memorial statue to poet Lord Tennyson and, of course, the infamous stone carving of the Lincoln Imp. If you’re on a family break, be sure to visit the free-to-enter Natural World Centre nearby, and spend some time shopping on Bailgate in the Cathedral Quarter. Walk down (and not up!) Steep Hill, recently named Britain’s best street, and explore the area by Lincoln’s pretty waterfront too.
Often losing out to the more metropolitan Newcastle or the more family-friendly York, Durham is a wonderful choice for a historical city break with a difference. The cobbled streets of the centre can be a little unforgiving, but it’s worth braving them to discover the stunning architecture this famous University city is home to; the gothic cathedral, the Norman castle, and the University itself are all well worth a visit. Go down to the Wear riverside to take in a gorgeous aspect of both the castle and cathedral. And make use too of the great location of our Durham hotels as a base in the north-east – take in a cricket game at Chester-Le-Street, walk up the Durham Heritage Coast, or take a drive to see the iconic Angel of the North.
Shropshire’s county town has a proud history and heritage, and almost every street looks like a picture-postcard. Incredibly, Shrewsbury is home to over 600 listed buildings – including its distinctive red sandstone castle, now a museum – and the pretty Shrewsbury Abbey is one of the region’s finest old buildings. The town is also something of a pilgrimage site for nature-lovers, particularly when the annual Shrewsbury Flower Show is held in the town; reconnect with the great outdoors in the gorgeous 29-acre parkland The Quarry, or take a walk or a cruise up the River Severn which loops around the city centre. If you’re not in town when Shrewsbury celebrates the life of its most famous son (at the Charles Darwin Festival in February), then seek out Darwin’s statue outside the town library.
As one of the biggest cities in the UK, it’s astounding that Sheffield gets overlooked as a top city break destination. There are lots of great reasons to visit. Sheffield has one of the best theatres in the UK outside of London – The Crucible – which, helmed by Artistic Director Dan Evans, regularly produces plays and musicals of the highest quality. It’s also home to the World Snooker Championships – the most prestigious event in the sport. The vibrant city centre has been given a facelift in recent years, and has been restored to its former glory, and the shopping here and at the fab Meadowhall Shopping Centre is as good as it gets in the region. Ideal for a short break, our hotels in Sheffield are also right on the doorstep of the breath-taking Peak District should you want to escape the urban jungle for a day or two.
Brimming with history and things to do, the county town of Devon makes for a wonderful city break destination. The endlessly impressive Exeter Cathedral is of course a must-see, and if you get the chance then you should definitely catch a race or two at the always-thrilling Exeter Racecourse. Being a highly popular University city, Exeter is something of a cultural hub too; the Royal Albert Memorial Museum is well worth a visit, and the grounds of Rougemont Castle play host to some of the country’s best-renowned open-air performances of Shakespeare every year. Our hotels in and around Exeter include many wonderful properties in spitting distance of the region’s best outdoor pursuits – take a walk along the UNESCO-protected Jurassic Coast, or explore the rural playground that is Dartmoor National Park.
Staying on the south coast, last but by no means least we have Portsmouth – a fine city break destination with a stunning summer climate and a great things to do year-round. It’s Portsmouth’s naval history that is perhaps the biggest draw for tourists here; set your eyes on some of the country’s most famous historical ships including the Tudor Mary Rose, the HMS Warrior, and Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory – the world’s oldest naval ship still in commission. Other attractions include the distinctive Spinnaker Tower, where you can take in fab views from the observation decks, and the birthplace of Charles Dickens.
We’ve been inspired by some of the choices of the interviewees in our video ‘What Does a Short Break Mean to You?’ which you can watch here…
Where would you recommend for a city break off the beaten track? Suggest us somewhere in the comments section below!