8 Places That You Need to Visit in Great Britain and Northern Ireland Right Now

8 Places That You Need to Visit in Great Britain and Northern Ireland Right Now

Britain. Home of fish and chips, Afternoon Tea, Big Ben, The Royal Family and Red telephone boxes.

A quintessential visit includes the delights of London, Edinburgh and perhaps a bit of countryside for good measure of course.

We all love the classics. And you should absolutely keep them on your wish list. But Britain packs a lot in for its relatively small size and some of the best experiences exist in places off the typical tourist trail.

 

Here’s our pick of some lesser-known spots that might just take your next British adventure to whole other level whatever you travel for.

1. Margate for culture

Looking for a super-cool retro vibe from beach destination just 90 minutes by train from London? On the coast of south-east England you’ll find the captivating beachside town of Margate. Reinvented by art and culture, top spots to visit include the exceptional Turner Contemporary gallery; the mysterious and utterly photogenic Shell Grotto, a subterranean passageway 21 metres long adorned with 4.6 million shells laid out in a myriad decorative patterns; and kitsch amusement park Dreamland where you revisit classic childhood rollercoasters while appreciating interactive art installations before strapping on some roller boots and hitting the retro roller disco.

Can’t go now?

In 2019 Margate – specifically Turner Contemporary – will host one of the best known prizes in the visual arts in the world, its namesake the Turner Prize.

 

2. Malton for food and drink

The town of Malton, half an hour’s drive from York (or just under three hours from London), has been described as Yorkshire’s Food Capital – and it certainly lives up to that title thanks to its vast range of incredible local produce and restaurants; in fact, there’s a ‘Made in Malton’ brand, a group of artisan food and drink producers in the town. Visit a bunch of them as you wander the town or book onto an artisan produce tour offered by the Malton Cookery School, which takes in bakeries, breweries, pie shops and coffee roasteries. One newest tours is the ‘Malton Food Tour – Gin O’Clock’, designed for people ‘with a sweet tooth who love their gin’. You’ll sample six different gins, a selection of Made in Malton producers and tour Malton’s new Gin Distillery.

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Plan your visit around one Yorkshire many foodie-centric events such the Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb, York Chocolate Festival or Malton’s very own Food Lovers Festival.

 

3. County Down for adventure

If majestic mountains, a tranquil lough, pretty coastal villages and Michelin-rated restaurants pique your interest then County Down needs to be added to your list. Accessible within an hour of Belfast, it’s also a huge playground for adventurers. Blokart – also known as land sailing – or kitesurf at Tyrella beach; coasteer at Ballyhorn; ascend a river while wet bouldering at the picturesque Bloody-Bridge in Newcastle; or mountain bike trail around Castle Ward estate, also known as Winterfell, home of House Stark in Game of Thrones! And if striking landscapes, lakes and wonderful wildlife are your thing, then set off for the majestic Mountains of Mourne, inspiration for C.S. Lewis’ ‘Narnia’.

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When better to go visit the set of the aforementioned fantasy juggernaut than 2019 when the series final comes to its dramatic climax?!

 

4. Peckham for fun

Pulsating with a dynamic vibe, east London is a hotbed of creativity across its neighbourhoods, with Peckham proving one of the most intriguing. Creating a name for itself as a hotbed of street artist talent; make sure you keep a look out as you explore the area for its emerging graffiti art scene. You’ll discover diverse creative art events, music, film, comedy and theatre at the brilliant CLF Art Café; a multi-purpose, artistic space and foodie and nightlife destination, Peckham Levels (also home to top-floor bar Frank’s Café which offers gorgeous panoramic views of the capital’s skyline); and eat at pared-down joins such as  Peckham Refreshment Rooms, Peckham Bazaar or West Kitchen. When a day of doing is done visit Four Quarters, London’s first arcade bar, then dance the night away at its basement cocktail bar and club, The Confession Box.

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2019 is the perfect time to visit East London, and more specifically north East’s Waltham Forest which will be London’s inaugural Borough of Culture, with much of the action focused on emerging Walthamstow.

 

5. The Llyn Peninsula for relaxation

Picturesque beaches, a laid-back vibe and a pleasant micro-climate mean the Llyn Peninsula in Wales has been a popular seaside resort since the end of the 19th century. A three hour drive from Manchester, it’s a brilliant spot for surfing and sea-kayaking, thanks to the considerable swells at Hell’s Mouth (Porth Niegwl) yet it’s also home to fantastic beaches such as Abersoch. The waters off Abersoch are great for sailing in too – or you can go seal spotting on a boat trip off St Tudwal’s Island – its beaches are dotted with brightly painted beach huts for those all-important photos. A truly unique spot close to the peninsula is Portmeirion; inspired by classic Italian resorts, Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis designed and built the resort between 1925 and 1975. With its Italianesque architecture and multi-coloured cottages, it was famously used as the location for cult 1960s TV show The Prisoner.

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It’s not exactly relaxing, but if you want to see the town of Portmerion truly come to life, arrange your visit to coincide with Festival No.6, largely considered to be one of the best and most unique music festivals in the British summer festival calendar.

 

6. Dundee for discoveries

Dundee is one of the best destinations in Europe to visit in 2018 according to Lonely Planet and there are myriad of reasons why this Scottish city – just over an hour by train from Edinburgh on Scotland’s east coast – deserves this accolade. Its ever-growing cultural scene, the redevelopment of its historic waterfront, the stunning V&A Dundee due to open this September, a variety of art and design galleries, a diverse range of bars and restaurants, a thrilling music and events scene and the fact it was named as the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design… the list goes on!

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If the opening of the first V&A museum outside of London isn’t enough, why not twin a visit in 2019 with Glasgow which is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its own design legend, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

 

7. Bellaghy for the stories

Can you think of anywhere better to uncover unique stories than Northern Ireland? How about Bellaghy, a small town in County Londonderry or colloquially know as Seamus Heaney County. Purportedly the world’s most widely published poet in the English language, Seamus Heaney was born, grew up and is buried in Bellaghy, less than an hour from Belfast, where his life and work is celebrated at HomePlace, a purpose-built arts and literary centre. At the Laurel Villa guest house nearby you’ll find owners who personally knew the great man and now run literary tours esteemed for their authentic, first-hand and professional uncovering of Heaney’s world. The Guardian called them ‘One of the top ten outdoor activities in Ireland’.

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Get your fill of storytelling at Northern Ireland’s leading literary festival, The Belfast Book Festival which takes place in June each year.

 

8. Stockport for the unexpected

A city of culture, sport, music, history, creativity and diversity, Manchester should be on the must-visit list of any traveller to Britain; plus it’s one of the key gateways for daytrips to places like Liverpool, The Lake District, The Peak District, Chester and Cheshire and Yorkshire. However, a ten minute train ride out of the city is barely known Stockport, home to a selection of unique attractions including beer lovers’ Robinsons Brewery Tour; 1930s art deco theatre Stockport Plaza; the iconic Hat Works; and grade II listed 1460’s Staircase House. Out of town there’s historic Etherow Country Park and beautiful Bramhall Hall, whilst Stockport old town is full of independent foodie businesses such as Hatters Coffee Company; no menu concept restaurant Where The Light Gets In; vegan eatery The Allotment; steampunk themed Remedy Bar & Brewhouse; and a monthly street food market, Foodie Friday.

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Did you know that Manchester is home to the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events? The biennial Manchester International Festival brings together world-leading artists to create dynamic, innovative work, often staged in unusual spaces such as old railway depots and car parks, churches, and former warehouses. It returns for two weeks in July 2019.

 

What do you travel for? Find more inspiration at visitbritain.com.

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