The UK is not only a place with excellent universities but also an amazing destination to visit: it has stunning sceneries, medieval castles and landmarks, and last but not least, dazzling nightlife and a fabulous live music scene.
Although the country has a bad reputation when it comes to weather, this shouldn’t be an obstacle. When it’s rainy and cold, the UK offers you a lot of indoor activities, having countless ways of surprising you with its exquisite museums, pubs, and restaurants. The sunny days are made for outdoor activities such as exploring botanical gardens, natural parks, ancient remains or medieval cathedrals.
Travelling around the UK is very easy given that it is well connected by various forms of transport. All you have to do is to choose what city to begin with because the possibilities are endless and depend mostly on your interests. The UK is generous to all history enthusiasts, nature lovers, hikers, and seaside fans. Below we suggest 15 cities to visit as a student in the UK.
London can be a pretty affordable city to visit as a student, and it has so many unmissable things to see and to do that you must put it at the top of your list.
As a first-time visitor, you should not miss the well-known Big Ben (or Elisabeth Tour), The London Eye (or the Millenium Wheel) and The Tower of London. After admiring these emblematic landmarks of the entire British culture, you can proceed to the next level and explore the Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, and The Natural History Museum.
If you plan your visit ahead, you will surely make this a memorable trip. The first thing you need to do is to buy a London Pass, as it usually covers the major attractions in London.
Ranked greenest city in UK, in 2019, Edinburgh brings together amazing landscapes, stunning medieval landmarks, and modern architecture. You just have to choose what you want to visit: a bit of the New Town, with its buzzing atmosphere or a bit of the Old Town, blessed with one of the most iconic and historical buildings and streets. Or maybe you can have both in one shot by choosing to visit Edinburgh Castle, which is part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh.
You can easily feed your curiosity here by visiting The National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Even if you are not that much into museums, these two will probably make you reconsider your hobbies.
If you want an outdoor activity, you can just climb up the Arthur Seat and take a stroll through Holyrood Park. Here you will be amazed by the 360 grade brilliant view over the city. Arthur’s seat is basically an ancient volcano that sits 251 m above sea level, so reaching its top should be exciting. However, for a more unconventional way to learn about Edinburgh, you can try The Edinburgh Dungeons, which will provide you with a rare and unique experience.
Oxford should definitely be on the top of your list ov cities to visit in the UK. It is mostly known as having the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Although it’s a place with great history, which offered the world brilliant minds, the University of Oxford is not the only thing worth visiting in the small city of Oxford.
Explore Oxford by foot and be delighted to discover The Eagle and the Child Pub, where the Inklings (Tolkien among them) used to meet to discuss their writings. Then, The Oxford University Museum should be the next pinpoint on your Oxford map, as it holds spectacular collections with life-size dinosaur skeletons. Also, if you are a Harry Potter fan, some of its filming locations, such as The Bodleian Library and the Christ Church, are a must-see.
For a different experience, explore the Cowley Road, which is filled with bars, restaurants, shops, usually featuring live music at night. Don't forget to make a stop to the Atomic Burger to relish a delightful burger and to enjoy its pop flavors.
Cambridge is another must-see for students because of its reputation as a famous centre of academia and learning. But this is not the only thing that puts Cambridge on the list of top cities to see.
The Cambridge Botanical Garden is literally a green oasis in the centre of Cambridge and you should not be missing it. Punting under the Mathematical Bridge is a must-try activity as well, as it represents the quintessence of Cambridge life. It offers you stunning views over the city. The old iconic buildings are another highlight of Cambridge, so you can climb up Great St Mary’s Church Tower to enjoy the panoramic view.
Cambridge is also a bicycle-friendly city, so you can just plan a cycle journey to enjoy a ride around the city.
Manchester has a vibrant student life, and therefore, it figures on the top list of cities to study and live in the UK. Being such a dynamic city, there is no way to get bored visiting it as you will always find something to do, something to attend, or something to try. Being the home to popular bands such (Oasis, The Smiths, and the Stone Roses, to mention just a few), Manchester is rich in musical events, and many usually take place at the Deaf Institute, Albert Hall, or the Manchester Arena.
But we can’t say Manchester and not think about footbal! The city being the home to both Manchester United and Manchester City football clubs.
Travelling to Manchester is also a good idea if you plan to go on an extended holiday in the Peak District National Park. It gives you easy access to the surrounding area, due to its excellent transport links.
Holding two of the Premier League Football teams (Liverpool FC and Everton BC) and having such an important musical heritage (Beatles), Liverpool almost needs no description. However, you’ll be surprised how many other places are to be discovered here.
The Walker Art Gallery is representative of Liverpool’s art and culture scene because it has collections of paintings, sculptures, and decorative art dating from the 13th century to nowadays.
Liverpool gained the status of UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004, due to its 19th and 20th-century buildings. You should definitely visit some of them, such as The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building, and the Port of Liverpool Building.
For more diverse, “out of the box” activities, you can take your friends and try to a Coverstar experience or go to relax for free on the beach.
Wales' capital is surely a must-see, given the number of Welsh pubs that are notoriously famous for their lively atmosphere. It is well known that people from here are very friendly, and this reflects also on the fact that the Student’s Union of Cardiff University is one of the top 3 in the UK, having more than 200 clubs and societies.
As a visitor, you should consider Cardiff Castle, placed in the heart of the city, and the National Gallery of Wales, which contains impressive art collections, such as paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and silver. Another good choice during your trip here would be to take a walk in Roath Park, the first public park opened in Cardiff, just to feel its unique Victorian vibe.
Cardiff is friendly with the adventure seekers and sports enthusiasts as well, offering various experiences to both beginners and professional adventurers. Check Cardiff International White Water for more details.
Glasgow is the place where modern meets traditional. For this mix of culture and for its hip and vibrant vibe, you should visit it at any cost.
The city centre’s street art is amazing to see: the urban artworks almost bring to life all its walls and corners. No wonder in 2022 Glasgow has been ranked the 4th best city in the UK for street art. You should also know that you can benefit anytime from free walking tours organised by Visit Scotland.
The Glasgow Cathedral is another work of art in itself, one that takes you through medieval times, and it’s well worth a visit. It’s known as being the only medieval building that remained intact in Scotland after the Protestant Reformation. Along with it, the architecture of Charlie Mackintosh, such as the Lighthouse, The Willow Tea Rooms, and Queen’s Cross Church should not be missed.
And finally, because Glasgow was the UK’s first UNESCO City of Music, you might want to catch some live music performance on one of its famous venues like The Barrowlands or King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. Or maybe you can just book a music city tour to find out more about Glasgow’s legendary scene.
York has a rich history and a complex tradition, and is a top city to study and visit alike. After all, the University of York is one of the top universities in the UK.
Your trip to York might very well begin with a two hours tour along the York Walls, a visit to one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, York Minister, which is the third-highest office of the Church of England and has breathtaking views. Consider a walk on the Shambles, one of the oldest shopping streets in Europe, where you can admire buildings dating back from 14th and 15th centuries .
And because no trip to York would be complete without tasting their famous chocolate, it is certainly worth taking a York Chocolate Tour, paying a visit to York Chocolate story and making a stop at Terry’s Sweet shop, at the York Castle Museum. York is also known for chocolate names like Rowntree’s and Terry’s, both famous for their large factories in the 20th century. So most probably, you won’t want to miss its sweetest side.
Bath is by far one of the best places to visit in the UK during the summer holiday. Its Roman Baths with hot natural springs, A UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracts tourists from all over the world.
The Georgian Architecture, featuring the iconic Royal Crescent, represents another point of attraction that you don’t want to skip. With such beautiful architectural landmarks, it’s no surprise that the University of Bath has been ranked the number one place to study Marketing and Architecture in the UK.
Besides all the above, there is plenty to do if you want to have fun, like trying the BathEscape experience for an interactive thriller adventure.
Despite its medieval architecture, which could take you into historical old times, Canterbury has a youthful vibe due to its lively community of students. Being the home to multiple major universities, the city counts over 20,000 students today.
In Canterbury, you can walk on the Burgate street (or St Margaret Street), mesmerised by their historic buildings, or you can just try the Escape Kent, which has been ranked the city’s number one activity. Of course, in any of these scenarios, a visit to the Canterbury Cathedral is mandatory as it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, due to its architecture, which is a stunning mixture of Romanesque and perpendicular Gothic styles. Students have free entrance based on their ID.
You can end your trip to Canterbury by taking a creative shot at Houdini’s Magic Bar, where you have the opportunity to attend magic performances that will blow you away.
Due to its long maritime history, Southampton is still an important city with a well-developed touristic side. It is known for many things, such as the Titanic Story, but also for being England's busiest port for transatlantic passengers.
To find out more details about the Titanic story, you can visit the Seacity Museum, which features an interactive model of the Titanic, as well as recorded messages from its passengers. After an exciting history lesson, you can proceed with a well-deserved time at the Engine Rooms, where you can always catch some live music.
Among Southampton’s many impressive old buildings you should consider the Tudor House and Gardens, and the Bargate fortress. You shouldn’t miss The City Walls as they are the witnesses of a very important part of Southampton’s history which began in 1180.
Nottingham holds the UK’s largest network of caves, so you really should save some time to spend in the City of Caves, exploring its underground life. After discovering the underground side of Nottingham, it is worth knowing its dark side, by visiting the Galleries of Justice. It is a museum dedicated to crime and punishment where you can easily book a terror tour, just to get more familiar with the place.
The next thing to do is to pay a visit to Nottingham Castle, which was originally a Norman Castle, built one year after the Norman Conquest (the last successful conquest of England that took place in 1066) and rebuilt several times throughout the ages.
Exploring Sherwood Forest should be also on your to-do list, as it represents a unique habitat for wildlife, being the home to the legend of Robinhood.
Last but not least, you will want to spend a special night at the oldest Pub in England, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, which has a long history dating back to 1189AD.
Attracting students from all over the world, Leeds is without doubt a student-friendly city, given the affordable cost of living, the fantastic nightlife and the student culture. However, given its historical streets and Victorian-Era buildings that are to be found around the city centre, it could be said that it is suitable for any age, any taste, and any budget.
In Leeds you will surely want to see the Victoria Quarter which is the most famous shopping arcade. Leeds also has one of the biggest urban parks in Europe, Roundhay Park, so taking a stroll here should be on your to-do list.
Other charming places that should not be missed from your radar are Call Lane, Merrion Street and Greek Street, which are known for their colourful and wildest bars.
Sometimes, small cities are more surprising and charming than big cities. This is also the case of Newcastle, which boasts a rich culture and an amazing nightlife. That’s precisely what students want, right?
With its amazing coastline, Newcastle will instantly make you feel the holiday vibe. If the weather is by your side, you can enjoy some quality time on the Quayside Seaside with your friends. Another relaxation spot in Newcastle is the Exhibition Park, which is not far from Jesmond, a popular area known for its high-class nightlife.
While you are here, it is also imperative to visit the Newcastle Castle and to take a lazy walk on Grey Street, just to find out more about the history of this small city with such a huge heritage.