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14 of the best places to visit in the UK in 2023

14 of the best places to visit in the UK in 2023


Overseas travel restrictions, airport chaos and flight cancellations have encouraged many Brits to spend their holidays exploring their own backyard over the last few years. Happily, they’ve found that the UK provides more than enough for a varied trip, and there’s plenty more to discover in 2023. There are exciting openings across our cities — from revamped power stations to mould-breaking new hotels — and novel means of exploring the countryside, whether setting off on a physical challenge or going on a wildlife safari. We’ve rounded up our pick of the best destinations to visit in the year ahead, providing new reasons to explore familiar locations and to reconsider overlooked sites.

Main photo: Battersea Roof Gardens (Grain London Ltd)

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1.Liverpool

Within hours of the announcement that Liverpool is to present the Eurovision Song Contest on 13 May 2023, many of its hotels were fully booked – that’s how big a deal it is to be host city. To find out what made it so attractive to the selection committee, begin on the waterfront, exploring the docks that made it one of the richest cities in the world in the 19th century. The Museum of Liverpool tells the story. Of course, this is a place synonymous with music, and Beatles fans will have an absolute field day roaming sites connected to the Fab Four. Not one to rest on its laurels, the city has a slew of music venues promoting new and local talent – ​​try the Invisible Wind Factory, Zanzibar Club and Hangar34 just for starters.

Best hotels in Liverpool

Birmingham is one of the best places in the UK to visit
The Custard Factory in Birmingham (Alamy)

2.Birmingham

The spotlight shone on Birmingham when the Commonwealth Games rolled into town in July 2022. Its opening ceremony reminded us all of the cultural clout Brum carries — this is a city that’s constantly inventing itself, producing talent that ranges from comedian Lenny Henry to singer Indigo Marshall. Spend a weekend taking the current pulse of the city, nipping into comedy and music venues (The Glee serves up both) as you go. The Custard Factory is a good place to start: the complex of old Victorian warehouses now houses indie shops, bars, restaurants and regular flea markets.

3.Belfast

It’s an exciting time to visit Belfast and 2023 sees the launch of several good-value hotels, including a Moxy and a pod hotel in the Cathedral Quarter. With less of your holiday cash going on accommodation, you can take advantage of Belfast‘s driving food and drink scene. Titanic Distillers, award-winning makers of whiskey and vodka, have taken over a landmark pumphouse in the docks, and plan to offer tours and tastings. The old Crumlin Road Gaol is getting new tenants, too — the Belfast Distillery Company will open a visitor center in the summer. You’ll need some ballast after all that — try new street-food venues Common Market and Trade Market.

Inverness-shire is one of the best places in the UK to visit
The Ardverikie Estate beside Loch Laggan, Inverness-shire (Alamy)

4. Inverness-shire

With the final season of The Crown due to air in late 2022, and much focus on Balmoral after Queen Elizabeth II’s death, you can pay your own tribute to the series and the monarch by visiting one of the programme’s most memorable film locations. The Ardverikie Estate on the banks of Loch Laggan has stood in for Balmoral since the first series, with the turrets and towers of the Scottish baronial manor house forming a striking backdrop to the ongoing drama. You can stay in a number of cottages on the grounds, go fishing on the lake, feed the red-deer stags, and find out about the estate’s 21st-century commitment to conservation and fighting climate change.

5.Cumbria

Worried about your fuel consumption amid soaring bills and an increasingly apparent climate crisis? Then take that consumption down to zero with a stay at BirdHow, hidden deep in the Eskdale Valley in the Lake District. The former cow barn has been converted into a cottage owned by the National Trust, with two bedrooms, an open fire, the most fantastic views — and no electricity. During the day, enjoy the low-fi activities this part of the world was made for: strap on your hiking boots and take yourself fell-walking. The National Trust has other off-grid properties to rent across the UK.

6.London

When Battersea Power Station last produced electricity, Culture Club were top of the charts. Nearly 40 years later, the grade II listed building on the banks of the Thames is about to get a second lease of life. Reopening in October 2022, the turbine halls of the power station will be packed to their steel-trussed rooftops with shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Within and around the development are a micro-brewery, winery, cinema, crazy-golf course, VR games studio and food hall. To get up close and personal to one of the station’s iconic chimneys, take a trip on Lift 109, which will whisk you to the top of one for 360-degree views over the city. Another way to appreciate the skyline is to book into the resident hotel; the rooftop pool of art’otel London Battersea looks set to be London‘s best.

The Peak District is one of the best places in the UK to visit
Hathersage Moor in the Peak District (Matthew Taylor/Alamy)

7. Peak District

There are a number of challenges in 2023, each bringing the chance to run, jog or walk distances varying from 25km to 100km. Each one provides a great way to see beautiful parts of the British countryside you might not normally access. The Peak District Ultra Challenge takes place over a July weekend, beginning and ending in the pretty market town of Bakewell. The full 100km loop will take you through the Peak District‘s finest landscapes; if that sounds a little ambitious, a ten-mile loop is also available.

Edinburgh is one of the best places in the UK to visit
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh (Getty Pictures)

8.Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a little easier to visit from England these days, with the low-cost, eco-friendly Lumo train service running five times daily between London, Newcastle and the Scottish capital. There’s never been a bad time to visit, but there’s a buzz on the streets of the elegant city, fresh from celebrating the 75th anniversary of its famous international and fringe festivals. Two luxury hotels are due to open in 2023: hotel group W is set to reveal its first scottish hotel, occupying a striking new building that resembles an unraveling orange peel. At the other end of the design spectrum is 100 Prince Streettaking over the former clubhouse of the Overseas League and going big on nostalgic styling in its celebration of Scottish explorers.

Kent is one of the best places in the UK to visit
Wilder Kent guided walking safaris in the West Blean woodland

9. West Blean and Thornden Woods, Kent

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise — particularly if you head to north Kent. The ancient woodlands of West Blean and Thornden are the site of a rewilding project that has seen the introduction of four European bison, the continent’s largest land animal. Now they’re all settled in, you can (hopefully) get a glimpse of the new residents by joining a guided walking safari. There are a number to choose from, giving you the chance to spend time with a bison ranger, learning about the animal’s behavior on a 3.5-hour tramp. If winged creatures are more your thing, there are also bird safaris available, with newly introduced choughs the highlight among potential sightings on the Kent coast.

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10.Manchester

One of the UK’s cultural hubs, Manchester celebrated the revival of a fun venue this year. Opened in 1963, in its heyday New Century Hall once played host to big names from Jimi Hendrix to Tina Turner. It became decidedly unloved in the decades since but has now burst back into life. There’s a floor (complete with lit-up “disco ceiling”) devoted to live music, comedy and other performances, and another given over to a food hall. The sophisticated retro styling throughout makes the most of the building’s original bones. Before booking your trip, check on developments at The Factoryanother arts and culture venue due to open some time in late 2022/2023.

Northumberland is one of the best places to visit in the UK
Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland (Alamy)

11.Northumberland

Northumberland National Park celebrates ten years as an International Dark Sky Park in 2023. As England’s first and largest such park, it’s only right that it should have its own dark skies festival. Taking place in February, it’ll host star-gazing events at its five observatories, including astronomy talks and aurora photography workshops. Of course, you can visit at any time to enjoy what are officially England’s “most pristine dark skies” — views of the Milky Way are always astonishing, whether there’s a festival on or not. The website has plenty of tips, including the best places to stay away from light pollution.

Wales is one of the best places in the UK to visit
Zipworld in North Wales

12. Various sites, Wales

If your idea of ​​enjoying the great outdoors is to hurtle above the landscape at 100mph, you’ve no doubt already heard of ZipWorld at Penrhyn Slate Quarry in North wales, home to the fastest zipline in the world. Adrenaline junkies could build a week’s holiday experiencing the various adventures the company has on five sites across the country, which include a mountain go-kart track, Europe’s highest giant swing, an underground trampoline park and a forest coaster. New thrills to experience are the Tower Climber, a mining-themed adventure course in South Wales and the Skyflyer, an airship that’ll float 122m above Rhyll on the North Wales coast when it launches in 2023.

Derby is one of the best places in the UK to visit
The Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill (Alamy)

13. Derby

Derby is often overlooked as a city break destination, but its fascinating industrial heritage and lively drinks scene make it worthy of a weekend break. To explore the city’s vital role in Britain’s Industrial Revolution, make your first stop the Museum of Making, housed in an old silk mill on a Unesco world heritage site. Derby is also at the heart of England’s brewing tradition; get a taste for it with a tour of Derby Brewing Co.. Wine-making is a more surprising industry for the Midlands but you can find that here, too; sample some vintages at the English Wine Project in Derwent Valley Mills, another Unesco site. Be sure to make an excursion to White Peaks while you’re here — Derbyshire’s first craft distillery has just produced its first whisky.

North and South Uist are some of the best places to visit in the UK
Lochboisdale in South Uist (Getty Pictures)

14. North & South Uist

If the events of the last few years have given you an appetite to escape from the world and commune with nature for a while, look no further than the Outer Hebrides. North and South Uist are two islands that provide the perfect introduction to the region and its inhabitants. A holiday here might mean you come across more otters, porpoises, golden eagles and red deer than other humans. There are a number of outfitters who’ll give you the best chance of spotting the wildlife — either tramping through moorland and over machair or bobbing on the waters of the Sea of ​​the Hebrides.

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Inspired to visit these wonderful places in the UK, but yet to book your trip? Here are the best alternative accommodations with VRBO* and Holidaycottages.co.uk*. Or try a turn with one of our preferred partners, here*.

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