The UK is seeped in history, with a selection of beautiful towns and cities that all have their own unique historic story to tell. So to enjoy a break where you can learn a few things about the country’s past, take a look at these top five medieval cities.
Start with the lively and beautiful city of York, where the Castle, Minster and Dungeons bring history alive. Explore the quaint cobbled streets and winding lanes where you can find an abundance of historic architecture. Discover the city by foot, bus or riverboat to really find out what makes York so great.
Make sure you take a look at the magnificent York Minster, one of the largest gothic cathedrals in Europe. You’re welcome to go in and explore the building, with plenty to see and do inside. Or head out to the National Railway Museum where you can experience trains throughout the ages, including some of the personal carriages of past royalty.
The city has become a lively centre, with plenty of fantastic bars and restaurants where you can sample great menus and a cocktail or two. Or head to the river or the many gardens and green spaces and spend some time people watching.
Weekend breaks in York are not all about sightseeing – in the evenings, York has many different ghost tours on around the town, which are suitable for ages and are designed to frighten and entertain; while guiding visitors around some of the most haunted buildings in the country.
Alternatively, another enviable medieval city is Chester. This walled city is small and compact, making it easy to get around, even by foot. The 2 miles of walls are still fully intact and easy to walk around, passing both the centre of the city and the beautiful River Dee.
History is all around you here, with both the tranquil Roman gardens and the recently unearthed Roman Amphitheatre. Take a riverboat cruise down the River Dee and see the stunning Cheshire countryside, or enjoy some retail therapy at the city’s shopping centre. The historic Chester Rows are double levelled shops that are rich in their own history, so even if you don’t want to shop, the city centre will still amaze you.
The annual Chester Mystery Plays and the Watch Parades tell their own unique stories of the city’s history, or enjoy some more modern pursuits at Chester Racecourse or Chester Zoo near by.
Chichester is similar in size and makes for a lovely break, with history on every corner. Easily explored by foot, you can’t miss the city’s most beautiful attraction, Chichester Cathedral. This stunning building is found right in the heart of the city and houses a medieval tomb of a knight and his wife.
Of course the cathedral isn’t the only example of historic architecture, as the city has five other stunning churches to visit. Like Chester, Chichester has its own Roman Amphitheatre that has been partially uncovered and definitely worth a visit.
Or explore the city and find both the Chichester Cross and The Butter Market in North Street. The city has a love of arts and culture and is home to many exciting events throughout the year.
Canterbury successfully mixes the old and the new, with lots of great shops, restaurants and cafes in and around the historic abbeys and churches that tell the story of the city’s heritage.
The magnificent Cathedral dominates the skyline in Canterbury and is definitely worth a visit, but don’t miss St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martins Church either. It is worth taking a guided tour of the city to make sure you don’t miss any of the cute winding lanes, or enjoy a cruise along the River Stour.
Soak up the atmosphere of The Kings Mile or enjoy some shopping in one of the many shopping centres in the heart of the city. If you prefer, you can head out of the city and experience the stunning countryside found close by. For some traditional seaside fun, head out to the coastal towns of Herne Bay or Whitstable.
Finally, you can’t mention historic cities without immediately thinking of Bath. The city is full of historic references, from the Roman Baths to its most famous inhabitant, Jane Austen.
However, it is Bath Abbey that really amazes, a 15th century medieval church with a stunning carved frontage and breath-taking interior. Take a guided tour of the Abbey to hear first hand about its history and make sure you climb the 212 steps to the top tower for panoramic views of the city.
Visit the Roman Baths, Britain’s only hot spring. The Romans built an extensive temple around them, the ruins of which can still be seen today. Of course, you could treat yourself to a Spa experience day where you get to enjoy the hot springs first hand while also enjoying a delicious lunch.