There are a number of little-known cities in England that often get overlooked when it comes to traveling to England Isles.
They may have acquired a ‘poor’ reputation for whatever reason – perhaps for industry, being difficult to travel to, perhaps appearing run-down or maybe people just don’t realize what gems they may have to offer…
Birmingham – home of the ‘Brummies’
The City of Birmingham is one such place.
It’s located in the heart of England and is surprisingly the second most populous city in England whereby the people are known as ‘Brummies’.
Surrounded by areas of green countryside, Birmingham is a must-see city for both the single traveler and the family groups who want a bit more than the usual tourist attractions.
Birmingham started life as a sixth-century Anglo-Saxon village although most of its city’s buildings now are post-WWII due to redevelopment in the 1950s and 60s.
It had to be rebuilt due to the terrible bombing in the War – ‘the Birmingham Blitz’, but it’s a great place to see post-war architecture.
Birmingham is therefore a city of mixed historical and heritage associations with a vast number of diverse cultures, all of which adds to the spice and splendor – a city for absolutely everyone!
Birmingham was a market town in the medieval period and then grew in the 18th-century to becoming a city of industry which lay the foundations of the modern industrial society it is known for today.
Did you know that the Watt steam engine was invented in Birmingham?
Boasting of six renowned universities makes it the largest center of higher education outside London.
Birmingham has its own share of cultural institutions as well…
It has its own Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, a Royal Ballet, The Birmingham Repertory Theater, the Library of Birmingham and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.
All of this ensures it has a vibrant energy at both major institutions as well as at grassroots…
Not surprisingly, Birmingham is the 4th most popular city to visit in the UK by foreign visitors.
Another city set in the West Midlands of England, Coventry, like Birmingham, which is only 24 miles away, is another very central city set in the beautiful green countryside.
Dominated by its amazing new Cathedral was originally built in the 14th-century but was rebuilt after destruction by the Luftwaffe in the ‘Coventry Blitz’ in 1940.
Other than London, Coventry suffered more than any other city in England due to the Nazi bombings.
The Cathedral’s spire is outstanding – it literally has to be lowered into place by a helicopter!
Originally founded by the Romans, the City of Coventry was renowned for its cloth and trade industry.
During the Industrial Revolution, Coventry became one of the three major centers of watch and clock manufacturers.
This then developed into an industrial center famous for motorbikes, cars, machine tools and aircraft.
The 1950s and 60s saw a ‘golden age’ for Coventry due to its success of industry and there was a flux of Asian and Caribbean immigration who brought a wealth of diverse culture to Coventry.
Coventry is proud of its sports center, with one of the few Olympic standard swimming pools in England.
Modern Coventry has The Belgrade Theater and the Herbert Art Gallery, two highly reputed universities as well as an abundance of shops, restaurants and cafes to visit.
It has an amazing pedestrianized shopping center which is a great retail experience!
Coventry has the protected ‘West Midlands Green Belt’, which surrounds the city on all sides, which ensures it has its beautiful countryside maintained regardless of its industrialism.
Coventry is definitely a city for country and city lovers, alike.
Southampton – City of the New Forest
South-west of London, Southampton is another one of less-known cities which are not on the usual tourist schedule when visiting England.
This is a city for those of you who love the sea and the city…
Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest and can be dated back to the Roman Invasion of Britain in AD43.
The city is home to the longest surviving stretches of medieval wall in England as well as the city providing visitors with a number of museums, including the `Tudor House Museum.
Historically, Southampton is an extremely interesting place to visit as the port, with its Maritime Museum, was the point of departure for the Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower in 1620.
The port was also where the RMS Titanic left in 1912 – about a third of those who perished in the tragic sinking originated from the City of Southampton.
During WWII, Southampton was the home of the Supermarine Spitfire which was designed and built there.
Many new buildings have been established since the 1950s, due to the heavy bombings during the War.
From 2010 onwards, several developments to the inner-city of Southampton have been completed which has added to the attraction of the city as a definite place for tourists to visit.
History, culture and social attractions are just some of the ‘things to see and do’ for the discerning visitor.
Southampton’s public plaza has been used for public events such as live broadcasting of Wimbledon Tennis Championships and the building of a winter ice-skating rink.
There is a City Eye which is part of the John Hansard Gallery and theater.
The City also has the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust which is a renowned university medical center.
For those shopaholics amongst you, Southampton boasts an enormous retail center, hotels and a casino.
Nottingham – home of the legendary Robin Hood
With its links to Robin Hood, the bicycle, lace and tobacco, Nottingham is a city where tourists are beginning to appreciate it has a lot to offer.
It has an award-winning transport system which is always a huge bonus for those who want to travel to cities off the beaten track.
Nottingham is a major sporting centre and was recently named ‘Home of the English Sport’.
There is the National Ice Center, Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Center and the Trent Bridge international cricket ground.
The city also boasts of the world’s oldest professional football league clubs, professional rugby, ice hockey and cricket teams, and the Aegon international tennis tournament.
Not only renowned for its sporting prowess, the city has great literary links.
Lord Byron, DH Lawrence ad Alan Sillitoe have had links to the city.
Two established universities, spread over the city, enables Nottingham to stand tall in the academic world.
This, therefore, doesn’t make it at all peculiar that Nottingham was named as one of the ‘Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2010’.
This is helped by the legendary Robin Hood Pageant held annually in October.
Originally a city famous for its lace-making, Nottingham has transformed the market area into restaurants and bars.
Quirky shops sit alongside the more established high street department stores in this city which has everything to offer the traveler.
A magnificent castle stands high on a hill with its museum, has a pub built into the cave system beneath Nottingham’s Castle, itself which is reputedly dated to 1189.
Dare to go further underground and explore Nottingham’s subterranean cave network at the City of Caves, with the thrilling National Justice Museum nearby which demonstrates an extensive and grisly history of crime and punishment.
Nottingham is a must for all travelers regardless of age and ability – there’s something to see for everyone!
Newcastle – ‘Up North’
Enter Newcastle by road and you can’t fail to miss the ‘Angel of the North
Completed in 1998, it is a steel sculpture of an angel, 20 meters tall, with wings measuring 54 meters across.
Newcastle Upon Tyne is a university city on the River Tyne in northeast England.
Originally known as a major shipping and manufacturing city during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th-century, it is now known as a city of business, arts and sciences.
Famous for its amazing Gateshead Millennium Bridge which is noted for its unique tilting aperture – a symbol of the two cities of Newcastle and its twin city, Gateshead.
Watching over the bridge is Newcastle Castle, originally established in the Norman era and which sits on a hill, near the river, offering spectacular views.
It’s stately city center with its neo-classical style is Grainger Town which is lined with pubs, bars and restaurants along the Quayside.
The Discovery Museum has interactive maritime history and science displays and includes the British Film Institute archives.
The Great Northern Museum is home to natural history and archaeological collections, including a scale model of Hadrian’s Wall, which is an ancient fortification that stretches from just outside Newcastle across northern England.