48 Simply Unmissable Cultural Moments Just a Few Hours from London

If you can tear yourself away from all the exciting theatre, art, music, food and attractions London has to offer, even for just a day trip, the UK’s other main cities and towns provide plenty of things to do and see.

Here is a collection of some the best moments to discover when you explore Britain’s cultural centres.

Brighton

The moment you…..

  • Realise you should’ve eaten lunch after the rides as you whizz around on the Waltzers on Brighton Pier
  • Take a backstage tour and discover which legendary actress made use of the Last Gulp theatre bar between scenes when she performed at the Theatre Royal Brighton
  • Find a one-off, last-in-stock gem in an independent fashion boutique hidden amongst the twisting alleyways of The Lanes
  • And your friends invent a new game called "Who I Fancy The Most" whilst people-watching from behind skinny lattes in the coolest café in the North Laine (there are many)
  • Remember you didn’t bring a towel as you dive into the sea on Brighton Beach. Oh well, at least you’re swimming

Brighton is only one hour away from London Bridge station by train.

Bristol

The moment you…..

  • Spot your first Banksy on a Bristol street art tour with Where The Wall
  • Take your first bite of The Scrumpea, a West Country Cheddar pie with summer vegetables and Somerset cider, as served by Pieminister in St. Nick’s Market
  • Succeed in mastering stand-up paddle boarding on Bristol Harbour with SUP Bristol
  • Gain access to Milk Thistle speakeasy bar for an evening of antiquated class and esteemed cocktails
  • Ascend the rigging aboard Brunel’s SS Great Britain and edge onto the main yard, more than 30 metres above the ground
  • Take your first peek over the basket in a hot air balloon ride with Baileys Balloons

Take a train from London Paddington to Bristol in approximately one hour and 40 minutes.

Birmingham

The moment you…..

  • Bite into the first tasty morsel of the night at Digbeth Dining Club, the Best Street Food Event in the UK (2014)
  • Test your skills as a TV news presenter during a BBC studio tour
  • Sample a famous Birmingham balti on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Balti Triangle with Alternative Tours
  • Order a glass of Parisian absinthe – poured from a traditional fountain – whilst reclined on a two-person sofa at The Electric Cinema
  • Take a Peaky Tour and chart the criminal lives of the real ‘Peaky Blinders’, the shadowy characters who inspired the BBC TV drama

A train from London Euston to Birmingham New Street takes roughly one hour and 25 minutes.

Cardiff

The moment you…..

  • Are served dinner by a prisoner, at The Clink Restaurant
  • Take a leap of faith on the trapeze during a beginner’s aerial course with NoFit State Circus
  • Remember you left your sonic screwdriver at home when the TARDIS needs fixing at the Dr Who Experience
  • Discover the next BIG Welsh band playing live at Clwb Ifor Bach – aka The Welsh Club – on the same stage once graced by Super Furry Animals and Catatonia
  • Are convinced you see the infamous mournful white lady standing on the river bank during the Llandaff Ghost Walk
  • Find a piece of vinyl treasure whilst browsing through the oldest record shop in the world, Spillers Records

Travel to Cardiff from London Paddington in approximately two hours by train.

Liverpool

The moment you…..

  • Show off your boarding skills at the new Glow in the Dark Skatepark
  • Spot 100 cast iron statues on Crosby Beach – aka Anthony Gormley’s Another Place – while on board the Dazzle Ferry sunset river cruise along the Mersey
  • Tweet a selfie - #tweetfromthetower - from the top of Liverpool Cathedral during a Twilight Tower Tour
  • See into the past as a Beatles tribute band plays live at The Cavern, the same music venue made famous by the original Fab Four
  • Visit the most lavish toilets in the UK (men only, sorry ladies) at the Philharmonic Dining Rooms, which is also home to an array of fine craft ales
  • Squeeze your partner’s hand tighter after your first fright on the theatrical Shiverpool Ghost Bus Tour

London Euston to Liverpool is roughly two hours and 15 minutes by train.

Manchester

The moment you…..

  • Take the first sip of your pint as a steam engine blows its whistle on the platform, your departure point for the East Lancashire Railway Rail Ale Tour
  • Relive musical history on a Manchester Music Walking Tour
  • Understand exactly what it takes to become the UK’s Museum of the Year 2015 when admiring the artwork at The Whitworth
  • Pick up a chic vintage outfit for less than you were expecting while out shopping in the fashion boutiques of The Northern Quarter (reward yourself with glass of something chilled at the trendy neighbourhood bars)
  • Recline in your seat at The Lowry, ready to be entertained, following a day of exploring The Quays

Manchester is just over two hours away from London Euston by train.

Newcastle

The moment you…..

  • Get the distance right for that photograph of the Angel of the North standing in the palm of hand
  • Show off your most eyebrow-raising dance moves as a live band performs at The Boiler Shop Steamer. Meanwhile, your friends busily chow down at the venue’s many street-food stalls
  • Suggest stopping off for a local ale at a riverside pub so that you discuss the contemporary art you’ve just witnessed on a guided tour of BALTIC on the Quayside
  • Step inside the mirrored cloud-like structure of The Sage Gateshead, filled with curiosity before a live performance from the Royal Northern Sinfonia
  • Breathlessly reach the top of Grey’s Monument in Grainger Town and marvel at the classical architecture below, as designed by Richard Grainger in the 1830s

Newcastle can be reached by train from London King's Cross in roughly three hours.

Glasgow

The moment you…..

  • Pat yourself on the back for cleverly spotting your first Charles Rennie Mackintosh architectural design on the Glasgow Style Walking Tour
  • Spin two hoops around your body at once on the Aerial Edge hula hoop class at the iconic 1873 Briggait building
  • Put your skills to the test by moving up from the Blue Circuit to the tougher Red Circuit on the Pollok Park mountain bike courses
  • Discover the basement club during a Walking Heads Music Tour around GTown, where Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos once hosted 99p nights
  • Find a floating taxi, created by street artist Rogue One, during the Glasgow City Centre Mural trail

Glasgow is just under five hours from London Euston by train.

Edinburgh

The moment you…..

  • Learn what life was like during the 19th century on a guided Mercat Tour of the famous Blair Street Underground Vaults
  • Reach the 287th and final step of the Scott Monument and say "wow" as you gaze across the views of Central Edinburgh
  • Find Escaped Animals, a sculpture by Julian "iconic Blur album cover" Opie, on the modern art walking trail at the National Galleries of Scotland
  • Sip a wee 21-year-old dram at the end of the Scotch Whisky Experience, home to the world's largest collection of Scotch whisky
  • Spot a floating shark at the National Museum of Scotland

London King's Cross to Edinburgh by train is roughly four and a half hours.

Have you been to Brighton, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle or Bristol? Share your best moments - #AutumnSeason - from these nine cities and we’ll publish our favourite in this feature.