From fantastic food and drink to fascinating days out, step off the beaten track and explore some of the hidden gems in these five incredible destinations
Scotland’s picturesque capital offers a frenzy of sights and activities. The magnificent Edinburgh Castle is one of the most popular, and gives incredible views from Castlehill towering over the city. But what’s beneath Edinburgh is just as impressive. Weaving under South Bridge, the Edinburgh Vaults are a subterranean city. Once home to taverns and tradesmen, the tunnels give a spooky view of the past and make essential touring for ghost-hunters and scare-seekers. All that exploring is enough to make anyone hungry, so why not head to The City Cafe for an authentic American diner experience? Tackle the Ultimate Burger Challenge and you eat for free. Edinburgh comes alive at night and its worth checking out these little known drinkeries. The cosy cocktail bar Under the Stairs, tucked away under George IV Bridge, The Reverie, which is great for live music and The Brass Monkey pub, complete with its own film screening room. Real adventure seekers can advance-book to sample the Armenian cuisine at Aghtamar Lake Van Monastery in Exile – it’s the city’s most obscure and unusual restaurant.
A former European City of Culture, Liverpool lives up to the title with a stack of unique attractions. St George’s Quarter in the heart of the city is home to some of Liverpool’s most impressive architecture, including the stunning neoclassical St George’s Hall. Just around the corner, the brilliant World Museum Liverpool is packed to the rafters with everything from ancient Egyptian mummies to creatures from the deep.
And if museums aren’t your idea of fun, take a stroll to Liverpool’s Hope Street Quarter – it’s home to Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and the chic Unity Theatre. Hungry? Check out acclaimed restaurants The Side Door and 60 Hope Street. And the hottest place for a tipple right now is speakeasy style bar Motel. It’s hidden behind mysterious doors over on Fleet Street, but once inside, it’s seriously good looking and well worth seeking out. Got a spare minute? Grab a proper local keepsake from Made-Here, it’s a shop of beautiful things
– clothes, homewear, art – all designed and made locally.
There’s more to York than its famous medieval walls. Walking along the twisting streets, it’s as if the whole city is a fantastic museum. But those looking for a more modern local buzz need to look to the Bishy Road area. It’s teeming with interesting independent restaurants, cafes and shops and has been called the Notting Hill of York. Look out for beautiful homewear store Frankie and Johnny’s Cookshop and new kid on the block Rice Style, a funky new Thai restaurant.
A stroll down the Shambles is an exciting step into York’s past, with local businesses still trading from the precarious 14th and 15th Century buildings.
Love eclectic gifts? Check out Snowhome at 42 Gillygate, an independent design store filled with unique products made by local artists, designers and illustrators.
To see even more of the city take a cycling tour. With bike hire and a knowledgeable guide included you can enjoy the best of York in just two hours! Zip between the famous York Minster, Clifford Tower and the River Ouse and learn the city’s fascinating history. Book in advance with Scoot Cycling Holidays.
Historic Doncaster has bags to offer, from the grand Mansion House and Museum and Art Gallery in the town centre to Yorkshire Wildlife Park, a short bus ride from the station. But if you want to get under its skin it’s worth diving into its traditional market.
Heaving with stalls, it’s one of the best in the country and dates back to the Roman era. An extensive network of mini-markets link up around Doncaster’s town centre. From quality fishmongers on Baxtergate to a food hall selling delicacies from around the globe, it’s a feast for the senses. Many of the traders have been established for generations. Wilkinson Butchers, for example, have been trading for more than 50 years – plenty of time to perfect their award-winning sausage recipe.
Preston is packed with excitement. Step into the Museum of Lancashire to see how the county has developed since prehistoric times. You can even take part in an interactive archaeological dig!
Alternatively, take a trip around the busy town centre. Here you can peruse popular brands at St George’s Shopping Centre or explore the quirky independents like vintage boutique Wonderland, which sells everything from retro jeans to kimonos.
Then how about a stroll around Avenham and Miller Parks? They may be right next to the city centre, but they are perfectly tranquil and a walk is guaranteed to put a spring in your step after a day shopping.
To finish, treat yourself to a cocktail at Kuckoo Lounge, where they run a ‘strictly... no scallywags’ policy and a ‘weekend rockstar’ dress code is positively encouraged.