When most people think of England, they think of London. The capital is by far the country’s largest city, with disproportionate population size and significantly more jobs in industries like technology and finance.
Yet there are many other interesting areas of the country, particularly in the North. It is a much better representation of real England and is very different from the tourist traps of London.
The North West of England contains some of the most historic towns and cities in the country, with a broad mix of sights from modern skyscrapers to tranquil lakes and hills. Getting there from London is quite easy too. Just jump on a train from London Euston and you’ll be there in around 2 hours.
Here are some of the interesting places in North West England.
Liverpool is a port city on the north bank of the River Mersey. It’s famous for being the home of The Beatles, and being the home of one of the oldest rivalries in English football. It’s Royal Albert Dock is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of its two road tunnels is regularly used for filming blockbuster Hollywood movies like Fast and Furious and Harry Potter.
It also has one of the most famous horse racecourses in the world. Aintree is the home to the Grand National, a steeplechase that’s run by 40 horses each April, and attracts around 600 million TV viewers from around the world. In 2019, the race was won by Tiger Roll, only the second horse to win the race in back-to-back years, making it the favorite to win this year too.
Liverpool’s “St Johns Beacon” is an observation tower in the heart of the city that is now used to broadcast a commercial radio station. You can take a trip up the tower for a small fee where you will enjoy breathtaking panoramic views across England and into Wales.
Contrasting against tall concrete and stone buildings and wide and congested roads of Liverpool, Chester is a former Roman walled city that is packed with history. It was known as “Deva” when it was first founded in the year 79 AD.
It was a fort, surrounded on all sides by stone walls that protected it from invaders coming from over the Welsh border, just a couple of miles away.
Today, Chester’s appeal is rooted deeply in this history. It has one of the few remaining Roman amphitheaters outside of Italy, and its clock is the second most photographed in Britain (behind Big Ben).
It is possible to walk around its old Roman walls to see the city, before admiring the old black a white architecture and cobbled streets.
Manchester has been seeing a large increase in investment over the last decade. The country’s biggest TV and radio broadcasters have moved large parts of their operations to its “Media City”, to create media jobs outside of the capital.
It also has the largest proportion of tower cranes per square meter in the whole of Europe, as investment pours in.
Manchester is the home of legendary musicians Oasis, as well as Manchester United and Manchester City, two of the world’s biggest football teams. Similar to Liverpool, it grew as a result of the industrial revolution, with some of the city’s current top shopping and entertainment centers being the former “Corn Exchange” and “Printworks”.
You’ll find many weird and wonderful museums in and around Manchester, including the Stockport Hat Museum, the Science and Industry Museum, and the National Football Museum.
If you want to escape the big cities, North West England has some of the most beautiful spots in the country. Located in the county of Cumbria, the Lake District is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the former home of Beatrix Potter, John Ruskin and William Wordsworth.
It attracts people from all over the world who visit to admire the natural lakes, forests and mountains. One of the most famous destinations is Windermere, which boasts several options for boat rides, traditional village shops, and plenty of wildlife.
Despite the popularity among local and international tourists, the Lake District is still very tranquil, making it popular for people wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life.
It’s one of few places in the country with a working steam train line, with trains running regularly between Lakeside and Haverthwaite. Old steam engines with period carriages are popular among people wanting to get a glimpse into British life in the early 20th century, as well as those interested in steam locomotives.
The UK’s Royal Air Force also runs regular training flights in the area, so you’ll likely get to spot jet planes performing maneuvers over the lake. Unless you sit patiently waiting, you might struggle to get a photo though. They travel faster than the speed of sound, so by the time you hear them, they’ll already be disappearing into the distance.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jodrell Bank Observatory is home to several radio telescopes that look into the distant corners of our known universe. It was first built in 1945, but continues to operate today as part of the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. The main attraction is the Lovell Telescope, the third largest of its kind in the world.
It has a visitors center, which attracts around 100,000 visitors each year. The center contains three pavilions that feature many exhibitions about space. Planets and stars, as well as 35 acres of beautiful gardens. The gardens attract a lot of local wildlife, including birds, fish and bees.
This list only scratches the surface of the many interesting cities, sights, and attractions of England’s North West region. It’s blending of natural beauty, ancient civilizations, the industrial revolution, and modern technology make it a fascinating area that few places in the country or the world can rival.
So if you’re planning a visit to the United Kingdom, make sure you plan some days outside of the capital, exploring these fascinating places. Or fly direct, Manchester Airport is the country’s third-biggest airport and is well connected with rail, bus, and tram links to Manchester City center and other parts of the region.