Summer is the best time to explore UK’s vibrant and diverse cities. To help you plan some weekend getaways, we’ve put together a list of the top UK cities to visit with the family this summer, with tips on the best things to see and do, and some unique spots to take photos that will keep the memories alive. So, pack a bag and camera and let’s go!
The UK capital is absolutely brimming with art, culture, history and entertainment. There are more museums and galleries in London than in any other city in the country, and many of them are free to visit. Buckingham Palace, the official home of the Queen, is a tourist hot-spot and seeing the changing of the guard there will give you a true taste of British pomp and ceremony. Make the most of sunny days with a boat trip along the river – it’s a great way to see many of the landmark historic buildings – or pack a picnic and take the kids to one of the city’s many parks. If retail therapy is more your style, browse the flagship stores on Oxford street or the bustling Portobello market stalls for antiques and vintage goods.
London is full of photo opportunities. A selfie in front of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster is a must, but for something a little different, make your way to trendy Shoreditch, where incredible street art and murals await at every turn, and will fill you photobook with colour.
Steeped in history, Edinburgh is a magical city. Built over several hills, it boasts medieval castles and winding cobbled streets, and plenty of cosy pubs, antiques shops, and independent coffeehouses. The Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s scenic main street, which runs between Holyrood Palace (official Scottish residence of the monarch) and Edinburgh Castle, is a great place for shopping and eating, but if you’re feeling energetic be sure to climb up to Arthur’s Seat, for panoramic views over the city and its monuments.
For a different view of Edinburgh make your way to Victoria Street, where the colourful shop fronts make a great backdrop for portrait shots, or for a greener scene, the Royal Botanic Garden is a verdant and peaceful oasis that both children and adults love.
A wellness destination since Roman times, Bath is named after the communal baths built there 2000 years ago, to harness the healing powers of the thermal waters. These extremely well-preserved baths are open to the public – but you can’t get in the water here. If you want to soak in the hot springs, the ultra-modern Thermae Day Spa is the place to go. The whole city is a Unesco World Heritage Site, due in large part to its graceful Georgian architecture and the honey-coloured stone used to build much of it; the Royal Crescent is one of the finest examples of this. But Bath’s charms are not only historical: it’s a lively town with modern shops and a thriving foodie scene – and no shortage of pubs selling local Somerset cider. When you’ve taken your fill of photos of historic buildings, follow the Bath Skyline Walk which takes you through meadows, valleys, and woodlands, and is a great chance to get shots of the family in the gorgeous English countryside.
Brighton has been a top destination for those in search of seaside fun for centuries. Its five-mile long beach is buzzing on sunny days and the seaside promenade is full of colour, interesting places to eat, and people to watch. The winding alleys of The Lanes, which are lined with cafes and vintage shops, are the perfect place to get lost for an hour or two. Brighton has always had a reputation for being bohemian and hedonistic, and there’s no shortage of unusual sights, starting with the Royal Pavilion – a pleasure palace built for King George IV that is adorned with minarets and domes and would look more at home in Asia than it does in Britain.
The arcades on the Palace Pier are always a hit with children, and its bright neon lights are an iconic Brighton sight that always merit a fun photo or two, but it’s the crumbling shell of the abandoned West Pier, which which has borne the brunt of storms and fires, where you can get some truly atmospheric shots.
A maritime city in northwest England, Liverpool is a lively, friendly city, with a wealth of museums and galleries and more parks than Paris. Perhaps best known as the home of the Beatles, visitors can take a tour of band’s favourite haunts and childhood homes, and visit the Beatles museum. Albert Dock, a collection of historic listed buildings that now house various cultural and leisure venues, is a great place for families to spend a day shopping, browsing and eating. No trip to Liverpool would be complete without a ferry ride on the Mersey river. The colourful boats and the city’s famous skyline in the background make for fantastic photo opportunities, and in summer, you can book a sunset tour which includes live music and DJs.
With summer in the air and travel restrictions a thing of the past, make the most of being able to explore the UK with the family. To make sure you get the best shots, see our post on travel photography tips. Then, when you get back you can create a beautiful holiday photobook.