What’s more enjoyable than being able to travel back in time whilst wandering through a fascinating museum, or being able to detach from the outside world whilst being captivated by a West End show? Cultural attractions give us some much-needed escapism, and we can definitely appreciate that now more than ever. Every city has its fair share of sights to see, but which cities offer the absolute best?
Holidu, the search engine for holiday rentals (holidu.co.uk), has compiled the Google Reviews for all cultural attractions in the British cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Museums, art galleries, libraries, theatres, and cinemas have been considered, with the top 10 being made up of the cities with the highest average rating of these attractions.
Edinburgh – Average of 4.61/5
Edinburgh is the best city in the UK to head to if you’re interested in top-rated cultural attractions. This comes as no surprise, as the city is bursting with a variety of cultural offerings, from impressive museums and art galleries to fabulous theatre performances and comedy clubs. Most notably, Edinburgh is home to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival that takes place in August every year and sees artists and performers flock from all over the world to take part in the event. Finally, it’s worth remembering that Edinburgh is the world’s first-appointed UNESCO City of Literature.
Portsmouth – Average of 4.61/5
Informally named as the ‘City of Museums’ due to its wide array of museums and art galleries, Portsmouth secures its place as the city with the second best-rated cultural sites in the UK. If you’re interested in scouting out artwork and items from local artists and designers, head to The Hotwalls Studio which is a collection of 13 creative studios and is situated in a 15th-century former military barracks. Lovers of literature can pay a visit to the Charles Dickens Museum, a small, terraced house in which the novelist was born. It has now been restored to resemble how the house would have looked back in 1812.
Newcastle – Average of 4.59/5
Newcastle takes the third position on the list. Be it fascinating art or iconic history, Newcastle will not disappoint. The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art is located on the banks of the River Tyne at Gateshead and offers free admission to see its wonderful exhibitions hosted there. It is situated in a re-purposed flour mill, making it an impressive spot to visit even just for that reason. Once inside, you can also go up to the viewing platform which is the perfect spot for a panoramic view of Newcastle Gateshead. Whilst visiting Newcastle, don’t miss your chance to see Anthony Gormley’s incredible Angel of the North statue.
York – Average of 4.56/5
Being the UK’s first and only UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts, York takes its rightful place in the top five of this ranking of cultural cities. A city known for its cutting edge of artistic innovation and world-renowned heritage, a trip to York will leave you with an abundance of things to see and do. One of the city’s most popular attractions is the National Railway Museum York, a museum that tells the story of rail transport in Britain and its impact on society.
Belfast – Average of 4.56/5
Securing a place in the top five cities with the best-rated cultural attractions is the Northern Irish city of Belfast. Named the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction in 2016, the Titanic Museum is always at the top of a must-see list when visiting Belfast. History buffs will also be fascinated for hours at the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum, which tells the story of Northern Ireland’s role in World War II, as well as how local industries contributed to the war effort, the Belfast Blitz in 1941 and the impact of the American presence 1942-44.
If you want to catch a movie whilst in Belfast, head to Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT), a premier arthouse that has been home to classic, Irish, foreign, avant-garde and cult cinema since 1968.
Leeds – Average of 4.56/5
Leeds is a great choice if you fancy a city break with plenty of top-rated cultural things to do. Whether you fancy a trip to the theatre, enjoying a film at an old school cinema, or taking in works of art at a museum or art gallery, there is something for everyone. As if that wasn’t enough, a simple stroll through the city streets provides plenty of historic buildings to gaze at. Visit the Abbey House Museum to get a feel of what it was like to live in Victorian times, with an old Victorian street filled with old school shops and a little Victorian drinking house.
London – Average of 4.56/5
Of course, this ranking would not be complete without an appearance by the big capital. With an immense offering of over 350 attractions, many of which are world-class, it’s unsurprising that London has some of the best-rated attractions in the country. Lovers of theatre travel from far and wide to catch a show on one of London’s famous West End stages. It is currently home to productions of favourites such as Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and Mamma Mia at the Novello Theatre.
Liverpool – Average of 4.52/5
Next up is Liverpool, a city which holds the title of being a UNESCO City of Music due to it being home to The Beatles, one of the most influential rock bands in history. Music remains at the heart of Liverpool’s cultural scene and the city offers plenty for tourists to do when visiting. Beatles fans can visit The Beatles Story Museum, The Cavern Club and even Lennon and McCartney’s childhood homes. Another big attraction in the city is the Tate Liverpool, a British and international contemporary and modern art gallery.
Sunderland – Average of 4.52/5
One of the more unique attractions to find in Sunderland is The National Glass Centre. Part of the University of Sunderland, this cultural attraction celebrates the glass making heritage of the city and explores the creative potential of the fascinating material. A trip there will invite you to learn about the history of glassmaking from the 7th century to today, whilst also displaying a host of exhibitions of the work of contemporary glass and ceramics artists.
Coventry – Average of 4.51/5
Rounding up the top 10 is Coventry, and rightly so, as this is the city that currently holds the title of the UK City of Culture 2021, a designation given between 2021 and 2025 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. As the city continues to celebrate this title in 2022, there are many exciting events lined up, such as BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, taking place in May. For people visiting Coventry all year round, head to Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, a huge building that houses a museum, art gallery, records archive, learning centre, media studio and creative arts facility.