Ticket to ride

By | Category: Travel destinations

With the rest of the world to explore, it’s easy to overlook what’s on your doorstep: Blighty! Britain is prettiest in autumn – think deep sunsets and shadows and rich colour and contrast. Even getting drenched in a sudden downpour is curiously refreshing. What’s more, if you take a trip to a town where a friend or family member lives, there’s the bonus of free accommodation meaning that exploring the best of Britain need not be boring nor break the bank. Over the next week, CD Traveller gives you the lowdown on 10 towns you really shouldn’t miss…

 

Selfridges, Birmingham

Selfridges, Birmingham

Birmingham

Forget dark, satanic mills and concrete flyovers. England’s second city is a multi cultural centre for the arts, entertainment, eating and shopping. Head to Bindley Place or The Mailbox (home of BBC Birmingham), to see a city with more canals that Venice.

Culture vulture: Admire cutting edge art at the Ikon Gallery or wander among a world class collection of Pre Raphaelite works at the Museum and Art Gallery. Birmingham’s nightlife is equally diverse. Sample a show at the Birmingham Rep theatre, enjoy a gig at the Custard Factory or visit the Clothes Show Live in December at the NEC.

Shop till you drop: The Bullring – a 1950s concrete monstrosity that once ranked among the most hideous eyesores in the UK – has been torn down and in its place stands a gleaming new 500 pound shopping centre complete with a glass roof. The centre point of the Bullring is a branch of Selfridges, laid out over four floors.

Eating out: Discover balti in the city where the legendary curry concept began.

Party animal: The city’s hippest bars are to be found in the Mailbox and The Arcadian Centre. Whichever venue you seek out, party goers will find the morning will definitely come too soon.

 

St Andrews, Fife

St Andrews, Fife

St Andrews

This pretty university town on the north coast of Fife, only an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, sees its population swell from 11,000 to 17,000 each year when term time begins. Many students are from the south of the border, leading to the uni’s title as “England’s most northern university.”

Culture vulture: St Andrews is a golfing Mecca boasting the world’s oldest links and most are open to the public. Not a fan of the fairways? Be sure to visit when the town celebrates St Andrews day on November 30th.

Shop till you drop: Fashionistas will want to seek out UK Design. The Bell Street store stocks brands like Lacoste, Timberlake, FCUK, Diesel and Boxfresh.

Eating Out: In need of a caffeine fix? Hot foot it to the Coffee House and Tea Room in Greyfriar Gardens. These guys sell more than 100 types of coffee and 200 types of tea. A fan of the cold stuff? Make for Jannetta’s (31 South St), a family run traditional ice cream shop which has 53 mouth watering flavours to try. For something more substantial head to the Oak rooms (127 North St) where you can chow down in anything from a sandwich to a sirloin steak.

Party animal: For serious drinking, the Westport bar (170 South St) is where it’s at. An alternative is The Raisin (5 Alexandra Place) which is popular owing to its jukebox, pool table, oh, and the incredibly cheap beer.

 

Exeter Quayside

Exeter Quayside

Exeter

Small but perfectly formed. From the stunning cathedral to its historic quayside, all the best bits are within walking distance of each other.

Culture vulture: It’s simplest to start at St Peter’s Cathedral where you can take in the splendour of the cathedral, before wandering down some of the side streets to explore. After visiting the quayside and Quay House visitor centre, catch a play at the Northolt Theatre or see the latest in uber trendy contemporary art at Space. Finally there’s the breathtaking Jurassic Coast on one side of Exeter and the vast mythical moors of Dartmoor National Park on the other, all just waiting to be explored.

Shop till you drop: Deck yourself out in retro gear at Electric Gypsy (143a Fore St); a cool vintage clothes store.

Eating Out: The Ram Bar (Stocker Rd) does a fine line in food. Try the Curry Nights (Mon and Fri) or fabulous roasts (Thurs and Sun).

Party animal: It’s not all history and green wellies in Exeter… The Cavern Club is a regular stop off for up and coming bands: the Cranberries, Cold Play’s Chris Martin and Muse have all played here.

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