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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to England (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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Lambeth, London

Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to England (Plus, Itineraries)

By Joshua Wood, LPC


Summary: Considering a move to England but uncertain about where to settle? Venturing on an exploratory trip to visit multiple popular expat destinations can be incredibly enlightening. Here's a list of recommended places to consider during your exploration of England.

Embarking on a Look-See trip to England is an invaluable step for anyone considering a move to this historic and culturally rich country. Such a trip allows potential expats, retirees, and digital nomads to explore various cities and towns firsthand, gaining insights into the local lifestyle, amenities, and community. It's an opportunity to envision daily life in different settings, from bustling urban centers to serene countryside villages, and to assess factors like cost of living, transportation, and social opportunities. A Look-See trip is not just about sightseeing; it's about finding a place that resonates with your personal and professional needs, ensuring a smooth and satisfying relocation.

Recommended Itineraries

For a 10-day Look-See trip, consider starting in London for a comprehensive view of urban life, then moving on to the historic cities of Oxford and Cambridge. Next, explore the vibrant city of Bristol and the picturesque Cotswolds region. If time allows, visit the coastal city of Brighton. For a 20-day trip, extend your journey to include the northern powerhouses of Manchester and Liverpool, the cultural hub of Leeds, and the historic city of York. Venture into the Lake District for natural beauty and the charming towns of the South West, such as Bath and Exeter. Each location offers a unique perspective on life in England, catering to different preferences and lifestyles.


London, the capital city, is a global hub for finance, culture, and history, with a population of over 8 million. It offers a diverse and fast-paced lifestyle, with countless opportunities for work and leisure. Expats and digital nomads are drawn to its dynamic neighborhoods, each with its own character, from the trendy streets of Shoreditch to the upscale areas of Kensington and Chelsea. While the cost of living can be high, the city's energy, job opportunities, and cultural offerings are unparalleled.

Travel Tip: While in London, don't miss the chance to visit the British Museum, home to a vast collection of world art and artifacts. For a culinary treat, try the acclaimed Dishoom for a taste of Bombay-style cuisine.

Oxford and Cambridge

Oxford and Cambridge are famed for their prestigious universities and offer a blend of intellectual atmosphere and historic charm. With populations around 150,000 each, these cities boast beautiful architecture, lush parks, and a vibrant cultural scene. They are smaller and more manageable than London, with a lower cost of living, yet still provide excellent amenities and a strong sense of community. These cities are ideal for those seeking a balance between city life and a more relaxed pace.

Travel Tip: In Oxford, visit the Ashmolean Museum, the oldest public museum in the UK. In Cambridge, punt along the River Cam or explore the Fitzwilliam Museum's art and antiquities.

Bristol and the Cotswolds

Bristol is a creative and bohemian city with a population of around 467,000. It's known for its vibrant arts scene, independent shops, and eco-friendly ethos. The Cotswolds, a short drive away, is an area of outstanding natural beauty, featuring idyllic villages like Chipping Campden and Stow-on-the-Wold. The region offers a peaceful countryside lifestyle, with a slower pace and a strong sense of local community. The cost of living in Bristol is more affordable than London, and the Cotswolds offer a rural retreat for those looking to escape city life.

Travel Tip: In Bristol, check out the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the trendy eateries in the Harbourside area. In the Cotswolds, visit the historic market town of Cirencester and its Roman museum.


Brighton is a seaside city with a population of about 290,000. Known for its liberal and inclusive culture, Brighton is a favorite among those who value diversity and creativity. The city has a lively arts and music scene, a range of restaurants and cafes, and a famous pebble beach. The cost of living is lower than in London, and the city offers a relaxed coastal lifestyle while still being within easy reach of the capital.

Travel Tip: Enjoy the iconic Brighton Pier and the quirky shops in The Lanes. For dining, try the locally sourced dishes at Terre à Terre, a renowned vegetarian restaurant.

Manchester and Liverpool

Manchester and Liverpool are vibrant cities in the North of England, with populations of 553,000 and 498,000 respectively. Manchester is known for its rich industrial heritage, thriving music scene, and sports culture. Liverpool, famous for The Beatles and its maritime history, has a strong arts scene and friendly locals. Both cities offer a lower cost of living compared to the South and have been undergoing significant regeneration, making them increasingly attractive to expats and digital nomads.

Travel Tip: In Manchester, explore the Northern Quarter's independent shops and cafes. In Liverpool, visit the Beatles Story museum and enjoy the waterfront at Albert Dock.

Leeds and York

Leeds, with a population of around 789,000, is a growing city with a strong economy, excellent shopping, and a vibrant nightlife. York is a smaller, historic city, known for its medieval streets and the impressive York Minster. Both cities offer a high quality of life, with Leeds providing more urban excitement and York offering a quieter, more cultural experience. The cost of living in these northern cities is generally more affordable than in the South.

Travel Tip: In Leeds, visit the Royal Armouries Museum. In York, walk the ancient city walls and explore the Shambles, one of the best-preserved medieval streets in the world.

The Lake District and the South West

The Lake District is a region of breathtaking natural beauty, with opportunities for hiking, boating, and enjoying the great outdoors. Towns like Keswick and Ambleside serve as gateways to the lakes and fells. In the South West, Bath and Exeter are historic cities with stunning architecture, such as Bath's Roman Baths and Exeter's cathedral. These areas offer a tranquil lifestyle, surrounded by stunning landscapes and rich history, appealing to those seeking a slower pace of life.

Travel Tip: In the Lake District, take a boat trip on Lake Windermere. In Bath, relax in the Thermae Bath Spa's rooftop pool with views over the city.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.



Lambeth, London

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SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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