5 Cheap UK city breaks for students

11 Jul 2017

When it comes to a city break as a student, there are three main factors you're looking for:

  • plenty to do
  • buzzing nightlife
  • not somewhere that's going to break the bank

Throw in great food, cool bars and some culture and you’ve got yourself a perfect weekend away. Plus you don't even need to go abroad to visit a great city! This summer, forget the airfare and visit some of the coolest cities in the UK, no passport required.


1. Glasgow

glasgow skyline

Source: Glasgow City Council

Cheaper than its cousin, Edinburgh (recently named the most expensive city in the UK for students!), Glasgow still has plenty to offer for a weekend away.

What is there to do?

Stroll down Glasgow’s Style Mile for all the shops you could ever need, go whisky tasting at Glengoyne distillery, or visit Glasgow’s West End – voted the Best Neighbourhood in the UK and Ireland for the coolest bars and restaurants.

Don’t miss the Riverside Museum – which won European Museum of the Year in 2013, and the ever-popular A Play, a Pie and a Pint at Òran Mór pub theatre, which puts on a new play every week, with a pie and a pint thrown in for just £10.

Where to go?

Beautiful Kelvingrove Park is delightful on a sunny day, and on a soggy one, visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. If you’ve explored Glasgow, hop on a train to the stunning Loch Lomond. And don’t forget to look out of the window – the View from the Train app provides an excellent audio tour.

Where to eat?

Bread Meats Bread for amazing burgers, Bier Halle for beers and pizza deals, or, head to the West End for hipster restaurant paradise.

Where to go out?

If you’ve got the stomach to handle it, the Subcrawl is an institution. Get an all-day subway ticket, and have a drink at a pub at each stop of Glasgow’s circular subway system – lovingly referred to as The Clockwork Orange.


2. Liverpool

liverpool city centre

source: Visit Liverpool

With the largest collection of galleries and museums in the UK, outside of London, you won’t be stuck for something to do in Liverpool.

What is there to do?

Get started with the Museum of Liverpool, which will give you a complete history of the city. Art fans will love the Liverpool Tate, and don’t miss The Beatles Story for a history of the Fab Four. Of course, for football fans, you can hop on the footie bus if you’re a red or a blue, which visits both Goodison Park and Anfield.

Where to go?

Be sure to visit the iconic Matthew Street, and Cavern Club, where the Beatles performed over 300 times! Liverpool’s two beautiful cathedrals are also well worth a visit.

Where to eat?

Bold Street has some of the coolest, quirkiest restaurants from Indian tiffin at Mowgli to Lebanese lunches at Bakchich. Don’t miss Moose café for amazing American-style brunch.

Where to go out?

Seel Street is the place to go for student bars and clubs, including the famous Heebie Jeebies.


3. Manchester

manchester skyline

source: Manchester Evening News

There’s much more to Manchester than just football teams (though there are definitely plenty of them!). Manchester has plenty to offer, from culture to burgers.

What is there to do?

Manchester city centre is easily walkable, so get a feel for it with a free walking tour which gives you a great history of the city. The Museum of Science and Industry is based at the point of the world’s first train station, which opened in 1830, and focuses on transport and technology, including a replica of the world’s first modern computer, which was built in Manchester.

Where to go?

If you’re a football fan, you don’t need us to tell you to visit Old Trafford or the Ethiad, but don’t miss the Football Museum, either. Give yourself an afternoon to explore Manchester’s Northern Quarter, which is full of cool cafes, bars and shops, including Afflecks, a haven for craft stalls, alternative fashion and vintage.

Where to eat?

The Northern Quarter is the place to go for Manchester’s trademark filthy burgers (we’ll let you choose your favourite), hipster brunches and street food. For something a little more fancy, visit Spinningfields, or for cheap Asian restaurants and shops, don’t miss Manchester’s huge Chinatown.

Where to go out?

Head to the Northern Quarter for cool bars and craft beer, Oxford Road area for clubs and cheap bars (Font Bar, off Oxford Road, is well-known for its £2 cocktails) or Manchester’s famous gay village on Canal Street.


4. Brighton

brighton piersource: Wikipedia

Grab your bucket and spade, fill your purse with 10ps and get ready for lots of seaside fun in Brighton.

What is there to do?

Wander around Brighton’s stunning Royal Pavilion, and if you fancy the Museum and Art Gallery, too, you can get a History Pass to visit both over 2 days. Brighton also houses the UK’s oldest cinema, The Duke of York’s Picture House, which was named the UK’s best cinema in 2012. 

Where to go?

No trip to Brighton is complete without a walk along Brighton Pier and a visit to the beach for a healthy dose of British seaside nostalgia.
Make sure you save some time for a wander around The Lanes, for the best independent shops – from vintage to alternative to designer, plus cafes, restaurants and cool bars.

Where to eat?

Brighton has a huge selection of gorgeous pastel tearooms serving delicious cakes, coffees and sandwiches, and don’t miss the famous Choccywoccydoodah for chocolate-y treats! Brighton is an ideal holiday spot for vegetarians and vegans, with loads of veggie-only cafes and restaurants, including award-winning Food for Friends.

Where to go out?

West Street is the place to go for traditional bars and clubs, or for something a bit different, try the cooler bars under the railway arches.


5. Cardiff


source: Cardiff University

The Welsh capital has great food, plenty of culture and erm...Dr Who! What more could you need?

What is there to do?

If it’s your first visit to the city, the Cardiff Story Museum is a great place to start your trip and give you an introduction to the city. Cardiff Castle is right in the centre of the city, so take a guided tour for a slice of culture on your trip. If you’re a Whovian, don’t miss the Dr Who Experience – but make sure you catch it before it disappears at the end of Summer 2017.

Where to go?

Have a wander around St Fagan’s Gardens on a sunny day or, if it’s a bit overcast, explore the indoor food markets, where you can get a bite to eat, a new set of pans and a collection of records all in one place! Don’t miss Cardiff’s famous arcades, too, for independent stalls selling everything from tasty treats to homemade shawls.

Where to eat?

The indoor markets and arcades are brilliant for street food and interesting cafes, or try Whitchurch Road for big burgers and fantastic Thai. If you fancy something completely different, the Clink is a unique experience – a restaurant inside a prison, run by inmates. The produce is all locally sourced, and the restaurant is doing great work by reducing reoffending rates and challenging perceptions.

Where to go out?

Mill Lane is the place to go for bars and clubs, and a cocktail or two at Ten Mill Lane.

Where will you go?

Plan your journey now

You might also like..