If you love history, you are in for a treat in England since we have so many beautiful historic cities you can visit. 

From the birthplace of the Industrial revolution to Roman Britain, you will find here 10 English cities that are particularly known for their history and have changed the world.

So, are you ready to get started? Let’s go!

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1. Oxford

Radcliffe camera in Oxford

🏛️ Historical Highlights: University of Oxford (established in the 12th century), Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera, historic colleges such as Christ Church and Magdalen College, Ashmolean Museum.

Located less than 2 hours from London, Oxford is one of the most famous cities in the world. It’s home to the second oldest university in the world and boasts 28 Nobel Prize winners.

Founded in the 12th century, the University of Oxford is also one of the most prestigious in the world. It also had a very influential role in the regulation of the English language since that’s where the Oxford English Dictionary was created.

Oxford is also home to a lot of libraries and colleges (including some that were used as Harry Potter filming locations) and the Ashmolean Museum which was founded in the 17th century.

2. Manchester

Manchester central library on st peters square

🏛️ Historical Highlights: Manchester Cathedral, John Rylands Library, Museum of Science and Industry, Victoria Baths, Industrial Revolution heritage sites, including old mills and canals.

Manchester is a more recent city compared to the others on this list but it’s still a city that changed the world for many reasons.

It used to be a small market town but became one of the most important cities in Britain in the 18th century since it was the first industrial city in the world.

It was the leading producer of cotton and textiles and home to the first working canal and world’s first passenger railway line.

Today, you can still see this industrial background since there are a lot of warehouses and mills in the city.

If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend visiting the Museum of Science and Industry. It explains everything you need to know about the textile industry but also the science industry in Manchester. 

Please note that Manchester is also particularly famous for its music scene. A lot of famous bands such as Oasis originates from here.

3. Liverpool

Museum of Liverpool

🏛️ Historical Highlights: Royal Albert Dock, The Beatles Story, Liverpool Cathedral, Merseyside Maritime Museum, St. George’s Hall, historic waterfront

Located in the North West, Liverpool is another historic city that is worth a visit if you want to learn more about the industrial revolution and music.

A bit like Manchester, Liverpool became more affluent during the industrial revolution since it was one of the main ports of entry for the cotton coming from the Americas.

There is no denying that Liverpool built itself on the back of slavery and that’s why you can find the Museum of Slavery there.

It’s also home to the world’s first enclosed commercial wet dock which is what really sped up the Industrial revolution in the 18th century.

Finally, Liverpool is famous for its connections with the Beatles since that’s where they were from. They used to perform at the Cavern Club on Matthew Street which is still open today.

4. Canterbury

Canterbury in england

🏛️ Historical Highlights: Canterbury Cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury), St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury Castle, medieval city walls, Westgate Towers.

Canterbury is famous for being home to the first cathedral in England (and therefore the oldest). 

It was founded by St Augustine himself who was sent to England by the Pope in 597 AD.

The historical significance in Canterbury is huge and that’s why part of the city is classed as a UNESCO site.

The city is also known for the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer which is one of the most important pieces in English Literature.

5. London

big ben in london

🏛️ Historical Highlights: The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, British Museum, Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral…

It would be impossible to talk about historic cities in England without mentioning the capital, London.

London was founded by the Romans in 43 AD and has been one of the most influential cities in the world ever since.

You can find a lot of historical landmarks here including a lot that have links with royalty.

London is home to the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace but also a lot of landmarks of architectural and political importance.

This is also where all the coronations have taken place since 1066 as well as most royal weddings.

London was also the first city to host the Olympic Games three times.

6. Bath

Roman Baths in Bath

🏛️ Historical Highlights: Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, Georgian architecture (Royal Crescent and The Circus), Pulteney Bridge, Jane Austen Centre.

Listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bath is one of the most historic cities in England since it was founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD.

It’s particularly famous for its Roman Baths which are one of the best preserved ones in the whole of Europe. They use the waters of the natural thermal springs and still work today!

It became an elegant and famous city in the 18th century and is particularly known for its connections with literature and art. Jane Austen for example was one of Bath’s famous residents which is why you can find the Jane Austen Centre in the city.

7. Chester

Chester Cathedral in England

🏛️ Historical Highlights: Roman city walls, Chester Cathedral, The Rows (medieval shopping galleries), Eastgate Clock, Chester Roman Amphitheatre, Tudor-style half-timbered buildings.

Located in the North West, Chester is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK and a must-see for any history lover.

It’s home to the most complete city walls in Britain as well as very unique two-tier medieval galleries.

There are so many civilisations that came to Chester including the Romans, Vikings and Normans.

For this reason, you’ll find loads of historical landmarks that all feature a different period in history.

8. York

shambles in york

🏛️ Historical Highlights: York Minster, medieval city walls, The Shambles, Clifford’s Tower, Jorvik Viking Centre, York Castle Museum.

York is the ultimate destination if you want to know more about the Romans and Vikings. It was founded in 71 AD by the Romans and has always been very important.

This is why a lot of civilisations including the Saxons and Vikings conquered it later on.

The Viking invasion took place in 866 AD. This is when the city was renamed Jorvik (hence the name Jorvik Viking Centre).

The city was also very important during the Middle Ages which is why the Minster and walls were built.

Another great example of this medieval heritage is The Shambles which is a cobblestone street with half-timbered houses and shops. It’s incredibly pretty and is often referred to as the ‘Harry Potter street’ even though it has actually no official connections to Harry Potter.

9. Winchester


🏛️ Historical Highlights: Winchester Cathedral, The Great Hall,, Winchester College, Wolvesey Castle, Alfred the Great’s statue

Located in Hampshire, Winchester is one of the smallest cities in this list but it’s well worth a visit!

The city was founded by the Romans and became particularly important in 871 when Alfred the Great made it his capital.

It’s also home to one of the best cathedrals in the UK.

Winchester Cathedral is an absolute architectural masterpiece and it houses the longest medieval nave in the world.

Just next to it, you’ll find Winchester College which is one of the oldest continuously-running schools in the country.

10. Durham

Durham Cathedral in england

🏛️ Historical Highlights: Durham Cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Durham Castle, Durham University, Crook Hall and Gardens

Located in the North East, Durham is a great destination for those interested in the Norman Conquest.

Here you’ll find some of the best examples of Norman architecture in Europe as well as the stunning Durham Cathedral.

It was one of the first sites to be designated in the 80s alongside some very famous landmarks in the world such as Versailles Palace or the Taj Mahal. Impressive right?

I hope you enjoyed this article and that it will make you want to visit these amazingly interesting cities.

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