Which UK city should I visit?
April 17, 2024 9:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be spending a few days in the UK likely in the late fall or winter and these cities are my options: Bristol, Durham, Rugby and Glasgow. Which should I visit?

I'm pursuing a certificate in technical hand embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework. It's a mostly online program but there's an option to take some of the courses in the UK and I am very interested in doing that!

The main location is in London, where I've been a few times but I've pretty much never traveled anywhere else in the UK (outside of college study abroad at Oxford) and as a moderate Anglophile, am really interested in seeing another city!

The other locations are Bristol, Durham, Rugby and Glasgow. I know next to nothing about these cities (outside of watching Trainspotting).

For a tourist who's very interested in British history, museums culture, walking around interesting cities and (of course) textile arts, which would be the best option? I'll likely spend about eight days in whichever city this is, with some time for day or weekend trips.
posted by lizard2590 to Travel & Transportation around Central African Republic (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, also I'm queer and love going to queer bars, events and social gathering spots in other cities (especially internationally), so if any one of these cities is best for that kind of thing, would love to know!
posted by lizard2590 at 9:21 AM on April 17

Best answer: It’s Glasgow or Bristol for sure! Check out the art listings and the queer places and see which you vibe with more.

Day trips from Bristol: Bath, Cardiff, Cheltenham and the Cotswolds; day trips from Glasgow: Edinburgh, beautiful Scottish countryside (off the top of my and my wife’s head).
posted by lokta at 9:41 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]

Of these options, Glasgow has the most museums. It's also a very easy day trip to Edinburgh (even more museums, including Dovecot, and lots more history than any of your options). Glasgow is also the biggest city on your list too, so it has the best nightlife. The two downsides of Glasgow are it is relatively far from London (assuming you're flying in via London) and the days are shorter, darker and wetter in the winter than your other options. It's not like you're going to get a suntan in Bristol in December, but the sun is barely up for 6 hours in Glasgow.

Bristol would be my second choice (with day trips to Bath and Oxford). Bristol is great.

Durham is nice, but eight days is a long time to spend there. You could visit it in a long day trip from Glasgow. Rugby is ... well, it's not as nice as Durham, and again eight days is a long time.

(In case you don't realise: if you do go to Glasgow then telling people you're there because you're an Anglophile who has seen Trainspotting is likely to confuse people.)
posted by caek at 9:43 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]

(And at the risk of stating the obvious, you should adjust your itinerary in whatever way is necessary, including changing flights, so you can spend a day at the V&A in London.)
posted by caek at 9:45 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Another vote for Glasgow as long as you don't mind the cold/wet/dark. It's big, and busy, and creative, and full of open, talkative people. Here are its main museums.

As well as Dovecot Studios, you could probably do a trip to the Great Tapestry of Scotland. There is a branch of the V&A in Dundee, but it's pretty tiny compared to the London one so I'd agree you should divert via the London one if at all possible.

In case you don't realise: if you do go to Glasgow then telling people you're there because you're an Anglophile who has seen Trainspotting is likely to confuse people.

(In case you need this unpacking - Glasgow isn't in England and the folk there have strong opinions about anyone suggesting it is, even if it's an accidental turn of phrase; Trainspotting is set in Edinburgh, not Glasgow, albeit the film was actually shot more in Glasgow than Edinburgh.)
posted by penguin pie at 10:03 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In order of queerness - it probably goes Bristol > Glasgow >> Durham > Rugby. Bristol has a long history of community activism, radical politics, DIY art scene, etc. Easy day trips from Bristol would include Bath, the Cotswolds, all of south Wales, & the south west of England generally. Glasgow is a big vibrant city with museums, galleries etc & gives you day-trip (or longer if poss) access to all of Scotland. Durham has a spectacular Norman cathedral that overlooks the whole city, & day trips to York, the Lake District & the Northumbrian coast (think windswept beaches & clifftop ruins) - and people in the northeast are so much friendlier than most other English people. Rugby is… yeah, don’t pick Rugby.
posted by rd45 at 12:35 PM on April 17 [7 favorites]

Best answer: What an interesting programme to take!

I vote for Glasgow too in terms of there being so much to see and do there, even in winter. The Tenement House is absolutely unmissable -- it is staffed by volunteers who have so much love for the place and its former inhabitants.

You can fly from London to Glasgow in an hour, or take the train over about six hours and enjoy the journey. Glasgow to Edinburgh is a short train journey (less than an hour); Edinburgh to Durham under two hours.

There are plenty of Glasgow locations in Trainspotting if you want to look for those. Have an ice cream at Jaconelli's if you aren't too cold!
posted by Orkney Vole at 1:03 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for these helpful suggestions! Also, yeah, lol, I'm well aware that Glasgow is not in Britain and the sensitivities that non-English people in the British Isles have around being called English/British.

I think it's probably going to be Glasgow for me! I love cold/wet/dark. May check out Bristol in a future trip related to this program. Really appreciate all these perspectives and information.
posted by lizard2590 at 7:41 AM on April 18

Glasgow IS in Britain, and most Scots would describe themselves as British (although most will identify first as Scottish).
posted by pipeski at 12:22 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]

Nthing Glasgow. We had a wonderful time there very recently, weather excepted. Also, Glasgow absolutely is in Britain. Your average weegie will not object to being called British, but they will not be happy to be called English.
posted by alby at 10:14 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]

Frankie Boyle has written a lot of standup and political commentary from an anti-colonial, anti-oppression, liberatory perspective. He's from a long tradition of Glaswegians with a similar perspective; I think you'll like the town!

see his twitter for example
posted by lalochezia at 11:58 AM on April 19

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