Although most tourists only stick to well-known attractions, there are still many amazing yet unpopular travel experiences in the UK that might blow you away.
After living in the UK for one year, I’d love to share with you 8 of the most unforgettable travel experiences that I’ve had here. You won’t find many of these in typical travel guidebooks, which is great though because you’ll get to experience the lesser-known sides of the UK!
Without further ado, here they are: 8 Amazing Travel Experiences in the UK Few Tourists Know About
1. Volunteer at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in Ulverston
Where is the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre?
Located in Ulverston – a serene market town in Cumbria, England – the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre is housed in a beautiful Gothic building called Conishead Priory, which dates back to the 12th century. Surrounding the centre are lush green woodlands, several horse farms and a cobblestone beach within walking distance.
The Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre welcomes anyone to visit and offers a variety of courses ranging from short meditation workshops lasting for several hours to week-long meditation festivals. You can also come here just to relax at its World Peace coffee shop, admire the building’s architecture, or take a relaxing stroll in the forest and along the shoreline.
Volunteer at the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre
One of my most amazing travel experiences in the UK was volunteering at the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre for one week. All I had to do was to apply online via their website and then board the train here. During the volunteer, each person works for 30 hours per week, which is equivalent to around 5 hours per day, and then has free time on the weekend.
Work types vary from housekeeping to outdoor work, so you never get bored. Rooms and board are included, and their vegetarian and vegan meals were some of the freshest and tastiest I’d ever had. I also got the chance to make friends with people all over the world who came there to visit or volunteer. With a peaceful Buddhist ambiance there, everyone I met at the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre was really nice!
You can read more in my previous post about volunteering at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre here.
2. Join a Homeless Tour in London
While there are undoubtedly many popular things to do in London, I had the chance to join a less popular yet very meaningful activity: A London tour led by a homeless guide.
If you’re in London and want to do something off the beaten path, I’d highly recommend this tour. It’s a good way to empower homeless people to make a living by sharing their knowledge and skills.
Organized by Unseen Tours, these tours take visitors to different London neighborhoods that their homeless guides know from the inside out. I took the Brick Lane tour with Pete and learned a lot about this multicultural and historic area, from the fantastic street art to Jack the Ripper’s thrilling tales. They also run tours in Covent Garden, London Bridge, Soho, and Kings Cross as well.
3. Attend the International Hanse Day festival in Kingston upon Hull
Organized annually in Kingston upon Hull – an up-and-coming port city in Yorkshire, the International Hanse Day celebrates the city’s maritime history and connection to the Hanseatic League.
During the festival, Hull High Street is transformed into a medieval village with actors and actresses playing their roles as traders, bakers, candle stick makers, fishing net weavers, potters, and so on.
Attending this vibrant International Hanse Day in 2017 was one of my most amazing travel experiences in the UK. There were so many things to see and do here, from enjoying great food, dancing to folk music, and attending storytelling shows, to watching in awe as these talented actors and actresses really lived up to their characters.
4. Visit Sherwood Forest in Nottingham and learn about Robin Hood’s legend
I’ve long been a fan of Robin Hood – a heroic outlaw in English folklore who robbed the rich and provided for the poor. Robin Hood once dwelt in Sherwood Forest with his sweetheart Maid Marion and the gang. Visiting Sherwood Forest in Nottingham was therefore an unforgettable travel experience for me in the UK.
While there were so many things to do in Sherwood Forest, such as cycling, horse riding, trekking and swimming, I chose to just take a leisurely stroll along the serene forest trails and watch those magnificent oak trees shedding their leaves. The forest was so magically charming that I almost got lost in its beauty!
If you’re interested in exploring Sherwood Forest and learning more about Robin Hood’s life, you can read more here in my previous post Visit Nottingham in December.
5. Experience cheese tasting in Wensleydale
During my fantastic Yorkshire Dales tour, one of the beautiful stops was the charming market town of Hawes, where I got to visit the Wensleydale Creamery. This artisan cheesemaker has been handcrafting cheese products using traditional recipes and raw ingredients from local farms since 1897. With their heritage and originality, you don’t have to be a cheese lover like me to appreciate the way cheese is produced here.
At Wensleydale Creamery’s award-winning Cheese Experience and Visitor Centre, I had the chance to taste a variety of the area’s iconic Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese ranging from the classic blue cheese, smoked cheese, and goat cheese to more modern flavors such as the fruity and savory ones. They all tasted SO GOOD – creamy, crumbly and original – that I ended up buying home a bunch!
6. Take a day trip from Cardiff to Brecon Beacons in Wales
One of the 3 national parks in Wales, Brecon Beacons is located just an hour by bus from the capital Cardiff. During my visit to Wales, I took a one-day visit to Brecon Beacons and had a great time exploring the breathtaking nature this area had to offer.
Although Wales does not often appear the bucket list of first-time visitors, not to mention Brecon Beacons, it was for me one of the best travel experiences in the UK. Find more details about our amazing day trip to Brecon Beacons from Cardiff here!
7. Attend debates in the House of Commons and House of Lords
You might not know this, but foreign visitors are also welcomed to watch debates in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. These are where MPs and Peers question the government and debate current issues and legislation. For a foreigner like me, attending these lives debates was so cool as I got to know more about the UK’s politics.
There’s no need to make reservations beforehand. You just need to show up at the Cromwell Green entrance and queue before being admitted the the public galleries and then guided to guests’ sitting area. Visit the Parliament website for more information.
8. Take a half day trip from Edinburgh to South Queensferry
Despite its popularity as a tourist destination, Edinburgh sadly did not suit my taste. Therefore, I was surprisingly delighted to find a beautiful seaside town not too far from Edinburgh for a quick escape from the bustling Scottish capital: South Queensferry.
Things that made my spontaneous visit to South Queensferry one of my best travel experiences in the UK:
- The locals were SO friendly. Almost everyone I met went out of their ways to show me the town.
- The Forth Bridge – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – was a stunning piece of architecture to behold.
- Taking a stroll around town felt super relaxing! There were pretty houses with fine gardens everywhere.
- Albeit its proximity to Edinburgh, South Queensferry was nowhere near as noisy, touristy and crowded as the capital city. It’s truly a haven of peace and can easily be an ideal half day trip from Edinburgh.
Summary: 8 Amazing Travel Experiences in the UK
Have you had the same travel experiences in the UK? Or is there any other you would like to suggest? Let me know by commenting below! 🙂
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