The north of England is a rich and glowing seam of culture, heritage and nightlife. City lovers will be spoiled for choice, while hikers can find adventure in no less than four nearby National Parks. See the heartland of the industrial revolution, the homeland of countless major artists and performers (not least The Beatles, the Cure, the Stone Roses and The Smiths), and get acquainted with an array of regional accents while you're there.
Famed as the homeland of 1960s rock group The Beatles, Liverpool's cultural offering doesn't end there. You'll find stunning works of art in Tate Liverpool, lots of lively pubs and nightclubs, and a host of historic districts to explore too. Don't miss Albert Dock, the city's historic shipyards now home to galleries and museums, and the magnifcent Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the UK.
2. Chester and Cheshire
A more compact historic town, Chester's striking half-timbered buildings give it a a real air of romance. Hit the shops, pay a visit to Chester Zoo, or get out and about in the gorgeous Cheshire countryside.
Once a major industrial centre, today Manchester is a bustling cultural metropolis, famed for its music and arts as much as its nightlife, heritage and shopping. It's also home to the only urban heritage park in the UK: living testimony to its industrial past. Catch a gig at one of its top venues, or see the sights by water as you cruise though its historic waterways.
4. Newcastle upon Tyne
Shopping and arts make Newcastle one of Northern England's top destinations. The 2011 Turner Prize was held outside London for the first time at BALTIC, the city's centre for contemporary arts, while a collection of tradiational arcades and modern shopping centres make it an attractive spot for a splurge.
Hit Leeds' gorgeous shopping arcades and bustling bars and clubs for a fun weekend away. Cycling fans take note: in 2014 the Tour de France begins its grand départ from Leeds. If you want to take to the hills, you're a stone's throw away from some of Britain's most beautiful countryside in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
One of England's most picturesque cities, York's medieval and Roman heritage make it a fascinating feast for the senses. Hear choral concerts at the enormous gothic cathedral, York Minster, discover buildings from the 15th century on its famous street, The Shambles, then explore the city's Viking past at Jorvik Viking Centre. Both York and Leeds are in Yorkshire, which came 3rd on Lonely Planet's Best in Travel list for 2014.