Liverpool Cathedral

© Princess

Five brilliant cities you can visit on our British Isles cruises

From the botanic gardens and boutiques in Glasgow to stunning architecture and ‘scouse’ in Liverpool, explore some of the UK and Ireland’s best metropolitan hubs

April 2024

By Liz Darke

There’s so much more to the UK than bucolic villages and Buckingham Palace – however charming those may be. Our fair isles are home to a bounty of brilliant metropolises, which between them offer rich history, striking architecture, serene green spaces and world-class museums. Ready to explore? Here’s our round-up of the best cities to visit in the UK and Ireland, all of which are accessible with Princess

Titanic Belfast museum

Admire the cutting-edge architecture of Titanic Belfast © Princess


Often overlooked in favour of Republic of Ireland capital Dublin, Belfast (its Northern Ireland counterpart) is a vibrant city with an entertainment and cultural scene worth seeking out. While there’s great architecture to admire in the form of Renaissance-style City Hall and modernist Titanic museum, those with an interest in traditional music – and the lively venues it flourishes in – will be in seventh heaven here. Most bars and taverns host live folk music daily, and for guaranteed good craic, you can visit some of the city’s most historic (and much-loved) pubs on a guided evening walk with Princess. For a more outdoorsy outing, head to the north coast of County Antrim, just over an hour’s drive from central Belfast, to see the unique, rugged rock formations of the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Northern Irish countryside offers many other natural wonders, too, some so mystical-looking that they were used as locations for Game of Thrones, much of which was filmed at a former linen mill about 25 miles from Belfast, now the site of the only official Game of Thrones studio tour.


A vibrant blend of high culture and down-to-earth locals, Glasgow is a must-visit for anyone with an appreciation of creativity. Once you’ve exhausted the city centre’s mix of fashion stores, antiques venues and world-class coffee shops, be sure to head to the West End neighbourhood, where you’ll find elegant Victorian mansion flats sitting above pop-up galleries, independent bars and some of the best brunch options in Scotland. Of course, Glasgow’s infamous weather can literally put a dampener on things, but even in a disastrous downpour, you can still enjoy the botanic gardens thanks to their huge 19th-century glasshouse, the Kibble Palace. Or just hole up somewhere cosy for a Full Scottish, complete with tattie scones and haggis…

Kinsale, Cork in Ireland

Wander colourful Kinsale village, less than an hour from Cork city centre © Tim Thompson


Cork, the Republic of Ireland’s biggest county and also second largest city, delivers charm at every turn. The rugged countryside of West Cork is dotted with villages so pretty (such as Kinsale, Clonakilty and Killarney) that even the Irish spend their holidays here, while the city itself has a colourful history of Viking conquests, Huguenot settlers and civil wars. Cork was also one of the biggest butter exporters in the 19th century, shipping its rich and creamy dairy products as far away as Australia. You can learn about the county’s spreadable heritage and production processes at The Butter Museum, located in the Shandon district in Cork city. From butter to booze, whiskey lovers must visit the Jameson Distillery in the east of the county to see the world’s biggest pot still, and perhaps take a tour of House of Waterford Crystal in the next county along (Waterford) to choose some very fine glasses to drink it from.


As well as being the home of arguably the world’s biggest-ever band, Liverpool is a handsome and characterful city with endless stories to tell. Its magnificent architecture is a great place to start: the Edwardian baroque dome and columns of the Port of Liverpool Building rival that of the Palace of Versailles. Then there’s the Gothic grandeur of Liverpool Cathedral, the largest religious building in Britain and, at 189 metres in length, the longest cathedral in the world; while the space-age 1960s Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is perhaps even more striking from the inside, with its white marble altar and stained-glass tower. Having learned the secrets of such buildings on a tour of Liverpool with Princess, find a cosy pub for a pint and a hearty bowl of ‘scouse’, the meat stew that gave the Liverpool accent its nickname.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Find history, green spaces and stunning views in the Scottish capital © Princess


Scotland’s magnificent capital has long been considered one of the best cities to visit in the UK. It’s steeped in royal history, boasts a world-class food and drink scene, and offers iconic vistas at every turn. If it’s not your first visit to Edinburgh, get a different viewpoint on the famous Royal Mile with a tour of the underground alleys of Mary King’s Close – a series of restored 17th-century alleys hidden beneath the Edinburgh City Chambers building. The historical pathways, which were partially demolished during the building of the Royal Exchange in the 18th century, have a sordid history and are believed by some to be haunted. Once you’re back above ground, seek out Joao’s Place, a super-chic bar at the top of the W Hotel, where the delicious cocktails are accompanied by spectacular views over the city.

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About the Author

Liz Darke

Liz Darke

Liz is a journalist who specialises in travel, food and lifestyle. Always on the hunt for a hit of sunshine and fantastic regional cuisine, she's heading to Hong Kong, Provence and the Dalmatian Coast next. Oh, and bring on the local wine, too!