The north west of England's diversity promises good times for every kind of traveler. Music fanatic? Northwestern cities Manchester and Liverpool boast enviable rock 'n' roll pedigrees. Untamed nature more your thing? The Yorkshire Moors and Lake District beckon. Most at home on the coast? Try atmospheric Scarborough or flashy Blackpool.
Emerging slowly but surely from an oft-troubled past over the last 20 years or so, England's north is in the throes of a slow-burning cultural renaissance. Sure, it's not all sunshine and roses yet, but the region's infectious energy and unique attractions give it an appeal that's hard to ignore.
Day 1: 24-Hour Party People
England's 'second city' Manchester has a dynamic blend of culture, history and football that comes served with an edge. Trawl vintage boutiques en route to Manchester Art Gallery; grab a cheap'n'cheerful curry on Oxford Street, then catch a band at the Academy. Admire grand old buildings like the Central Library or Manchester Town Hall before mingling with the Man U mob at Old Trafford.
A short train ride away is Liverpool. For most travelers, Liverpool means Beatles, and it's true that landmarks, shops, festivals, museums and guided tours celebrating the Fab Four abound. But Liverpool's no one-trick pony, as its impressive architecture, beautifully restored Albert Dock area, and jumping nightlife attest. Just north lies
coastal resort Blackpool: part flash, part kitsch and all fun - if you don't take it too seriously. Come in summer, when its Pleasure Beach amusement park is swinging and its seaside Promenade is buzzing.
Day 2: Yorkshire in a Nutshell
England's largest county, Yorkshire is a bonanza for both culture and nature lovers. With a rich history spanning Celtic tribes, Roman rule and Tudor conflict, it's awash with ancient attractions - particularly in the wondrous city of York, described by King George VI as "being the history of England." Marvel at the colossal 13th-century Gothic cathedral York Minster and walk the medieval walls encircling the city. Keen to learn more about York's turbulent past? Get yourself a Yorkshire Pass and hit the museum circuit!
Meanwhile, lovers of the Great Outdoors should head to the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks for nature at its most splendid. Coastal highlights include Scarborough, England's oldest and most archetypal seaside resort, and Whitby, famous for its ruined 7th-century Benedictine Abbey and stunning harbor.
Day 3: Northern Lights
Natural beauty that will leave you breathless and a literary tradition to ignite your imagination combine to make the Lake District one of Northern England's absolute must-sees. Whether you're a William Wordsworth devotee or a hiking enthusiast, you'll be smitten with this glorious region. Though not known as a tourist hot spot, Newcastle Upon Tyne is also worth a visit. This handsome city has shed its grim industrial reputation to become a vibrant cultural hub. Its state of-the-art center for contemporary visual arts, the BALTIC, has upped its cool factor, while its boisterous nightlife is legendary.