Top UK Travel Destinations for University Students - Fresh

Top UK Travel Cities for Students

Best UK Travel Destinations for Students


A record number of UK students were accepted into university in 2018. Entry rate was 27.9% in England, 26.3% in Wales, 25.9% in Scotland, and 28.1% in Northern Ireland, but what attracts students to specific cities around the UK?

The most appealing destinations offer access to top universities and accommodation, a large student community, employment opportunities and a good cost of living, with many students saying that they generally choose a location according to which university they want to study at, with city innovation, history and culture coming a close second.

The Best Destinations to Visit in the UK

According to the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for 2019, these are the top 10 destinations to visit in the UK and Channel Islands:

1. London
2. Edinburgh
3. Liverpool
4. Glasgow
5. Belfast
6. Bath
7. Isle of Wight
8. York
9. Manchester
10. Jersey

Where does this top 10 list overlap with the UK’s best student cities?

The Best Cities for Students

Let’s take a look at the top-rated student cities in the country, as ranked by the QS Best Student Cities Index for 2018. QS is one of the world’s top higher education communities and also publishes the annual QS World University Rankings. The top 10 UK student cities for the year were as follows:

1. London
2. Edinburgh
3. Manchester
4. Glasgow
5. Coventry
6. Nottingham
7. Birmingham
8. Aberdeen
9. Newcastle Upon Tyne
10. Brighton

Four cities made it onto both lists as being popular with tourists and students alike – namely London, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. What draws so many students (and sightseers) to these prestigious UK destinations?


The QS Best Student Cities Index ranked the UK capital as the #1 location for students, and it’s easy to see why. London is a vibrant melting pot of cultures and has also been named the educational capital of the world, attracting a mix of local and international students. Plus, there’s something new to see and do around every corner – the city never runs out of surprises!

Some of the top universities in London are: University College London, Imperial College London, King’s College London, and London School of Economics and Political Science.

London is known as the most culturally diverse city in the UK, and one of the most diverse in the world.

Tourism in London

London attracts around 30 million international visitors every year. The revenue generated by London tourism accounts for around 10% of the city’s gross value-added income, and tourists in the city spend an estimated £15 million a year.


Edinburgh was ranked as the 16th best student city globally. The University of Edinburgh was rated as Scotland’s top university for 2019.

Not only is this iconic Scottish city home to some very well-respected institutions, but it’s also dominated by a thriving student culture. Whether it’s shopping on the Royal Mile, relaxing in one of the many leafy parks, or enjoying a pint at a popular student watering hole, there’s something here for everyone.

Edinburgh is the greenest major city in the UK, with plenty of green spaces, eco-friendly initiatives and low pollution levels. Rent in Edinburgh is also around half that of rent in London, according to Numbeo.

Tourism in Edinburgh

The Edinburgh tourist scene is booming; around 15.6 million overnight visitors came to the Scottish city in 2016. The total tourist expenditure during that year was £1.5 billion.

Out of the top 10 most popular tourist attractions throughout Scotland, seven are in Edinburgh. The city attracts more international visitors per year than any other UK city outside of London.

In the performance capital of the world, there are plenty of crowd-pleasing events for Edinburgh students to look forward to, from Edinburgh Fringe – the world’s biggest arts festival which spans 25 days – to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, a world-famous New Year celebration.


The motto of Scotland’s largest city is “People Make Glasgow”, and the location is known for its welcoming locals. In fact, in 2017, it was voted as the UK’s friendliest city. There is so much for students to see and experience in Glasgow, from world-famous Art Nouveau architecture to trendy restaurants, shopping hotspots and live music events.

The University of Glasgow ranked second among Scotland’s best universities, behind the University of Edinburgh.

Tourism in Glasgow

In 2017, Glasgow broke a tourism record for most international visitors in a year. The number of overseas visitors increased by nearly 19% to 787,000, and tourist expenditure rose to £319 million.


This city is a music-lover’s paradise, with an impressive pedigree that includes Oasis, Joy Division and The Smiths. There are plenty of live music gigs to take in, as well as action-packed sports events and a rich cultural heritage to enjoy.

Manchester is ranked as the second-most affordable UK city, which is good news for students on a tight budget,

The three universities in Manchester are located close together, south of the city centre. This means students have easy access to the city, and plenty of opportunities to mingle with those from other campuses.

Tourism in Manchester

There were 1,319,000 overseas visitors to Manchester in 2017, marking a 10% increase compared to the previous year.

Manchester is also under an hour’s journey from Liverpool, another contender on the “best cities to visit” list and was once named European Capital of Culture in 2008.

From cost of living to cultural diversity and educational prestige, there are so many great reasons for students to relocate to these UK cities during their university years.

Discover a huge variety of student accommodation options in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. 


Best Travel Destinations for Students
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