UK life Exploring the UK Southern England
The south of England boasts many of the UK’s most popular student destinations, including the cities of Cambridge, Oxford, Brighton, Bristol and Exeter.
The most affluent region of the UK, southern England also includes the UK’s thriving capital city, London, and some of the country’s most stunning scenery and beaches.
Southern England encompasses three regions: southeast England, southwest England, and the east of England.
As well as the UK’s exciting capital London, southeast England encompasses the historic university city of Oxford and the lively seaside town of Brighton.
The region is exceptionally beautiful, with dozens of picturesque villages, manicured gardens, magnificent coastline and historical sites capturing the essence of traditional England. Highlights include the White Cliffs of Dover, Leeds Castle in Kent or just walking through the beautiful countryside.
Brighton’s ideal seaside location mixed with funky cafes and bars, a lively music scene, boutique shops and diverse crowds make it a welcoming and top-quality destination for students. It is smaller than student city giants Manchester and London, but just as popular with students and visitors.
The iconic Brighton Pier adds a touch of retro glamour to this unique town and with some of the best choices for entertainment in the South (clubs, pubs, theatres, galleries, great shopping) you’ll never be short of something to do.
The city is home to a diverse range of people – a vibrant gay scene mixes with the vegetarian hippy culture and trendy urban-types, with a whole lot of students from the nearby universities and colleges thrown in.
Oxford possesses incredible architecture, a thriving student population, fascinating sites and the prestige of housing one of Britain’s oldest and most renowned universities.
Here you might catch some age-old English stereotypes – a black-gowned academic, a student cycling through a weathered cobblestoned quadrangle or a couple gently punting down the Thames. The most spectacular buildings in the city are the university colleges spread all over town, some dating back to the 13th century.
Despite the ancient academic legacy of the town, Oxford is a youthful city with a wide variety of entertainment options. You can find attractions such as The Apollo Theatre and the Oxford Playhouse with musicals, concerts and leading national, international and local theatre programmes all within easy walking distance of the town centre.
Nightspots vary from traditional English pubs to lively clubs while quieter students might like to bury their nose in a book amongst the hallowed shelves of the famous Bodleian library. Jericho is the upmarket, alternative end of town where most of the students live and it is packed with trendy venues to eat and drink.
Southwest England boasts ancient and mysterious places such as Glastonbury, Avebury and Stonehenge, as well as the cities of Bristol and Bath.
At the tip of this region lies the counties of Devon and Cornwall, which are magnets for holidaymakers. Surfers flock to the thrilling coast of Cornwall, as do dolphins. The region holds many international sailing events, while Newquay’s Fistral Beach is the home of the Relentless Boardmasters, a world-class surfing contest and festival.
For endless pubs and clubs by night and a relaxed cafe culture by day, you can’t beat Bristol. Two major universities mean the city’s student population is alive and kicking in this revitalised gateway to southwest England.
Bristol is a rich mix of ancient inns, cobbled streets, grand edifices and stunning new architecture. The revived Harbourside district is lined with boats, restaurants and museums while adrenaline addicts can get their thrills rock climbing, caving and mountain biking over Somerset’s Mendip Hills.
Everything in this city is within walking distance so a shopping spree in Cabot Circus or a relaxed picnic in Durdham Downs is never far away.
‘The great thing about Bristol is the nightlife. In the Old City, historic merchants’ clubs and Victorian banks have been transformed into stylish bars and restaurants, whilst the trendy Harbourside area and strip of Whiteladies Road and Park Street attract the in-crowds.’
Exeter is a small, friendly town steeped in history and heritage. The Roman and Medieval walls of the city survived heavy bombing in World War II as did other charming historical monuments, castles and Tudor-style houses.
The social scene is alive and varied, and dominated by the city’s large student population. A great choice of bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants can be found on the Quay and in the city centre, while the flourishing arts scene attracts top-quality theatre, comedy and live music performances.
There are also numerous spots nearby where you can explore some of the natural beauty of the area – the sandy stretches of Exmouth Beach and the wilderness of the Dartmoor National Park are both easily accessible from Exeter.
As big cities go, London is top of the hat stand. It is one of the most famous cities in the world, and for good reason.
Historic landmarks, lush green parks, shoppers’ paradises and social venues all balance very well on top of the city’s expansive underground train system (which makes getting around to all the sights incredibly quick and generally quite easy).
London is a multicultural and cosmopolitan hub where you will find people from all backgrounds existing side by side.
The wealth of culture and experience in London is amazing, not to mention the cuisine! In one day, you could sample the best of Bangladeshi curries in Brick Lane, try organic French produce at an open market in Southwark, grab a traditional British pie and mash at a gastro pub and finish up with cocktails and canapes at a stylish Soho nightspot.
The sights are grand and world-famous, (the Millennium Eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus to name a few) and ensure there is no shortage of architectural and iconic delights in the nation’s capital.
A great selection of free museums and an annual calendar of events and festivals, like The Notting Hill Carnival (pictured), also mean that living in one of the most dynamic cities in the world doesn’t have to break the bank.
East of England
East Anglia is a region lying north of London, bordered by the coastlines of Norfolk, Sussex and Essex.
In this region are the esteemed university city of Cambridge and many popular, idyllic holiday destinations ranging from flat, open countryside to sandy beaches and myriad tranquil waterways. Here you can visit Knebworth House, a gothic mansion famous for holding rock concerts in its ground or explore the Norfolk Broads, a series of ancient waterways.
Academia aside, you’ll also find a wide range of eateries, night spots and shops in Cambridge, along with an entertainment calendar that makes living here a paradise for arts lovers and socialites.
Hopping on a bicycle is the best way to get around town. A favourite pastime in Cambridge is the quintessentially English activity of punting – pushing yourself with a long stick in a flat boat down the River Cam is a great way to explore the city.
You can catch gigs of all sizes at venues such as the Corn Exchange and the Junction. For those looking for a favourite watering hole, century-old traditional pubs sit alongside thumping nightclubs and dance spots, so there is plenty to choose from.
Norwich is the most complete medieval city in Britain and is a perfect mix of historical charm and modern sophistication. Students love Norwich for its cosmopolitan nature, nightlife, great shopping and friendly community feel. Not to mention the quaint heritage churches, buildings and sites found around every corner.
Norwich also has a packed festival calendar with everything from drama, music, film, animation and comedy to food and beer celebrated each year.