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Birmingham is often said to be the second biggest city in the UK after London. Now, while residents of other bustling cities such as Manchester, Edinburgh and Leeds might want to dispute that, there’s no arguing that Birmingham can certainly hold its own.

Located in the heart of England, there are some fantastic places to visit nearby so you can leave the city lights behind you and immerse yourself in the countryside. Better yet, we’ve picked out our favourite destinations within a 2-hour drive from Birmingham!

Peak District

Driving distance from Birmingham: One hour and 15 minutes.

The Peak District is like one great outdoor playground. And having been described as ‘just a stones throw away from everywhere in the UK’, it seems only appropriate that it feature on this list of ours. A great escape from the city, here lies a world beyond, where rivers, mountain paths, moors and dales sit by side with quaint shopping and spa towns. 

Highlights: A visit to Chatsworth House. Castleton’s four spectacular show caves. A scary ascent on the cable car The Heights of Abraham.

Did you know?: If you like your literature, the pretty town of Hathersage played a large part in Charlotte Bronte’s iconic novel Jane Eyre while North Lees Hall, which is on the outskirts, was used as the model for Mr Rochester’s home Thornfield Hall.

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Driving distance from Birmingham: One hour and 30 minutes.

Home to one of the world’s elite academic institutions, Oxford is famous the world over. Incredibly beautiful, rich with history and packed with vintage cafes, Oxford can’t help but be totally enchanting. And not only is it a short drive from London, but the train journey from Paddington or Marylebone is shorter still!

Highlights: Walking through Oxford University colleges. Punting on the River Cherwell. Exploring the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology.

Did you know?: Hitler was intending to use Oxford as his capital if he conquered England which is one of the reasons it was not bombed.

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Driving distance from Birmingham: Two hours.

Not been to Bath yet? If you answered yes, then you can skip this part. If you answered no? Let’s get booking that trip, ASAP! A city so beautiful that it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Bath has held its importance since the time of the Romans and is dotted with archaeological gems dating back from all those eras ago. The dominant style of architecture in the city is Georgian, which makes walking around the buildings taking in the spectacular detail such a joy.

Highlights: The Roman Baths. The beautiful Bath Abbey. Follow the footsteps of Jane Austen at the Jane Austen Centre. Eat a famous bun from Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House & Museum.

Did you know?: The city is famous for its Roman Baths, but before the Roman invasion of Britain in 43AD, Bath was a Celtic city dedicated to the Goddess Sulis, who was said to keep the waters of the hot springs sacred.

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Stratford Upon Avon

Driving distance from Birmingham: Two hours.

Stratford upon Avon in Warwickshire is one of the most visited destinations in the country, welcoming around 5 million tourists a year. The town owes its popularity, in part, to its status as the birthplace of arguably the greatest writer in the English language of all time – William Shakespeare. Oh, and the beautiful Tudor buildings, gorgeous river and fabulous high streets.

Highlights: A show at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Shakespeare’s home. Boat trips on the River Avon.

Did you know?: Stratford upon Avon was founded by the Saxons when they invaded what is now Warwickshire in the 7th century AD. The name is derived from straet ford, the ford by the Roman road. Avon is a Celtic word meaning river or water.

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Driving distance from Birmingham: One hour.

Once home to Charles Darwin, Shrewsbury is a historic market town in the county of Shropshire, situated in the West Midlands and just 9 miles east of the Welsh border. The town was originally a settlement upon the River Severn and its largely unaltered medieval street plan makes it a wonderful place to enjoy a last-minute cottage holiday. Shropshire has over 650 listed buildings, including the famous Shrewsbury Castle that is well worth a visit.

Highlights: A wander around Haughmond Abbey. Soak up the local culture at the Shrewsbury Museum. A show at the Battlefield Falconry Centre.

Did you know?: Lord Hill’s column, outside Shropshire County Council’s headquarters at Shire Hall, Shrewsbury, is the tallest of its kind in the world. It stands at 133 feet and is in the Doric style, as used by the ancient Greeks.

See the best holiday cottages in Shrewsbury >