The unlikely seaside town among the UK’s most underrated destinations

Magna's new multi-million pound factory in Sunderland

An unlikely seaside city has been named one of the UK’s most underrated holiday destinations.

Sunderland is a port city in Tyne and Wear with a population of about 170,000. It is 12 miles from both Newcastle and Durham.

It was recently included in holiday home site Independent Cottages’ list of the UK’s five most underrated cities to visit on holiday, alongside rivals Milton Keynes and Swansea.

The town was named the best city in the UK for independent restaurants, to raise a child and has three of the ‘best bars in Europe’.

Among the things to do in the area is nearby Washington Old Hall, a historic manor house associated with first American president George Washington. 

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What makes it so special?

There is also Hylton Castle, a castle gatehouse tower built in the late 1300s surrounded by a park, and Souter Lighthouse, the first in the world designed to be powered by electricity.

To the east of the city there are Roker and Seaburn beaches, both sandy with lifeguards and Blue Flags, and the National Glass Centre, which offers workshops in everything from stained glass to glassblowing.

There are a number of restaurants for every palate in Sunderland to visit including Italian bistro Scullery Silksworth, tapas bar Aperitif and Miller & Carter Steakhouse.

The name of the city comes from ‘sundorlande’, Old English for ‘separate land’ and locals often refer to themselves as ‘Mackem’.

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The area has a long history with coal and salt trading as well as shipbuilding, though these industries were lost in the 1900s being replaced with automotive manufacturing.

Sunderland is accessible by train from London and Carlisle, bus from Newcastle and Middlesborough and by car via the A19 and the A690.

Holiday home site Independent Cottages measured how overlooked a place was by how few guidebooks were written about it and contrasted results with things to do in those areas.

Also included on its list of the top five most underrated cities to visit were Milton Keynes, Southend-on-Sea, Swansea and Wolverhampton.

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