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The best cities in the UK for a digital detox

Ever feel like you can’t switch off fully from your phone or your laptop? Do you find yourself subconsciously refreshing apps without even really paying attention to what you’re reading?

With global news and countless different forms of social media being readily available at the tap of a finger, switching off from the world around us is easier said than done. With this in mind, we’ve revealed the best cities in the UK to escape to for a digital detox, helping you to relax and unwind while being surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Bath is the best city to visit for a digital detox in the UK

Looking at 37 cities across the UK, we’ve analysed the number of attractions, day spas within 25 miles of the city, andthe number of walking trails to explore in the nearby countryside to determine which are the best for spending time away from our screens. We’ve also looked at broadband speeds and population figures to help you decide where to go for your next digital cleanse.

1. Bath

The historic city of Bath takes first place as the best city in which to base yourself when looking to undergo a digital detox. With 504 attractions to choose from and 67 walking trails either around the city or through its beautiful surrounding countryside, it’s easy to see why this city is the ideal place to enjoy some time away from phones and computer screens.

2. Norwich

Located in the centre of Norfolk, the medieval city of Norwich comes in second place as the best city to visit for a digital cleanse. Whether it's a walk by the coast or a stroll through the Norfolk Broads that takes your fancy, there are 83 nearby walking trails to choose from to enjoy some quality time away from screens.

3. Cambridge

Home to the prestigious University of Cambridge, Cambridge comes in third place as the best city for a digital detox. Known for its beautiful gothic architecture and picturesque river which flows through the city, there are 428 attractions to choose from and 76 walking trails to help you switch off from the online world.

4. Preston

Located in the county of Lancashire, Preston is the most northern city in England that makes the top 10 ranking. The city and its surrounding areas have 98 walking trails to choose from, including many in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as six spas within a comfortable 25-mile radius.

5. St Albans

Located just a short journey away from the bustling capital of London, St Albans comes in fifth as the best city in the UK for a digital detox. With 24 spas within 25 miles of the city and a standard broadband speed of just 13Mbps (the slowest in the top 10 ranking tying with Chester), this location is the ideal place for a digital escape.

6. Chester

Located just a short distance from the English-Welsh border, the centre of Chester has a standard broadband speed of just 13Mbps as well as eight spas to pick from within a 25-mile radius. Its beautiful Tudor architecture makes it a great place to go for a wander for those looking to enjoy some history whilst switching off from their screens with 367 local attractions to choose from.

7. Salisbury

Salisbury takes seventh place as the best city for a digital detox in the UK with a population of just over 40,000 residents, making it home to the lowest population in the top 10 ranking. Perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of big cities, Salisbury is located just nine miles from the iconic site of Stonehenge and has 102 walking trails to choose from, making it the best location for those wanting to enjoy a choice of as many walks as possible on their digital detox retreat.

8. Worcester

Situated in the West Midlands, the beautiful cathedral city of Worcester is an ideal place if you're looking to treat yourself to a pamper, with 13 spas within a 25-mile radius of the city.

9. Inverness

Located in the Scottish Highlands, known for its beauty and tranquillity, Inverness unsurprisingly ranks as the best city in Scotland for enjoying a digital detox, and ninth overall. With a population of just over 79,000, Inverness is home to 298 nearby attractions and 50 walking trails, making it the ideal place to enjoy some time away from screens.

10. Dundee

Home to 241 attractions and 49 walking trails, Dundee takes tenth place as the best place to enjoy a digital detox in the UK, and second place for Scotland.

The top 20 cities in the UK for a digital detox

While not featuring in the top 10, Newry is the best place for a digital detox in Northern Ireland, coming in at 21st place overall. Just 34 miles from Belfast, Newry is home to 63 beautiful walking trails, including many through its breathtaking nearby countryside.

Meanwhile, the best place in Wales for a digital detox is Newport, coming in 22nd place overall, home to 142 attractions and 25 walking trails for visitors to enjoy whilst switching off from the outside world.

Rank City Population Number of attractions Number of spas within 25 miles Number of walking trails Broadband speed
1 Bath 88,859 504 5 67 19
2 Norwich 132,512 416 2 83 15
3 Cambridge 123,867 428 3 76 17
4 Preston 140,202 188 6 98 17
5 St Albans 140,644 122 24 15 13
6 Chester 91,733 367 8 24 13
7 Salisbury 40,302 137 0 102 15
8 Worcester 98,768 158 13 39 16
9 Inverness 79,415 298 1 50 18
10 Dundee 147,268 241 1 49 22
11 Lincoln 93,541 214 1 54 12
12 Perth 45,770 138 2 64 17
13 Exeter 127,709 252 4 32 21
14 Chichester 26,795 132 3 60 23
15 (joint) Lancaster 138,375 132 3 51 18
15 (joint) Winchester 116,595 136 4 46 15
16 Gloucester 121,688 199 4 31 17
17 Lichfield 32,219 57 12 16 8
18 Stirling 34,790 185 1 34 18
19 Hereford 58,896 99 3 42 7
20 Durham 94,375 173 2 31 16


Cities with a population of 150,000 or fewer (excluding the City of London) were included in the seedlist of cities studied in this analysis. To find the best cities for a digital detox in the UK, a weighted ranking system was used based on three factors:

Every factor was looked at for 37 cities across the UK. To calculate the overall best location for a digital detox, each factor was scored out of 10 before taking an average for each location.

Additionally, broadband speeds were looked at to reveal which cities have the slowest broadband speeds, however, this factor was not used as a ranking metric. To find this, the city centre postcode of each location excluding areas where broadband would not be typically used (i.e an airport, industrial site etc) was located. The postcode was then inputted into Ofcom and the ‘standard’ broadband speed for the top address was selected. Only postcodes with available data on Ofcom were used.