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Invisible Cities Launches Manx Supporting Mancs Campaign

Written on November 11, 2020

Introducing Manx Supporting Mancs... an exciting new Invisible Cities campaign where people in the Isle of Man (Manx) are supporting our team in Manchester (Mancs)!

The Project:

The idea is simple: people in the Isle of Man can purchase a signed copy of Danny's 'Off the Cobbles' poetry book and all of the proceeds go towards Invisible (Manchester). Working in collaboration with Roisin Quinn in the Isle of Man, our Invisible (Manchester) team is excited to create new connections and use monies raised through this campaign for a project in the city. They will decide what is needed most to support those affected by homelessness.

Our Progress so Far:

We can't begin to thank everyone over in the Isle of Man for the success of this project so far. The overwhelming response has been more than we could have imagined - Danny feels like a local celebrity with the number of books he's signing! Finally, we want to say a huge thanks to TQC Ltd who have already contributed significantly to the project.

Stay In The Loop:

2020 has been a year like no other. This campaign shows that in times of uncertainty we can pull together, connect with others and support those in need. If you'd like to be kept updated with news on our Manx Supporting Mancs project, scan the barcode below.

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York: A Beginner’s Guide

Written on November 05, 2020

York: A Beginner’s Guide

An atmospheric and historical city with its roots stretching right back to Roman times, York is an enchanting destination which boasts an array of attractions to excite, no matter what your interests. In fact, it is said York has more attractions per square mile than any other British city. So, join us today for our beginner’s guide to this magical city. And while you’re with us, be sure to check out our Walking Tours in York. Invisible Cities is a social enterprise dedicated to providing tour guide training and jobs for people who have been affected by homelessness. All of our tours are led by guides who possess a wealth of stories and a love for their city.

York is Enchantingly Beautiful

Roman fortifications, medieval market places, Georgian splendour: York is a city that fires the imagination. Much of central York is pedestrianised, making the city very walkable and absent of the inner city smog associated with other large cities. And with a population of just over 150,000, York is large enough to be vibrant without visitors ever feeling overwhelmed by crowds and congestion. Of course, all visitors should reserve time to visit the city’s medieval cathedral, York Minster. As one of the world’s largest Gothic buildings, this 800-year-old masterpiece is an awesome spectacle that will leave you wondering just how medieval builders could construct something of this scale. Elsewhere, visitors can tour the city by walking its surviving Roman and medieval walls, stroll along the waterside of the River Ouse, or exploring the grandeur of York’s Georgian architecture. Visitors with an interest in architectural history will enjoy our Health And Wealth of York walking tour.

York is a Foodie Haven

York is an excellent destination for food lovers, particularly those with a sweet tooth. While much of the success of Britain’s industrial revolution lay in textiles, York is famous for its long history of chocolate production. In the 19th century, chocolate guaranteed York its economic security and many of the city’s residents worked in chocolate factories. Iconic confectioners Rowntree and Terry’s both have their origins in the city and their stories are told in York’s Chocolate Story, a popular museum of chocolate located within the city centre. Aside from chocolate, the city has a burgeoning coffee shop culture with local independents like Bean & Gone, Everett’s, and Brew & Brownie serving top quality coffee and food. And what trip to York would be complete without visiting York institution, Betty’s? This iconic teahouse is a famously one of the best places in the city for taking afternoon tea.

York is a History Lover’s Paradise

Alongside the aforementioned Roman ruins and medieval architecture, history lovers can delve further into the past at one of the city’s fantastic museums. With the first train leaving York in 1839, the city played a starring role in the history of rail travel and it’s fitting that today the city is home to the world’s largest railway museum. For travellers fond of rail history, our guide Gemma takes our York Railway Tour dedicated to the subject, which can be extended to include the museum. The city is also proud of its Viking past which is expertly brought to life at the Jorvik Viking Centre (Jorvik being the old Norse name for the city). Described as an experience rather than a museum, the exhibits found in the Viking centre involve Viking relics, models developed with facial recognition technology, and even aromas designed to give you an insight into how life would have smelled in a Viking settlement! Finally, the York Castle Museum offers guests an excellent insight to various chapters in the city’s more recent past –– the Victorian sweet shop is especially enjoyable.

York is a Great Base for Further Adventures

Some things never change. York was prized by both the Romans and Vikings for its location and today it remains a well-connected city that presents travellers with a range of choices for day trips. York is a gateway to some of the most beautiful scenery in England. Take a tour from the city centre and explore the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park. With rolling hills and quintessentially English villages and hamlets along the way, this is a wonderfully idyllic part of the world. Take a ride on a restored steam train out to the famous coastal town of Whitby. Or, if you haven’t had your fill of historic sites in York, take a trip out to the haunting ruins of Bolton Abbey, a 12th century monastery that fell victim to the closure of the monasteries under Henry VIII.

Here ends our beginner’s guide to magnificent York. We hope this guide has inspired you to make the trip to this beautiful Yorkshire city. If you have any comments or suggestions for us, please do not hesitate to contact us, we’d love to hear from you.

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What Are the Top Tourist Attractions in Glasgow?

Written on November 03, 2020

What Are the Top Tourist Attractions in Glasgow?

Glasgow is one of the most vibrant and interesting cities the UK has to offer. With its gorgeous architecture, thriving art scene and its extraordinary history, there is something for everyone in this oft-hidden gem. Like its sister city, Edinburgh, Glasgow is large but also surprisingly intimate, and it’s easy to get around in on foot. For this reason, one of the best ways to see the city is to go on one of Invisible Cities’ Glasgow Walking Tours. And if you’re curious about what sort of attraction you might see as you stroll through this fine city, then here is a list of some of Glasgow’s top tourist attractions!

Glasgow Cathedral, the Necropolis and Provand’s Lordship

Three separate establishments but all within a stone’s throw of each other, Glasgow Cathedral, the Necropolis and Provand’s Lordship are all must-see stops.

Glasgow University and Hunterian Museum

Another sumptuous gothic build, the University of Glasgow cuts a glorious figure in the West End of Glasgow. It’s worth visiting just for the stunning cloisters, but if you walk through you’ll find another treasure: the Hunterian Museum.

Kelvingrove Museum

A stone’s throw away from the University, is the wonderful Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Established in 1901, this impressive edifice was built in the Spanish Baroque style and in the evenings its windows glow with a distinctive red hue, giving the building a mysterious allure. Inside, the 22 galleries have a wide range of exhibits, from Ancient Egyptian artefacts, to Renaissance art, to a stunning array of taxidermy. There is something intriguing in every corner of the building, making it a must-see attraction for all curious visitors in Glasgow.

Botanic Gardens and Kibble Palace

Another beautiful spot to visit in Glasgow’s West End is the Botanic Gardens and Kibble Palace, which can lift the spirits on even the most dreich (dreary) of days. The gardens provide a veritable wonderland of plants to explore and the warmth of the greenhouses are very attractive on a cold Glasgow day! Kibble Palace is a stunning domed glasshouse in which you can wander around trees and or sit on benches to just absorb the humidity and greenery of the place.

Mackintosh Trail

One of Glasgow’s most iconic residents was Charles Rennie Mackintosh – architect, designer and artist. His work, and that of his wife, Margaret MacDonald, inspired what is known as the Glasgow Style as well as influencing movements such as Art Nouveau, Symbolism and Secessionism. Some of his work, and that of the other members of the Glasgow Four (Margaret MacDonald, her sister Frances MacDonald, and Herbert MacNair) can be seen at Kelvingrove Museum, but it is worth following the Mackintosh Trail to truly enjoy his genius. Visit the Lighthouse (Glasgow’s Centre for Design and Architecture, and Mackintosh’s first commission), Mackintosh House, House for an Art Lover, and Hill House to enjoy some of his work, and if his aesthetic appeals to you, then you can’t go wrong with a lovely spot of tea at the Willow Tearooms.

So there you have it! Some of the top tourist attractions in Glasgow. This is a city that is both welcoming and surprisingly small, so the best way to explore it is by walking around it; you’ll find there are far more interesting spots to unearth than we had time to write about in this blog. If our Glasgow tour appeals to you and you’re interested in seeing more of Scotland, we also offer a range of wonderful Edinburgh Walking Tours. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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The 5 Most Scenic Places in Edinburgh

Written on October 27, 2020

The 5 Most Scenic Places in Edinburgh

As one of Europe’s most picturesque capital cities, there is no shortage of scenic spots in Edinburgh. Fortunately, at Invisible Cities, we have the local knowledge to help you get the most out of your city break. Join us today as we explore the 5 most scenic places in Edinburgh. Before you begin, why not take a look at our range of walking tours in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle

Looming over the city from Castle Rock, this 12th-century castle acted as a royal residence for around four and a half centuries; its most famous former residents were Bonnie Prince Charlie and Mary, Queen of Scots. A strategic fortress in both a real and symbolic sense, control of the castle historically meant control of the city itself and so this building’s story, perhaps more than any other, is bound to that of the city below. Today, you can get fantastic views over the cityscape and explore the castle’s history with on-site guides. One of the castle’s darker functions over the years has been its use as a military prison, with sometimes hundreds of foreign prisoners being held in its vaults. For those with an interest in some of the more macabre chapters in the city’s past, you may enjoy our local guide Sonny’s Crime and Punishment tour of Edinburgh.

Calton Hill

Part of the city’s UNESCO world heritage site, Calton Hill provides one of the best cityscapes across the city. Lying to the east of Princes Street, the hill is a short walk from the centre. The climb to the top is short but steep. At the top of the hill, relax on the grass with a picnic lunch if the weather’s good and explore the many historic monuments situated here. Notable structures at the top of the hill include the City Observatory, the Nelson Monument, and the infamous National Monument — a memorial to the Napoleonic Wars in the style of Athens’ Parthenon that was left half-finished when the council ran out of money in 1829.

Deane Village

The ‘Water of Leith Village’, as it was once known, is a strange time-capsule of a place. Visitors who stumble upon Deane Village by chance would be forgiven for thinking they have stepped through a portal to a distant time. The site of a mill some 800 years ago, this area has been perfectly preserved and offers a peaceful escape from the often busy city centre. It’s one of the most picture-perfect sections of the city, so bring a camera with you for holiday snaps. Walking by the softly flowing water, you are likely to have the place to yourself, apart from the occasional jogger or dog walker. There are no shops or restaurants in the immediate vicinity, but it’s a fairly short walk from the National Gallery of Modern Art which should also make it onto your must-see list. For visitors hoping to explore the city’s arts and culture scene, you will enjoy tours with our guide Angie who explores the hidden and overlooked creative places the city has to offer.

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat is a dormant volcano (don’t worry, it hasn’t been active for millions of years) located just outside Edinburgh’s city centre. It offers matchless views over the city and the surrounding countryside. The hill is part of the larger Holyrood Park which includes glens, hills, lochs, and cliffs. Allow a good couple of hours to make the climb and your way back down, adding more time if you wish to explore Holyrood park more widely. A taste of wild Scotland on the doorstep of the capital.

The Royal Mile

Some locals may grumble at any mention of the Royal Mile as it’s, undoubtedly, the street most geared towards tourists in the whole city and it can get very busy — especially during the Edinburgh Festival. However, like most popular tourist spots, it’s included in the guidebooks for a reason. The street is lined on both sides with historic buildings and gives an excellent feel for how the city would have been in bygone eras. At the top, you have the castle and at the bottom, the Scottish parliament, Holyrood House. Enjoy watching the rush of people from all over the globe pass you by, and when it gets too much for you, get lost on the winding lanes that lead off the main drag. Our local guide Angus gives an excellent tour exploring this area: The Royal Mile Tour – From Huts to High Rise.

So ends our whistle-stop tour of the best scenic spots around Edinburgh. If you have any questions for us, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out to us here.

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Black History Month: The History of Glasgow

Written on October 05, 2020

October is Black History Month. Originally founded to recognise the contributions that people of African and Caribbean backgrounds have made to the UK over many generations, it has now expanded to include the history of not just African and Caribbean people but black people in general.

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Where Are the Best Places to Visit in Manchester?

Written on September 24, 2020

Where Are the Best Places to Visit in Manchester?

A harmonious mix of the old and the new makes Manchester one the most captivating cities in the UK, and in recent years the city has gone from strength to strength, securing its place as one of the top destinations anyone travelling in the UK should visit. Join us as we explore some of our favourite sights to make your trip extra special. If you haven’t done so already, have a look at our Walking Tours in Manchester which are led by local guides with an intimate knowledge of the city. And if you are travelling further north, consider our Walking Tours in Glasgow.

The John Rylands Library

Having been used as a filming location for many period dramas, the John Rylands Library is an enchanting neo-gothic library located in the heart of Manchester. First opening its doors in 1900, the library was founded by Enriqueta Augustina Ryland in tribute to her husband, John, who was Manchester’s first multi-millionaire and a notable philanthropist. The library’s special collections are among the largest in the UK and visitors will be able to see such treasures as a Gutenberg Bible, a First Folio of Shakespeare, and even the oldest surviving fragment of the New Testament. Today, the library is often referred to as being Hogwartsesque for its archways and vaulted ceilings, and it is certainly difficult not to fall under its spell. For book-lovers, we would also recommend taking a short walk to the nearby Chetham’s Library – the oldest public library in the English-speaking world and another Manchester venue sure to teleport you back in time.

Old Trafford

Old Trafford: The Theatre of Dreams. Home of the most successful English team in the history of the beautiful game, this is a must for all sports fans, but there is plenty of interest here to make the visit an enjoyable day out for those who do not follow football. Football stadiums are the gladiatorial arenas of the modern age and this 80,000-seater stadium has brought joy and sorrow to more spectators than most throughout its glorious history. Visitors can expect to be given a fabulous insight into the club’s history by expert guides and will have access to parts of the arena normally reserved only for players – you’ll even be able to walk down the hallowed player’s tunnel, tracing the same path to the pitch as club legends like Ronaldo, Beckham, Cantona, and Rooney. For football enthusiasts, the National Football Museum in Manchester also makes for an excellent visit, being the largest of its kind in the world. And for those more inclined to cheer a Man United defeat than a victory, their cross-town rivals Manchester City also offer a very enjoyable series of tours of their impressive ground, the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester Museum

The Manchester Museum is an excellent attraction for guests of all ages. The largest university-owned museum in the UK, the museum has around 4.5 million items within their collections. Established in 1867, today the museum is one of Manchester’s most popular attractions with over 400,000 visitors each year. The scope of the exhibits on display here is extraordinary and any guest is sure to find displays that will fire their imagination. A visitor favourite is the museum’s 65 million-year-old tyrannosaurus rex, Stan, who has been delighting young and old alike since he first went on permanent display in 2004. Also of particular note is the museum’s Egyptology department which comprises 18,000 artefacts and includes the mummy of a woman name Arsu who lived in Thebes almost 3,000 years ago. This is a treasure trove of wonders.

The Northern Quarter

Known as the bohemian corner of Manchester, the Northern Quarter is an excellent area to explore on foot for independent shops and stylish cafes, bars, and restaurants. The fortunes of this district have been bound to Manchester’s industry over the centuries and the area fell into a steep decline after the Second World War as commercial centres shifted. But over the past couple of decades, enterprising business owners and other creative minds have turned this into one of the most vibrant parts of the city. Manchester is famously the birthplace of bands like Oasis, The Smiths, and Joy Division, and music lovers will find excellent record shops in this area stocked with quality vinyl, while fashionistas will find plenty of vintage clothing stores. The indoor market Afflecks should be on the to-do list of anyone hoping to do some shopping during their stay. For more things to do in this part of Manchester, check out our tour Off the Cobbles with Danny. On this tour, you’ll learn about Manchester from someone who has lived on its streets. Danny likes to convey his enthusiasm for Manchester while also combatting stigmas about homeless people.

The Science and Industry Museum

Another Manchester Museum housed in a stunning building, the Science and Industry Museum is based at what was once the world’s first passenger railway station. In its heyday, Manchester was the piston driving the British Empire and this museum gives a fascinating insight into the city’s achievements, from being the birthplace of the industrial revolution to where Ernest Rutherford first split the atom. There is a range of significant aircraft on display, including a locally built Spitfire and an impressive collection of early locomotives. For guests more interested in the political than the scientific, the People’s History Museum is an excellent alternative. Again charting Manchester’s impact on British (and global) history, the People’s Museum is focussed on the revolutionary spirit of this city which was at the centre of the Suffragette movement and was home to Marx and Engels as they wrote their Communist Manifesto.

This brings to a close our selection of the best places to visit during your stay in Manchester. Do you have any questions for us? Is there something you feel should be included on the list? Please feel free to reach out and contact us anytime, we’d be happy to chat.

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Looking for Things to Do in York?

Written on September 17, 2020

Looking for Things to Do in York?

With a history stretching back to Roman times and a distinctly medieval appearance, it is easy to see why York remains one of our most beloved travel destinations in the UK. Join us as we journey through some of our favourite things to do in York. And if you like what you see, be sure to check out our Walking Tours in York which are run by local people who have experienced homelessness; our tour guides have the insider knowledge to help you get the most from your stay. If you are planning to travel further north after your stay, why not consider our Walking Tours in Edinburgh.

York Minster

Undoubtedly York’s crown jewel, York Minster is one of the largest medieval churches in Europe and perhaps the most beautiful in the whole UK. Tracing its origins back to the 7th Century, the minster (as cathedrals are often called in England) as we know it today was built between the 13th and 15th centuries. The building is enormous and as you stand inside looking at the gothic, vaulted ceilings that seem to extend to the heavens, you find yourself in awe that craftsmen with rudimentary tools were able to construct such a building. The stained glass of the Great East Window is the largest section of medieval stained glass in the world. It has been drawing visitors for centuries and it should be top of your list for your stay in York.

The National Railway Museum

A former winner of the European Museum of the Year Award, this is the world’s largest collection of historic trains and railway memorabilia. Dedicated to exploring the past, present, and future of rail travel, the museum has exhibits spanning 300 years that will interest visitors of any age. With sections of the exhibition space being filled with period items and mock platforms, the museum does an excellent job bringing bygone eras to life. The railway is central to York’s history and this museum provides a fine insight into the role the city played in the development of rail travel. All exhibits come with ample multimedia delving into the history of what’s on display, so rail enthusiasts will want to reserve plenty of time for this excursion. Entry to the museum is free and there are 3 cafes on site for food and refreshment. And if you’re interested in York’s railway history, Gemma from Invisible Cities runs a tour on York’s Railway Heritage. So make sure you check that out.

The Shambles

The Shambles will be especially delightful for first-time visitors to England, as this fairytale street carries all the charm that we associate with historic English towns and villages. Historical documents tell us that tradespeople have been selling their wares on this street since the 11th Century and it was known as one of the city’s marketplaces since the 14th Century. Historically, butchers would have been trading on the street, but today you will find a bookshop, a bakery, and an assortment of independent shops and restaurants. With younger guests, the street will perhaps be best known as a possible inspiration for JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books. You will certainly find your imagination come alive as you stroll through this enchanting area of the city which seems to have been suspended in a time long ago.

York City Walls

York has been fortified with town walls since Roman times and today the city can make the boast of having the best-preserved defensive walls of any town in England. The earliest sections of the wall stretch back as far as 71 AD, but the oldest visible feature is the multangular tower which was erected under the reign of Constantine in the 4th Century. Walking these fortifications is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the history of the city while also getting a feel for the lay of the land. Along your way, you encounter some beautifully preserved medieval gatehouses, known as bars. Traditionally these were used to restrict traffic and obtain tolls from passing travellers, but fortunately today your access is free and you are free to explore these historic sites unimpeded! And if you are interested in knowing more about the history of York's Wall, stay tuned as we are developing a new tour. Details to follow soon!

And this brings our guide for things to do in York to a close. We hope this guide has inspired you to make the most of this wonderful city. Remember to have a browse of our own Walking Tours in York before you go, and if you have any comments or suggestions for us, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Why Your Online Reviews Matter

Written on September 14, 2020

Last week we found out we were a Travelers' Choice Winner with Tripadvisor for 2020 which is an amazing achievement for the whole team at Invisible Cities!

We take a lot of pride in our reviews but also use them as a way to move forward with our guides, trainees and team. We can't thank all the guests who have taken the time to write a few words, enough. It has helped us reach a solid reputation online and of course it helps being more visible online.

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