EnjoyTravel.com News

Most Diverse Cities in the UK

25 Of The Most Diverse Cities in The UK

When you think of the most diverse and exciting cities in the UK, your mind probably springs to London, Manchester, and Edinburgh. But there are so many more incredible cities that frankly don’t get the credit they deserve. So, we wanted to look at how we can determine what the most diverse cities are by relying on cold, hard facts. While the usual suspects did make the cut, where they are placed on the list might surprise you. But what’s more surprising are the cities that cracked into the top ten, even the top five, that haven’t always been thought of as exciting, even desirable, places in the UK. But times are changing, and we’re glad to see it.

25. Cardiff

There are 51 official cities in the UK, so ranking 25th out of all of them isn’t bad. But it is the lowest on this list, and here’s why. While it did do well in some areas, having ranked highly for industry diversity with a wide range of professions and a high number of professionals, and it’s also one of the cities with the least amount of fast food restaurants, it came out low in others. It was amongst the lowest for entertainment and things to do, which might come as a surprise. Cardiff’s known for its lively (and sometimes lairy) nightlife, but isn’t particularly diverse. It also scored low for linguistic diversity, with a huge 97% of the Cardiff population speaking English!

Cardiff Castle
Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay



24. Manchester

We were surprised to find Manchester so low on the list. It’s highly regarded as a lively, cultural city where musical legends are born, yet it’s come in at number 24. While it’s one of the more diverse cities when it comes to language, it’s amongst the lowest independent stores per square mile despite its cool reputation. Manchester also has a huge amount of fast food chains that let it down. It actually has the highest number of fast food chains on this list (is 24 McDonalds’ really necessary?), but after London, it does have the second highest number of nightclubs and music venues overall. However, Manchester’s city centre is famously spread out, so this doesn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to entertainment venues per square mile, but it’s still good news for partygoers.

Deansgate Road
Fountains at Piccadilly garden



23. Sheffield

Sheffield might be the greenest city in the UK, but its lack of independent stores per square mile lets it down. It’s actually got the lowest number of independent stores on the list, which is quite surprising when you consider the city’s high student population. There’s also not as much happening in the way of entertainment as in other major cities – although there are a good amount of music venues, there’s a low number of entertainment spots per square mile. However, unlike in Manchester, you won’t find a fast food chain on every corner, saving it from the last two spaces. There’s also a fair amount of range when it comes to the workforce, with a high number of professionals and a mixed bag of jobs in administration, skilled trades, sales, and so on.

Sheffield town hall
The Peace Gardens



22. Glasgow

Although it’s fairly low on this list, Scotland’s second-largest city does have one of the least amounts of fast food chains per square mile. It’s also a good place for singles, with a high population of people that aren’t married or aren’t living with someone in the city. And with 13.38% of the population whose first language isn’t English, it’s one of the most linguistically diverse cities on this list. However, it’s got the least amount of independent stores per square mile, and it doesn’t fare too well in the entertainment department either. Glasgow does have a fond reputation for great nightlife and while there is a good selection of nightclubs, bars, and music venues, it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

George Square
McLennan arch



21. Belfast

The capital of Northern Ireland scored fairly across all of our criteria, with no categories standing out as particularly low. However, only 4.79% of the population don’t have English as their first language, so it isn’t diverse when it comes to language. There’s also not much diversity in the way of entertainment, and the same goes for the workforce. But there is a good amount of independent stores, a low concentration of fast food restaurants, and a surprisingly high amount of young people.

City Hall of Belfast
The Queen's University of Belfast



20. Nottingham

Despite its high student population, Nottingham doesn’t have that many single people. But, and perhaps due to its student population, it does have a fair amount of fast food chains. These criteria, along with its average entertainment score, knocked a few points off, but it scored quite well for its quirky independent shops and its high percentage of professionals in the workforce. Nottingham also has a high concentration of people between 20-29 and there’s a good mix of languages spoken, from Polish to Urdu.

Nottingham Council House
Old historical houses



19. Edinburgh

As the home of the Fringe Festival, a huge celebration of arts and culture, it might not come as a surprise that Edinburgh has the second-highest concentration of independent shops in the UK. It’s also got a fairly high population of singles and young people, as well as a diverse entertainment scene. However, it is hugely lacking in diversity, with a whopping 98.9% of the population speaking English. It’s actually the least linguistically diverse city on this list. It does have a fairly high amount of fast food chains per square mile too, but considering its good scores in our other criteria, it’s mainly the linguistic diversity that knocks it down.

Historic Royal Mile
Calton Hill




18. Birmingham

As the second-largest city in the UK and one of the most ethnically diverse, we were surprised to see Birmingham as number 18. It doesn’t score particularly low for any of our categories, but it doesn’t fare well when it comes to independent stores and the number of singles. And while it’s great for music lovers with 132 music venues, its huge city centre has lowered the number of entertainment venues per square mile. It does, however, have a high amount of non-English speakers, which adds a few points. Plus, it has a diverse range of ages and a high concentration of young people, which could be down to the city’s five universities.

Famous Birmingham canal
Central Birmingham



17. Portsmouth

The naval base and port city Portsmouth is quite well rounded, scoring well for its diverse industries in the workforce and entertainment, as well as having a good selection of independent stores. It’s not very diverse when it comes to age but there are a lot of young people as well as single people. However, its high concentration of fast food restaurants knocks it down a peg.

HMS Victory docked
Spinnaker Tower



16. Swansea

If you like independent food spots, you’ll love Swansea – it has the least amount of fast food restaurants per square mile on this list! As well as a well-rounded dining scene, Swansea is particularly diverse in the language criteria. It’s also pretty diverse when it comes to age, with a fairly equal percentage of people in all age ranges, although the highest concentration is 20-29. It does score low for entertainment value though, coming in as the second-least diverse city for entertainment, which is surprising given its varied population. It’s also got one of the lowest amounts of independent shops per square mile.

Waterfalls at Penllergare woods
River Tawe



15. Liverpool

Liverpool might be best known for being the home of the Beatles, and while it’s an important part of the city’s history, there’s a lot more to it. It’s one of the UK’s most popular student cities, so it’s no surprise that there are a high number of young people, single people, and independent shops. The city is also famous for its eclectic nightlife, but it’s also got the third highest number of museums, after London and Edinburgh. It’s slightly let down by its high number of fast food chains, and it’s also quite surprisingly one of the least linguistically diverse cities on the list with 93.7% English speakers.

River Mersey
Albert Dock



14. Plymouth

Plymouth was a surprising entry onto this list. But as a city with a long history as one of the most important naval bases in Europe, it’s earned its place. It’s a good place for those who prefer independent spots over chains, with a high concentration of independent shops and a low number of fast food restaurants per square mile. The city has a big student population, which likely accounts for its young population. However, it does have a high number of English speakers, so it isn’t very linguistically diverse, as well as a low number of singles.

Plymouth Hoe
Traditional English Castle



13. Derby

Derby is one of those surprising places that consistently gets ranked as a great student city, despite not being one of the ‘major cities’. But it has a lot going for it. The workforce is diverse with a lot of professionals, there are a good amount of independent shops, not too many fast food chains, bars on every corner, various languages spoken, and a wide range of age groups. It doesn’t score particularly high for these categories, but it also isn’t low. It’s a pleasantly well-rounded city. It does, however, have a slightly lower singles population.

The Silk Mill
Darley Abbey Mills



12. Wolverhampton

As a city that was historically one of the main hubs of the industrial revolution, Wolverhampton has developed into a diverse and pleasant city. It scores highly for its independent shops, a good number of entertainment venues per square mile, and a fair amount of singles. There’s also a wide age range, with the highest percentage sitting in the 30-39 bracket. It does have a fair few fast food chains per square mile, which has pulled its overall score down.

Lake at West Park
Wolverhampton City Centre



11. Newcastle

The home of the Geordies has long been known as one of the best places in the UK for nightlife, especially for students. So, it comes as no surprise that it fares well in bars, clubs, and music venues. The good-time city also has a high number of professionals in the workforce, as well as a fair few singles. And while there are no scores that are glaringly low, it’s the average scores across independent shops per square mile, fast food restaurants, and age diversity that nabbed it from the top ten.

The Newcastle Bridge
Newcastle Quayside


10. Leeds

Our first entry into the top ten of diverse cities is Leeds, which is an unsurprising addition. The much-loved city is fairly well-rounded, scoring particularly high in the number of entertainment spots per square mile. So, it’s no surprise that it’s consistently named one of the best cities for nightlife in the UK. And singles are in luck here, it has one of the highest singles populations in the UK! It does, however, have one of the highest concentrations of fast food chains.

Leeds Town Hall
Leeds Corn Exchange



9. Coventry

Coventry was named the UK’s City of Culture in 2021, so we think it certainly deserves a spot in the top ten diverse UK cities. Giving rise to the second wave of Ska music, and the introduction of 2-tone, it’s only right that it’s amongst the highest when it comes to entertainment venues per square mile and has a wide range of languages spoken. The city also fares well with a diverse workforce and it has one of the highest concentrations of singles in the UK. And while the age range isn’t particularly diverse, it does have a fairly young population with 19.60% being 20-29.

Coventry Cathedral
Ruins of bombed St Michael Cathedral



8. Leicester

With an English-speaking population of 72.5%, Leicester is by far the most linguistically diverse city on this list. Other popular languages include Gujarati, Punjabi, Polish, and Urdu. It’s also got a good amount of bars, clubs, music venues, and museums, as well as lots of quirky independent stores. And with three popular universities, that doesn’t really surprise us. However, it does have one of the lowest populations of singles.

Cathedral in Leicester
Town Hall in Leicester



7. Hull

Like Coventry, being named the City of Culture gave Hull a big boost in 2017. It’s long been a city of freethinkers, though, which could be why it has the highest number of independent stores per square mile. It didn’t do too badly when it comes to fast food chains per square mile, either. There is a university in Hull, but it’s not widely known as a student city, so to have one of the highest numbers of entertainment venues per square mile is pretty impressive. And although there are a wide range of languages spoken, English is up as the first language of 93.5% of the population, which knocked a few points off the overall score. But, it’s good news for singles in Hull – it has one of the highest numbers of singles on this list!

Maritime Museum
Victoria Square



6. London

Well, we were surprised to see London not even make the top five. Are you? We’ll explain why – while London has by far the most amount of entertainment venues, including 240 museums,, it actually has the least amount of entertainment spots per square mile due its sprawling size. And while it also has the most amount of independent stores overall, it came seventh out of the bunch when considering the square mileage. It seems that these are the two categories that nabbed London from that top five, or even first, place, as it consistently scored high across the rest of the categories.

Big Ben and Westminster Bridge
Tower Bridge



5. Stoke

By the skin of its teeth, Stoke made it into the top five most diverse cities in the UK, beating London by just one point. The city is known for its creative spirit and pottery industry, so it might not come as a surprise that there’s a thriving independent scene here. Stoke has one of the highest amounts of independent stores per square mile and one of the least amount of fast food chains. It also does quite well in the entertainment department, but a high population of English speakers at 92.8% sets it down a peg. However, it does have the second highest number of singles on the list!

The Trellis Walk
The Umbrella Project



4. Bradford

With a wealth of history and culture, Bradford is our fourth most diverse city in the UK. It’s also the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, which is quite the accolade. Bradford is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the UK and it's the fifth most linguistically diverse, with a population of 85.3% English speakers. It also has a good amount of professionals and entertainment venues. However, it’s lacking in independent stores per square mile, coming in fourth in that criteria. But, more importantly, it has the most number of singles on this list! It has the most equal distribution of age, too.

City Park Mirror Pool
Bradford City Hall




3. Bristol

With an incredible bustling arts, culture, independent, and food scene, it’s no surprise that Bristol made it into our top three most diverse cities in the UK. Bristol was also named a UNESCO City of Film, so a creative and free spirit is intrinsic to Bristolians. It middled pretty consistently among independent shops per square mile, the least amount of fast food chains, the percentage of English speakers, as well as the percentage of singles. It did, however, do particularly well when it comes to the distribution of age and with such a high student population, it’s no surprise that it has one of the highest numbers of entertainment venues per square mile. The city also has the second highest number of professionals in the UK.

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Bristol Cathedral and Central Library



2. Reading

Reading might be unassuming with its population of just 161,780, but it’s our second most diverse place in the UK. While Reading has been striving to reach city status and has not quite gotten there yet, its population of over 150,000 earns its place on our list. And while you might not consider Reading to be a party town, it actually has the most entertainment venues per square mile on this list. With a range of pubs, music venues, comedy nights, museums, and more, as well as being home to the Reading Festival, there’s a lot going on in this town. There are also five universities in Reading, so it might not come as a surprise that it had the highest percentage of professionals in the workforce. It does, however, have quite a lot of fast food chains.

Oracle
Pedestrianized Streets



1. Brighton

The grand finale…we’ve named Brighton our most diverse and exciting city in the UK! After considering all of the criteria, Brighton crushed all competition. The seaside city scored particularly well for its high number of professionals, independent stores, entertainment venues, and singles, and its low number of fast food chains. It’s one of the best cities in the UK for its diverse nightlife, but it isn’t just students that flock to the golden shores. Students, creatives, and artists alike have been taken to Brighton for years, and with so much going on in the city, it’s not hard to see why.

How We Ranked the UK’s Most Diverse Cities

The grand finale…we’ve named Brighton our most diverse and exciting city in the UK! After considering all of the criteria, Brighton crushed all competition. The seaside city scored particularly well for its high number of professionals, independent stores, entertainment venues, and singles, and its low number of fast food chains. It’s one of the best cities in the UK for its diverse nightlife, but it isn’t just students that flock to the golden shores. Students, creatives, and artists alike have been taken to Brighton for years, and with so much going on in the city, it’s not hard to see why.




Industry diversity

We looked at how diverse the city’s workforce is and scored based on the concentration of professionals.

Independent stores

We considered the square milage of the city and which cities had the highest amount of independent stores per square mile.

Fast food chains

We looked at the number of Prett, Starbucks and McDonald's per square mile, scoring a city higher the less it had.

Entertainment

Entertainment is a hugely important factor when looking at excitement and diversity, so we assessed the number of entertainment venues per square mile, focusing on nightclubs/bars, museums, art galleries, music venues, bands/studios, concert halls and stadiums.

Linguistic diversity

When looking at diversity overall, it’d be remiss to not assess the linguistic diversity. We had a look at how diverse the languages were, and scored higher for less English speakers.

Marital status

We took a look at how many people are married or living with a partner, and based our score on the highest percentage of singles.

Age diversity

Most cities will have a higher concentration of young people, typically aged 20-29, and while this is exciting, it isn’t particularly diverse. So, we ranked our score based on how equal the distribution of age is.


Other popular articles