Why Sunderland is Britain’s best city! Vote for your favourite place in the UK

Sunderland ’Til I Die: Netflix release season two teaser

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The Express has joined forces with our brand new sister site, 2Chill, to find out which place really is the nation’s favourite.

Here, Aimee Robinson champions Sunderland and explains why it’s a place worth discovering more about.

If you agree – or disagree – we’ll give you the chance to vote in the search to find the UK’s favourite place.

Head over to 2Chill to find out who is at the top of the league table.

Remember the rankings will keep changing so do cast your vote.

The places with the lowest number of votes will end up in the relegation zone.

The 10 lowest ranking will be eliminated each week until we end up with our worthy winner.

Dear Sunderland,

You will forever be my home, no matter where in the world I live. Dubbed “the home of friendly”, you are home to a population of more than 277,700 Mackems always up for a good laugh and a chin wag. And while you might not be the typical tourist destination, if 2021 figures are anything to go by, your holiday allure is on the rise. In April of this year, you saw a 13.8 percent rise in holiday accommodation bookings compared with 2019. Maybe they’re starting to see all of the hidden gems that make you shine to me, or maybe they’ve been inspired by Netflix’ docuseries ‘Sunderland til I Die’.

The documentary follows the city’s football team, an aspect which is the beating heart of the community.

Even for those such as myself, almost entirely uneducated in the beautiful game, the passion for the club goes far beyond what happens on the pitch.

It is a representation of the passion of the people of Sunderland, a working-class town which even in its darkest times has hope.

Despite the fact the team have not won a major trophy since the 1973 FA cup, their home ground remains one of the most notable in the country.

The Stadium of Light is the ninth-largest stadium in England, and football is a major player in luring visitors to the home of red and white.

However, there is far more to you than a Netflix documentary.

For me, your location is one of your most attractive attributes. 

While Sunderland’s transport links might not be the best in the country, you are a city that straddles the best of all worlds – all within easy reach.

Your mix of coastal, countryside and city landscape means there are plenty of places to explore.

Those not in the know might not realise this, but you’re home to 12 gorgeous beaches and a stunning coastline perfect for sunset cliff-top strolls.

Some of my favourites are Roker and Seaburn, two sandy stretches which are popular with sunbathers (when the weather will allow it), surfers and wild swimmers alike.

You’re also just a short drive from an abundance of glorious rolling fields and countryside.

Herrington Country Park, for example, was built on the site of a former colliery, spanning more than 30 acres and is home to more than 100 species of bird. 

The Green Flag awarded park has even had its moment in the national spotlight, hosting several major events in the past including BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend.

Though your city centre may be modest, visitors seeking a larger urban sprawl are just a 30 minute Metro ride from neighbouring Newcastle. 

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It isn’t just your location that makes you so special, though.

Sunderland has an incredibly rich heritage, spanning shipbuilding and mining, all of which can be learned about at your name-sake museum and adjoining Winter Gardens.

Small nods to your history are everywhere though.

There’s the National Glass Centre, for example, which sits on the banks of the River Wear.

The impressive cultural venue is dedicated to the history of glass-making, but most recently has also given a voice to your people with a new immersive art installation. “We Are Sunderland” allows local people to draw themselves into the city’s landscape, representing what you mean to them.

The Pembrokeshire Coast is amongst the smallest of National Parks in the UK, but by no means is it the least impressive.

It lays claim to some of the world’s best beaches, an award-winning Coast Path and some of Wales’ top tourist attractions.

It’s also home to a host of spectacular species of plants and animals that thrive along its stunning coastline.

The Pembrokeshire Coast is one of the most beautiful destinations on earth and a visit at any time of year is tonic for the soul.

All the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority asks is that visitors tread lightly and help protect the Park’s stunning beauty by taking the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park pledge, which is sponsoring 2Chill’s poll to find the UK’s Favourite Place.

By playing your part and making a promise to leave a legacy of only footprints on the Pembrokeshire Coast, you’ll be helping to protect this piece of paradise.

The passion and creativity of Sunderland’s people has inspired an array of independent businesses – some of which have long-served its residents, and others that have sprung up in recent years.

The Little Shop is one such business, which has become a modern addition to the city’s High Street, offering speciality coffees, fresh doughnuts, craft beer and natural wines.

Of course, beer and wine don’t come in short supply either since you’re home to a smattering of great pubs too.

There’s the Ivy House, just a stone’s throw from the city bus station, the Ship Isis commended for its selection of craft beers or the recently revived Vaux Brewery taproom which offers a taste of the Sunderland brewer’s 200-year long history.

You’re also home to a pretty good array of bars and restaurants, each offering their own unique twist to the city. 

I’ve spent many an evening laughing with friends over a delicious meal or handcrafted cocktail some of my favourites including Mexico 70, No 2 Church Lane or Poetic License.

Behind all of these businesses though, are your people –  all 277,733 of them. And they are truly what I think make Sunderland so special. 

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