My son went to Manchester (from home near Preston) and loved it because of the gigs available. He would certainly argue that you do not need a car there, unlike the comment on an earlier thread. He has one friend who went to Sunderland, another to Stafford, but all are gravitating back to Manchester. It must have something going for it.
Edain (my daughter) went to (and indeed is still at) Durham, and thinks it excellent. Two very different cities....son was astonished at how small Durham was. She did spend a year at San Diego - which I found to be a very nice city - but perhaps that's a digression.
The message seems to be that as long as you avoid anywhere you really wouldn't like (Salford?), then almost anywhere will do, because it is less what the city/university provides than what you choose to take from it.