Best Places to Visit in the United Kingdom: Consisting of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom has long been one among Europe’s hottest tourist destinations. The country’s appeal has much to try to do with its diverse scenery and rich cultural heritage. The best places to go to include everything from beautifully preserved country estates and castles to its many world-class art galleries and museums.
One of the best pleasures of a United Kingdom vacation, however, is simply how easy it’s to explore this fascinating and diverse country. Because of its size-the United Kingdom (UK) could easily fit into the state of Texas (with room to spare)-you can base yourself in cities like London or Liverpool and easily take a train or bus to explore other areas.
From the nation’s capital, a 90-minute train ride is all it takes to access Beautiful Salisbury, and a short bus ride or tour from here will take you to at least one of the country’s most recognizable attractions, Stonehenge. And if you would like to hop between the Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, a one-hour train ride will deposit you within the heart of either city.
Plan your sightseeing adventures with our list of the Best Places to Visit in the United Kingdom.
12 Best Places to Visit in the United Kingdom
London: The United Kingdom All-in-One Destination
While it’s possible to plan a visit to the United Kingdom without visiting London, it’s never to be advised, because the nation’s sprawling capital boasts many attractions to stay you busy. For those curious about learning more about the UK’s rich history, one of the highest things to try to do in London is to visit the Tower of London.
Located beside the spectacular Tower Bridge on the banks of the River Thames, this former palace and prison includes highlights like the long-lasting 1,000-year-old White Tower, with its fascinating displays of armor and weaponry, and therefore the Jewel House, home to the Crown Jewels.
Fans of Britain’s royalty will want to go to Buckingham Palace, London’s Royal home since Queen Victoria’s reign. Here, you’ll enjoy the colorful pomp of the Changing of the Guard or maybe take a tour of the Palace’s State Rooms (be sure to book beforehand as they’re only open for a couple of weeks each year).
The city’s Whitehall Road area is another must, where you will find Big Ben and therefore the Parliament Buildings, also as Westminster Abbey, scene of the many a royal wedding. Another area to go to in London is South Kensington, home to the city’s best museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and therefore the explanation Museum, also because of the famous Harrods emporium.
Also inspect Trafalgar Square, home to iconic Nelson’s Column and therefore the National Portrait Gallery.
Accommodation: Where to remain in London: Best Areas & Hotels
Edinburgh: Scotland’s Capital
One of Scotland’s most engaging cities, the capital city of Edinburgh is additionally one of the UK’s most visited destinations. Popular for its many well-preserved historic buildings, Edinburgh is probably best referred to as the house of the majestic Edinburgh Castle.
Perched high above the old city on a rocky promontory, this 13th-century royal fortress includes highlights like the famous One O’Clock Salute, held daily at Half Moon Battery; the Scottish Crown Jewels within the Royal Palace; the Scottish National War Memorial; and therefore, the famous Stone of Destiny (the Stone of Scone), only returned to Scotland after being held for 700 years in London.
From the castle, it is easy to explore the other most important historic sites within the city, most notably the Old Town’s Royal Mile with its fine architecture, boutique shops, cafés, restaurants, and art galleries, also because of the splendid old Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Other Edinburgh highlights include broad Princes Street, popular for its shopping and dining, also as for the Royal arboretum and therefore the National Gallery of Scotland.
Although one of the United Kingdom’s smaller cities, Bath quite makes up for its diminutive size with a mess of things to see and do. Named after its famous Roman Baths, this beautiful city has been luring visitors to its healing waters for quite 2,000 years.
Gushing from three hot springs, the water-known to contains 43 different minerals, hence its curative properties-travels upwards some 3,048 meters at a rate of 275,000 gallons per day, before spilling out at a uniform 46.5 degrees Celsius.
While it’s not possible to wash within the original Roman Baths, variety of nearby spas-most notably the superb Thermae Bath Spa-offer guests the prospect to enjoy the city’s famous waters.
In addition to its ancient history, Bath is additionally famous for its lovely Georgian architecture, the simplest samples of which may be seen along the magnificent, curved Royal Crescent, with its palatial townhomes.
One among them, No.1 Royal Crescent, is now a museum that gives a desirable peek into life during Georgian times.
Ancient Stonehenge and Medieval Salisbury
One of the planet’s oldest World Heritage Sites, Stonehenge has been an area of pilgrimage for quite 4,500 years. It had been believed to possess been erected as an area of worship, but lately, the crowds contain tourists drawn by the sheer scale of this magnificent monument to mankind’s ingenuity.
It’s a sprawling site, covering an area of quite 20 square kilometers and boasting a state-of-the-art visitor center, which offers a desirable glimpse not only into the development of Stonehenge but also its history since then. Plan ahead and buy a timed ticket for the day of your visit.
So be sure to also spend time exploring the nearby medieval city of Salisbury, located just 16 kilometers south of Stonehenge. Here, you will be rewarded with an opportunity to go to one among the country’s most famous cathedrals, dating back to 1220 and residential to an ingenious Magna Carta.
Afterward, make certain to wander the old city center with its many fine churches and historic medieval architecture.
Accommodation: Where to remain in Salisbury
The historic town of Windsor, conveniently located a short train ride west of London, offers many fun things to try to do for tourists. Additionally to its lovely Thames-side setting and therefore the many medieval half-timbered buildings along its quaint old cobblestone laneways, it is also home to spectacular Windsor Castle, the most famous of the United Kingdom’s royal castles.
This grand old castle has served because the summer residence of British royalty for quite a millennium (it was started by William the Conqueror in 1078) and is that the world’s largest inhabited castle.
Highlights include the luxurious State Apartments containing the Queen’s Gallery and dining hall, each with magnificently painted ceilings and woodcarvings, and St. George’s Chapel, famous because of the home of the Knights and Ladies of the traditional Order of the Garter.
When you’ve had your fill of those historic buildings, make certain to also spend time exploring the castle’s large and delightful grounds, which are almost 10 kilometers long. Here you’ll enjoy some truly memorable panoramic views over Windsor and its castle.
Other area attractions worth visiting include Legoland Windsor, a fun family resort assail 150 acres of parkland and just a short bus ride from the town center, and Royal Ascot, the UK’s most famous horse-racing venue (try to time your trip to coincide with the Royal Meeting held each June).
Idyllic England: The Cotswolds and Lake District
Covering almost 1,287 square kilometres of pristine countryside, the beautiful Cotswolds is undoubtedly one of the most photographed corners of the United Kingdom.
Located a simple excursion west of London and shut to the favoured tourist attractions of Bath and Bristol, the Cotswolds includes a number of the simplest parts of the counties of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire.
Travelers flock here to experience a real taste of rural English life, and to explore its many quaint village greens and idyllic pasturelands. One of the most popular ways to try to do this is often via the area’s extensive trail network, including the superb 16-kilometer-long Cotswold Way. Other fun things to try to do include horseback riding and biking, or just absorbing the history of popular market towns like Castle Combe or Tetbury.
To the north of the Cotswolds and covering a neighbourhood of 1,448 square kilometres is another slice of lovely English scenery: the Lake District National Park. Encompassing 12 of the country’s largest lakes (Windermere and Ullswater are the biggest), this region is another region of the United Kingdom that’s great to explore on foot because of its quite 3,218 kilometres of trails.
Highlights include visiting Scafell Pike, at 978 meters the very best mountain in England, also as exploring its many picturesque towns, including Grasmere.
Accommodation: Where to remain within the Lake District
- Medieval York and its Minster
One of northern England’s hottest tourist destinations, the medieval city of York, long the ecclesiastical capital of the Church of England, boasts one among the country’s most luxurious cathedrals.
The country’s largest medieval church, York Minster can trace its roots back to the spread of Christianity within the 3rd century, although the luxurious present Gothic structure was built almost 1,000 years later.
Highlights of a tour include the chance to look at its 14th-century glass windows, plus the richly decorated interiors of the choir and north transept. Also worth a visit is that the crypt, which contains parts of the first 11th-century church the cathedral now stands on.
Other landmarks worth exploring are the traditional City Walls, which stretch almost five kilometres around the old medieval city Centre and offer excellent views over The Shambles, a narrow 14th-century roadway, famous for its fine old timber-framed buildings, many of which hang over the road below.
It is also an area known for its many restaurants and tearooms, also as its many boutique shops and galleries.
York also boasts a variety of major museums, the most popular being the National Railway Museum. Highlights of this museum’s vast collection include many fine old steam engines dating as far back as 1820, plus a singular collection of Royal Trains.
The University Towns of Cambridge & Oxford
The UK has long been a middle of learning, with two of its most famous university towns also ranking highly as tourist destinations.
A simple commute north of London-and just 128 kilometres apart-Cambridge and Oxford have for hundreds of years been rivals for the title because the country’s top academic establishment, a rivalry celebrated during the famous rowing event, The Boat race, which takes place each spring on the River Thames.
Despite this generally good-spirited rivalry, each location offers many attractions to form them worthwhile additions to your UK travel itinerary. Highlights of a visit to Cambridge include the prospect to wander the UK’s largest collection of preserved historic buildings, many of them located within a simple walk of Cambridge University’s 31 colleges, the oldest of which was founded in 1284.
In addition to touring the stunning college grounds (only a couple of the university’s buildings offer tours), visitors to Cambridge should also take a punt along the River Cam, also as explore the old town center.
Oxford University’s 38 colleges are equally attractive, each set around a quadrangle and a number of other inner courtyards alongside chapels, dining halls, libraries, and student accommodations (some offer unique tourist accommodation packages, too). Oxford highlights include the Carfax Tower, with its fine views over the town center, and the many fine old buildings of the town’s main street.
Liverpool and Manchester
Thanks to its international airport, Manchester is usually the primary stop for several visitors getting to explore northern England, Scotland, or Wales. Highlights include Castlefield, popular for its well-preserved Victorian houses, canals, and Roman ruins, also because the many aged warehouses now serving as trendy shops, hotels, and restaurants.
Other attractions include Manchester Cathedral and therefore the historic government building, also as an upscale cultural scene that has museums (Museum of Science and Industry), galleries (Manchester Art Gallery), and entertainment (Chinatown).
Liverpool, just an hour away by rail, offers much cultural excitement of its own, not least due to its association with the Beatles. Music fans are drawn here for “Fab Four” related attractions like The Beatles Story within the renovated Albert Docks area; the famous Cavern Club, where the band made its debut in 1961; also because the former homes of Lennon and McCartney (numerous walking tours and bus tours of Beatles sites also are readily available).
Other great reasons to go to Liverpool include its many historic buildings; lovely gardens and parks; also, as great museums like the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the Museum of Liverpool, and world-class art galleries just like the Walker Art Gallery and the Tate Gallery.
Pay a visit to historic Canterbury in Kent, and you will soon discover why this beautiful city continues to be such a draw for visitors to the United Kingdom. A simple hour’s train ride from central London (or just minutes far away from the EuroTunnel), Canterbury has been a draw for pilgrims for quite 1,500 years, ever since St. Augustine first started converting pagan Anglo Saxons to Christianity here in AD 597.
The city’s most famous attraction is Canterbury Cathedral, home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stunning cathedral offers plenty to ascertain, from the intricately carved masonry of its exterior to its magnificent interior, a highlight of which is that the beautiful choir with its statues of six English kings.
Also of note are the exquisite Miracle Windows, dating from the 12th century and depicting scenes from the lifetime of murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket.
Afterward, make certain to spend time wandering the pedestrianized area of Old City Canterbury with its many preserved, historic, timber-framed buildings, particularly along Mercery Lane.
Other must-sees include the Canterbury Tales, a desirable check out the life and times of famous English poet Chaucer (aka the “Father of English Literature”), and therefore the excellent Canterbury Roman Museum, built around the remains of an ingenious Roman townhouse and its unique mosaic.
Cardiff: The Capital of Wales
Despite being much smaller than both Scotland and England, Wales is home to a number of the UK’s top attractions and fun things to try to do, from exploring the breathtaking scenery and enjoying outdoor adventures in its national parks to visiting its historic castles.
One of the simplest places to sample a touch of everything that Wales has got to offer is that the country’s capital, Cardiff, with most travelers beginning their visit at Cardiff Castle.
Located within the middle of the town and built on the ruins of an ancient Roman fort, parts of the present structure date as far back as 1090, with much of it restored within the 1800s. Highlights include the State Apartments, the clock tower, the Chapel, and a spectacular Banqueting Hall with its fine murals.
Afterward, make certain to spend time wandering the city’s many aged Victorian shopping arcades, the simplest of which may be found around the Hayes. Also, worth finding out is Cardiff Bay.
One among the UK’s largest redevelopment projects, this vast area is now home to numerous fine restaurants, theatres, galleries, and shopping opportunities, many of them housed in former warehouses on lovely Mermaid Quay.
Cardiff Bay is additionally where you will find the world of Boats, with its unique collection of vessels from around the globe, and Techniquest, a fun science center featuring a planetarium and theater.
Loch Ness and Inverness
Despite the very fact that the legends of mythical monsters have largely been debunked (just don’t tell the locals), spectacular Loch Ness remains a particularly popular tourist attraction for travelers heading to Scotland.
While it’s unlikely you’ll encounter any monsters, you will, however, be rewarded with seeing a number of the UK’s most beautiful scenery.
Highlights include the ruins of Urquhart Castle, overlooking the loch, one among Scotland’s largest fortifications (the current structure dates from the 14th century).
For those wanting to learn more about the area’s many legends, the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition recounts its history, alongside that of its monster, including details of ongoing searches for the elusive creature.
A little farther north is Inverness, which boasts numerous excellent attractions, including Inverness Castle, the Inverness Museum and gallery, and the late 19th-century St. Andrew’s Cathedral.
History buffs should also inspect the Culloden Battlefield and Visitors Centre. It had been in Culloden in 1746 that English and Scots fought their last battle and where the fate of Scotland as a British dominion decided.
Also of interest are the gravestones of warriors from the Scottish clans, also because the six-meter-high Memorial Cairn erected in 1881 to commemorate the battle.