Flights abroad are at an all time high at the moment, so why not take a trip around the UK? We don’t always visit places close to home, and forget how beautiful this island actually is! We’re blessed to be surrounded by such diverse landscapes, from mountains and forests to sandy beaches and rugged cliff lines.
Of course, you may not have months to explore every nook and cranny Britain has to offer. Most people don’t get that much annual leave! So where should you visit, if you only have a week or two to travel the length and breadth of the UK? Some areas may appeal to you more personally, while others are just fantastic sites everyone should see. We’ve looked at some of the best places to visit in Britain below, to help you get started!
If you live in the UK, there’s a good chance that you’ve been to London at least once, as there’s so much to see and do. But one of the best things about London is that there’s always more – you’ll never have enough time to do everything, and new attractions are introduced every day. And if you haven’t visited all the major sights, such as Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, as well as the countless museums and galleries scattered around the city, perhaps now is the time to go!
Just outside the centre of London, there are lots of other places you might want to visit too. Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle and Kew Gardens are all nearby, and well worth spending at least a few hours exploring. And while you probably won’t want to drive in London itself, these attractions can be accessible by car.
2. The Jurassic Coast
The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site that stretches out for 95 miles, starting in Exmouth, East Devon, and ending at Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage, Dorset. As the name suggests, the coastline of the Jurassic Coast spans millions of years of geological history, including the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Dramatic rock formations are abundant on this coastline, as are coves, bays and fossils. Durdle Door is probably the most well known part of the Jurassic Coast, which is a natural limestone arch found near Lulworth in Dorset.
On your way to the Jurassic Coast, you may wish to stop off at Stonehenge, which is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Britain. The stones at the centre of the monument were set up in around 2500 BC, which makes Stonehenge around the same age as the Great Pyramids of Giza. If you’ve not been before, it’s definitely worth a visit!
From the Jurassic Coast, you can make your way to another coastline – that of Penzance in Cornwall. Fans of Gilbert and Sullivan may have heard of Penzance, but for many people, it’s a bit of a mission to reach it! We’re confident that it will be well worth the effort though – Penzance is a gorgeous part of West Cornwall. The port features many idyllic fishing towns and villages, as well as various coves and beaches to explore.
Not far down the road is the tiny Mount’s Bay, where you can see St. Michael’s Mount. This is a small parish island, which features a castle that, according to local folklore, was built by the giant who was vanquished by Jack the Giant Killer. Walking from Penzance, it’s just over five kilometres. If you go during low tide, you can walk to the island via the pilgrim path, while boats can be taken during high tide.
As you start travelling north, why not stop off at another place that you can gauge a lot from the name – the town of Bath. During the Roman period, this area was known for its natural hot springs, and the town was built for pleasure and relaxation. You can still visit the ancient Roman Baths, or if you’d like a more modern version, Thermae Bath Spa houses the only natural thermal springs you’re able to bathe in across Britain.
There’s furthermore lots of beautiful Georgian architecture to see in Bath, such as the iconic Royal Crescent and the Circus. These buildings look just like something from a Jane Austen novel, and in fact the lady herself did live in Bath for several years. The Jane Austen Centre located in the town centre is a must for any fans!
The Welsh capital city of Cardiff is rich in history and culture. Wales as a country is an absolutely stunning part of the world, known for its rolling hills, mountainous national parks, and rugged coastlines. We’d definitely recommend seeing as much of it as you can, but let’s start with Cardiff.
If you enjoy history, the mediaeval Cardiff Castle is a great place to visit, as is Castle Coch, also known as the ‘Red Castle’. The latter is a 19th-century Gothic Revival castle, the towers of which make it look like something out of a fairytale. You can additionally get a good insight into the history of Wales by visiting St. Fagans National Museum of History, which is an outdoor museum situated four miles west of the city centre.
On your way up north, we’d recommend stopping off in Warwick. There are lots of things to do within the town itself, as well as places to visit in the surrounding area. In Warwick, a few of the main attractions include the Castle, which was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068, St. Mary’s Church, one of the largest churches in the UK, and Lord Leycester Hospital, which has never actually been a hospital. The latter is in fact a cluster of houses dating from the 14th century, which were home to military veterans of numerous wars.
You might also wish to stop off in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is just south of Birmingham, and famously the birthplace of Shakespeare. A lot of the attractions are of course centred around Shakespeare, such as the 16th century cottage on Henley Street where he is believed to have been born, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. But there are many other things to see in Stratford-upon-Avon that don’t focus on Shakespeare, like the Stratford Butterfly Farm, and the Mechanical Art & Design Museum.
If you’re visiting Wales, Snowdonia National Park should be on everyone’s itinerary. As you’re probably aware, it’s home to the tallest mountain in England and Wales – Mount Snowdon. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike to the top of this mountain, and enjoy some pretty spectacular views. And as Snowdonia was once part of the seabed, if you’re really lucky, you might also spot some fossils on the way up the mountain.
The attractions at Snowdonia National Park aren’t just limited to mountains either. There are all kinds of outdoor activities you can do, such as climbing, watersports, cycling, golfing, and horse riding. You might also enjoy visiting one of the castles in Snowdonia, many of which date back to the mediaeval period. Examples include Conwy Castle, Harlech Castle and Caernarfon Castle.
8. The Peak District
The Peak District is renowned for its stunning landscapes, and is home to a large number of gorgeous buildings. This includes Fountains Abbey, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that can be found in Studley Royal Park, about an hour north of Leeds. The abbey is a 12th century Cistercian monastery, and is made even more spectacular by the nearby Studley Royal Water Garden, considered to be one of the most elegant such gardens in the UK.
On your way up to the Peak District, one of the places you should definitely include on your itinerary is Chatsworth House, which is considered to be one of the best country houses in the UK. The property is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and boasts over a hundred rooms, as well as more than a hundred acres of garden.
Northumberland is home to some of the most spectacular mediaeval castles in England, as well as historic sites like Hadrian’s Wall. You probably won’t have time to visit all of the castles in this area, but there are a few that are definitely worth mentioning. Bamburgh Castle, for instance, is worth seeing. This castle was built by the Normans in the 11th century, sits atop a rocky outcrop, and has spectacular views for miles around. Dunstanburgh castle, built in the 14th century, and Lindisfarne Castle, built a few hundred years later, are also nearby and great to walk around.
For any Harry Potter fans, it’s worth mentioning that Alnwick Castle, which is home to the Duke of Northumberland, was used as a filming location for various scenes in the movies, particularly the earlier films. And if that doesn’t interest you, two of the Christmas specials of Downton Abbey were also filmed at Alnwick Castle!
There’s no shortage of things to do in Edinburgh and the surrounding area, from walking on the Pentland Hills and seeing the iron age hill forts, to visiting the Firth of Forth bridges. These include the Firth of Forth Rail Bridge, which is UNESCO World Heritage listed, and was the longest single cantilever bridge in the world at the time of its construction.
Edinburgh itself is a brilliant place to explore too, with attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland, and the Edinburgh Dungeon. There are also lots of tours available in and around Edinburgh, like visiting Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye, as well as the Underground Ghost Tour.