From the sea cliffs of Northern Ireland to the adventure playground of Wales, it’s difficult deciding where to go first. Travelers in the UK are spoiled for choice with attractions within the buzzing urban streets of London England to the isolated coast of the North Coast 500’s Scottish Highlands. To help you plan your travels, we thought we’d highlight some of the best places to visit in the UK to help you decide where to start.
The United Kingdom been steadily rolling out vaccines and is beginning to open up to domestic and foreign tourism. It’s exciting to think about life after lockdown, and to help you plan a staycation or your first trip back we thought we’d share some of the best places to visit in the UK.
Best Places to Visit in the UK
Some activities may be affected by Covid-19. Check with each attraction for opening hours and activities. Things are constantly changing as The UK moves into different stages of Covid so be sure to check the government website before you go and respect local guidelines following social distancing rules.
Since the UK is made up of Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales, we are going to break up the best places to visit in the UK by nation. So, are you ready to explore the United Kingdom with us? Let’s go.
Places to Visit in England
It’s impossible to mention the best places to visit in the UK without including London, England. It’s truly one of the best cities on earth with unbeatable history, fantastic nightlife and historic sites lining the River Thames. See our full guide to the capital city of 22 of the Top Things to do in London, England
To take in the sights of London from above, book a ride up to the top of the World’s Tallest Observation Deck. This fast track ticket up the The London Eye offers fantastic views of the London Skyline. If you want to combine that with a cruise along the River Thames, check out this London Eye River Cruise to see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben (Palace of Westminster), Tower of London Tower Bridge and more.
Greenwich Meridian Line
We have an entire article dedicated to all the amazing things to do in London, but one of the coolest places to visit in the UK is definitely the Greenwich Meridian Line. The Royal Observatory is home to the Prime Meridian of the world where the Eastern and Western hemispheres meet.
Book your advance entrance ticket that gives access to the home of British astronomy at the Royal Observatory, and Greenwich where you’ll be able to straddle the world-famous Meridian Line. It is also home to one of the best view of the city.
The legendary university town of Cambridge is one of the most popular places to visit in the UK. The architecture alone is worth visiting as it spans centuries with Kings College Chapel dating back to 1446. The university itself was founded in 1209 and has seen its share of historic figures walk its halls from Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking.
A great way to explore Cambridge University is to book a Guided Walking Tour with a Graduate. Enjoy 1.5 hours strolling the campus from King’s College to Trinity Hall College, Trinity College and Corpus Christi College. Let a Cambridge graduate share insider stories at you witness where DNA was discovered at the 17th-century The Eagle pub.
Punting is the quintessential Cambridge activity and this punting tour takes you along the entire length of the River Cam. Punting is similar to the gondola rides of Venice where you sit in comfort as your guide pushes the boat along the river with a long pole.
While we are exploring legendary universities, you must make your way to Oxford. The rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge dates back centuries and a that rivalry is celebrated annually during “The Boat Race” a rowing event that takes place each Spring on the River Thames.
Like Cambridge University, the best way to explore the grounds is to take a Walking Tour with an Oxford Alumni Guide. Harry Potter fans will love exploring filming locations of the Goblet of Fire.
One of the UKs most popular destinations is the medieval city of York. Located two hours north of London, this historic city boasts 2000 years of history. Take a walking tour through York to explore the top attractions of the walled city including the largest Gothic Cathedral in the United Kingdom. Get lost in the maze of passages known as ‘Snickelways’ that leads to the cobblestone street known as the shambles that was the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.
Nothing beats a river cruise in the UK and York is no exception. Book this River Ouse River Cruise where you’ll depart from King’s Staith landing and takes you to Clifton Ridge and the Millenial Bridge.
If you are looking for one of the prettiest places to visit in the UK, Bath is a great choice. Known for its thermal baths dating back to Roman times, it has been luring visitors to its healing waters for 2000 years. The city of Bath is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best way to explore Bath is on a City Boat Trip to the Pulteney Bridge. Hop aboard a 1960s cruiser to see the top attractions in Bath from the water or enjoy a Walking Tour of Bath Bath Abbey, Royal Crescent, The Circus, and Pulteney Bridge. Don’t miss visiting the Jane Austin Centre who resided in Bath and marvel at the architecture spanning the centuries.
One of the most famous attractions in the UK is Stonehenge. These famous standing stone pillars date back to the Neolithic and Bronze Age are definitely one of the best places to visit in England for history lovers. The Stonehenge Admission Ticket gives you access to one of the most the prehistoric monuments in the world. Make sure to download the audio app to your smartphone to help you wander this mysterious circle of stones. Hot tip, make sure to visit early in the morning or very late in the afternoon to avoid the tour bus crowds.
Brighton is one of the best places to visit in the UK for beaches and fun in the sun. Located just an hour train ride from the capital, Brighton is one of England’s most popular resort towns. There are plenty of watersports along the beach with the most recognizable landmark being the Palace Pier which has survived for more than a century.
For the best views of the South Coast of Britian, Go up the British Airways i360 standing tall above the city. A modern glass pod takes you up 138 meters for views of the Sussex Coast, the city of Brighton and the beaches. For a splurge, enjoy a glass of sparkling wine at the Nyetimber Sky Bar.
Ever since watching Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney, Liverpool moved to the top of our must visit places in the UK. Naturally, people are drawn to Liverpool to explore the history of the Beatles. The award-winning attraction, the Beatles Story located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Albert Docks area should not be missed.
Get your tickets to the Beatles Story to trace the history of the Fab Four as you journey through replicas of historic Beatles milestones including The Casbah, Mathew Street and The Cavern.
But Liverpool isn’t just about the Beatles, it’s ranked as the fifth most visited place in the UK for a good reason. There are galleries and museums, the historic waterfront the actual Cavern Club where the Beatles debut in 1961 and the historic docks.
Book a River Cruise down the Mersey River. This 50 minute tour takes you along the famous sites of the Mersey River including St. Albert’s Dock and the historic buildings lining the Liverpool Waterfront known as the Three Graces.
The Lake District is known for its wild craggy fells, and connections to Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter and is definitely one of the not to miss places in the UK for the quintessential England. Located in northwest England The Lake District is a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It lives up to its name housing 12 of the largest lakes in England. It is a hikers paradise with 3,218 kilometers of trails including the 16-kilometer-long Cotswold Way and Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England.
Places to Visit in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of our favourite places in Europe let alone favourite places to visit in the UK. We have to start with The Giant’s Causeway, an incredible beach of 40 thousand basalt columns creating a natural staircase leading down to the sea. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is Ireland’s Top Attraction. Visit it first thing in the morning to take in its natural beauty free of crowds.
Taking a drive along the Causeway Coast is a world class coastal driving route that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Its stunning landscape takes you through sea cliffs and beaches, coastal villages and medieval wonders. It is filled with dazzling attractions including picturesque Dark Hedges, the Carrick a Rede Bridge, Mussenden Temple, Dunluce Castle and the rolling Green Hills of the Glens of Antrim.
When visiting Northern Ireland, the city of Belfast is not to be missed. The star attraction is the Titanic Museum. Book your tickets to the Belfast Titanic Experience where you’ll walk through an interactive display of the world’s largest exhibit dedicated to the Titanic. The virtual reality room is not to be missed and the multimedia displays of the underwater salvaging of the ship and the on going research is fascinating.
Make sure to head outside to see where the Titanic was built and explore the life size outline of the Titanic herself before going inside the SS Nomadic – the last remaining White Star Line ship in the world
Walls of London Derry
The city of London Derry is an often overlooked destination in the UK, but this should definitely be added to your list of places to visit. The Walls of London Derry date back to the 17th century and is one of the best preserved walled cities in Europe. Take a walking tour along walls to learn about the sieges and conflicts that the city of Derry has endured over the centuries including the 1689 siege that lasted for 105 days.
Places to Visit in Scotland
Scotland is one of our favourite places to visit in the UK and Edinburgh is a city we could return to again and again. It’s a city filled with history, beauty, hauntings and magic. There are so many things to do in Edinburgh we have an entire itinerary to help you plan three days in Edinburgh. From exploring the historic Edinburgh Castle to shopping on the Royal Mile, there is something for everyone.
Harry Potter fans will get a kick out of this Harry Potter Magical Guided Walking Tour where you’ll see the sights that inspired J.K. Rowling including the actual tombstone that inspired Grave of Tom Riddle in Greyfriars Kirkyard. For more spooky fun, take an Underground Vaults tour beneath the streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town. The costumed guide sets the tone as you navigate the underground passage lit by candlelight.
Edinburgh: Chocolatarium Tour, Tasting & Chocolate MakingEdinburgh: The Royal Yacht Britannia Ticket
Located an hour and 40 minutes from Edinburgh, Loch Lomond is something to add to your itinerary when traveling around the United Kingdom. Known as the Queen of Scottish Lochs, it offers beautiful views of the boundary where the Scottish highlands meet the lowlands. This Loch Lomond: 1-Hour Cruise takes you on a scenic journey from Balloch village to where you’ll see Ben Mountain and Inchmurrin Island which is home to the ruins of the 12th century Lennox Castle.
A trip to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without explore the Scottish Highlands. We took a drive along the northernmost portion of Scotland on the North Coast 500. From Inverness to the Isle of Skye, the northern portion of the country has some of the best scenery in Scotland.
Drive through the Scottish Highlands in search of castles and cairns twisting and turning among some fo the most rugged coastline in the world. Scotland also houses the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis. Sample Scottish Whisky in Dornoch, Admire the Sea Stacks of John O’Groats and explore the sea caves of Ullapool. North Coast 500 – The Ultimate Trip Guide to Scotland’s Epic Drive
Inverness is the capital of the Scottish Highlands and is our favourite city in Scotland.
While Loch Ness may be what first attracted visitors to Inverness, there are so many things to see in Inverness. In town check out the 19th century St. Andrew’s Cathedral and stroll the Ness Islands. Don’t miss visiting the historic Culloden Battlefield, and walk through thousand year old cairns. Explore more at our 8 Things to do in Inverness – The Capital of the Scottish Highlands
It is from Inverness that you can make your way to Loch Ness in search of the Loch Ness Monster. Make sure to visit Urquhart Castle which has been the centre of many a battle for 1000 years as it changed hands between Scotland and Britain.
Places to Visit in Wales
Definitely one of our favourite places to visit in the UK is Wales. Dave and I like to call it The Adventure Capital of Europe with extreme sports, coastal hikes and underground caverns waiting to be explored. Wales is the land of castles, with more castles per square mile within its borders than anywhere else in the world. It is the perfect place to go castle hopping.
If you are a nature lover Snowdonia National Park should be at the top of your list . The Snowdon Mountains are one of the most beautiful places in the United Kingdom extraordinary views over rolling mountains from Snowdon Mountain, the highest mountain in Wales. Take the steam train ride up to the summit to enjoy some hiking.
Portmeirion is a fairytale-like tourist village in Gwynedd, Wales. Nobody lives in this town, but it’s a wonderful stop on your visit to Wales that gives a quiet retreat in a very different destination. Modeled after the village of Portofino on the Italian Riviera, Portmeiron is a quirky destination that is not to be missed.
If you want to add the adventure of a lifetime to your bucket list, try your hand at Coasteering in Pembrokeshire. You will not only marvel at the stunning coastal sea cliffs, you will jump from them into rolling and tumbling waters.
And there you have some of the best places to visit in the UK. There really are so many other places to visit, we barely scratched the surface but this should help you get started to plan life after lock down. So where are you going next?