From the rugged coastlines of Cornwall to the picturesque villages of the Cotswolds, our guide to the best places to visit in the UK is steeped in history, rich in dramatic landscapes, and bursting with local experiences.

By: Paul Healy | Published: 16 Apr 2024

From medieval towns to breathtaking scenery, Britain is a land of rich rewards.

Its island position off mainland Europe has forged a unique identity filled with spellbinding experiences, world-famous attractions, cultural diversity, sublime scenery, and of course, proper cups of tea.

Rebalance your soul in wild and remote landscapes, re-energize your spirit in pristine mountain-top lakes, and reboot your mind in historic cities.

We’ve explored a lot of our beautiful home country. We’ve hiked stunning trails, tried local ales, wandered cute villages, climbed mountains, and discovered some of the most amazing places.

Here is our guide, as two locals, for the best places to go in the UK.

MAP – PLACES TO VISIT IN THE UK

Our favourite places to visit in the UK are spread around the country. To help you plan your next British getaway we’ve added them all to the below map.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


ENGLAND

1. LAKE DISTRICT

The Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a national park in northwest England blessed with some of the finest mountain scenery in the country.

It’s a popular holiday destination with craggy hills, ribbon lakes, and rivers that course through valleys. It’s one of the best places in England for enjoying nature at its finest.

In addition to beautiful scenery, the historic market towns of Ambleside, Keswick, and Grasmere are great bases for exploring the area.

WHAT TO DO?

ENGLAND

2. YORK

Starting life as a Roman settlement with Viking legacies, York had a building boom during the medieval period filling cobbled lanes with handsome Georgian townhouses.

This blend of architectural styles makes York a charming city to explore in the north of England. 

With miles of intact Roman walls, world-class museums, and a thriving cultural scene, York is a beautiful place to visit embedded with a rich English history.

WHAT DO DO IN YORK?  

  • Visit York Minster, one of the world’s famous cathedrals.
  • Explore Harry Potter locations on The Shambles.
  • Walk the city walls for great views over the medieval centre.
  • Have a picnic in the Museum Gardens beside the ruined abbey.

ENGLAND

3. JURASSIC COAST

The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site located on the southern coast of England, spanning 96 miles from Exmouth to Studland Bay in Dorset.

Its most photographed feature is Durdle Door, a stunning arch stranded at sea.

Corfe Castle – one of the first royal palaces built after the Norman Conquest – is another highlight. We highly recommend seeing this crumbling ruin at sunrise when a blanket of mist often converges on the base.

What we love most about the Jurassic Coast, however, is the thriving craft beer scene. You’ll also find some of the most charming seaside towns in England.

WHAT DO DO?

  • Kayak around Old Harry Rocks, a stunning section of white chalk coastline.
  • Walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door.
  • Photograph the stunning ruins of Corfe Castle at sunrise.
  • Explore the historic town of Lyme Regis with its unique independent vibe.

SCOTLAND

4. GLENCOE

Glencoe is a steep-sided valley in the Scottish Highlands, where dramatic buttressed mountains and rocky peaks tower over one of the finest roads in the country.

There are stunning walks for all levels of ability including gently woodland strolls through to challenging mountain hikes. Whichever you choose, finish the day in an atmospheric pub with local whiskies and cheery Scottish banter.

One of the highlights of Glencoe is Glen Etive – a picturesque stretch of road featured in the James Bond movie, Skyfall.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Hike to the Three Sisters Viewpoint (Bidean Nam Bian) for the best views in Glencoe.
  • Have a pint in the historic Clachaig Inn – one of the most atmospheric pubs in Scotland.
  • Photograph Buachaille Etive Mòr – Glencoe’s most scenic mountain.

ENGLAND

5. THE COTSWOLDS

The Cotswolds is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the southwest of England. It’s famous for rolling countryside dotted with sheep and honey-hued villages lost in time.

Several of the Cotswolds villages are bursting with charisma such as Castle Comb, framed by a hilly woodland; and Upper and Lower Slaughter, two of the prettiest villages in the UK.

The best way to experience the Cotswolds is on a country walk through bucolic scenery ending in a traditional pub.

WHAT TO DO?

SCOTLAND

6. ISLE OF SKYE

The Isle of Skye, just off the northwest coast of Scotland, is a rugged landscape with picturesque fishing villages, medieval castles and a host of outdoor adventures.

The 50-mile-long island is the largest and most popular of the Inner Hebrides. It’s one of the best places to visit in the Scottish Highlands for impressive scenery, clan history and wildlife spotting.

The Trotternish Peninsula is a landscape of strange geological shapes and the Cuillin Mountain Range has 12 Munros – mountain peaks above 3,000 feet.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Hike to the iconic Old Man of Storr for stunning scenery.
  • Visit Mealt Falls, the dramatic cascade that plunges into the ocean.
  • Visit the colourful town of Portree and take a course at the gin school.
  • Hike in the Quiraing for weird and wonderful landscapes.

WALES

7. PEMBROKESHIRE COAST

The Pembrokeshire Coast is a National Park on the south coast of Wales. It’s one of the smallest National Parks in the UK, but it packs a punch with coastal scenery, hidden beaches, woodlands, and a thriving Celtic culture.

With nowhere in the park more than 10 miles from the sea, the Pembrokeshire Coast is all about seaside bliss.

Eleven beaches were awarded a Blue Flag, meeting the highest standards of safety and cleanliness. Twelve have received the Green Coast Award for recognised beautiful untouched beaches.

The coastal path is one of just 15 National Trails in England and Wales and provides some of the most scenic hiking in the country.

WHAT DO TO?

  • Try surfing at Freshwater West, one of the best surfing destinations in the country.
  • Hike a section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
  • Visit St David’s Cathedral and the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace.
  • Explore the charming and colourful harbour of Tenby.

ENGLAND

8. CAMBRIDGE

Cambridge is located in eastern England on the River Cam. It’s a beautiful city with imposing late-Gothic architecture, cobbled streets and immaculate college greens.

Regarded as one of the best cities in England, Cambridge has a vibrant student culture, beautiful colleges and world-class museums.

With strong royal links, and a world-famous university, Cambridge is one of the most fascinating places to visit in the UK.

Visit Cambridge on a day trip to see what this historic city has to offer.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Visit St Johns College, one of the most impressive in Cambridge.
  • Listen to Evensong at the stunning King’s College Chapel.
  • Take a punting tour down the River Cam.
  • Examine the ancient collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

WALES

9. SNOWDONIA

Snowdonia is a National Park in Wales, with 823 square miles of incredible rugged beauty. Situated in the northwest of the country, craggy buttressed mountains, steep-sided pinnacles and pristine lakes provide the playground for stunning walks, wild swimming and adventure activities.

The highlight is Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales with several trails to reach the top, or a scenic train if you just want to get straight to the views.

Snowdonia is also home to several well-preserved defensive fortifications including Harlech Castle, Caernarfon Castle and Conway.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Hike to the top of Snowdon via the Pyg Track.
  • Visit the heritage-listed village of Dolgellau.
  • Drive the dramatic Llanberis Pass for spectacular views
  • Visit the unusual Italianate village of Portmeirion.
  • See the imposing Harlech Castle overlooking the sea.

ENGLAND

10. LONDON

As the capital of England and the United Kindom, London is a city that still manages to hold a few secrets despite being the most popular place to visit in the UK.

It’s also a surprisingly accessible city. Contained within central London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament are all easily walkable. Many of the world-class art galleries are completely free of charge.

With everything from neighbourhood markets to world-class theatre, incredible museums and hidden historic nooks, London is one of the world’s greatest cities.

WHAT TO DO?

ENGLAND

11. PEAK DISTRICT

The Peak District was the first designated National Park in the United Kingdom and today it is one of the most visited National Parks in the world.

The northern section, known as the Dark Peak, is a wild and rugged landscape of moorland and gritstone. The southern section, known as the White Peak, is a gentler landscape of limestone valleys and rolling hills.

With distinctive rock formations, lush carpets of heather, and undulating hills interspersed with charming villages, the Peak District is one of the most interesting places to visit in the UK.

WHAT TO DO

  • Cycle or walk the 8.5-mile traffic-free Monsal Trail.
  • Visit Chatsworth House, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire.
  • Hike on the Roaches – a gritstone escarpment with sharp peaks and excellent views.
  • Explore the market town of Buxton with its natural thermal springs.

ENGLAND

12. CORNISH COAST

Cornwall is a county in southwest England forming a peninsular of pristine beaches, picture-postcard fishing villages, wild moorland and a thriving Celtic culture.

One of the best beaches in Cornwall is Watergate Bay in Newquay on the north coast. Facing southwest towards the Atlantic rollers, the 2-mile stretch of golden sand provides excellent conditions for both beginners and pros looking for outdoor adventures in the UK.

The other highlight is St Michael’s Mount – a rocky island off the coast of Cornwall with a castle that cuts a sublime photo opportunity at both sunrise and sunset.

WHAT TO DO?

ENGLAND

13. STONEHENGE

Archaeologists believe Stonehenge was built as a giant solar calendar with each of the 30 stones representing a day of the month and special stones marking the start of the week.

Remarkably, the design incorporates leap years with five structures holding vertical stones representing a 5-day month required to synchronise the calendar.

Although it’s one of the most famous places to visit in England, the ingenuity of this 5,000-year-old structure leaves you in awe.

The most important day of the year at Stonehenge is the Summer Solstice, the only time of the year when it’s possible to walk among the stones and admire the symmetry with the summer sunrise.

WHAT DO DO?

SCOTLAND

14. EDINBURGH

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland with a medieval Old Town and a Georgian New Town – both of which have UNESCO World Heritage classifications.

Throughout history, Edinburgh has grabbed the attention of everyone from royalty to Harry Potter fans with charming cobbled streets, an unexpected entertainment scene, and a host of world-class attractions.

There are renowned art galleries, historical monuments, lovely gardens and plenty of whisky experiences to get a proper taste of this Scottish gem.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Visit Edinburgh Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to the future King James VI.
  • Walk the Royal Mile picking off attractions including the Edinburgh Museum and St Giles’ Cathedral.
  • Take a Harry Potter Tour to see the landmarks from the books and movies.
  • Head up to Calton Hill for a beautiful sunset view of the city.

ENGLAND

15. SOUTH DOWNS NATIONAL PARK

The South Downs National Park is a range of rolling chalk hills on the southeastern coast of England. As Britain’s newest national park, the South Downs stretch for 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne.

One of the main attractions on the South Downs are the Seven Sisters Cliffs where a series of white cliffs form a chain of undulating peaks with a carpet of rolling green farmland on top. It’s one of the most picturesque coastlines in the UK.

Further inland, stately homes, grand working castles and rambling hiking trails provide a host of fantastic things to do in the South Downs.

WHAT TO DO?

WALES

16. GOWER PENINSULA

The Gower Peninsula in southwest Wales was the first area in the United Kingdom to become a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It’s a stunning stretch of coastline with hidden beaches, towering rock formations, scenic hiking trails and cool wild swimming spots.

Gower is most famous for Rhossili Bay Beach, often voted one of the best beaches in the UK. The massive arc of sand stretches for 3 glorious miles overlooked by 200-metre-high sea cliffs. Spend the day lazing on the beach, or walk over to Worm’s Head – a dramatic promontory reaching out to see.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Laze on Rhossili Bay Beach – one of the best beaches in the UK.
  • Soak in the Blue Pool – a natural rock pool in the beach.
  • Visit the picturesque Three Cliffs Bay.

ENGLAND

17. OXFORD

Oxford, in central southern England, is the famous home of the oldest university in the English-speaking world.

History, tradition and grandeur combine to keep the medieval city centre one of the most popular places to visit in England. Stroll cobbled laneways, admire the grand architecture and enjoy this vibrant British city.

While the historic colleges are the main attraction in Oxford, the surrounding area is also a great place to visit with imposing palaces, bucolic English countryside and some great river-based activities.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Visit the Bodleian Library, the oldest library in Europe with 13 million printed items.
  • Visit the Ashmolean & Pitt Rivers Museums – two world-class museums in Oxford.
  • Go for a walk in the Cotswolds for a taste of the English countryside.
  • Try wild swimming in the Thames near Oxford.

ENGLAND & WALES

18 – WYE VALLEY

The Wye Valley is an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) straddling the border between England and Wales.

It’s a lush green valley with a central river that was a strategic location for warring factions. As a result, there are ruined castles, historic buildings and the atmospheric remains of religious structures hidden in woodlands.

One of the highlights of the area is Hay-on-Wye, a delightful market town with an annual book festival that has established itself as the unofficial book capital of the world.

WHAT DO TO?

  • Visit the charming town of Hay-on-Wye – the book capital of the UK.
  • Go canoeing on the River Wye.
  • Visit the remarkable ruins of Tintern Abbey.
  • Take in the views from Symonds Yat Rock, the scenic valley on the England / Wales border.
  • Visit the Llanthony Priory – a crumbling ruin in the Black Mountains.

ENGLAND

19. NORTHUMBERLAND COAST

The Northumberland Coast is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Covering just 40 miles of coastline from Berwick-Upon-Tweed to the River Coquet, it’s easy to explore most of what the area has to offer.

Dunstanburgh Castle is a 14th-century fortification and one of the most evocative ruins in England. Perched on a remote headland in Northumberland, it was the scene of intense fighting during the War of the Roses.

Just off the coast, the Farne Islands are an important bird sanctuary with one of the largest puffin colonies in the country.

The other highlight is the Northumberland Coastal Path, where you can enjoy one of the many rugged coastal walks in the UK.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh for an excellent coastal walk.
  • Try the seafood at the Jolly Fisherman, famous for their Lindisfarne Oysters.
  • Laze on Embleton Bay, a massive sweep of golden sand.
  • Visit the imposing Bamburgh Castle – an important site in English / Scottish history.
  • Explore the grounds of Howick Hall the home of Earl Grey.

ENGLAND

20. HADRIAN’S WALL

Hadrian’s Wall is a defensive fortification in the north of England built by the Romans around the year 122 to protect the northwest frontier of their empire.

The wall is 73 miles long and includes 158 turrets, 80 guard posts and 17 forts built to house the Roman soldiers sent to patrol the border.

It’s one of the best places to go in England to witness Roman construction, but it’s also set in beautiful scenery.

Our guide to visiting Hadrian’s Wall includes the best sections for an easy day trip. Sadly, the tree in Sycamore Gap was cut down in 2023.

WHAT TO DO?

ENGLAND

21. BATH

Bath is a beautiful city in England known for its Roman-built baths and handsome Georgian architecture.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bath has a compact visitor-friendly centre with independent shopping, a great cafe scene, interesting galleries and a regular calendar of festivals.

In addition to the Roman Baths, the modern Thermae Bath Spa has the only natural thermal hot springs in Britain that you can bathe in.

PLAN YOUR TRIP

Bay day trip guide

WHAT TO DO?

  • Visit the Roman Baths to see the stunning Great Bath and historic terrace.
  • Take in the awesome gothic structure of Bath Abbey.
  • Visit the Georgian townhouses on Royal Crescent.
  • Book a spa treatment at the Thermae Spa.

ENGLAND

22. YORKSHIRE DALES

Few places in the UK capture the wild and dramatic side of the country quite like the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Vast windswept moorlands overlook a patchwork of green fields clinging to undulating valleys hiding stoic old-world villages.

It’s an epic landscape with interesting geological features, valleys full of hay meadows and dry stone walls that contour the hilly environment,

With several historic sites, excellent hiking trails, traditional villages and proper English pubs, the Yorkshire Dales is an unmissable highlight in the UK.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Discover the unique geological wonders at Malham Cove.
  • Picnic in the grounds of the beautiful ruins at Bolton Abbey.
  • Photograph the impressive Ribblehead Viaduct.
  • Explore the picturesque Swaledale Valley on foot.

SCOTLAND

23. NC500 & ASSYNT

The NC500 is a 516-mile circular drive that contours the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle.

One of the best sections of the drive is the area around the Assynt. A remote part of the Scottish Highlands, it’s has interesting landscapes of steep-sided peaks which rise out of fern-covered bulbous hillocks.

In addition to some of the best beaches in the country, Assynt has picturesque mountain trails, ruins, whale spotting opportunities, and stunning waterfalls.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Drive the NC500 Drumberg Road between Kylesku and Lochinver – the most dramatic section of the drive.
  • Hike Suilven – Scotland’s most picturesque mountain.
  • Visit Ardvech Castle on Loch Assynt.
  • Try the excellent pies at Lochinver Larder in Lochinver.
  • Visit the stunning Corrieshalloch Gorge – one of the most scenic hidden places in Scotland.

ENGLAND

24. DARTMOOR

Dartmoor is located in the county of Devon, just west of the city of Exeter. It is renowned for its rugged, open landscapes, granite tors, and diverse wildlife.

Spanning 350 square miles, Dartmoor National Park is a vast wilderness defined by carpets of heather, brooding expanses of ancient moorland, and intriguing historical landmarks.

Several fascinating hiking trails traverse the moor, while leafy valleys conceal charming villages and traditional old pubs.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Take in sunset over Hay Tor, a distinctive granite formation.
  • Walk to Whitelady Falls in Lydford Gorge, a stunning fern-lined gorge.
  • Enjoy the foodie scene at Ashburton.
  • Visit Buckland Abbey, a 13th-century manor house.

ENGLAND

25. CANTERBURY

Canterbury is a charming medieval city with the remains of a Roman wall and a layout that was designed in the Middle Ages.

Half-timbered buildings, ruined abbeys, and ancient churches provide a connection to the past. Independent stores, cool cafes, and quirky pubs add to the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

Cambridge has earned UNESCO World Heritage for 3 remarkable sights: Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Priory – the oldest church in the English-speaking world.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Stroll the beautiful Westgate Gardens inside Westgate Tower, the largest surviving medieval gatehouse in England.
  • Visit Canterbury Cathedral, one of the most important in the UK.
  • Go punting on the River Stour to learn about the city from knowledgeable guides.

MORE UK READING

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