Best Places to Visit in the UK (that aren’t London)
Although London is a popular and vibrant city, there are many other amazing places to visit in the UK besides London. Whether you’re looking for nature, history, or even whiskey tasting, the countries in the UK have it all.
Leeds, located in West Yorkshire, is the perfect city break for anyone who loves shopping as it’s one of the best shopping destinations in the UK. From beautiful and unique arcades where you can find your favourite brands to independent shops that offer unique gifts and local products.
However, that’s not everything Leeds has to offer! Within the city and its surroundings, you will also find incredible parks, gardens and country houses.
Staying in Leeds also gives you the opportunity to explore other beautiful locations in Yorkshire such as the medieval city of York, hidden gems like Saltaire (a UNESCO World Site Heritage) and the popular Yorkshire Dales.
York is a medieval city that was once the capital of England. It is easy to navigate, and it showcases the true beauty of the UK, through its cobbled streets, narrow alleyways and rich history. At the centre of the city, you will find the towering York Minster, a breathtaking Gothic Cathedral, which has been the North of England’s centre of Christianity since the 7th century. It is also home to one of the most iconic streets in the world – The Shambles – that looks like it is straight out of Harry Potter. Walk York’s 13th century Roman Walls, browse the street markets, climb Clifford’s Tower and stroll by the riverside. After, explore the free National Railway Museum, enjoy an afternoon tea at Betty’s Tea Rooms, discover the Chocolate Museum and learn about the city’s Viking past at Jorvik Viking Centre. There’s no denying York is one of the best places in the UK. Prepare to be blown away.
Wells is located in the south-west of England between Bristol and Exeter. It is the smallest city in England and has a lot to offer those exploring. The cathedral sits at the top of a busy high street and is stunning with a unique roof and ancient clock.
Next to the cathedral is the Bishop’s Palace. This is a fortified palace and has been home to the Bishop of Bath and Wells for over 800 years. While parts of it are in ruins the chapel and some rooms are still in use today and the gardens are beautifully maintained.
Tucked in a corner of the city is Vicar’s Close. A small road that was built in 1363. It is the oldest inhabited medieval street in Europe. It has a cobbled street and each of the houses has a unique chimney.
The whole city is compact and beautiful.
Stratford-upon-Avon is a beautiful town in Warwickshire with many links to the famous playwright William Shakespeare. The town has many buildings and attractions related to the great man, including his birthplace and All Saints’ Church, his last resting place. The town is beautiful with a good deal of old timber-framed buildings, museums and churches.
Stratford-upon-Avon also has a collection of theatres, many of which perform Shakespearean plays. These theatres are mostly near the banks of the River Avon, a fabulous backdrop with a Ferris Wheel and pleasant restaurants. The entire town oozes Shakespeare and is a great place for fans to learn more about his life and life in the era.
There are many things to see or do in Stratford-upon-Avon, thus is a great place to visit.
One of the best places to visit in the UK is the particular Jurassic Coast especially from the naturalistic and geological point of view. It is located in southern England, between the town of Exmouth, Devon, at Studland Bay in Dorset. This stretch covers 150 km of coastline that tell 185 million years of history. It was the first English natural site to be classified in 2001 as a UNESCO World Heritage. The entire stretch is dotted with epic views and pretty characteristic villages immersed in the natural splendor of hidden bays and sheer cliffs. The most interesting part starts from Lulworth Cowe to Durdle Door ,the icon of the Jurassic coast. An easy path of 3 km to do on foot, suitable for everyone even for children you walk between bays from the crystalline color up to rocky arches created by nature.
Fowey (rhymes with joy) is a beautiful place to escape to throughout the year. It’s a working harbour town on Cornwall’s south coast and is perfectly placed to enjoy the stunning Cornish scenery. It’s easy to while away your days in Fowey, renting a boat or a paddleboard to pootle round the estuary, taking a hike along the South-West Coast Path, browsing the arty shops, crabbing on the pontoon or popping into the town’s tiny aquarium. Foodie visitors will be happy with the choice of restaurants and take-aways and, if you must leave town, it’s only a short drive to some of Cornwall’s most popular visitor attractions including The Eden Project.
Stonehenge is one of the world’s most well-known prehistoric monuments! As a wonder of the world, the monument has an intriguing history that dates back an estimated 5,000 years. Stonehenge consists of about 1,000 massive stones placed upright in a circular pattern.Archaeologists believe that the location was once a burial ground, but the actual purpose of building the monument is still a mystery. The method that the builders used to erect the giant stones without modern technology also remains unknown.Stonehenge receives nearly one million visitors a year, so it’s a good idea to book tickets in advance! Admission prices to view the monument are £19.50 for adults and £11.70 for children. With the price of admission, you can get a downloadable audio guide that is chock full of information (tip: bring your own headphones to listen to it!). Aside from seeing the stone circle, visitors can also learn more at the Stonehenge Exhibition.
Bath is a beautiful city to visit and perfect for somewhere to find out more about the UK from. Bath feels like you’re stepping on to a movie set with its honey coloured Regency buildings at every turn. There’s plenty to do here from visiting the Roman Baths after which the city is named to taking a dip in the new baths using the thermal waters at the Bath Thermae Spa. The Royal Crescent is the most iconic part of the city and ideal for a wander to and while you’re there to take in No 1 Royal Crescent which is a perfect for finding out more about the history in the 18th century. If you’re looking for things to do in Bath with kids then Royal Victoria playground (opened by an 11 year old Queen Victoria) is perfect as is the very sweet Bath City Farm. Whoever you’re travelling to Bath with a stop off at the famous Sally Lunns for buns is an absolute must.
Nottingham is a hidden gem when it comes to cities to visit in the UK. There are many exciting things to do in Nottingham that you won’t be short of activities. For history buffs, visit Nottingham Castle which was the starting place of the British Civil War in 1642. Delve into the caves underneath the city and learn how they were hand-carved for various uses over the years from storing alcohol to drying leather to Victorian slums.
Nottingham has multiple open green spaces to enjoy the outdoors and just outside the city you will find the fantastic Wollaton Hall. Wollaton Hall is a Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house that houses the Nottingham Natural History Museum. In the grounds, you can spot the herds of free-roaming red and fallow deer, and film fanatics may also recognise Wollaton Hall as the setting of Wayne Manor in the 2012 Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.
Escape to the green rolling pastures of the Peak District National Park, for open landscapes, quaint villages, and characterful pubs. You will feel a million miles away, but actually as the Peak District is in the middle of the UK it’s very accessible as a weekend staycation destination from most places.
The best way to spend your weekend is with a long walk in the hills. Head to Kinder Scout, Curbur Edge for epic views, or perhaps try this Padley Gorge walk, which is one of the prettiest spots in the Peak District.
If you prefer a more relaxed day out, head over to the Chatsworth Estate, one of the grandest houses in the country. Or ride the cable car up to The Heights of Abraham and explore the old minding caverns.
However you choose to spend your weekend, the best way to finish a day is at a local pub with a pint of Peak Ale.
Mersea Island, Essex
Just 90 minutes drive from London, Mersea Island in England’s south-east is a glorious place to visit in the UK. This small but perfectly formed island is accessed by a Roman-era tidal causeway and has glorious sea view apartments and fabulous hideaway cottages. Here you’ll find a traditional English seaside getaway with a difference. As well as the causeway access, the Roman’s also introduced oysters to Mersea and the Colchester Native is world-famous and renowned. Two eateries, the famous Company Shed and neighbouring West Mersea Oyster Bar both provide amazing seafood platters at these two eateries and are great value for money.
There is also still a vineyard (they introduced wine growing too!) and brewery and there’s nothing better than an afternoon wine tasting, then a slow saunter back to your accommodation through the quiet country lanes. Come to Mersea, relax, enjoy and stay a little longer.
Hever Castle in Kent
Hever Castle is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Kent. Located just one hour away from central London, Hever Castle is the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, so it has quite a fascinating history behind. Inside, you can visit the Anne’s but also Henry VIII’s room, which he used when he was courting her. The original lock he used to travel with, to lock the door to his bedchamber, is still at the castle, attached to the massive dining room door.
The property at Hever Castle is massive, including beautiful woodland, a lake and stunning landscaped gardens. You can easily spend the entire day here learning about the Tudors, enjoying quality time in nature or having a picnic with friends on one of the lawns overlooking the castle.
Brighton is a beautiful costal town just a short train ride from London.
Brighton is known for its seafront and the famous Brighton Palace Pier. There are endless things to do along the seafront. From a rollercoaster to fresh seafood, the seafront is the place to go!
Outside the seafront, the Royal Pavilion shouldn’t be missed! It was King George IV’s costal home and is now open for tourists to visit. Original artifacts from the Royal Pavilion are lent to the City of Brighton by the Queen to display in the palace, so you get a real sense of how elaborate the palace was when George IV lived there.
The final thing you need to do in Brighton is wander through The Lanes. It is full of local restaurants and stores. The Lanes is the best place in Brighton to find a delicious meal and take a stroll.
Isle of Wight
One of my favourite trips when I was younger, and one that will always stick in my head when thinking of beautiful places to visit in Europe (let along the UK), is the Isle of Wight. The rocky island is located just south of England, about a 30-minute ferry ride from Portsmouth. Scattered with beautiful beaches and seafront promenades such as Ventnor and Shanklin, you’ll quickly fall in love with this delightful holiday destination.
As well as the beaches, you can also explore dinky little cobblestone towns that look as though they’ve been plucked out of a storybook and fisherman’s villages with thatched roofs and traditional pubs. Visit quaint taverns and ice-cream parlours with dozens of delicious flavours.
There are also plenty of tourist attractions like dinosaur remains in the Compton Bay area for budding palaeontologists, and the Needles, 3 huge white chalk rocks which are the most photographed and famous landmark. Located on the eastern point, the Needles are guarded by a 19th-century lighthouse, and you can catch a cable car down to the contrasting multi-coloured cliffs on the bay below.
Located in North West England, Manchester is known as one of the coolest cities in the UK.
It was put on the map a couple of centuries ago due to its role during the industrial revolution. It has since become a very lively city with loads to offer.
The city centre is fairly small which means that you can easily explore it on foot. If you want to learn more about the history of Manchester, you can opt for a walking tour.
No matter what, make sure to go to Market Street, Piccadilly Gardens and Cathedral Gardens.
For street art and cute coffee shops, Northern Quarter will be your paradise. It’s known as the hipster neighbourhood. You will find beautiful murals and loads of local shops as well. It’s very pretty and one of the most Instagrammable places in Manchester. In the evening, it’s a great place to check out as most bars and pubs have live music on.
Finally, make sure to visit some of the museums. The MOSI is free and one of the best museums in the UK. It’s perfect for people who want to learn more about the industrial revolution.
Chester is one of the most underrated cities in England. It’s nestled in between Liverpool and Manchester and the north of Wales, which makes it an ideal place to visit if you’re in the area. Chester isn’t the biggest city, but there’s still plenty to do. You can check out the second most photographed clock in the UK, see the biggest Roman amphitheatre in the country and go shopping on the unique two-tier Rows.
A walk along the Roman Walls is one of the best things to do in Chester. The walls surround the city and take you past all the main sights. This is a brilliant way to see Chester and allows you to wander by the cathedral, the lookout tower where King Charles II watched his troops in the English Civil War and the oldest active racecourse in the UK.
If you’re a history buff and lover of intricate buildings, Chester is somewhere you can’t leave off your UK bucket list!
The Brecon Beacons is one of the most popular National Parks in the UK- for good reason. The views are spectacular and it has some incredible waterfalls, hikes, and caves to explore.
If you’re in the area, head to the National Showcaves of Dan yr Ogof. The sheer size of the caves and the waterfall in the largest cavern is incredible. There are also life-sized dinosaurs and other caves which kids and adults alike will love. There’s one of the best camping and motorhome sites in South Wales on its doorstep.
Nearby is one of the most popular waterfalls- Sgwd yr Eira, where you can walk behind the actual waterfall.
For hikes, try the Beacons Horseshoe ridge walk which will take you up to the summit of Pen-Y-Fan. From there you will have a 360-degree view over the Cwm Llwch valley.
Visit some of the world’s best beaches, stunning coastlines and caves on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. The Gower was actually the first area in the UK to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The peninsula has countless hidden gems to explore and it’s a popular place for adventure seekers too. Explore historical sites by visiting its six castles and countless ruins. Complete the Gower Coast Path or even hike to a tidal island called the Worm’s Head. Surf at beautiful beaches such as Llangennith, Langland and Rhossili Bay where you can even see a shipwreck. Camp at campsites like Three Cliffs Bay with some of the most stunning views.
Four of the Gower’s beaches have the Blue Flag Beach Award. An additional five beaches received the Green Coast Award proving that the peninsula is truly unspoiled and has very high standards.
Castles of South Wales
South Wales is awash with castles and this makes it one of the best places to visit in the UK. From east to west, there are castles a plenty to explore. One of the best is Caerphilly, with its leaning tower which leans to a greater degree than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Watch out for the dragons that live there though! Cardiff has a castle that has hidden secrets in the outer walls.
Travel slightly further north and east and you’ll find the beautiful castle of Raglan, with its hexagonal tower. Along the River Wye is the impressive Chepstow Castle, with no less than four wards to cover and a very impressive ceiling in its cellar.
Head west to discover castles such as Carreg Cennan on a hilltop and the beautiful Pembroke Castle in West Wales, which has the biggest map of Wales in its grounds. These are among the best castles to visit in Wales, and all are family-friendly. The difficult decision is choosing which ones to visit.
Scotland is filled with breathtaking scenery, rich history, and some of the friendliest people in the world. At the center of the county, lies the stunning capital of Edinburgh.
One of the best things to do in Edinburgh is to walk down the Royal Mile. Starting at Edinburgh Castle and ending at Holyroodhouse Palace – there are plenty of hidden gems along the way as well! You can hike up Arthur’s Seat to see the city from above! Once you’ve finished on the Royal Mile, you can see the Scottish Crown Jewels in the Royal Palace or the Stone of Destiny! No matter what you’re interested in, Edinburgh has something for you to love, making it one of the best places to visit in the United Kingdom.
The Non-Tourist Side of Loch Ness
Loch Ness, situated just south of Inverness, is popular with tourists visiting Urquhart Castle or looking to spot Nessie. But if you want to avoid the tourist groups and bus-filled roads, try out the other side of Loch Ness. You’ll need a rental car, but it’s well worth it to drive along the opposite shore of the Loch for peaceful views. Stop in Dores at the Dores Inn for a meal and relax along the shore of Loch Ness Beach. Then drive south on B852 and periodically pull off to the side of the road to walk down to the shoreline for beautiful Loch Ness vistas — without the crowds.
Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull is a stunning island on the western coast of Scotland. For such a smalll sized island, there are plethora of things to do in Isle of Mull.
A 45 minute ferry ride from Oban takes you to this pristine Isle that are dotted with sandy beaches, hidden coves, shimmering lochs and a truck load of wildlife watching.
Be sure to explore the capital town of Tobermory, known for their colourful buildings and shops on the promenade and sweeping views of the coast.
Dip your feet in the pristine waters of Calgary Bay or follow the Sculpture Trail to get up close with nature. Grab your binoculars and go on a wildlife tour, spotting golden eagles, otters and puffins.
Whether you want to spend a weekend or a long holiday, Isle of Mull is a downright paradise that deserves a place in your Scotland itinerary.
The reason Fort William is one of the best places in the UK to visit is due to the amazing scenery of the surrounding area.
Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, is located close to the town and a climb should definitely be on your list of things to do while here. But do not underestimate the hike, which gains nearly 1350 metres in altitude to reach the top. Glen Nevis and Glencoe have many other hiking opportunities to suit all abilities.
Less strenuous activities include a trip on-board the Jacobite steam train (better known as the Hogwarts Express from Harry Potter) or a visit to Inverlochy Castle restaurant for a meal or an afternoon tea. The latter is a good option for a rainy day. The weather in the area can be unreliable!
Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is one of the most beautiful places to visit within the United Kingdom. It’s a Scottish island located in western Scotland and is known for its natural beauty and stunning landscapes. It has become one of the top locations to visit in Scotland in recent years.
There are fantastic hikes to enjoy across the island from the Fairy Pools, to the Quairang, to the Neist Point Lighthouse, and the Old Man of Storr. No trip to Skye is complete without stopping to view the incredibly dramatic geological landslip at the Quairang. Beyond the gorgeous and vibrant scenery on the island, there are also fantastic places to visit, including the village of Portree, Talisker Distillery, or Dunvegan Castle.
Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is a city that can often be overlooked but shouldn’t be. Sitting on the River Lagan, Belfast was the city in which the Titanic was built and the famous dockyards are now a Titanic Quarter where visitors can see where the ship was built and visit a museum dedicated to the fateful liner.
But this is not all that is on offer in Belfast. Queens Quarter is a bustling part of the city thanks to the large student population of Queens University. You’ll also find the impressive Botanic Gardens and the Ulster Museum in this area where you can see collections of fine art, treasures from Spanish Armada and learn about local history.
You can also learn about the more recent history of the city through the many murals painted on the sides of buildings. Take a black cab tour to find out about this side to Belfast.
With so much on offer, Belfast is one of the best things to do in Antrim and is a must-visit place in the UK.
The Giant’s Causeway is one of the top attractions in Northern Ireland, and for good reason! The area consists of about 40,000 interlocking columns that were created by ancient volcanic activity. Although, a legend states that an Irish Giant named Finn created the Causeway to cross the North Channel to fight a Scottish giant.As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a geological wonder, Giant’s Causeway has been explored by curious travelers for centuries! Not only are the intriguing columns a sight to see, but the coastline also provides stunning scenery.With Giant’s Causeway located on the northern coast, the best method to reach it is either by car or through a bus tour. Either option will provide you with jaw dropping views with several options for amazing stops along the way.
County Down in Northern Ireland is a brilliant location for a holiday in the UK. The county is home to stunning mountain peaks, forests and rivers, along with some interesting towns and villages plus some beautiful coastline.
The Mourne Mountains are wonderful for short or full day hikes with trails for all abilities. If you’re visiting Northern Ireland with kids, head to Tollymore Forest Park at the foot of the mountains and follow the Shimna River through the woodland.
There are some fantastic castles, churches and historic houses to visit in County Down including the ruined Dundrum Castle and beautiful Down Cathedral – said to be the burial place of Saint Patrick.
The County Down coastline has some fabulous beaches. Murlough beach – a nature reserve – is one of the most dramatic with the Mourne Mountains as its backdrop. There is sand as far as the eye can see, backed by sand dunes. Close by is the lovely seaside resort of Newcastle – perfect for an ice cream.
The North Coast of Northern Ireland is a spectacular stretch of rugged coastline with endless stops along the way. While the Giants Causeway often earns the plaudits, there are several other amazing places along the coast that are just as good, if not better.
One of the main highlights on the North Coast is Mussenden Temple. This temple is built right on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Downhill Beach and Castlerock Beach. It is located in the grounds of Downhill Demesne which also contains the 18th century ruins of the old Bishop of Derry’s house that you can walk through.
Some of the other amazing places along this stretch include Dunluce Castle, Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge and Kinbane Castle. It really is a stunning part of the world that you will instantly fall in love with.