Narrowing down the best places to visit in England isn’t an easy feat. There are so many iconic cities and sights, as well as plenty of hidden gems across the country. I asked my fellow travel blogger to share their idea of the best place to go in England and this is what they thought!
Table of Contents
- 1 London
- 2 Oxford
- 3 Northumberland
- 4 Stratford upon Avon
- 5 Matlock Bath
- 6 Dorset
- 7 Cornwall
- 8 The Isle of Wight
- 9 The Cotswolds
- 10 York
- 11 Manchester
- 12 Canterbury
- 13 Stonehenge
- 14 Newcastle
- 15 Norfolk
- 16 Salisbury
- 17 Devon
- 18 Peak District
- 19 Windsor
- 20 Hadrian’s Wall
- 21 White Cliffs of Dover
- 22 Bath
- 23 Brighton
- 24 Liverpool
- 25 Lake District
- 26 Bristol
There is a wealth of things to see and do in London from historical monuments to landmarks, and quirky shops to world-famous museums. It’s hard not to include London in any article about the best places to visit in England!
Whenever anyone asks me where to go when they’re planning a visit to England’s capital I always tell them to start on the river. The River Thames runs through the centre of the city and a return boat trip from Westminster to Greenwich is the perfect starting point for any visitor to London.
You’ll start off by Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament where you can board a clipper or a tour boat to take you to Greenwich, on the way you’ll see Southbank, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Shard… the list goes on and on. History literally rolls out in front of you.
Once at Greenwich you can explore Greenwich market, London’s only historic market set in a World Heritage Site! There are stalls full of food, antiques, art and vintage clothes. Check the website for what’s open on the day you plan to visit. It’s a great introduction to the city of London and the perfect way to spend a day.
By Laurence from Finding the Universe
Found around an hour’s journey by train or bus to the Northwest of London, Oxford is a world-famous university town that also happens to make for a wonderful place to explore.
There’s plenty to see and do in this small city, which is wonderfully walkable. A walking tour is a good start, ideally one which takes in some of the spectacular collages, which give the city its nickname “the city of dreaming spires”. Harry Potter fans will also be thrilled to hear that many of the colleges served as Harry Potter filming locations!
Beyond the colleges, there is much more to do. A popular activity is to hire a punt and take a trip on the river. This is not quite as easy as it looks, so you might want to hire a punt with a guide! Oxford Castle is also well worth a visit, with the costumed guides providing loads of information about the history of the city. Beyond that, there are some world-class museums, excellent and historic pubs, and lots of lovely views to be had.
By Heather from Conversant Traveller
If you’re looking for remote wilderness combined with a whole lot of heritage, then Northumberland is the place to go. This often-overlooked pocket of north-eastern England is full of wide-open spaces, crumbling castles and very few other tourists.
Must-sees include the majestic castles of Bamburgh and Alnwick, famed as filming locations for the likes of Harry Potter and Downton Abbey, and the ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle which is accessed by a beautiful coastal walk from the fishing village of Craster, known for its kippers.
The beaches here are some of the best in England, with vast stretches of golden sand perfect for walks and picnics, and undulating dunes to play hide and seek in. Another popular spot is the holy island of Lindisfarne with its ancient abbey remains iconic mead factory and a tiny hilltop castle, which can be visited at low tide when the causeway is accessible.
Don’t forget to also visit the beautiful Alnwick Gardens (and have dinner in the quirky treehouse restaurant), and pop into the legendary Barter Books to pick up some holiday reading material!
Stratford upon Avon
By Faith from XYU and Beyond
Known as the birthplace of Shakespeare Stratford upon Avon is an easy day trip from London. Stratford is an easy walking town and full of heritage buildings including the Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust which includes tours of where Shakespeare was born, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Mary Arden’s Farm and much more.
Sitting on a beautiful location on the River Avon you can enjoy punting down the river, or taking a vintage motorboat to see the sites from the water.
Don’t forget to take in a play at the superb Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatre and you can even do a fascinating tour of the building including learning about costumes, makeup and visiting the production booths and backstage areas.
There’s a huge selection of places to eat or treat yourself to an English Tea in one of the many little cafes and tea shops. You can even get some great fish and chips at Gordon Ramsay’s old haunt Barnaby’s with its stunning views of the Canal. Or drop by the Garrick Inn for a Shakesbeer.
You can spend an entire day in Stratford upon Avon but I recommend staying the night in one of the many heritage BnB’s or hotels and getting the full Shakespeare experience.
By Jenny from Peak District Kids
Situated just outside the southeastern edge of the Peak District is the tourist hub of Matlock Bath. Whilst many visitors use this town as a base for exploring the National Park, it is a destination in its own right.
When you arrive at its main promenade lined with gift shops, amusement arcades and fish-and-chip cafes, overlooking the canoes and boats playing on the river, and with a cable car precariously crossing the gorge, you can immediately see why landlocked Matlock Bath is often referred to as ‘Derbyshire-on-Sea’. There’s a distinct holiday vibe to this town.
Top of everyone’s list is a ride on the cable car up to the Heights of Abraham to take in the views and explore the old mining caverns. Kids will love the rides at Gulliver’s Kingdom, whereas a popular multigenerational outing is a ride on the old steam train at Peak Rail.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg; there are farms to visit, an aquarium, museums, and the famous annual illuminations. Indeed there are so many things to do in Matlock Bath to easily fill a long weekend!
By Hanna from SolarPoweredBlonde
Dorset is 3 hours away from London so a perfect weekend trip in the South of England. The two main reasons to visit Dorset are Durdle Door and Old Harry Rocks. These two rock formations are right on the coast, Old Harry Rocks is so large you can even see it from a plane.
Durdle Door is a natural arch just out at sea, if you come at the right time at sunrise, you will see the sunrise right through the arch. It is a beautiful coastline for walks and hiking. Old Harry Rocks is best seen from the sea or with a drone. You can also walk along the top of the huge rocks to see all the white cliffs below. Dorset is a great place for camping or even glamping in an old wagon in a field.
Dorset in Winter is lovely too, I highly recommend a New Years Day walk along the Jurassic Coast. You will not believe some of the beaches are in the UK by the beautiful watercolour such as at Man O’War beach! Worbarrow Bay is a slightly harder hike but also not to be missed.
By Maggie from The World Was Here First
If you’re willing to take the long drive to Cornwall from London or elsewhere in England, you’re sure not to be disappointed. Located in the southwest of England, Cornwall is one of the warmest and sunniest places to visit in the country, boasts incredible beaches, stunning natural scenery, fascinating history, and charming villages.
If you’re a nature-lover, you’re sure to love the countless coastal walks on offer in the region, boasting incredible views and dramatic scenery. The walking trails around Cape Cornwall and Land’s End (the southwesternmost tip of England) are particularly beautiful.
If you would rather explore Cornwall’s charming towns and villages, then you’re sure to keep occupied here, as well. The town of St Ives has a lovely beach, countless artist’s studios, and even its own branch of the Tate! If you’d like to try your hand at surfing, then consider heading to the town of Newquay, considered to be England’s capital for the sport.
And if it’s castles and history that you fancy, Cornwall can deliver here, as well. Make sure not to miss the incredible St Michael’s Mount outside of Penzance. Also, make sure to head to Tintagel – said to be the birthplace of King Arthur!
The Isle of Wight
By Vicky from Vicky Flip Flop Travels
The Isle of Wight is a great place to visit in England. Located off the south coast, and reachable from Portsmouth and Southampton, it’s a gateway to some of the best beaches in England and quaint villages.
There are loads of things to do on the Isle of Wight. The dinosaur history there is strong, and you can even see verified footprints. There are vineyards, a gin distillery and the ever-popular garlic farm. The walking trails and cycling routes are famous here, and if you like watersports there’s everything from SUP yoga, to canoeing, to windsurfing. There’s also a fantastic foodie scene with seafood, tomatoes and garlic as the island’s speciality.
In short, the Isle of Wight is one of my favourite places for a trip away. Arriving by hovercraft from Southsea is the best!
By Victoria from Bridges and Balloons
The Cotswolds is one of the most charming parts of the UK, filled with quintessential English villages made of honey-coloured stone, and dotted with castles and country houses amid beautiful rolling hills. Some of the most picturesque villages are Painswick, Bibury, Castle Combe, Bourton-on-the-Water and Chipping Campden.
Popular things to do include visiting Kelmscott Manor, having afternoon tea at Tisanes Tea Room, going to Daylesford Farm and exploring Abbey House Gardens. Also be sure to explore the fabulous nature, which includes ancient woodlands and wildflower meadows – Westonbirt Arboretum is a good place to start.
The whole Cotswold area covers 800 square miles, so it’s the kind of place you could spend weeks exploring and is particularly popular for a UK road trip village-hopping between the different areas. There are also some fabulous places to stay, including the hip Soho Farmhouse, stately Lucknam Park and family-friendly Calcot Manor Hotel.
By Kathi from Watch Me See
Located in northeastern England, York is a great place to visit to dive into medieval architecture, British history and – most importantly – chocolate. Since the city is rather compact and well-connected by train to London (2h) it’s very easy to see the best of York in a day.
At the heart of York lies its medieval old town that is surrounded by a massive city wall. Once essential for defending the city, it is now a fabulous way to start exploring York by walking along the walls. Make sure to also visit the Gothic cathedral York Minster and wander the narrow streets which are dotted with shops and restaurants. The quirky lane The Shambles is said to be an inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley (hard to deny, when you see it) and people queue around the corner from Betty’s Tearoom for their famous (and delicious) Fondant Fancies.
No trip to York would be complete without a deep-dive into the city’s long-standing history as the chocolate capital of England. The Chocolate Story museum not only tells the history of chocolate production in York but also includes a tasting station. Visitors even get to decorate their own chocolate lollies!
By Pauline from BeeLoved City
Located in the North West of England, Manchester is a paradise for music and street art lovers!
The city was mainly built during the industrial revolution and that’s how the symbol of the working bee came to life. Nowadays, if you walk around Manchester you will see that the bee is everywhere!
It’s also the birthplace of very famous English bands such as Oasis or the Smiths.
Manchester is a very lively city, proud of its musical and industrial background. If you want to experience the Mancunian life, head to the Northern Quarter and Ancoats. You will find many murals, pubs with live music and amazing restaurants.
Another very interesting sight is the Gay Village where you will find Alan Turing Statue, the LGBT Bee and many bars.
Finally, Manchester is home to a lot of free museums! The MOSI, National Art Gallery, Manchester Museum are definitely worth a visit!
For food, head to the Curry Mile (the biggest concentration of Asian restaurants outside of Asia), perfect to grab a delicious curry!
By Ann from The Road Is Life
Canterbury is a beautiful historic town in the heart of Kent, full of fascinating English history and fun things to do. The town is known for its well preserved medieval architecture and picturesque canals that run throughout. As you wander along the high street, you can admire the many half-timbered Tudor style buildings and lovely historic pubs. Canterbury is easy to reach by high-speed train in one hour from London’s St Pancras Station making it a great day tripping option.
One of the best things to do in Canterbury is taking a river cruise along the ancient canals. This will give you a unique perspective of the town’s most beautiful buildings while gaining an insight into its history from your guide. A trip to Canterbury isn’t complete without a visit to the famous Canterbury Cathedral. This is one of England’s oldest cathedrals, dating back to the year 597. The interiors are very impressive and it’s home to some of Britain’s most important historical events.
By Coni from Experiencing the Globe
A classic that must be in any British itinerary is Stonehenge. It’s one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monument, dating back to the 3000 BC. It’s located 90 miles away from central London (about two hours), in the county of Wiltshire on the Salisbury Plain, in South West England.
These rocks have caused intrigue for centuries. From giants or aliens building the site to the healing powers of the huge stones, there are many myths and mysteries surrounding Stonehenge. What we do know is that the pattern is aligned to the solstices and that it was built in stages.
The first monument was a simple bank and ditch, built about 5,000 years ago. Next, in the late Neolithic period, about 2500 BC, the unique stone circle built on the axis of the midsummer sunrise was erected. Finally, in the early Bronze Age, many burial mounds were built nearby.
It’s an extremely popular attraction, with over a million visitors every year, so I recommend you book an entry ticket online in advance and choose the earliest time slot you can, so you beat the crowds.
By Gemma from Two Scots Abroad
There are many fun things to do in Newcastle for couples or friends.
There are several museums and art galleries to visit such as the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. A quick walk over the Millennium Bridge takes you to this modern art gallery.
The Biscuit Factory is an independent art and design gallery located in a former Victorian warehouse.
History fans should check out The Tunnel which has played many roles including a passage for waggons transporting coal from the 1840s-60s.
If you like rooftop bars, don’t miss The Botanist for a hip vibe and smoking cocktails.
If you have more than one day, Ouseburn is a super trendy, gentrified area jam-packed with craft beer pubs and beer gardens. Live music can be found on The Tyne Bar outdoor stage and The Free Trade Inn is a great spot for sunning yourself with views of the River Tyne.
By Mandi from Big Family Little Adventures
Norfolk is located in East Anglia and is the perfect place for anyone to visit for a day trip, weekend or a week’s holiday. If you are travelling as a family with children, the seaside resort of Great Yarmouth is great for visiting zoos, theme parks, sandy beaches and amusement arcades, the famous Golden Mile is full of fun things to do, on both wet and dry days and will keep the entire family occupied, perfect for multi-generational holidays.
If you are a couple looking for a romantic weekend away then the Norfolk Broads are the perfect backdrop to watch the sunset or maybe hire a boat to explore the Broads with their abundant wildlife, whilst enjoying peace and tranquillity, watching the world go by.
Why not consider visiting in the winter, Norfolk is home to a number of Grey Seals that you can see on the beach with their young, a truly amazing sight, the best places to see them are at Horsey and Winterton.
By Nicholas from Rambling Feet
Salisbury is probably best known for being a base for exploring Stonehenge and other prehistoric stone circles in Wiltshire. Being one of England’s smallest cities, it also has a charm of its own.
At 123 metres, Salisbury Cathedral is an unmissable landmark and it has been the tallest church building in England for 450 years. It’s a magnificent Gothic one too, and it also houses one of the original copies of the 1215 Magna Carta, as well as the world’s oldest functioning clock.
The city centre also has a mediaeval feel with its narrow streets and half-timbered houses that are several hundred years old. One of them, a restaurant called Haunch of Venison, opened back in 1320 and still looks the part!
Besides the world-famous Stonehenge, another spot worth exploring is Old Sarum. It’s a 10-minute bus ride north of Salisbury, and you will find the remains of an iron-age fort, the city’s original cathedral and castle, and a commanding view of the city and the surrounding farmland.
By Danni from Live in 10 Countries
Devon is in the popular South West of England, famous for its lovely mild weather (lots of sunshine in the summer!) and Mediterranean-style beaches. There’s also gorgeous fishing villages, cute winding lanes and some of the best cream teas you will ever taste. Visitors on short stays and long trips to the UK all flock to these parts.
When you’re not tucking into taste Devon treats you’ll want to be seeing some of its most intriguing sights. Dartmoor, an expansive national park, definitely belongs on your list, familiar to many from Conan Doyle’s ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’. Exmoor, the county’s other national park is a winner for animal fans with its wild ponies and there’s lots of seaside fun at spots like Torquay and Paignton.
Bigbury Beach has something for everyone, with crystal blue waters and a beautiful island just offshore with its own art deco hotel. The island is reachable during high tide on a historic sea tractor – it’s something that you really have to see!
By Tracy from UK Travel Planning
One of the most beautiful landmarks to visit in England is the Peak District National Park. Declared a National Park in 1951 the Peak District was the first of its kind in the UK. Spread over 5 counties in central England, with the majority of the park located in north Derbyshire, the area attracts visitors from all over the UK and the world due to its outstanding natural beauty.
The park consists of two main areas which consist of different types of rock – the Dark Peak in the north and the limestone-rich White Peak in the south. There are numerous places to visit and things to do in the Peak District. Do not miss some of the villages such as Eyam (the plague village), Bakewell (famous for its delicious puddings), Dovedale (and it’s stepping stones) or Cromford with its cotton mills (the birthplace of the industrial revolution and UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Chatsworth House is another attraction not to be missed. Located a few miles from Bakewell the family home of Lord and Lady Devonshire hosts popular events and shows throughout the year. Visiting Chatsworth at Christmas is particularly popular when the house is festooned in decorations and opened to the public.
If you enjoy walking the Peak District is a fantastic destination. The village of Edale marks the beginning of the 267 mile Pennine Way one of the most famous and gruelling long-distance hikes which takes walkers from the Peak District all the way to Scotland. Of course, there are lots of shorter walks to take – and cosy pubs to stop at along the way too.
With quaint villages, cosy pubs, beautiful stately homes, accessible footpaths, stunning scenery and more the Peak District is a fantastic UK destination to visit.
By Samantha from The Wandering Wanderluster
Located an hour west by train from London in the pretty county of Berkshire, Windsor is a picturesque little town known for its rich history, royal traditions and grand Windsor Castle, which has been the residential home of the British Monarchy for centuries.
Even though it is not a large city, it has a host of sights and things to do and it can be visited all year round. Anyone who visits Windsor will likely want to visit the imposing fortress of Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. As the Queen’s official residence, you can tour the castle, see the Changing of the Guards, explore the Royal Collection and State Apartments and even visit St George’s Chapel where Prince Harry and Megan Markle held their wedding.
Outside of the castle, you can stroll down the main street for a spot of Royal souvenir hunting, enjoy an afternoon high tea in one of the little tea rooms, explore the shops along Peascod Street or take a stroll or boat ride to Eton and see where Prince William and Prince Harry went to college. It is a perfect place to visit for families with LEGOLAND Windsor located just a short drive from the town, and perfect for couples too with a handful of great spas located in town and in the surrounding area.
For history buffs, a visit to Hadrian’s Wall is an absolute must. Built in 122 AD on the orders of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the wall is the most famous ancient Roman site in Britain and stretches all the way across the north of the country from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend (which is called that because it’s where the wall ends).
There are many monuments that can be visited along this 84-mile stretch, including forts, museums, and the “milecastles” that were built all along the length of the wall, with one Roman mile between them. If you have the time and enjoy the outdoors, a cycling or walking holiday alongside Hadrian’s Wall is a great option. The full length takes six to seven days to finish on foot, but you can also do shorter sections. The area around Hexham has a number of interesting monuments and is easily accessed via the AD122 hop-on-hop-off bus.
White Cliffs of Dover
By Sophie from We Dream of Travel
Towering a mighty 350ft above sea level, the White Cliffs of Dover should not be missed on a visit to England. Take a stroll over the chalk grassland atop these giants where wildflowers bloom in a kaleidoscope of colours. Stretching out for 16 miles, there’s a variety of trails you can take to explore this magnificent landscape. However, the most popular route is the South Foreland Lighthouse trail. This easy 2-mile walk will take you along a scenic route where you can appreciate the immense scale of the spectacular chalk cliffs. On a clear day, you can even see France on the horizon.
The White Cliffs of Dover are also a British icon, representing hope and freedom. Due to their strategic position on the coast of the English Channel, they have witnessed many a historical event, from the first Stone Age settlers to Roman invaders and the return of soldiers rescued from Dunkirk during WWII.
Sat majestically upon the White Cliffs is England’s largest castle; Dover Castle. Built in the 11th century, this castle has survived many an invasion and is often referred to as the “Key to England”. The castle is also worth visiting while in Dover.
The city of Bath is famous for and named after it’s hot springs and baths. It’s one of England’s oldest tourist attractions, and so definitely deserves a place on the list of the best places to visit in England. Baths were first built at the hot springs by the Romans, and then rediscovered in the 18th century and during the Georgian period the city really came to be as it is now known, when it’s stately avenues and crescents were built.
The most popular things to do in Bath include visiting Bath Abbey, and the historic Baths and the adjacent Pump Room, where visitors have been taking refreshments since the late 1700s. It’s a lovely place to have afternoon tea or even brunch. You can even ask for a glass of the famous “waters” to taste.
There are lots of things to do in Bath for Jane Austen lovers, as she spent time in the city and set her novel, Northanger Abbey, here. Visit the Jane Austen Centre to learn more about her life, and take a walk down some of the streets she would have too.
By Ben Holbrook from DriftwoodJournals.com
Located just an hour south of the English capital (by train), Brighton has long been known as “London-on-Sea”. But the truth is that this hedonistic seaside haven is far too cool, laid back and quirky to be compared to somewhere as stiff and sprawling as London.
To see what I mean, pick up a bag of fish ‘n’ chips from Wolfies to munch on as you wander the promenade – but prepare for airstrikes from savage seagulls. Prance along the iconic pier and waltz your way around the ornate Royal Pavilion, a palatial party pad built by the Prince Regent in the 19th century.
Hang out with the local “Mods and Rockers” by day and party with the thriving LGBTQ community by night. Go boutique shopping in The Lanes and tip back a few frosty jars in the many beautiful boozers. And if one day just isn’t enough (which it probably won’t be), be sure to check into one of Brighton’s gorgeous Victorian villa hotels and loiter a little longer. Lovely jubbly!
Liverpool is famous for its music culture, nightlife, and football teams. The most famous musicians to come out of the city are undoubtedly The Beatles and if it’s your first time and you only have one day in Liverpool then you’ll probably want to visit some of the famous Beatles sites. Start with the Cavern Club, which still has live musicians playing every day, and then take a Fab Four Taxi Tour to be transported around the city and see and learn about more Beatles-related sites.
Stop by the Royal Albert Dock which is at the heart of the historic waterfront, and also where you can go to The Beatles Story museum. There’s also the Merseyside Maritime Museum to visit as well as the historic Liver Building and Liverpool Cathedral.
Liverpool also has a great foodie scene. There’s more to try than the Scouse Stew that gave Liverpudlians their “Scouser” nickname. Bold Street is known for featuring eateries with cuisines from around the world, and there’s lots of indie pop up restaurants as well as traditional pubs too.
The Lake District is a region and national park located in the northwest of England and has long been a popular holiday destination. Filled with quaint market towns, rugged mountain passes, rolling green hills and sixteen lakes, it’s a fantastic place to visit in England.
Be sure to visit Lake Windermere, the largest lake, as well as the town of Grasmere for their famous gingerbread, and Vastlerigg Stone Circle, and Aira Force Waterfall. Drive through Honister Pass and Whinlatter Pass for amazing views, and visit the home of Beatrix Potter at Hill Top. I’d recommend at least 3 days in the Lake District so that you have time to explore as much of the area as you can.
Bristol is famous for its maritime history, but in more recent years it’s become known for its music scene. Although some might say it’s not the most picturesque of English cities, thanks to some post-war construction, it does have the Old City, full of Victorian and Georgian Buildings, as well as the Harbourside area with its converted warehouses and then there’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. Plus it’s the home of the infamous street artist Banksy!
If you spend a weekend in Bristol you should take a tour of the harbour, visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge, check out the street art, climb up Trooper Hill, and go to eateries and music venues on Gloucester Road.
And that’s 26 of the best places to visit in England! The list really could go on. How many have you been to?
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