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United Kingdom Travel 

Best Places to Visit in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

          England    Scotland   Wales   Northern Ireland   Overview   Itineraries    Additional Resources

 

 

United Kingdom Travel Top of Page

The United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. Historic attractions, famous places and melodic place-names surround you wherever you travel in the United Kingdom.

Home to "world- class" museums, notable art collections, lush countryside, scenic landscapes, interesting architecture, quaint villages, and varied cultures (the English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh), the United Kingdom is a destination that provides a wealth of fantastic attractions. Read our recommendations on the best places to visit in the United Kingdom to find the attractions that match your interests.

Of particular note in 2012 is that London is Hosting the Summer Olympics from July 27 through August 12, followed by the Paralympics from 29 August to September 9.  In addition, the country will be celebrating the 60th Anniversary or Diamond Jubilee  of Queen Elizabeth's reign from June 2 through June 5.

England, Scotland and Wales are commonly referred to as Britain and formally as Great Britain. In 1927, six northern counties of Ireland became part of this union and the name was changed to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, formally known as the United Kingdom or the UK. 

If you are looking for information on castles to visit in the UK, we have assembled a  separate section presenting the best castles in England, Scotland and Wales that will let you find just the right castles to visit during you stay in the United Kingdom.

Detailed, routable highway map showing the locations of the best places to visit in the United Kingdom When you see our map symbol, click it for a detailed highway map.  Also, the map has a  "satellite" button. 

 

 

 

 Big Ben at night, London

Best Places to Visit in England Top of Page
Names in Teal are regions of the country.







 

 

England

  • London  Click for a chart of London's annual precipitation and temperature ranges 

    • London is one of the world's great cities. It offers the tourist access to palaces, monuments, historic prisons, cathedrals and other buildings that were at the core of western civilization for hundreds of years.  World Class museums abound and you will find ones that focus on science, natural history, art, fine arts, books, medieval weapons, and more. 

    • From St. Paul's Cathedral to Westminster Abbey, London is blessed with churches and cathedrals that will spark your imagination and demand your attention. 

    • The shopping is fantastic whether at Harrods, the shops on Regent Street, or the boutiques at Beauchamp Place. 

    • In the last decade, London has developed a fantastic set of new restaurants and offers an ensemble of foods from international destinations. 

    • See our London Travel Guide for a detailed review of London and its attractions.

     

  • The Best Castles in England

    • England has a number of spectacular castles.  To see photos and learn what makes these castles so special, click the best castles in England.  We cover Rochester, Bodiam, Dover, Warwick, Windsor, Arundel, and Bamburgh castles in England and others in Wales and Scotland.

      

  • StonehengeAn image of the standing stones at Stonehenge

    • Built five thousand years ago, the mysterious stone circle on the Salisbury Plain near Amesbury, Wiltshire in southern England attracts many visitors. 

    • Some reserachers have speculated that the large stones were set to worship the gods of the ancients, while others have suggested that the site may have acted as an observatory or solar chronometer to mark the seasons.  It purpose has been lost to history, but its magnificence has stood the test of time.

    • Recent research in petrography has revealed that some of standing stones (called bluestones) at Stonehenge came from near Pont Saeson in western Wales.  How the rocks, which weigh between two and four tons, were transported to the Salisbury Plain remains a mystery.

    • Visits inside of the center circle of the site are not allowed during normal hours, but can be arranged at other times.

    • For details on visiting Stonehenge, see the official English Heritage website.

     

  • Oxford Photograph of the Christ Church Cathedral on the Oxford Campus  Photograph of the famous Radcliffe Camera (building), an Oxford Landmark

    • The splendor, stately architecture and scenic grounds of Oxford University are unique reminders of the history of this famous institution.  Take an afternoon to savor the historic atmosphere by walking  the beautiful buildings that comprise this noted campus. Be sure to visit the Christ Church Cathedral for its superb stained glass. 

    • Click here for the official tourism website of Oxford
    • Click this link for the official website of Christ Church Cathedral.
    • A picturesque Bed and Breakfast in the Cotswolds The city of Oxford is the eastern gateway to the Cotswolds, an area that displays rural England at its best. Known for its rounded, gentle hills and slow flowing streams, the Cotswolds' offer beautiful scenery, quaint villages, good food and fun shopping.  The word rustic may be the best way to describe this pleasant area.  

    • Classic cities such as Bath and Cheltenham are the major centers in the area, but for us the real beauty lies in the sleepy villages such as Woodstock and Winchcombe. 

    • See the official website of the Cotswolds for more information.

  • Bath 

    • Internationally known for its historic hot springs, Bath has been attracting visitors for centuries.  The town is a delightful stop and it is a great place to spend  an afternoon. 

    • Be sure to tour the city's famous Roman Baths (in Bath Abbey) and allocate time to tour the Great bath, as well as the East and West baths.  

    • If you visit in the afternoon, consider having tea at the Pump Room in the Roman Baths (offered from 2:30 to closing).  Visit the official web site of the Roman Baths for more information. 

    • We recommend that you take a few minutes to tour the Royal Crescent's notable architecture, which is considered by many to be some of the finest examples of 18th century urban building.  If you are interested in the Royal Crescent, stop and see the museum at No. 1 Royal Crescent.

    • See the town's official tourism website Visit Bath.

  • York 

    • York offers the tourist an interesting walled, old town and a spectacular, historic cathedral.  The York Minster (the Cathedral) is monumental and not to be missed. If you have the time, take a walk along the walls surrounding the town's historic core.

    • For more information on the attractions in York, as well as links to the York Minster website and the town's tourism website, see our York PhotoGuide.


  • The Lake District

    • The Lake District, in England's Northwest, is one of the most beautiful areas of the United Kingdom. A bucolic combination of hills, mountains and lakes makes for near perfect trekking, horse riding, kayaking and other outdoor experiences. For us, a country walk in the Lake District is one of the highlights of a visit to the United Kingdom.

    • There are numerous paths and attractions to navigate in the Lake district and you should connect with a local guide if you plan to wander afar.

    • For more information on the delightful vistas awaiting you, see the official site for Cumbria tourism. 
      • The town of Windermere and its lake often are the only stops made by many visitors to the Lake Country. While Lake Windermere is stunning, the town is touristy and crowded. There is much more to see in the Lake Country and those who only visit Windermere will  miss the best that this area has to offer. 

        • The countryside is a fine area for hiking and outdoor activity, but you need to be prepared for serious, overland walking. 

    •  By the way, the Lake County has been celebrated by numerous authors and Beatrix Potter made the area her home, as she lived in the village of New Sawrey.  For more information on visiting her farm "Hill Top", see this information from the National Trust.  For information on the Beatrix Potter Gallery (a gallery showing many of her original watercolors) see this site.


  • Cambridge Photograph of the ancient looking skyline of Cambridge

    • England's other famous university town, Cambridge, has a dramatic architecture and a wonderful sense of history.  Be sure to tour the University and make time for King's College Chapel.  It is best to arrange a walk or a guided tour. 

    • See the town's official website   for more details.


  • Canterbury

    • Canterbury Cathedral, sitting brilliantly on its plain, is considered by many to be the most glorious cathedral in the United Kingdom, although several others compete for the title (most notably, York, Durham, Winchester, and St. Paul's).

    • Canterbury has had a strong role in England's religious  history and Saint Thomas Becket was martyred here in 1170, as related in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

      • For more information on the cathedral and its famous history, see the official website.

    • Also, look for the Church of St Martin, which is the oldest church in England, the ruins of the Abbey of St Augustine

    • The official tourism website for the city can be found here.

         

 

  • Durham Photographs of the exterior of Durham Cathedral

    • Visit Durham to see its cathedral.  Durham Cathedral (sections dating from the 11th century) is an awe- inspiring sight from the inside.  After entering through its tiny door, you will be dwarfed by the height of its nave and intimidated by the sense of history that permeates this cathedral.

    • Durham Cathedral is considered the most original and intact of the Anglo-Norman churches. In addition, the church contains the tombs of Bede the Venerable and St. Cuthbert.

    • See the cathedral's website  for additional details on its history and dramatic architecture.

    • Nearby Durham Castle is worth a quick look.

    • Durham's official tourism website has details on other attraction in the town and nearby areas,

     

  • Hadrian's Wall

    • Hadrian's Wall was the Romans' attempt to gird the country across its middle and keep the "barbarians" in the north of the island.  Numerous archaeological projects, aimed at restoring the Wall and its fortifications can be found along its extent.

    • Housesteads Roman Fort in Northumberland is considered the best-preserved fortification along the Wall.

    • For more information, see our PhotoGuide to Hadrian's Wall

     

  • Stratford-upon-Avon Photograph of William Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon

    • Oh the Bard - he's the main reason that you might want to visit Stratford, which has commercialized Shakespeare to the limit.  Of course, Stratford Upon Avon is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the English countryside!

      There are a number of places to see nestled along the Avon River (including 5 houses connected with Shakespeare), so budget your time carefully. Anne Hathaway's Cottage (his future wife's childhood home), Shakespeare's Birthplace and the Mary Arden Farm (his mother's childhood home) are the most interesting of the houses, but all are worth a look if you want to know more about the Bard.

      • See the official website of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for detailed information on visiting these and other locations associated with Shakespeare.
    • Holy Trinity Church contains the graves of Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway are buried at the local parish church, named Shakespeare's Church by some, but best known as  Holy Trinity Church. 

    • You might be interested in touring the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre.  More details on the one-hour tours can be found at the office website of the Royal Shakespeare Company

    • Visit the Stratford-upon-Avon official website for details on opening hours and information on other attractions that might be of interest.


  • Winchester  Photograph of Winchester Cathedral

    • One of England's oldest towns, Winchester is a historic gem with a unique cathedral whose original foundations are thought to be over thirteen hundred years old. In addition, The cathedral contains the grave of the author Jane Austin

    • See the website of the cathedral for information on its interesting history.

    • While in Winchester, be sure to see the Great Hall, which is the remnant of Winchester Castle built in the 13th century.  Unfortunately, the "Round Table" on display, did not exist at the time of the legendary King Arthur - but that does not stop tourists from flocking to see it.

    • For more information on visiting, see the town's official tourism website


Click for the Best Places to Visit in:

Wales
Scotland
Northern Ireland

Additional Resources

The official tourism website for Britain is Visit Britain, which provides additional information on the best places to visit we recommend, as well as information on places that did not make our list.

For country facts on the United Kingdom, as well as travel information related to visas, driving rules, safety, medical conditions, visas and other travel-related information, see this page on United Kingdom Travel from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. State Department.  Regardless of your home country, we think you will find the information provided to be useful when planning a trip to the England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or Gibraltar.

 

If you need information about another travel destination, try our Destination Guide Index or Googling ThereArePlaces.


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The Tower of London as seen from the Thames

 

 

 

If you are interested in castles, see our Guide to the Best Castles in England, Scotland and Wales.

 

 

 

 

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Durham Castle in Autumn from the River Wear

 

 

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First Time Tour   Top of Page
  If you are planning your first trip to the United Kingdom, we suggest you head for London and focus your touring there and in the surrounding areas. A week in London will allow you to sample  the delights of the city and surrounding attractions.
  • We suggest you take the train or a tour to Windsor or Hampton Court for a delightful day out of town
  • If you like maps or astronomy, consider a taking a boat down the Thames to Greenwich to stand on the Prime Meridian and tour the former Royal Observatory where John Flamsteed tried to unravel the mysteries of longitude and time.
  • If you have an extra day, head for Canterbury and a visit to its famous Cathedral.
 
Second Trip    Top of Page
  Our editor's list of favorite places in the United Kingdom includes:
  • London
  • Woodstock
  • York
  • The Lake Country (It can be crowded in summer but it is a magical place, especially if you wander the countryside).
  • Ruthin Castle, Wales (for a medieval banquet; touristy but great fun)
  • Ballater, Royal Deeside, Scotland (a quite village situated along the River Dee, surrounded by beautiful countryside and great hiking).
  • Inverness and the Eastern Highlands
 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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