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From the packed streets of central London to the remote wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, visiting the UK is an adventure that all travelers need to experience at least once in their lifetime.
The tourist attractions in the UK are as varied as they are interesting, with everything from Roman ruins and medieval castles to sandy beaches and mountaintops to visit.
With so much to see across the country, we decided to put together our list of the best places to visit in the UK. Keep reading, and discover where to go in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland on your next trip!
For many travelers, London will be the first place on your UK itinerary. This is the nation’s capital city, one of the largest cities in the world, and a bustling metropolis layered with history and contemporary culture.
London is home to some of the best places to visit in the United Kingdom, including the regal surroundings of Buckingham Palace, the historic fortifications of the Tower of London, and the bustling political atmosphere of Westminster.
History fans can lose themselves for days in the British Museum, foodies will have an endless variety of dishes to choose from at Borough Market or Camden Market, and nightlife lovers will find more than enough to keep them entertained night after night in the capital.
2. Oxford and the Cotswolds
Oxford is one of the best cities in the UK because it’s packed with history, culture, good food, and inspiring architecture. Known as the City of Spires for all the medieval towers and spires that rise high above the city, Oxford is home to one of the oldest universities in the world.
Take a tour through Oxford’s best university colleges, enjoy a boat ride or a punt along the River Thames, and lose yourself amongst the cobbled streets and narrow alleys. There’s the Ashmolean Museum and the curious Pitt Rivers Museum to visit, as well as some of the most historic pubs in England to try out.
Perhaps best of all, Oxford is one of the most convenient bases from which to explore the Cotswolds. Covering a huge area of countryside in southwest England, the Cotswolds is the perfect place for hiking and for visiting charming, picturesque English villages such as Castle Combe and Bourton-on-the-Water.
Book a day tour from London to Oxford and the Cotswolds here!
Bristol is one of the most forward-thinking cities in the United Kingdom. Located in southwest England, the city is known for its colorful houses and harbor, its unique street art (this is the city where Banksy is from), and its fantastic food scene.
Take a trip to Clifton, where you’ll have fantastic views over the city and where you’ll find the magnificent Brunel suspension bridge. Enjoy a boat ride along the River Avon, go paddleboarding in the harbor, and explore the city’s fascinating museums and galleries.
UNESCO world heritage-listed Bath is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places to visit in the UK. Dating back to the Roman era, the city was founded centuries ago on the site of thermal hot springs that still fuel a huge bathing culture to this day.
Visit the excavated Roman baths in the center of the city to learn more about the intriguing past before experiencing the modern baths with a relaxing session at the Thermae Bath Spa. Bath has much more to see, too, from the famous Georgian townhouses to the Pulteney Bridge and the River Avon.
Book a day tour from London to Bath and Stonehenge here!
With two long coastlines, one of England’s most remote national parks, and plenty of delectable local cuisine to try, Devon is easily one of the best places to visit in the UK.
On the south coast of Devon, you can explore the English Riviera, a great place to visit if you’re touring through the UK in the summer. You’ll find colorful seaside towns, wonderful stretches of beach, and plenty of locally sourced seafood to dine on. Head to the north coast to escape the crowds, where you’ll find more secluded beaches alongside towering cliffs.
Citygoers can enjoy the history of Devon’s two major cities, Exeter and Plymouth, while outdoor lovers can lose themselves for days in the wild, empty expanse of Dartmoor National Park.
Cornwall is the most southwesterly part of the United Kingdom, and although it’s a long way from anywhere else in the country, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK.
Travelers flock to Cornwall in the summer months for the sunshine and beaches because the county is home to some of the best stretches of coastline in the UK. Hire a campervan with Goboony, and road trip from one beach town to the next.
Cornwall is full of history, too, and you can visit Tintagel, the legendary home of King Arthur, as well as the spectacular medieval island monastery of St. Michael’s Mount. If you’re up for a real adventure, then the best sections of the UK’s longest long-distance hiking trail – the Southwest Coast Path – are found in Cornwall.
Cardiff is the capital of Wales, and it’s the cultural and historical heart of the modern Welsh nation. Overlooking Cardiff Bay, the city has developed from an industrial port into a fantastic tourist destination in recent years.
Visit the Senedd – the Welsh parliament – before exploring the grand National Museum and the excellent St. Fagans National History Museum. Cardiff Castle is another great stop for history buffs, while sports fans will be able to catch a rugby game at the Millennium Stadium if they time their visit right.
There are boat tours of Cardiff Bay, trips out to Welsh islands in the Bristol Channel, and plenty of excellent pubs, cafés, and restaurants serving up Welsh delicacies.
8. Brecon Beacons
Wales is well known for its wild mountain scenery, and one of the best places to experience this is in the Brecon Beacons. This spectacular national park is certainly one of the most beautiful places in the UK, and it’s the perfect destination for outdoor lovers looking for a spot of hiking.
There are several trails that traverse the national park, but if you only have time for one walk, then make sure you hike to the top of Pen y Fan. This is the tallest mountain in the Brecon Beacons, and it’s a misty mountain steeped in mystery and Welsh legend.
9. Snowdonia National Park
If you’re looking to summit the highest mountain in Wales, then you’ll need to visit Snowdonia National Park. This rugged area of Wales is home to mountain scenery, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and some dramatic stretches of coastline, too.
Snowdonia is an outdoor playground where adventure travel opportunities abound. The highlight of any trip to Snowdonia is summiting Mount Snowdon, which stands 1,085 meters (3,500 feet) tall. You can hike to the top in a few hours if the weather is good, but there’s also a rather convenient railway line that can take you up in a more leisurely way.
Book a day tour from Manchester to Snowdonia National Park here!
Liverpool is the city that gave the world the Beatles, and if you’re in the UK to delve into the country’s rich modern culture, then this is one of the best cities to visit.
Take a Beatles tour to learn more about how the city inspired many of the band’s most popular songs, then make sure to call into the Beatles Story museum and the British Music Experience while you’re visiting Liverpool.
There’s more than just music to Liverpool, though, and you can enjoy the revitalized pubs and bars of the Royal Albert Dock, as well as the intriguing exhibitions of the Liverpool Museum. If you’re a football fan, then a tour of Liverpool’s Anfield stadium is a must.
You can’t explore the UK without calling into Manchester, northern England’s largest city. Manchester has plenty of great things for everyone to do, and you’ll find there are museums, football stadiums, canals, and more to visit here.
Start at the Manchester Museum, learn about the fight for women’s rights at the Pankhurst Center, and then watch a show, play, or gig at the Lowry. Salford Quays is a great place to find excellent food and drink, while the many food markets, craft breweries, and independent pubs will keep you occupied for days.
Yorkshire is the heartland of northern England, and this large and diverse part of the country is home to some of the best UK tourist attractions. It includes the cities of York, Sheffield, and Leeds, as well as huge tracts of the countryside and a long coastline.
Discover the Viking and medieval history of York, enjoy classic fish and chips at the seaside town of Whitby, and hike through the beautiful hills of the Peak District National Park.
13. Lake District
The Lake District is easily the nicest place in the UK to visit if you’re looking for stunning, romantic scenery. The Lake District is the English region that inspired such great wordsmiths as William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the beautiful lakes and mountains are sure to inspire you, too.
Head to Lake Windermere to enjoy a taste of the lakes, where you’ll find charming lakeside villages, scenic ferry rides, and plenty of walking trails. If you’re looking for a more active, outdoor challenge, then the Lake District is where you’ll find Scafell Pike, which at 978 meters (2,880 feet) is the tallest mountain in England.
Book a full-day tour of the Lake District here!
One of the best places to visit in the UK is Edinburgh, the Scottish capital. This truly is a magnificent city to explore, as Edinburgh is teeming with history and packed full of Scottish culture.
Listen to bagpipes play as you stroll along the Royal Mile before visiting the dramatic, towering fortifications of Edinburgh Castle. There’s the National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish Parliament, the Scotch Whiskey Experience, and more to discover.
For an epic view of the city, take a hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano on the edge of Edinburgh. Visit in August, too, and you’ll find yourself enthralled by the comedy shows of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which takes over the city for the entire month.
Glasgow is Scotland’s second city, and while it used to have a rough image, that’s no longer the case. Glasgow has evolved into a multicultural metropolis, and it’s here where you can (arguably) find the best curries in the UK, alongside whiskey distilleries, craft breweries, and traditional pubs.
Check out the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel, and the spooky underground catacombs of the Necropolis. Once you’ve seen all the city has to offer, take a day trip north to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, where you’ll find one of Scotland’s most beautiful outdoor areas.
Book a day tour from Glasgow to Loch Lomond, Trossachs and Stirling Castle here!
16. Fort William
If you’re the outdoorsy type looking for fun things to do in the UK, then you can’t beat the wild nature of Fort William. This is where the Scottish Highlands really begin, and from Fort William, you’ll be within easy reach of mountains, Munros (mountains over 914 meters/3,000 feet), lochs, and lakes.
Fort William is right next to Ben Nevis, which at 1,345 meters (4,412 feet) has the distinction of being the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom. Travel north from Fort William, and within the hour you’ll have reached the legendary Loch Ness, while to the east lies the rugged scenery of Cairngorms National Park.
Best of all, from Fort William you can jump on the iconic Harry Potter Train to the coast. Officially, it’s called the Jacobite Steam Train, and it’s one of the most scenic railway rides in the world.
17. Isle of Skye
The Scottish Isles are steeped in mystery, and none more so than the Isle of Skye, the largest island in the Inner Hebrides. It’s only 50 miles long, but the Isle of Skye is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United Kingdom.
The Isle of Skye is famed for its dramatic, otherworldly scenery, and the island is an outdoor playground for adults. Hike to the Fairy Pools, stare in awe at the unusual rock formation known as the Old Man of Storr, or hire a bike and explore as much of this spectacular island as you can.
Book a tour from Inverness to Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle here!
18. The Shetland Islands
If Scotland’s Highlands aren’t remote enough for you, then catch a flight or a ferry over to the Shetland Islands, one of the most distant island groups in the United Kingdom. The Shetlands are closer to Norway than they are to London, and you’ll soon see that there’s a surprisingly distinct Norse culture here that’s a legacy of the Vikings’ settlement of the islands centuries ago.
In the Shetlands, you can visit ancient Iron Age settlements, visit local history museums and Viking-era archeological sites, and more. The best thing about the Shetlands, though, is the nature. Hike, kayak, cycle, and explore to your heart’s content because there will be few other people around to break the silence!
If you’re visiting places in the UK, then don’t forget to head over to Northern Ireland, where you’ll be able to explore the unique city of Belfast. For many years – during the Troubles – the capital of Northern Ireland was off-limits to tourists, but that’s far from the case today.
You’ll see vivid murals depicting the violence of the 70s, 80s, and 90s all over the city, and you can learn more by joining a Black Cab tour of Belfast, during which local taxi drivers explain the local history and the divisions that exist here.
Visit the Ulster Museum, the Northern Irish Parliament, St. George’s Market, and of course, the excellent Titanic Belfast experience.
20. Giant’s Causeway
If you’re still wondering what to do in the UK, then look no further than the Giant’s Causeway. This UNESCO World Heritage Site can easily be reached on a day trip from Belfast, and no Northern Ireland travel itinerary is complete without it.
The Giant’s Causeway is a dramatic series of tall basalt columns that rise from the ocean. It’s one of the most scenic stretches of coastline anywhere in the United Kingdom, and the surrounding area is a haven for wildlife and sea birds.
The Giant’s Causeway has a special place in the mythology of Northern Ireland, too, as it’s said to have been built by a legendary Irish giant who attempted to build a bridge across the sea to fight a rival giant in Scotland.
Book a tour from Belfast or Dublin to Giant’s Causeway here!
From hiking in national parks, summiting mountains, and exploring countryside villages to visiting world-renowned museums, multicultural cities, and plenty of British pubs, you’re never short of places to go in the UK. It’s impossible to experience the best of the UK in just one trip, though, so get ready to return time and time again to see more of what this diverse destination has to offer.