Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
The UK is steeped in history, and with its dramatic landscapes, world-famous attractions, and cultural diversity, it has remained a popular vacation destination for decades.
With over 40 million people visiting the UK each year, 32 World Heritage Sites—the 8th most in the world—and its nomination as one of the best countries to visit, a trip to the UK is like no other. And if you’re thinking about visiting, then these 17 locations are ones not to miss.
Bath is most famously known for its Roman-built baths, Georgian architecture, and its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the city is also home to quaint cafes, independent shopping, art galleries, and museums.
Whether you take in the gothic structure of Bath Abbey or bathe in Britain‘s only natural thermal hot springs, a trip to Bath is a must-do for history and architecture lovers who are visiting the UK.
Cambridge is regularly regarded as one of the best cities in England, and with its late-gothic architecture, cobblestone streets, and world-famous college grounds, it’s no wonder why.
A visit to Cambridge immerses you in the British royalty, scientific discoveries, and a whole heap of history, making it a ideal UK destination that you can explore in just a few days.
Cornish Coast, England
Cornwall may just be one of the prettiest places in all of the UK, and if you’ve ever wanted to surf in cold—and I mean really cold—waters, then it is the perfect place to do so.
A great destination all year round, Cornwall and its picture-postcard fishing villages are the epitome of an English seaside town, with fish and chip shops in abundance.
Dartmoor in Devon is a haven for nature and outdoor enthusiasts as the Dartmoor National Park spans over 350 square miles and offers up expansive moorlands, historical landmarks, and fascinating hiking trails that traverse the entire moor. And once you’ve used up all your energy hiking, you can head into the nearby villages and recharge at a traditional English pub.
Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, has both a medieval Old Town and a Georgian New Town that have both been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A popular stop for history buffs and Harry Potter fans (did you know Edinburgh was where J.K. Rowling wrote the very first Harry Potter book?) Edinburgh, with its world-class attractions, art galleries, and historical monuments, is a true Scottish gem that should be at the top of any UK bucket list.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Isle of Skye is home to fishing villages, ocean views, medieval castles, and a whole range of outdoor adventures, so really, what more could you want in a UK destination?
The 50-mile-long island is one of the best places to visit in Scotland, especially if you enjoy being outdoors surrounded by beautiful greenery and different kinds of wildlife (keep an eye out for Highland cows!). With 12 mountain peaks that exceed 3,000 feet and pebbly beaches that are perfect for rock pooling, the Isle of Skye is up there as one of the best destinations in all of the UK.
Jurassic Coast, England
Spanning 96 miles from Studland Bay to Exmouth, the Jurassic Coast in Dorset has some of the most breathtaking natural attractions, which are paired with historical landmarks and quaint little villages.
From the eroded Durdle Door and Corfe Castle to Old Harry’s Rocks and Nothe Fort, the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast and its historic ruins, hiking opportunities, and natural landmarks rank as a must-visit attraction in the UK, especially during summertime.
Lake District, England
The Lake District is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site in the UK and a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. The Lake District National Park is home to the UK’s prettiest mountain scenery, and with ribbon lakes, deep valleys, and adorable little nearby towns, it is one of the best places in the whole of England to enjoy the great outdoors.
No trip to the UK is complete without visiting its capital, London. Home to countless landmarks like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, the city of London guarantees a jam-packed vacation.
And the landmarks aren’t the only draw to London as the city also boasts art galleries, museums, parks, West End theaters, and world-class shopping, so there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
Northumberland Coast, England
The Northumberland Coast is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which covers 40 miles of coastline along the northwest coast of England. And like many other stunning coastal English areas, the Northumberland Coast provides that quintessential English seaside atmosphere with rugged cliffs, pebbly beaches, and quaint little villages. With historic attractions to explore, like the 14th-century Dunstanburgh Castle, and plenty of hikes to choose from, the Northumberland Coast makes a great destination for those in need of a break by the sea.
Oxford is home to the world’s oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Oxford, which is almost 1,000 years old. Due to Oxford’s history, its medieval city center, and its impressive architecture, the city has remained a popular tourist destination for those who enjoy learning all about the past.
Peak District, England
The Peak District was the UK’s very first National Park, and with 13 million visitors each year, it is one of the most visited National Parks in the world. The district’s northern section, the Dark Peak, has rugged landscapes, whereas the southern section, the White Peak, has rolling hills and limestone valleys, making it a suitable destination for both beginner and experienced hikers.
The district’s distinctive rock formations, charming villages, and wildflowers that bring pops of color to the area’s greenery make the Peak District one of the best—and most beautiful—places in the UK to visit.
Pembrokeshire Coast, Wales
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales is one of the UK’s smallest National Parks, but its beauty makes up for its lack of size. No matter where you find yourself in the National Park, you’ll never be more than 10 miles from the sea, and with eleven Blue Flag beaches, 12 beaches that have received the Green Coast Award, and home to one of the UK’s 16 National Trails, the Pembrokeshire Coast is an ideal location for beach lovers, hikers, and adventurists.
Yet another must-visit National Park in the UK is Snowdonia, which covers 823 miles of rugged landscapes in northwest Wales. Snowdonia is the place to go if you’re after stunning walks and adventurous activities, as the park is home to the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon, as well as defensive fortifications, countless hiking trails, and pristine lakes that you can take a dip in—if you’re brave enough.
Stonehenge has a unique history, as archaeologists believe that it was built to act as a solar calendar. Stonehenge is made up of 30 stones which are said to represent a day of the month, and separate stones that mark the start of a week. The design even incorporates leap years—how cool is that?
Standing for over 5,000 years in Salisbury in the south of England, Stonehenge is one of the country’s most popular attractions drawing in over 1 million visitors each year.
The Cotswolds, England
In the southwest of England is the Cotswolds, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is famous for its rolling countryside and traditional rural charm. Villages throughout the Cotswolds are bursting with character, and some are said to even be the prettiest villages in the UK. With traditional English pubs, ancient stone circles, and panoramic views that span for miles, the Cotswolds is one of the most unique destinations in England—an excellent vacation destination.
And the final must-visit UK destination is the city of York which began as a Roman settlement dating back to 71 AD. York’s blend of architectural styles, along with its cobbled lanes, make it a charming city to explore.
While in York, make sure you visit the still-intact Roman Walls, stroll through world-class museums, and explore the Shambles—a street that looks strikingly similar to Diagon Alley.
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