The UK is a fairly small country to look at on a map, it is though packed with things to do: beautiful towns and cities, great attractions, countryside and of course a lot of history.
No corner of the UK is ‘boring’ everywhere you will find things to do and great facilities as well for tourists: whether you are camping, staying in a hotel or staying in other accommodation.
Many tourists from outside of the UK go to London and stay in London: and therefore miss an awful lot; if you are flying into the UK hire a car and start exploring.
5 Big Cities in the UK
Source – kijana
London – London, capital of the UK, is one of the World’s great cities and you could spend a lot of time here. Bursting with history the city still comes across as very modern a lot of the time.
A lot of the history that is here to see is Victorian and Georgian: times when the city was expanding fast. Fans of Dickens may want to visit some of the locations from his books many of which still exist and there are a large number of Dickens and other walking tours and bus tours of the city.
London is of course a great place for shopping as well with Camden market and Lock great for unique items and Oxford Street and shopping centers like Westfields great for designer stores. For eating London has many world famous restaurants and perhaps the widest range of different restaurant types on offer anywhere in the world.
Edinburgh – Edinburgh is Scotland’s top destination and capital and another truly historic city. Edinburgh is very traditional feeling and you may feel like you are stepping back in time in some parts of the city. Certainly the castle rising above the city is a step back in time and not a ruin but a building that has been in use for hundreds of years.
The royal mile leads to the castle through the city and is where many of the best restaurants and shops are but there are plenty of other streets leading off too with great places to eat, drink, shop and often in centuries old buildings.
If possible come to Edinburgh during August for the Edinburgh festival, actually several festivals at once including great comedy, art, music and literature.
Liverpool – Liverpool is of course associated with the Beatles and many even in the UK think of Liverpool as being a bit deprived and grim. Although Liverpool is in some ways deprived it isn’t deprived for culture and there is a lot to see and do.
If you are a Beatles fan you may well of course want to visit the childhood homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon (which are run by the National Trust), the Cavern Club and the Beatles Story Museum. Other museums in Liverpool though include the World Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Slavery Museum and the Tate Liverpool. Liverpool also has a great nightlife to offer if you are looking for somewhere to party.
Manchester – Manchester is another city with a great nightlife, partly due to the high student population. Manchester is in many ways England’s second city, though those in Birmingham may disagree; in terms of culture and things to do though Manchester is probably the best place to visit after London.
Manchester is famous around the world for its sports teams, Manchester United and Manchester City in Soccer and Lancashire Cricket Club: you may want to catch a match at one of the clubs.
If you are looking for history in Manchester though then you may want to head to Castlefield: the area includes the walls of the Roman Fort around which Manchester was first built. The surrounding area shows off some of Manchester’s industrial, past including the Museum of Science and Industry: containing the world’ first passenger train station.
Brighton – Brighton on the south coast feels like a big city but is also a great holiday destination meaning plenty of attractions for tourists. The beach is shingle but still gets packed in the summer as does the pier. Brighton Pier is famous for the amusements on the end including fairground rides such as a rollercoaster. Not far from the pier is the Royal Pavilion built in an eastern style with Indian and Chinese influences it was built as a getaway for George IV while he was still Prince Regent.
Known for having a large Gay and Lesbian community Brighton is a very welcoming and cosmopolitan city in general.
5 Historic towns and small cities
Source – 21081514@N08
York, Yorkshire – York unlike many of the UK’s cities was built up over centuries rather than suddenly exploding in size during the 19th century: as such it keeps much of its Medieval and Georgian charm and in many ways the city center is itself one big tourist attraction. York’s cathedral is the second most important in the UK, after Canterbury, and it is one of the country’s most grand buildings as well.
York has good museums including the Jorvik center about its Viking past, the National Railway Museum and York Castle Museum: about much more than the castle with enough to see to take up a full day.
Canterbury, Kent – Canterbury is where the Archbishop of Canterbury is based, the most important cathedral in the UK therefore. Canterbury Cathedral was the scene of the murder of Thomas Beckett and has been an important site for pilgrimage since the dark ages.
Canterbury’s city walls as well as the cathedral enclose a wonderfully preserved old city many parts of which are medieval or even earlier. The great collection of shops and restaurants here can be enjoyed while walking the narrow streets and taking in the sites including the ruins of Canterbury Castle.
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire – Of the two university cities of Cambridge and Oxford Cambridge wins on looks, though Oxford is a beautiful city as well. Cambridge is dominated by the buildings of the university but as many of the old colleges are stunning and historic buildings this just adds to the feel of the city. The university also maintains large areas of lawn and other parks and gardens many of which are open to the public; as a result Cambridge feels like a very open and fresh city and is wonderful in the summer with great walks along the river Cam. You may also want to visit the cathedral and some of the host of small and fascinating museums here, many linked to the University.
Aberystwyth, Ceredigion – Aberyswyth may seem difficult to get to on the west coast of Wales but it is one of the best examples of a traditional Welsh town and well worth the trip. Aberyswyth is picture postcard perfect with its closely nestled old buildings standing on the hill overlooking the bay. The beach is sandy and along the front are colourfully painted houses as well as the Old College building and the ruins of Aberystwyth castle. As well as the view from the front you can take the funicular railway for a fantastic view of the little town and the bay from Constitution hill.
Bath, Somerset – Bath is a Roman town but it of course feels far more Georgian and it is beautiful sandstone colonnaded buildings that dominate the city.
You will of course want to visit the Roman Baths if you are in the city though and though parts of them have been added in Georgian times the remaining roman parts are fascinating.
Bath is another city that you should walk around to take in the look and feel of the Georgian Architecture while popping in and out of its many shops, restaurants and the indoor market. The Royal Crescent of Georgian town houses and the Pultenay bridge are sites you may want to make a effort to pass by though.
Top 5 tourist attractions in the UK
Source – pikous
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth, Hampshire – Portsmouth itself is not a beautiful city, but the boats at the historic dockyard are beautiful to look at and the workmanship on ships such as the Victory are fantastic. HMS Victory of course was Lord Admiral Nelson’s flagship from which he commanded during the Battle of Trafalgar, during which he died from a gunshot wound.
The other ships here include HMS Warrior, the first iron hulled warship, from 1860; both the Victory and the Warrior allow you to get on board and tour them. There is also the HMS M33, a rare example of a World War One ship, yet to be opened for internal tours, and the Mary Rose is here: the remains that were raised from the seabed being observable from a viewing gallery.
The National Railway Museum, York, Yorkshire – Home to the UK’s national rail collection the huge number of trains as well as rolling stock and other artifacts trace the history of railways in Britain from the earliest railways to the present day. Two of the world’s most famous locomotives, the Flying Scotsman and The Mallard, are at the museum as is a replica of Stephenson’s rocket. There is at least enough here for a full days visit though it may take two to see everything.
The Tower of London, London – The Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror, not personally but at his command, in 1078 and was in use as a prison by around 1100. Because of its age many tourists come to London expecting to see a ruin but the castle has been in constant use for nearly 1000 years and so has always been maintained; despite expansion in the 12th and 13th century the main part of the tower still appears as it did when first built and the castle is still in use today, not just for tourism but as the home of the crown jewels and for some Royal events.
Brands Hatch – Silverstone may have the British Grand Prix but Brands Hatch has some of the best lower formula racing and club racing in the UK or anywhere. Most weekends in the spring, summer and autumn there are races such as Touring Cars, Superbikes, Formula Two and club races in cars of every type including vintage car racing. You can also take car-driving courses and experiences at Brands Hatch that let you get out on the historic circuit.
Paignton Zoo – One of the UK’s largest zoos and also one of the best with a lot having been spent on it in recent years. The facilities both for visitors and the animals are great and with such fantastic enclosures you can get as close to seeing animals in the wild as possible without actually seeing them in their own habitat.
5 Areas of Natural Beauty in the UK
Source – eusebius
Dartmoor, Devon – Dartmoor covers much of the large county of Devon and remains now little changed from how it would have been in pre-roman times. Many Bronze Age dwellings can still be found here with large sections in tact and the field systems and tracks have been here in some cases for thousands of years.
The most beautiful parts of Dartmoor are often the hardest to reach, the centre of the national park has few roads leading to it and much can be only reached on foot. Tors though such as Hound Tor and Haytor can be easily reached by road with only a short walk from nearby car parks and give fantastic views as you scramble around the granite rocks.
South Downs, Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex – The South Downs stretch from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne in the east. One way to really see enjoy these rolling chalk hills is to walk the South Downs Way: a 99 mile trail going right across from one end to the other: this will take around a week, or you could do it on a mountain bike.
From cities such as Portsmouth and Brighton though you can quickly get on to the downs by car and to find such a large unspoilt area in the densely populated South East of England can seem a surprise: especially as it only became designated a National Park in 2011.
The Highlands, Scotland – Scotland’s highlands are among the most desolate, yet beautiful, places in Europe still few in the UK make the journey to visit them and take them in. To make the most of them you should ideally be able to walk them for a day but even a drive around the highlands by car will give you some idea of the majesty they have. Among the highlands are beautiful Scottish towns and villages and along the coasts surrounding the highlands are some fantastic unspoilt beaches.
Snowdonia, Gwynedd and Conwy, Wales – The Snowdonia national park is a lot more than just Mount Snowdon. Snowdon itself is worth visiting and you can either walk or take the train up but it can get busy during the summer. The rest of the national park though gives opportunities to truly get away from it all and take in some of the other beautiful mountains such as the Glydars and Tryfan. The number of mountains here and isolation make it feel like you could be in the alps, though the locals have no doubt that Snowdonia is more beautiful.
The Causeway Coast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland – Giant’s causeway is one of the most iconic pieces of nature in the UK or the world, the hexagonal basalt columns are impressive but this entire area is beautiful so when you have seen enough of the causeway and had enough of the crowds if you visit in summer you can explore the rest of the coast and the pretty coastal villages.
Top 5 Beaches in the UK
source – ropaz
Bude, Cornwall – Bude is a small town and geared towards the surfers who visit. There are actually a few different sandy beaches around Bude including Widemouth Bay, all are great places to surf or to just relax on a warm summer’s day.
Skegness, Lincolnshire – A traditional English northern seaside resort, with beautiful sand and good water quality; Skegness is ideal for families though windsurfing, kitesurfing and other water sports are available here.
Eastbourne, East Sussex – Eastbourne is a traditional Victorian resort that grew up once the railway could take people from London down to the coast for the weekend. The beach is shingle but the real charm of Eastbourne is the unspoilt front with mainly Victorian hotels: no shops or restaurants are allowed on the seafront. The pier as well is a beautiful Edwardian structure kept looking as it did when first built.
Achmelvich Bay, Scottish Highlands – This hidden gem has beautiful white sand and clear water that you might expect to find in the Mediterranean or Caribbean, this is west Scotland though but on a hot sunny day it doesn’t feel like it.
Three Cliffs Bay, Gower Peninsula, Glamorgan – Close to Swansea and the M4 this beach is easy to get to but remains undeveloped and unspoilt. Ideal for families the bay protects the beach and means that the water is normally calm and the sandy beach itself stretches some way from the surrounding cliffs meaning plenty of room for fun and games.
These 25 places to visit are still a small selection of what the UK has to offer and for every place mentioned there are other attractions nearby meaning a holiday in these areas will give you plenty to do and any day trips may simply not be long enough.