22 Absolute Best Places To Visit In The UK – Map & Tips

22 Absolute Best Places To Visit In The UK – Map & Tips

From medieval castles in brooding mountains to elegant cities steeped in history, there are many inspiring places to visit in the UK. Here are the best destinations to reinvigorate your senses and explore this wonderful country.

From medieval towns to breathtaking scenery, Britain is a land of rich rewards.

Forged by its island position off mainland Europe, the UK is full of spellbinding experiences, world-famous attractions, cultural diversity, sublime scenery, and proper cups of tea.   

Rebalance the soul in wild and remote landscapes; re-energise the spirit in pristine mountain-top lakes; reboot the mind in historic cities.

We’ve explored a lot of this beautiful country.

We’ve hiked stunning trails, tried the local ale, wandered cute villages, climbed mountains, swam rivers, drank tea, ate crisps, complained about the weather, queued, and discovered some of the most amazing places.

Here is our guide to the best places to visit in the UK.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.

MAP – PLACES TO VISIT IN THE UK

Our favourite places to visit in the UK are spread around the country. To help you plan your next British getaway we’ve added them all to the below map. For more, peruse all our UK Guides.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


1 – LAKE DISTRICT, ENGLAND

The Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a national park in northwest England blessed with some of the finest mountain scenery in the country.

It’s a popular vacation destination in the UK with craggy hills framing ribbon lakes, connected by rivers that course through valleys.  It’s one of the best places in England for enjoying nature at its finest.

Several market towns such as Ambleside, Keswick and Grasmere are great bases for exploring the area.

Inspired by the natural beauty of the Lake District, celebrity chefs have provided the lakes with more Michelin stars than any other region.

Read more on our guide to the best things to do in the Lake District.

lake district best places to go in the UK
Derwentwater from Catbells in the Lake District

WHAT TO DO?

WHERE TO STAY?

There are several great areas in the Lakes which each offer a different experience. All the details are in our guide to Lake District accommodation.

2 – YORK, ENGLAND

Starting as a Roman settlement with Viking legacies, York had a building boom during the medieval period filling cobbled lanes with handsome Georgian townhouses.

This blend of architectural styles makes York a charming city to explore in the north of England. 

With miles of intact Roman walls, world-class museums, and a thriving cultural scene, York is a beautiful place to visit embedded with a rich English history.

WHAT DO DO?  

  • Visit York Minster, one of the world’s famous cathedrals
  • Explore Harry Potter locations on The Shambles
  • Walk the city walls for great views over the medieval centre
  • Picnic in Museum Gardens beside the ruined abbey

WHERE TO STAY?

3 – JURASSIC COAST, ENGLAND

The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the coast of southern England that stretches for 96 miles from Exmouth to Studland Bay in Dorset.

It’s famous for its most photographed feature, Durdle Door, a glorious natural arch stranded in the sea which has been eroded via the forces of nature. But there are plenty of other highlights in this scenic part of England.

Corfe Castle was one of the first royal palaces built after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Today it stands as an atmospheric ruin in a scenic position on top of a 55-metre hill.

There are historic ruins, a thriving craft beer scene, plenty of great hiking and some of the most charming seaside towns in England.

Read more in our guide to the highlights of the Jurassic Coast.

WHAT DO DO?

WHERE TO STAY?

Read our comprehensive guide on the best places to stay on the Jurassic Coast for ideas about where to base yourself.

4 – GLENCOE, SCOTLAND

Glencoe is a steep-sided valley in the Scottish Highlands where dramatic buttressed mountains and rocky peaks, tower over one of the finest roads in the country.

There are easy woodland strolls and challenging mountain hikes; both of which can be completed in an atmospheric pub with local whiskies and cheery Scottish banter.

One of the highlights of Glencoe is Glen Etive – a picturesque stretch of road featured in the James Bond movie, Skyfall.

All the details are in our guide to visiting Glencoe, Scotland.

three sisters glencoe 2
Bidean Nam Bian

WHAT TO DO?

  • Hike to the Three Sisters Viewpoint (Bidean Nam Bian) for the best views in Glencoe
  • Have a pint in the historic Clachaig Inn – one of the most atmospheric pubs in Scotland
  • Photograph Buachaille Etive Mòr – Glencoe’s most scenic mountain
  • Go Skiing at the Glencoe Mountain Resort

WHERE TO STAY?

5 – THE COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND

The Cotswolds is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the southwest of England. Famous for rolling countryside dotted with sheep and honey-hued villages lost in time.

It’s one of the best destinations in the UK for traditional rural charm.

Several of the Cotswolds villages are bursting with charisma such as Castle Comb, framed by a hilly woodland; and Upper & Lower Slaughter, two of the prettiest villages in the UK.

The best way to experience the Cotswolds is on a country walk through bucolic scenery ending in a traditional pub.

Read more in our guide to the best things to do in the Cotswolds.

thatched roof cottage in chipping campden the cotswolds
Chipping Campden, Cotswolds

WHAT TO DO?

WHERE TO STAY?

Our guide to the best places to stay in the Cotswolds breaks down each of the areas with recommendations on some cool hotels to book.

6 – ISLE OF SKYE, SCOTLAND

The Isle of Skye, just off the northwest coast of Scotland is a rugged landscape with picturesque fishing villages, medieval castles and a host of outdoor adventures.

The 50-mile-long island is the largest and most popular of the Inner Hebrides. It’s one of the best places to visit in the Scottish Highlands for impressive scenery, clan history and wildlife spotting.

Isle of Skye is a top destination for hiking and the outdoors. The Trotternish Peninsula is a landscape of strange geological shapes and the Cuillin Mountain Range has 12 Munros – mountain peaks above 3,000 feet.

Read more in our guide to visiting the Isle of Skye.

colourful fishing village on the isle of skye scotland
Portree, Isle of Skye

WHAT TO DO?

  • Hike to the iconic Old Man of Storr for stunning scenery
  • Visit Mealt Falls, the dramatic cascade that plunges into the ocean
  • Visit the colourful town of Portree and take a course at the gin school
  • Hike in the Quiraing for weird and wonderful landscapes

WHERE TO STAY?

7 – PEMBROKESHIRE COAST, WALES

The Pembrokeshire Coast is a National Park on the south coast of Wales. One of the smallest National Parks in the UK, it packs a punch with coastal scenery, hidden beaches, woodlands and a thriving Celtic culture.

With nowhere in the park more than 10 miles from the sea, the Pembrokeshire Coast is all about seaside bliss. Eleven beaches were awarded a Blue Flag, meeting the highest standards of safety and cleanliness. Twelve have received the Green Coast Award for recognised beautiful untouched beaches.

The coastal path is one of just 15 National Trails in England and Wales and it provides some of the most scenic hiking in the country.

Read more in our guide to the best things to do in Pembrokeshire.

strumble head in pembrokeshire wales
Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire

WHAT DO TO?

WHERE TO STAY?

For everything from farmer’s huts to luxury resorts, read our guide to the best places to stay in Pembrokeshire.

8 – CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND

Cambridge is located in eastern England on the River Cam, famous for imposing late-Gothic architecture, cobbled streets and immaculate college greens.

It’s regularly regarded as one of the best cities in England with a vibrant student culture, beautiful colleges and world-class museums.

With strong royal links, notable scientific discoveries and several historic achievements, Cambridge is one of the most fascinating places to visit in the UK.

Located just 55 miles (89 kilometres) north of London, a day trip to Cambridge is a great way to see the city.

The senate house in cambridge england
The Senate House, Cambridge

WHAT TO DO?

  • Visit St Johns College, one of the most impressive in Cambridge connected by the Bridge of Sighs.
  • Listen to evensong at the stunning King’s College Chapel
  • Take a punting tour down the River Cam
  • Examine the ancient collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum

WHERE TO STAY?

9 – SNOWDONIA, WALES

Snowdonia is a National Park in Wales, with 823 square miles of incredible rugged beauty. Situated in the northwest of the country, craggy buttressed mountains, steep-sided pinnacles and pristine lakes provide the playground for stunning walks, wild swimming and adventure activities.

The highlight is Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales with several trails to reach the top, or a scenic train if you just want to get straight to the views.

Snowdonia is also home to several well-preserved defensive fortifications including Harlech Castle, Caernarfon Castle and Conway.

Read more in our guide to the best things to do in Snowdonia.

colourful italian style buildings behind a garden
Portmerion, Snowdonia

WHAT TO DO?

  • Hike to the top of Snowdon via the Pyg Track
  • Visit the heritage-listed village of Dolgellau
  • Drive the dramatic Llanberis Pass for spectacular views
  • Visit the unusual Italianate village of Portmerion
  • See the imposing Harlech Castle overlooking the sea

WHERE TO STAY?

10 – LONDON, ENGLAND

As the capital of England and the United Kindom, London is a city that still manages to hold a few secrets despite being the most popular place to visit in the UK.

It’s also a surprisingly accessible city. Contained within central London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament are all easily walkable. Many of the world-class art galleries are completely free of charge.

With everything from neighbourhood markets to West End theatre, world-class museums to hidden historic nooks, London is one of the world’s greatest cities.

Surrounded by green parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty there are also plenty of great walks from London that make the most of the beautiful countryside.

ben big and parliament house in england
Palace of Westminster, London

WHAT TO DO?

WHERE TO STAY?

11 – CORNWALL, ENGLAND

Cornwall is a country in southwest England forming a peninsular of pristine beaches, picture-postcard fishing villages, wild moorland and a thriving Celtic culture.

One of the best beaches in Cornwall is Watergate Bay on the north coast. Facing southwest towards the Atlantic rollers, the 2-mile stretch of golden sand provides excellent conditions for both beginners and the more experienced looking for outdoor adventures in the UK.

The other highlight is St Michael’s Mount – a rocky island off the coast of Cornwall with a castle that cuts a sublime photo opportunity at both sunrise and sunset.

Read more in our guide to the best things to do in Cornwall.

WHAT TO DO?

WHERE TO STAY?

Read our guide to the best places to stay in Cornwall with area tips and hotel recommendations.

12 – STONEHENGE, ENGLAND

Archaeologists believe Stonehenge was built as a giant solar calendar with each of the 30 stones representing a day of the month and special stones marking the start of the week.

Extraordinarily, the design incorporates leap years with five structures holding vertical stones representing a 5-day month required to synchronise the calendar.

Although it’s one of the most famous places to visit in England, the ingenuity of this 5,000-year-old structure leaves you in awe.

The most important day of the year at Stonehenge is the Summer Solstice, the only time of the year when it’s possible to walk among the stones and admire the symmetry with the summer sunrise.

WHAT DO DO?

WHERE TO STAY?

stonehenge england
Stonehenge

13 – EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland with a medieval Old Town and a Georgian New Town – both of which have UNESCO World Heritage classifications.

Throughout history, Edinburgh has grabbed the attention of everyone from royalty to Harry Potter fans with charming cobbled streets, an unexpected entertainment scene, and a host of world-class attractions.

There are renowned art galleries, historical monuments, lovely gardens and plenty of whisky experiences to get a proper taste of this Scottish gem.

city view of edinburgh scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland

WHAT TO DO?

  • Visit Edinburgh Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to the future King James VI.
  • Walk the Royal Mile picking off attractions including the Edinburgh Museum and St Giles’ Cathedral.
  • Tour the Royal Yacht Britannia
  • Take a Harry Potter Tour to see the landmarks from the books and movies
  • Head up to Calton Hill for a beautiful sunset view of the city

WHERE TO STAY?

14 – SOUTH DOWNS NATIONAL PARK, ENGLAND

The South Downs National Park is a range of rolling chalk hills on the southeastern coast of England. As Britain’s newest national park, the South Downs stretch for 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne.

One of the main attractions on the South Downs are the Seven Sisters Cliffs where a series of white cliffs form a chain of undulating peaks with a carpet of rolling green farmland on top. It’s one of the most picturesque coastlines in the UK.

Further inland, stately homes, grand working castles and rambling hiking trails provide a host of fantastic things to do in the South Downs.

arundel castle in the south downs england
Arundel Castle, South Downs

WHAT TO DO?

  • Compete the Seven Sisters Walk from Seaford to East Dean – easily the most scenic way to do it
  • Go kayaking in the Cuckmere River
  • Visit the restored Arundel Castle and gardens for a walk through British history
  • Stroll the medieval streets and tiny alleyways in Lewes

WHERE TO STAY?

15 – GOWER PENINSULA, WALES

The Gower Peninsula in southwest Wales was the first area in the United Kingdom to become a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It’s a stunning stretch of coastline with hidden beaches, towering rock formations, scenic hiking trails and cool wild swimming spots.

Gower is most famous for Rhossili Bay Beach, often voted one of the best beaches in the UK. The massive arc of sand stretches for 3 glorious miles overlooked by 200-metre-high sea cliffs. Spend the day lazing on the beach, or walk over to Worm’s Head – a dramatic promontory reaching out to see.

Read more in our guide to visiting Rhossili Bay and the Gower Peninsula.

Standing onto of a cliff overlooking a large sandy beach with green hills in the background
Rhossili Bay Beach

WHAT TO DO?

  • Laze on Rhossili Bay Beach – one of the best beaches in the UK
  • Hike to Worm’s Head – a picturesque promontory, disconnected from the mainland at low tide
  • Soak in the Blue Pool – a natural rock pool in the beach
  • Visit the picturesque Three Cliffs Bay

WHERE TO STAY?

16 – OXFORD, ENGLAND

Oxford, in central southern England, is the famous home of the olden university in the English-speaking world.

History, tradition and grandeur combine to keep the medieval city centre one of the most popular places to visit in England. Stroll cobbled laneways, admire the grand architecture and enjoy this vibrant British city.

While the historic colleges are the main attraction in Oxford, the surrounding area is also a great place to visit with imposing palaces, bucolic English countryside and some great river-based activities.

Read more in our guide to the best things to do in Oxford.

Oval ornate stone building with dappled sunlight
Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

WHAT TO DO?

  • Take a tour of the colleges on a day trip to Oxford
  • Visit the Bodleian Library, the oldest library in Europe with 13 million printed items
  • Visit the Ashmolean & Pitt Rivers Museums – two world-class museums in Oxford
  • Go for a walk in the Cotswolds for a taste of English countryside
  • Try wild swimming in the Thames near Oxford

WHERE TO STAY?

17 – WYE VALLEY, ENGLAND & WALES

The Wye Valley is an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) straddling the border between England and Wales.

It’s a lush green valley with a central river that was a strategic location for warring factions. As a result, there are ruined castles, historic buildings and the atmospheric remains of religious structures hidden in woodlands.

One of the highlights of the area is Hay-on-Wye, a delightful market town with an annual book festival that has established the town as the unofficial book capital of the world.

Read more in our guide to the best of the Wye Valley.

goodrich castle wye valley wales
Goodrich Castle, Wye Valley

WHAT DO TO?

  • Visit the charming town of Hay-on-Wye – the book capital of the UK
  • Go canoeing on the River Wye
  • Visit the remarkable ruins of Tintern Abbey
  • Take in the views from Symonds Yat Rock, the scenic valley on the England / Wales border
  • Visit the Llanthony Priory – a crumbling ruin in the Black Mountains

WHERE TO STAY?

18 – NORTHUMBERLAND COAST, ENGLAND

The Northumberland Coast is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Covering just 40 miles of coastline from Berwick-Upon-Tweed to the River Coquet, it’s easy to explore most of what the area has to offer.

Dunstanburgh Castle is a 14th-century fortification and one of the most evocative ruins in England. Perched on a remote headland in Northumberland, it was the scene of intense fighting during the War of the Roses.

Just off the coast, the Farne Islands are an important bird sanctuary with one of the largest puffin colonies in the country.

The other highlight is the Northumberland Coastal Path, where you can enjoy one of the many rugged coastal walks in the UK.

Read more in our guide to the best things to do in Northumberland.

large ruin castle on a clear sunny morning with flowers in the foreground
Dunstanburgh Castle

WHAT TO DO?

  • Walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh for an excellent coastal walk
  • Try the seafood at the Jolly Fisherman, famous for their Lindisfarne Oysters
  • Laze on Embleton Bay, a massive sweep of golden sand
  • Visit the imposing Bamburgh Castle – an important site in English / Scottish history
  • Explore the grounds of Howick Hall the home of Earl Grey

WHERE TO STAY?

Our guide to the best places to stay in Northumberland has suggestions for each of the main areas along with hotel recommendations.

19 – HADRIAN’S WALL, ENGLAND

Hadrian’s Wall is a defensive fortification in the north of England built by the Romans around the year 122 to protect the northwest frontier of their empire.

The wall is 73 miles long and includes 158 turrets, 80 guard posts and 17 forts built to house the Roman soldiers sent to patrol the border.

It’s one of the best places to go in England to witness Roman construction, but it’s also set in beautiful scenery.

The best section to visit is the 15 to 20 miles from Greenhead to Chesters, where you can enjoy excellent walking along the best-preserved section of the wall.

All the details are in our guide to visiting Hadrian’s Wall.

A lone sycamore tree between a roman wall.
Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall

WHAT TO DO?

WHERE TO STAY?

20 – BATH, ENGLAND

Bath is a city in England known for its Roman-built baths and handsome Georgian architecture.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bath has a compact visitor-friendly centre with independent shopping, a great cafe scene, interesting galleries and a regular calendar of festivals.

In addition to the Roman Baths, the modern Thermae Bath Spa has the only natural thermal hot springs in Britain that you can bathe in.

We’ve captured all our favourite things to do in Bath to help you plan a historic break in a beautiful city.

Skyline of Bath, UK across the river through the trees
Bath, England

WHAT TO DO?

WHERE TO STAY?

21 – YORKSHIRE DALES, ENGLAND

There are few places in the UK that capture the wild and dramatic side of the country quite like the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Vast windswept moorlands overlook a patchwork of green fields clinging to undulating valleys hiding stoic old-world villages.

It’s an epic landscape with interesting geological features, valleys full of hay meadows and dry stone walls that contour the hilly environment,

With several historic sites, excellent hiking trails, traditional villages and proper English pubs, the Yorkshire Dales is an unmissable highlight in the UK.

Read more in our guide to visiting the Yorkshire Dales.

stone huts and walls in the Swaledale valley Yorkshire dales england
Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales

WHAT TO DO?

WHERE TO STAY?

  • Clean comfortable and cheap digs at the YHA Malham
  • A property country pub stay at The Lister Arms
  • The colourful and grand Devonshire Fell Hotel

22 – NC500 & ASSYNT, SCOTLAND

The NC500 is a 516-mile circular drive that contours the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle.

One of the best sections of the drive is the area around Assynt. A remote part of the Scottish Highlands, it’s characterised by interesting landscapes of steep-sided peaks which rise out of fern-covered bulbous hillocks.

In addition to some of the best beaches in the country, Assynt has picturesque mountain trails, photographic ruins, whale spotting opportunities, and stunning waterfalls.

Read more in our guide to visiting Assynt, Scotland.

quinag mountain nc500 scotland places to visit in the uk
Quinag Mountain from the NC500

WHAT TO DO?

  • Drive the NC500 Drumberg Road between Kylesku and Lochinver – the most dramatic section of the drive
  • Hike Suilven – Scotland’s most picturesque mountain
  • Visit Ardvech Castle on Loch Assynt
  • Try the excellent pies at Lochinver Larder in Lochinver
  • Visit the stunning Corrieshalloch Gorge – one of the most scenic and hidden places in Scotland

WHERE TO STAY?

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From medieval castles in brooding mountains to elegant cities steeped in history, there are many inspiring places to visit in the UK. Here are the best places to visit in the UK to reinvigorate your senses and explore this wonderful country. | UK bucket list places | National Trust places | English Heritage Places

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