Top attractions in the UK

What are the top attractions in the UK?

Have you ever wondered what the top attractions in the UK might be? For those of you that do not know I am from the U.K. The UK is a small little island compared to many other countries around the world. Although I live on a pretty small island there are loads of amazing things to see and do. The UK has history, heritage and culture in the bucket load. Each year millions of people flock to the United Kingdom to bask in everything this relatively small country has to offer. This got me thinking at what are the places in my home country that are most popular with foreign travellers. There are castles, museums, galleries, cities, beaches and forests with everything in-between.

I was surprised to learn that over half of them are outside of London. If you have ever wondered what the top tourist destinations are in the United Kingdom then take a look below.

Therefore, here is my list (in NO particular order) of the top 10 attractions in the UK

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The British Museum

Not to be confused with the Natural History Museum. The British Museum in London is one of the biggest in the world. The Museum is also one of the top attractions in the UK. Over 8 million items are on display dedicated to human history, art and culture all widely collected during the height of the British Empire. The Museum documents human culture from its beginnings to the present and was the first public museum in the world. It first opened to the public in 1759 on the site of the current building. It has become so big over its 250 year history that it has expanded into several branch institutions. The first being the Natural History Museum in 1881 and the British Library in 1973.

Top attractions in the UK - British Museum
The British Museum

How to get there?

As I mentioned the museum is in central London on Great Russell Street. Over 5 million tourists a year enter the museum. Tottenham Court Road and Holborn are the nearest London Underground Stations to the museum. As with all national museums in the UK, it is free entry. There are certain paid exhibitions within the museum. Dates and times vary, so check the website. However the majority are free to browse and admire. The museum takes you on a journey around the world with exhibits from Africa, Asia, North American and Australia. There are free audio tours you can grab. They help you make sense of some of the most famous historical artefacts in the world like the Rosette Stone and Egyptian mummies for example.

Things to do

There are toilets located throughout. A café selling everything from tea/coffee, snacks, and plenty of resting places. Be warned prices are hiked up, it cost me nearly £10 for a sandwich and drink. I would recommend at least 4/5 hours in this huge museum to really enjoy and learn something you did not know. I spent 4 hours and only really saw half, but in my opinion, everything started to look the same. More head sculptures or pottery to see. I would say 4/5 hours will give you enough time to be able to check out all the major exhibits in the museum and not having to run around. It truly is a treasure cave full of wonders.

Here are some of the brilliant things YOU must go and see within the museum and it remains one of the top attractions in the UK.

  1. Rosetta Stone
  2. Venus
  3. Great Spix Stone
  4. Tree of Life

A Few Tips:

1 – The museum does have a small café selling food and drink. It is expensive so I would recommend taking your food. Although be aware you CAN NOT take food and drink into any of the exhibit rooms. It must be consumed in the eating areas only.

2 – The easiest and quickest way of getting there is to use the London Underground. I walked from the hotel. It is another option of course but if time isn’t on your side and you have the extra cash available I would highly recommend using the underground as two stations are situated next to the museum.

Check out my London 3 day itinerary HERE.

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall is the largest Roman archaeological feature in Britain. The Wall runs a total length of 73 miles (117.5KM) in North England. Its purpose was to form a defensive fortification of the Roman province of Britannia under the reign of Emperor Hadrian. The wall ran the length of England marking the boundary between Britannia and the unconquered Caledonia (today known as Scotland). Hadrian’s Wall is regarded a British cultural icon and it remains one of the United Kingdom’s major ancient tourist attractions. In 1987 it was awarded the UNESCO World Heritage site status. As recent as 2018 rare Roman artefacts are still being discovered. It is easy to see why Hadrian’s Wall is one of the top attractions in the UK.

Top attractions in the UK - Hadrian's Wall
The impressive Vindolanda Settlement

How to get there:

The wall itself runs from Wallsend (North Tyneside, just east of Newcastle) to Bowness-on-Solway (Cumbria, just west of Carlisle). 85% of the wall is unguarded, enabling visitors to stand and climb on the wall (although this is not advised). In 2003 a national footpath was opened running alongside the wall, this allowed visitors to enjoy this historic site without having to climb on it. For the most part, as I mentioned visiting the wall itself is Free to the public. However, there are certain paid museums along the wall that all offer different insights into the Roman way of life. Including Emperor Hadrian and the construction of the wall. Hadrian’s Wall sees approx. 3 million tourists a year but this number is thought to be a lot more due to the fact that most of the wall isn’t guarded or controlled.

Things to do:

There are museums and ruins right along the site of the wall. Some of the most popular being Vindolanda, Housesteads, Chesters and the Roman Museum. At these places, there is a small entry fee but you are able to walk the ruins, look at the many artefacts and get a true insight into the construction of the wall and the living conditions in the forts that projected it. I visited Vindolanda and the Roman Museum on our visit and they were both great. You were able to immerse yourself in culture and history. I even got to try on a Roman army suit (they are so heavy)! It really is worth a visit. They are both in the area of Hadrian’s Wall and only a 10 minute drive between each other. Your ticket is valid in both museums so even more reason to enjoy.  

Tower of London

It is arguably the most famous location in London. The Tower of London is a historic castle on the north bank of the river Thames. It was originally a royal palace housing Kings and Queens. However, since its construction by William the Conqueror in 1078 it has also been used as an armoury, treasury, a menagerie, the home of the royal mint, a prison and the home of the Crown Jewels of England.

The Tower of London is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United Kingdom. The Tower has been welcoming visitors since 1669. It got so popular that by 1851 a brand new purpose build ticket office was erected. The Tower of London is famous for housing some of the worst criminals in history including Guy Fawkes, The Kray Twins and Anne Boleyn and Sir Walter Raleigh were all locked up in the tower. The tower remains one of the top attractions in the UK.

Top attractions in the UK - The Tower of London
The Tower of London

How to get there:

The tower is easy to get too. It is situated in central London with most forms of public transport getting you to the tower. The easiest and quickest is the London Underground network. The nearest station being ‘Tower Hill’ station, which is a 1-minute walk from the tower, please keep in mind this station gets extremely busy during peak times.     

Things to do:

Today the Tower’s main purpose is tourism however, the tower still holds some military activities. The tower serves as the regimental headquarters of the royal Fusiliers and the Queens Guard and each day the ceremony of the keys completed by the Yeoman Warders is a huge draw for tourists to see. The Yeoman Warders also offer daily tours around the castle and tower, which I highly recommend. Still to this day at least six ravens are kept at the tower at all times. In accordance with folk law that if they were absent the kingdom would fall. See some of the most famous Kings and Queens’s armour and statues. Learn about some of the famous monarchs and how they used and changed the tower during their reigns.

I have to say this is one of the best attractions I have been to. You can see why the tower is one of the top attractions in the UK. I loved learning the history of the Tower and hearing all the stories form the Yeoman Warders. I loved seeing and hearing about the famous tower ravens and I cannot recommend this enough. If you are staying in London for a few days and want to learn about the history of London and the Tower then this is certainly I place I would get booked up. I loved it!

Top attractions in the UK - Tower of London Ravens
The famous Tower Ravens

A Few Tips:

  1. NO Photography is allowed in the crown Jewels. I do mean that, they will remove you if they see you take photos. They will take away your camera.
  2. Make sure you get on one of the Yeoman Warders Tour. As you walk into the Tower from the main entrance, you will see the board. This tells you what time the next tour will be taking place. Just meet at the meeting point and away you go, it is fascinating.
  3. Keep your eyes out for the famous tower Ravens. They are free to roam about the tower so keep your eyes out for them. You never know when one or two might stop by for a great photo opportunity.  
  4. Check out my 3 day London Itinerary HERE. For loads more tips and advice in London.

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW to see this amazing UK attraction.

Top attractions in the UK Tower of London, looking out toward Tower Bridge
Tower of London, looking out toward Tower Bridge

Stonehenge

One of the most famous landmarks in the United Kingdom and certainly one of the most recognizable. Stonehenge is regarded as one of the most important ancient sites in not just the British Isles but in Europe. It is legally projected and has been since 1882 and in 1986, it was awarded the UNESCO World Heritage site status. Stonehenge continues to be as popular as ever and remains one of the top attractions in the UK.

Stonehenge is an ancient stone monument with the stones weighting approx. 25ton each. The stones are situated in Wiltshire just 2 miles west of the small town of Amesbury and archaeologists believe the stones were first constructed from 3000BC to 2000BC making it the oldest ancient structure in the United Kingdom. The entire site and landscape is still incredibly important and even today archaeologists are still finding information relating to the stones and our ancient ancestors that might have put them there. There is still plenty of debate on how the stones came to be and what their actual purpose was in ancient England.

Top attractions in the UK - Stonehenge
Stonehenge

How to get there:

Daily tours take place from London with many tour operators offering day trips to the stones. This means you don’t have to make the trip by yourself if you don’t want too. However, it is easy driving to the stones as I did. Please note it can be a night-mere as the roads around the area are not really built for so much traffic. Traffic jams can build up along the route fairly often in busy times (school holidays) so make sure you plan ahead.

The car park onsite is huge you will have no problem parking when you get there and there are toilets and a little café if you want refreshments after the traffic queues.

Things to do:

The stones are a huge tourist attraction with millions of visitors each day flocking to see the important landmark. Onsite there is a museum with loads of the artefacts they have found over the years on display, there is an information centre to learn about the entire landscape and cinema room full with a short film looking into what life was like in those times. Although the stones bring all the visitors there are also plenty of other extremely important ancient sites within the Stonehenge site and as visitors you are free to walk around them all. 

A few tips:

1 – Make sure you bring your own food and drink. Food and Drink is permitted into the attraction. There is a café onsite but as you would expect prices are inflated so take your own. You can even eat your picnic right up near the stones.

2 – The walk up to the stones and back will take approx. 30mins and there is not much cover (shade) especially on hot warm summer days. Take sunscreen, a hat, and a bottle of water.

3 – As I have said, the walk up to the stones will take around 30mins (one way). If you can, I highly recommend doing at least one leg of the journey by foot because the surrounding scenery and landscape is something not to be missed. Most people walk to the stones and get the shuttle buses back to the visitor centre.

Top attractions in the UK - Stonehenge

If I am talking about attractions in the UK, Stonehenge is certainly one of the most famous and visited so had to make my list. GET YOUR TICKETS and TOUR HERE.

Edinburgh Castle

Top attractions in the UK - Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

THE No.1 tourist attraction in Edinburgh, in fact it’s one of the top tourist attractions in the entire United Kingdom. It dominates the city skyline and you can see the castle from most places around the city, the castle sits in top of castle rock and it is believed that people lived there as far back as the 2nd century. It became a royal residence since the reign of David 1st in the 12th century, for 1000’s of years was the most important strongholds of the Kingdom of Scotland, and has housed Kings and Queens since the 12th Century.

The castle has played a vital role in hundreds of historical conflicts and battles and in 2014 it was identified the castle has been directly involved in 26 sieges in its 1100th year history giving it claim to have been the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked places in the world. Make NO mistake about this castle, it is world famous and extremely important monument, it still holds the “Crown Jewels” it has been the birth place of Kings and is home to one of the oldest buildings still standing in the United Kingdom “St. Margret’s Chapel”. There is so much history here that I could write an entire blog page about the castle but I will save that for another time.

How to get there:

The Castle is situated on the “Royal Mile” in fact it is at one end (many the say the start) and sits in the “old town” part of Edinburgh. You can reach the castle anyway you like, Buses, Cars and on foot. We walked from our hotel and it took about 10/15mins to get to the entrance. As you can imagine it doesn’t matter what day you visit or what the weather is doing, it’s going to be busy and the crowds will be in there hundreds. I would recommend buying your tickets before you travel online like we did, again it saved about an hour queuing up waiting to buy tickets when we could just walk straight in and start enjoying the incredible place. I have been to a fair few castles and this is certainly ONE of THE BEST I have ever visited.

Things to do:

I will be the first to admit I didn’t really know much about the castle. This is why I wanted to visit to learn more and you really do, there is so much to see and do within the castle, hundreds of rooms to visit each with their own stories and history, the “Great Hall” is a huge room. Standing in the middle you could imagine kings and queens playing host with huge banquets, music and entertainment. You can enter the room where King James 1st was born, you can visit the dungeons and prisons and see where all the workers and staff used to live.

There are daily military parades, the One O’clock Gun which his fired every day at 1pm (except Good Friday, Christmas Day and Sunday). The National Scottish War Museum is situated within the castle. See from 12th century all the way up to modern day you can see all the exhibits on display. You can easily make a day of it like we did.

Top attractions in the UK - Edinburgh Castle

A few tips:

1 – Buy your tickets online before you travel. It will save you at least 1hr of time when you arrive as you won’t need to queue for tickets. You just walk up to the entrance and show the security team. 

2 – Food and Drink are NOT permitted into the castle. This means you will need to buy while you are there is planning to be there a while.

3 – When you enter take a note of the timings or the parades and any other activities that might be going on that day within the castle. We got to see a military parade and it was pretty cool.

4 – You are NOT allowed to take any photos or video. Photography is strictly prohibited in that area of the castle.

For much information on a visiting Edinburgh for a weekend break take a look at my Edinburgh blog. CLICK HERE.

GET YOUR EDINBURGH CASTLE TOUR tickets TODAY!

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens in southwest London is home to the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections anywhere in the world. Its living collections include some 27,000 taxa and over 8.5 million preserved plant and fungal specimens. Today it is a scientific bedrock for the study of plants from the around the world with 1100 members of staff and sponsored by the department for environment, food and rural affairs. Kew Gardens remain one of the top tourist attractions in the United Kingdom with 3.2 million visitors in 2019.

Top attractions in the UK - Kew Gardens
Entrance of Kew Gardens

How to get there:

Getting to Kew Gardens by car is not recommended. Due to the location and surrounding area being protected Kew cannot extend their parking facilities. Parking at Kew remains very limited. However, there are plenty of buses, taxis and trains taking tourists right to the entrance. We got the train from London Waterloo to Kew Bridge Station, which took, around 20mins. The train ticket cost juts £11 return for 1 adult. We found out the hard way but when you come out the station, (Kew Bridge) the entrance is opposite Kew Green. So, leave the station and walk over the bridge. Kew Green will be on your right, follow that and you should see the entrance.

Things to do:

Kew Gardens spans an area of 330 acres, which is made up of gardens, and greenhouses. The main glass greenhouse at Kew is the largest of its kind in the Northern hemisphere. At Kew you won’t be short of things to do either, there are loads of features all over the complex like a treetop walk, the floating bridge, an amazon jungle walk and countless shows, educational talks and demonstrations through-out the day.

There are many eating and drinking places throughout Kew Gardens from little one stop cafés to sit down dining it all depends on what you want, I am more of a grab and go person as I wanted to explore as much as I could within the day. I honestly can’t stress enough how fascinating this place really is, from insect eating plants to plants that are both male and female and some plants found no-where else on earth but at Kew Gardens. I had a lovely day and even heard a tree!

A few tips:

1 – Buy your tickets online before you travel. It will save you some time when you arrive, as you won’t need to queue for tickets. You just walk up to the entrance and show the security team. 

2 – Food and Drink is permitted in Kew. I highly recommend taking a picnic and using the many greens and opens spaces they have for loads of family fun. You can choose to sit next to one of the many ponds or lakes, forests or meadows. The choice really is yours.  

3 – Make sure to check out some of the educational talks. Times are displayed in the leaflet at the entrances. I managed to get onto the insect eating plants (carnivorous plants) and learn loads more about these incredible group of plants  

4 – Pick up a map. You are going to need it! (available at the main entrances)

Kew Gardens is a special place and you can get your entrance tickets HERE.

Roman Baths

As mentioned in the title, the Roman Baths in Bath are a huge tourist attraction in the United Kingdom. The Baths are extremely preserved since Roman Britain. They provide a fascinating look into Roman life.

Top attractions in the UK - The Roman Bath (in Bath)
The Roman Bath, main house

How to get there:

The Baths is situated in the City of Bath that lies in the county of Somerset in England. It can take approx. 3 hours from London to get to Bath. There is a great park and ride system in place. This is great because directly off the motorway (M4) there are huge car parks with buses that take you directly into the city centre. Saving you the hassle of driving around, trying to find somewhere to park and paying loads in parking fees. I used the park and ride and it perfect. The journey takes around 10mins from the car parks and costs around £3.20 for the day! Another way many people arrive in Bath is tour operators, many of them add the Baths on coach tours from London. They will also add in a few other sites like Stonehenge for example.

Things to do:

The Baths themselves are a fantastic day out. There is so much to see and learn about. Learn about the city of Bath. Learn how the baths were created naturally through the limestone that surrounds this city. How the Romans used this to their full advantage. Learn what the Baths were used for and in their day, how popular they become. Hundreds of people from across the England including royalty visited the baths. They have a museum onsite, complete with artefacts from the local area. They show you what the city would have looked like that surrounded the Baths and their importance to Roman life. To join a tour is free, you just be at the meeting place at the right time and you can even have a taste of the most natural filtered drinking water in the country!

But don’t just visit the Roman Baths. The City of Bath itself is also a lovely city to explore, the winding rivers and canals, shops and restaurants. We took a trip on a little boat ride up the river seeing the city from a completely different perspective. We visited Bath Abbey, a beautiful building with tons of history, the famous Pulteney Bridge and No.1 Royal Crescent all really worth a visit and we did it all within a day. I admit it was a long day out but it a was a great day out.

I can totally see why The Roman Baths are one of the top attractions in the United Kingdom but if you do visit, make sure you leave enough time to visit the other beautiful delights this city has to offer.       

A few tips:

1 – Use the park and ride. It is the most simple, cost effective way of visiting Bath.

2 – DO NOT eat inside the restaurant; there are much cheaper and better places to eat within the city. I found a lovely little restaurant opposite the Roman Baths to have dinner and it was half the price 

3 – Make sure you drink the natural water. It supposed to be the cleanest natural water in the country – however I wasn’t keen on the taste but you have to try it. 

4 – Join on of the free tours within the Baths. When you enter the Baths there will be sign telling you what time the tours start and where you need to meet. As you go around the site there are signs for meeting places and you just wait there at the time and a member of staff comes along and starts the tour. We learned so much more on the tour.

Lake Windermere

The Lake District National Park was the second national park to be named in England (after the peak district). The Lake District is the most visited of all national parks in the UK. It is the second largest National Park in the United Kingdom behind Cairngorms National park in Scotland but is the largest National Park in England and Wales.

Top attractions in the UK - Lake Windemere
Standing on the dock on Lake Windemere

How to get there:

Like all national parks in the UK there is no boundaries, barriers or restrictions on entry to the park or movement within the park. In the heart of this National Park is the small town of Windermere which has the largest of the all the lakes, Lake Windermere. It is here that 88% of visitors to the park come to enjoy all the Lake District has to offer. Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake in England and is 11 miles long and 1.1 mile wide. The Lake District is right alongside the M6 motorway for easy access and has plenty of small hotels and B&B’s to rest or sleep for a few nights.

Things to do:

The peak summer months see the population of Windermere grow by 150% with people coming from all over to enjoy this amazing landscape. Paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, boat rides and everything in between Lake Windermere has it all on offer. There are ferry crossings, which can take you to different parts of the lakes, there are boat tours of the lakes (which is what we did). There are also hundreds of hiking and walking trails to enjoy. All of which have incredible views of the lakes. Windermere can get extremely busy during the peak summer of June, July and August.

We loved our visit to Lake Windermere and I can’t wait to go back again and enjoy the area for a little bit longer next time around to really experience everything this natural wonder has to offer. The lake remains one of the top attractions in the UK.

Buckingham Palace

Maybe one of the most famous buildings in the world, certainly one of the most recognisable palaces in the world. Buckingham Palace in central London is the official residency of the Monarch of the United Kingdom. The Monarch severs as head of state not just for the United Kingdom but the entire Commonwealth. That is why Buckingham Palace is one of the top attractions in the UK.

Maybe one of the most famous buildings in the world, certainly one of the most recognisable palaces in the world. Buckingham Palace in central London is the official residency of the Monarch of the United Kingdom. The Monarch severs as head of state not just for the United Kingdom but the entire Commonwealth and that is why Buckingham Palace is one of the top attractions in the UK.

Top attractions in the UK - Buckingham Palace
The impressive Buckingham Palace

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How to get there:

It could not be easier to get to Buckingham Palace. The Palace can be reached from anywhere in central London. Head for The Mall and Buckingham Palace will be awaiting for you at the end. It can be reached from St. James Park and 3 separate underground stations. The closest stations Westminster, St. James Park and Victoria Station all approx. 10/12 minute walk from the Palace. 

Things to do:

Many people ask, can you actually go inside Buckingham Palace? The answer is yes you can. However, it does depend on a few factors. At certain times of the year the Palace will open it’s door to tourists and offers tours of this extremely famous building. It also depends on the time of year, this is the residency of the Monarch. This is a real working Palace so at times it will be closed to the public. It is always worth checking on the official website of Buckingham Palace. Why don’t you see with your own eyes one of the Top attractions in the UK?  

See for yourself how beautiful and famous this building is, GET YOUR TICKETS HERE.

Chester Zoo

Opening in 1931 by George Mottershead and his family, Chester Zoo has become the largest zoo in the United Kingdom. Chester zoo is the most visited zoo in the United Kingdom. The zoo was ranked 3rd best zoo in the world on TripAdvisor in 2018. No wonder Chester Zoo is one of the top attractions in the UK.

Chester Zoo attracts nearly 2 million visitors a year. It is the most visited wildlife attraction in the United Kingdom. The zoo has nine thousand different animals and 710 different species. At Chester zoo there is something for everyone. Many animals at the zoo are endangered or on the critical endangered list. Meaning this could be the only place you may ever see them. As you can imagine this zoo has all the popular animals, elephants, lions, tigers, gorillas, rhino, Orangutans and a Komodo dragon. Whatever animal might be your favourite or one animal you might not have seen before it’s very possible to be at Chester zoo.

How to get there:

The Zoo, situated just outside the City of Chester and on the A41. This means by car is the best way to reach the zoo. There are plenty of buses directly from Chester. It is possible to get the train to Chester and then bus right up to the Zoo entrance. Chester zoo is massive, make no mistake about it and so you might want to stay overnight. This will maximise your chances of seeing everything the zoo can offer. At the moment the zoo itself doesn’t have these facilities however they are working on it. If you do want to stay the night, I highly recommend a hotel in Chester or just off the A41. A Premier Inn, which is where I stayed the night to enjoy an entire weekend at the zoo to make sure I did not miss anything!     

Things to do:

Chester Zoo is packed with things to do. There are massive adventure playgrounds for the kids, shops, A wetland, a river boat trip, gardens, bird centre and the list goes on and on. There are plenty of things to do at Chester Zoo. The zoo itself is split into different sections, this allows guests to find what they want easier. Each section of the zoo has eating facilities, toilets and packed with information. Check the times of the keeper talks, they are extremely interesting and happen throughout the day. Speaking of the keepers, the zoo also offer some incredible animal experiences. They allow you to get up close and personal with some of the animals behind the scenes. Check out their website for more details.  

There you have it. The top 10 attractions in the UK? It is clear to see why so many people come to the UK for a holiday. There is so much to see. How many have you been too? You can also get mpre information, photos and videos on all my social media platforms. All links available on my website.

Until next time…

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