Whether you’re just visiting or moving to the UK, this tour of top 10 sites in the UK will take you everywhere from the Jurassic Coast to royal pomp. These are some of the best places to visit in the UK.
It is extremely difficult to select just 10 top destinations in Great Britain – a country of rich history and varied culture, a mixture of nations and traditions, and heir to one of history’s most powerful empires. Nevertheless, with a mixture of both cultural and natural sights, as well as a combination of well-known landmarks and sights away from the tourist mobs, discover the true British spirit as you travel the country to see the top 10 sites in the UK.
1. The Stonehenge mystery
Marvel at one of the wonders of the world, Stonehenge. Although no one knows for certain who built it and why, this magnificent monument has a history spanning 4,500 years. Speculation on the reason it was built ranges from human sacrifice to astronomy.
This prehistoric structure is situated in the English county of Wiltshire, about 8 miles north of Salisbury and just two and a half hours’ drive away from London. The great age, massive-scale and mysterious purpose of Stonehenge draws hundreds of thousands of visitors per year, and several thousand gather on the summer solstice to watch the sunrise over this ancient and mystical site.
Although the original construction has suffered a great deal from both weather damage and human pillage of its rock over the millennia, it is still a breath-taking sight and an ardently recommended destination in the UK. A GBP 27-million visitor centre opened at the end of 2013 featuring a permanent exhibition of some 250 prehistoric objects and treasures (many previously unseen), a forensic reconstruction of a man who was here 5,500 year ago, a regularly changing programme of special exhibitions, café and shop.
2. Fossick the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site covers 95 miles of truly stunning coastline from East Devon to Dorset, with rocks that have recorded 185 million years of the Earth’s history depicting a geological ‘walk through time’ spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The area is home to the natural limestone arch of Durdle Door – the coast’s most photographed landmark and Lulworth Cove – one of the finest coves in England. In addition to the astounding landscape, the Jurassic Coast is also a place of ‘outstanding universal value’ selected by UNESCO. It’s also where Victorian fossil hunter Mary Anning found the world’s first ichthyosaur, two plesiosaur and other important fossils. You can go fossil hunting yourself; one of the best places is Charmouth, where a visitor centre offers fossil walks and shows you how to find fossils.
3. Causeway Coast
On the north coast of Northern Ireland, the otherworldly Causeway Coast is home to the spectacular Giant’s Causeway. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to 40,000 interlocking hexagonal basalt rocks that stretch along the coastline. These were formed by volcanic action around six million years ago, but today form one of Northern Ireland’s most famous tourist attractions. You can explore the history of this natural wonder at the visitor’s center. However, you may want to take some waterproofs with you as it can get pretty wet and windy up there.
4. The Scottish Highlands
Boasting vast, untouched landscapes, picturesque towns, and lush greenery, the Scottish Highlands are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to visit in the UK. This remote region has provided the backdrop for many iconic movies. The peaks of Glen Etive, for instance, feature in the James Bond movie, Skyfall, while Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express can be seen zipping over the impressive 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct. Therefore, movie buffs will no doubt enjoy following in the footsteps of their favorite Hollywood stars and exploring the rugged beauty of the Highlands.
5. Corfe Castle
Corfe Castle was one of the earliest built and today it stands in dilapidated glory overlooking the Dorset hills. It is one of the finest ruined castles in the UK. The best views of the castle are from up West Hill – a short but steep climb up a stepped path just northwest of the town. For an even better atmospheric experience, try to get here for dawn on a particularly cold day. The ruins will appear to rise from a golden mist as it cascades down the hill behind it.
Corfe Village is also worth a potter. Small cosy pubs and independent shops sit among attractive houses. The gem most worth visiting in town is Corfe Castle railway station – lovingly restored to how it looked almost 100 years ago. Time your visit right and take a ride on the Swanage railway steam locomotive that runs the short route from just north of Corfe to Swanage.
6. Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia is a region in northwest Wales concentrated around the mountains and glacial landforms of massive Snowdonia National Park. The park's historic Snowdon Mountain Railway climbs to the summit of Wales's highest mountain, Mount Snowdon, offering views across the sea to Ireland. The park is also home to an extensive network of trails.
7. Devon of the South West
Famous for its spectacular coastline, gorgeous beaches, and the world-famous Devonshire Cream Tea, Devon is the jewel of the South West. From the pretty Mediterranean-like beaches of Salcombe and beautiful white cliffs of Lyme Bay to Dartmoor National Park, one of the last great wildernesses in the UK, nature lovers will be truly in their element in this scenic county. Off the coast, you’ll find Lundy Island, dubbed by some as ‘Britain’s Galapagos’. Stay a few nights on this rustic outcrop and you’re sure to spot seals, seabirds, puffins, and basking sharks. Throughout the county, you’ll find a host of outdoor activities including climbing, whitewater rafting, horse riding, and various others that are sure to challenge and excite you. But many who love Devon do so because of the gentile delights of its many historic seaside villages.
8. Yorkshire Dales
Home to valleys and moors, and rivers and streams, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is a great place to visit in the UK if you enjoy the great outdoors. The Dales, as they are frequently known, offer an incredibly diverse landscape that is perfect for adrenaline junkies looking to go caving, rock climbing, and abseiling down waterfalls. Guided walks, meanwhile, offer visitors a more leisurely way to enjoy the scenery. If you are looking for something more challenging, though, you can always take on the iconic Three Peaks Challenge. Covering more than 36 kilometers, this arduous route encompasses the peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough, and offers breathtaking views.
9. The Cotswolds
The rolling hills and quaint villages of the Cotswolds are spread over six English counties, meaning there is plenty to explore. From stately homes and castles to acclaimed reserves and arboretums, this beautiful rural region offers stunning landscapes; not to mention an authentic flavor of England from times gone by. The region’s charming honey-stone villages are also scattered with famous tearooms, delis, antique shops, and farmers’ markets; making them perfect for whiling away an afternoon. And while each village has its own distinct character, they all share the same timeless beauty that makes the Cotswolds one of the most beautiful places to visit in the UK.
Located on the east coast of England, this quiet corner of the country is often overlooked by visitors – but it shouldn’t be. The man-made Broads offer 200 kilometers of beautiful waterways just waiting to be explored on a boat, canoe, kayak, or even a bicycle. Along Norfolk’s northern coast, you’ll also find sweeping beaches, excellent seafood and plenty of wildlife. Norfolk is also a great place to experience the great British seaside resort. With safe, shallow water, Hunstanton is the perfect spot for family fun, including windsurfing, water skiing, and kite-surfing. The Golden Mile of Great Yarmouth, meanwhile, offers the quintessential British seaside experience.