The UK has lush, green fields with beautiful rolling hills in the countryside and some really diverse, bustling cities. Here are our reviews of tourist attractions in the UK – and remember, all our attraction reviews are based on personal visits:
- Brimham Rocks, Yorkshire
Brimham Rocks is a beautiful National Trust site in the Yorkshire Dales, not far from Harrogate. The rock formations on Brimham Moor have weathered over the years into all kinds of impressive shapes, with many rocks left ‘balancing’ on top of others. There are many paths around the site, leading from the car park to the National Trust shop, however don’t feel you have to stick to them. We found the more interesting formations didn’t have a path to them.
- RHS Harlow Carr, Yorkshire
Harlow Carr is an attractive Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) garden in Harrogate, Yorkshire. It started life as a Botanical Gardens back in 1950 but was originally the grounds of a hotel and Spa. The whole site covers 58 acres
- Hampton Court Palace, London
Hampton Court Palace, just outside London, is one of Britain’s most important historic houses. It’s best known as the preferred palace of King Henry VIII and his various wives but has served many Kings and Queens over the years.
- Longleat, Wiltshire
Longleat is a stately home in Wiltshire with its own safari park, zoo, mini railway and adventure playground. The house is still owned by the same family that built it in the 16th Century, but around 50 years ago, the pressures of maintaining a property of this size meant it had to start paying towards its upkeep.
- Lichfield Cathedral, Staffordshire
Lichfield Cathedral in Staffordshire, England stands in an elevated location and dominates the surrounding city. It is an active place of worship which balances well the needs of a modern congregation whilst embracing the history of the surrounding building.
- View From The Shard, London
The Shard is currently the tallest building in the European Union, standing just over 1000 feet high above London Bridge station. As one of the newest additions to London’s skyline, a viewing gallery was built-in covering the top floors of the structure.
- Barley Hall, York
Barley Hall is a medieval town house nestled down a small alleyway in the centre of York, UK. It used to be the residence of the Mayor of York back in the time of Richard III, but its history became lost over the years that followed. The story of its re-discovery is the most amazing part of the exhibits you will see here.
- Harry Potter Studio Tour, London
The Warner Brothers studio near Watford was the location for much of the filming of the Harry Potter series of movies. Sets were built, used and stored here but when filming on the final movie was concluded, a decision was made to turn part of the complex into a visitor attraction.
- The Galleries of Justice, Nottingham
The Galleries of Justice in Nottingham is a museum of crime and punishment which is based in the former courthouse and county gaol. The building is packed with history and your tour will include the perfectly preserved court room, which was still being used a couple of decades ago. Your tour then continues as you follow the steps of condemned men, from the dock, down to the former prison cells below.
- Botanic Garden, Oxford
Oxford Botanic Garden is Britain’s oldest Botanical garden and it’s located alongside the River Cherwell opposite Magdalen College. From the moment you enter, it’s a horticultural feast for the eyes with glass houses, a conservatory, rock garden, vegetable areas and attractive formal gardens. Look out for the stunning herbaceous border set against an old wall with a cottage-garden style gate, the pond, the composting area and the tropical plants in the very warm greenhouses.
- St George’s Park, Staffordshire
St George’s Park is the English Football Association’s training ground, located in the Staffordshire countryside near to Burton upon Trent. It was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2012 and was completed after years of delays at a cost of over £100 million.
- Oxford Covered Market, Oxford
Oxford Covered Market is a historic market hall dating back to the 1770s. The history of the building is evident as you walk around, especially when you look up at the roof! You’ll see the network of wooden beams supporting it, which stretch across all the walkways.
- Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire
Little Moreton Hall is a striking Tudor mansion in Cheshire UK, which is operated as a tourist attraction by the the National Trust. It started out as a modest property but was extended over the years to the large building you see today. The origins of the hall stretch back to the early 1500s when this was essentially the home of the local land owner.
- Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
Princes Street Gardens is a huge public park in Edinburgh, Scotland. The gardens link the castle with the shopping area around Princes Street and there’s plenty to see and do in them. There are the usual flowerbeds, pretty borders, trees and grassed areas you’d find in most parks but there’s also a large amphitheatre here which is known as the “Ross Bandstand”.
- Southwell Workhouse, Nottinghamshire
The Workhouse in Southwell is one of Britain’s best preserved workhouses from the Victorian era, operated as a historical attraction by the National Trust. It was built by the local churches to look after the infirm in their parishes, but also to take in those who couldn’t maintain their own home through lack of employment.
- York Castle Museum, York
York Castle Museum is one of the best city museums we’ve ever been in for a number of reasons. The place is huge, with two large buildings forming the main museum and a water mill in the gardens.
- Oxford Castle Unlocked
Oxford Castle Unlocked is a visitor attraction based inside the old Oxford Castle which was a prison up until the mid 1990s. There are three main areas that you get to see on the guided tours.
- Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is one of Britain’s premier country houses. It has been home to 16 generations of the Cavendish family since the 1560s when the initial house was first completed. Today, the house, gardens and 1000 acre park surrounding them are a huge tourist attraction for the north of England with over a million visitors a year.
- Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire
Sudbury Hall is a beautiful, brick-built stately home in Derbyshire, England which is operated as an attraction for visitors by the National Trust. It was built in the 17th century for the Vernon family, who still live nearby, but was given to the trust 1967. We fell in love with this house, because it’s so pretty and unlike many of these country homes, it’s actually small enough to imagine yourself living there!
- Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire
Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire is an English stately home with a difference. It’s a lovely place to look around, but for many it’s also a place to go to learn about its last significant resident, Lord Lichfield. Patrick Anson was the 5th Earl of Lichfield, relative of the Queen, world famous photographer and mover and shaker in the 60’s and 70’s and this was his ancestral home.
- Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Royal Shakespeare Company theatre complex in Stratford upon Avon is one of the biggest attractions in the town. It had a major renovation and re-development recently and opened again in 2010 and it’s well worth seeing. The re-modelling has totally transformed the original building with a new frontage, new bits bolted on the side and a giant tower which now dominates the public park below.
- National Railway Museum, York
The National Railway Museum in York, England houses some of the world’s most loved steam locomotives and it’s free. The biggest draw is the Flying Scotsman which has been undergoing a multi-million pounds facelift, but you’ll also find the iconic Mallard and the Duchess of Hamilton here all polished up and on display.
- The Treasurers House, York
The Treasurers House in York is at the rear of York Minster and was originally part of the Minster’s administration buildings.
- Houses of Parliament, London
The Parliament building in London is one of the most well known and attractive structures in the city. Inside this huge building there are two debating chambers, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. UK politicians meet and debate here and towering over the whole “Palace of Westminster” as it is known, is the huge clock tower containing Big Ben, the deep sounding bell which chimes on the hour.
- St Paul’s Cathedral, London
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of Britain’s best known large churches and thousands of people visit every year. Princess Diana got married here and it has its place in British history too. It’s an imposing building from the outside and you can see its incredible central dome over much of central London.
- Mary Arden’s Farm, near Stratford upon Avon
Mary Arden’s farm was the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother. The attraction is on a large plot just outside Stratford upon Avon and there are lots of things to see on your visit.
- Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
Calke Abbey is a stately home in Derbyshire owned by the National Trust. The trust’s website starts its description like this: “with peeling paintwork and overgrown courtyards, Calke Abbey tells the story of the dramatic decline of a country house estate.” This kind of sets the scene for your visit.
- Betty’s Tea Rooms, York
Betty’s Tea Rooms is a famous Yorkshire name in tea shops and the York branch has become the flagship for the chain. It has two floors and both are places to enjoy the best that Betty’s has to offer. The establishment serves main meals as well as pastries, cakes, breakfasts and light lunches, but most desired of all is the traditional Afternoon Tea of sandwiches, cakes and scones.
- Tower of London, London
The Tower of London is one of the city’s best known landmarks. It stands on the River Thames and has so much history, it would be impossible for the “Beefeater” guides to tell you it all!
- York’s Chocolate Story, York
York’s Chocolate Story is one of the newest attractions in the city and celebrates its rich heritage for chocolate and confectionary manufacturing. Terry’s, Rowntree’s and Craven all started life creating classics like Fruit Pastills, the Kit-Kat and the Chocolate Orange.
- Buckingham Palace, London
Buckingham Palace is the London home of the Her Majesty, The Queen and it’s open to tourists for a short while each summer. The palace is well worth visiting, but even if it’s not the right time of year, we’d still recommend going to see the palace just from the outside. You’ll be amazed at how big it is, and you can spend time watching the guards and seeing who’s coming and going. Look out for the flag pole on the roof. If it’s flying the Royal Standard, then the Queen is in residence. If not, then she’s somewhere else.
- Green’s Windmill, Nottingham
Green’s Windmill in Nottingham is two tourist attractions rolled into one. Firstly, it was the childhood home of significant mathematician George Green, and those who are interested in his impact on society and maths, come to see it because of that. Secondly, it’s a working windmill that makes its own flour and has a science centre too, so people with no interest in maths whatsoever will come too!
- Tower Bridge, London
Tower Bridge, built in the 1880s, is one of London’s most famous landmarks and it spans the River Thames near to the Tower of London. It’s a great piece of architecture and the workings inside are fascinating too. We’d recommend the Tower Bridge Exhibition which shows you how it works and how they built it.
- Tate Modern, London
Tate Modern is a converted former power station on the south bank of the River Thames. The cavernous spaces inside have been turned into one of the most impressive modern art galleries you’ll see anywhere in the world.
- Clifford’s Tower, York
Clifford’s Tower has been an attraction in York for hundreds of years. It’s basically all that remains of the oldest part of York Castle. There was originally a wooden structure here which was built by William the Conqueror, but this was later replaced with the stone keep you see today.
- Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, Nottingham
Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem is Nottingham’s most famous pub. It’s also reputedly England’s oldest inn having the date of 1189 painted on the outside although this is disputed in other parts of the country. Whatever the accuracy of this claim, it’s a fascinating place to visit and you shouldn’t overlook it.
- The Shambles, York
The Shambles in York claims to be Europe’s oldest shopping street and it’s best known for its period properties that almost touch across the street as the levels go up. The houses here have been lived in for hundreds of years, although they’ve also been places of work for just about as long. Originally they were the homes of butchers who sold their meat from the front room.
- Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh
The Scottish Parliament is one of Edinburgh’s most striking structures, but it is also very different to most of the city’s others which are historic, traditional looking buildings. As such, the architecture of the Parliament has been a talking point since the designs were first seen and you’ll either love it or hate it.
- Free Walking Tours, Bath
Free Walking Tours take place in Bath daily. They are roughly 2 hours long and they’re organised by the Mayor of Bath’s office. You don’t need to book, just check out the tour times at the sign board outside the Roman Baths in Abbey Churchyard which is where the tours begin.
- Charlecote Park, Warwickshire
Charlecote Park is an attractive stately home located between Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick. It’s run by the National Trust, but in its past it was a family home that was once visited by Elizabeth the 1st. The owners built a special gatehouse in her honour which is one of the most attractive features of the house. It’s almost like a almost like a miniature version of the house itself and you can climb to the top of the gatehouse for a great view of the park.
- Hyde Park, London
Hyde Park is absolutely huge and dominates a large area of central London. You’ll find it at the Marble Arch end of Oxford Street and it continues all the way to Kensington Gardens covering an area of 350 acres. The Royal park is visited by millions of Londoners and tourists every year and is a great place to relax.
- Pulteney Bridge, Bath
Pulteney Bridge in Bath is one of the world’s most beautiful bridges and is likened frequently to the much larger Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The bridge was built to connect central Bath to the other side of the River Avon in a style that fitted its surroundings. It was built in 1773 by designer Robert Adam who had a hand in many of Bath’s structures. The bridge architecture is therefore very similar to the historic stone-built Georgian landmarks of Bath.
- HMS Belfast, London
HMS Belfast is a British warship which saw action in World War 2, but now sits out her retirement on the River Thames in London. She’s a floating museum, dedicated to the seamen who sailed in the Royal Navy during the war and immediately afterwards. The ship also served the Korean War before being retired in 1963.
- Tutbury Castle, Staffordshire
Tutbury Castle sits on top of a hill in rural Staffordshire, not far from the town of Burton upon Trent. The castle was first recorded in 1071 and it’s perhaps most well known for being one of the prisons that held Mary Queen of Scots. She was held here on 4 separate occasions in fact and it was here that she became involved in the plot that ultimately led to her execution.
- Conwy Castle, North Wales
Conwy Castle is large defensive structure, built in the 1280s, which dominates the North Wales town of Conwy. It’s notable for how much of it still remains and the railway line which runs alongside and even underneath it at one stretch with battlements to match. It has several turrets which make it quite striking to look at because they are so tall. Most of the turrets can be climbed with the network of spiral staircases and when you get to the top, they all have a terrific view of the harbour and the other buildings in the town.
- Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle is the city’s most famous landmark and it’s huge! We think this is the must-see attraction in Edinburgh and looking around will probably take you quite a while. Highlights include the Castle Vaults, the Great Hall, beautiful St Margaret’s chapel, and one of the world’s oldest guns, Mons Meg. On top of that, there’s the National War Museum of Scotland, two Scottish regimental Museums and the crown jewels, the “Honours of Scotland”.
- Shakespeare’s Grave, Stratford-upon-Avon
Shakespeare’s Grave is situated inside his former parish church in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. You’ll find his tomb marked by a gravestone in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church alongside other members of his family. There is also an extra memorial to Shakespeare with a bust which is a feature on the wall. His grave is outlined with a blue rope (see above) and his wife Anne is next to him.
- Bakewell, Derbyshire
Bakewell is a historic Derbyshire town made famous by its tasty pudding. It nestles in the Peak District, just a short drive from Chatsworth House with Matlock to the south and Buxton to the north. The arguments over who came up with Bakewell Pudding first still continue to this day and you’ll find several shops selling it around the town. The recipes do vary a little from shop to shop, but on the whole there’s not a vast amount of difference and they all have that lovely almond-based taste.
- Monsal Trail, Derbyshire
Monsal Trail is a former railway line which has been turned into a leisure route for cyclists, horse riders and walkers. As a railway line, it was a stretch of the Midland Railway which closed in 1968 and ran from the historic Derbyshire town of Bakewell to Wyedale near Buxton. This Peak District route is made extra special by the bridges and tunnels that form part of it. They were restored at a cost of several million pounds to turn the route into a viable leisure path.
- Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
Warwick Castle is one of the best preserved castles in England and there’s plenty to see and do when you visit because it’s had plenty of money spent on it as part of the Tussauds group of attractions. There’s more on the entertainment experiences in a moment, but never forget that the building itself is the real star here. It has luxurious historic rooms laid out as they would have been in the castle’s heyday in the time of the Earls of Warwick.
- Cardiff Bay, Cardiff
Cardiff Bay was once the busy dock area of the city, but it’s been totally transformed in recent years and has now become a tourist attraction in its own right. This is partly thanks to a barrage which was built in the 1990s creating a huge “lake” and preventing the tide from taking all the water. The lake area within the barrage is now used for sailing and other water sports.
- Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Trent Bridge is one of the world’s most famous test cricket grounds and it has seen much development over the years. The history of the ground still remains though in the shape of the traditional pavilion. Apart from international cricket, Trent Bridge is also the home of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club.
- Royal Albert Hall, London
The Royal Albert Hall is a working theatre and concert hall but is also an attraction in its own right. It was named after Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, who originally had the idea to create a multi purpose venue which could hold everything from orchestras to a circus. Sadly though, he never saw his vision realised.
- Doctor Who Experience
The Doctor Who Experience is a new attraction based at Cardiff Bay which focuses on the BBC TV Series Doctor Who which is filmed in the city of Cardiff. The attraction is based on the characters and events that are depicted in the TV show and includes specially recorded sequences from the current Doctor Who. It replaces a Doctor Who Exhibition which was much smaller.
- Royal National Theatre, London
The Royal National Theatre is actually 3 theatres rolled into one and the complex is based in a bleak looking concrete building on the South Bank of the Thames. The three theatres are called the Olivier, the Lyttelton and the Cottesloe and they vary in size and design.
- Roman Baths, Bath
The Roman Baths in Bath have attracted visitors for thousands of years and they’re much bigger on the inside than you’d think. What looks like an un-assuming historic building from the outside, opens up into a labyrinth of pools and rooms spreading far beneath the surrounding streets.
- St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
St Giles Cathedral is one of the most distinctive buildings on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. It’s unusual “crown” shaped spire is one of the first things you notice from a distance, but there’s plenty more to see when you get up close. It’s the High Kirk of Edinburgh and the Mother Church of Presbyterianism and inside there are many areas which mark its significance. In particular, look out for the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle (Scotland’s chivalric company of knights headed by the Queen).
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London
Shakespeare’s Globe is a recreation of the theatre that became synonymous with Shakespeare’s plays. It was built only after a huge fund raising drive with many top British actors involved. They wanted Shakespeare’s plays to be performed in the kind of round theatre for which they were written and this one resembled the former Globe that existed in his time. You can now experience plays there regularly but the building itself is an attraction that’s best visited on the theatre tours.
- Royal Yacht Britannia, Leith
The Royal Yacht Britannia was Queen Elizabeth II’s beloved yacht which she had to part with in a cost cutting measure in 1997. It’s now a floating tourist attraction so you can see how the Queen and her family used to live whilst sailing around the world on behalf on the UK. It’s based at a huge shopping centre in Leith, just outside Edinburgh and it’s an absolute must on any trip to the area.
- Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire
Newstead Abbey is the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron and it’s an attraction you cannot miss if you’re coming to Nottinghamshire. The house and gardens are beautiful and to this day the house retains its medieval character. There’s also lots of evidence of the life of Byron too who spent his wealth enjoying life as a play-boy of his day.
- Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
Kenilworth Castle is the former home of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who had a steamy love affair with Queen Elizabeth 1st. The Queen visited the castle a number of times, but most notably in 1575 when Dudley created a garden for her. This garden was recently re-created as it was in Elizabeth’s day but much of the actual castle is not as it was in that time and instead stands in ruins.
- Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Essentially, the Wales Millennium Centre is cross between a theatre and a community centre, but it’s the architecture that’s the most striking thing about it. Its huge frontage is dominated by a poem written in English and Welsh and the lighting at night makes it look even more impressive.
- Assembly Rooms, Bath
The Assembly Rooms were the centre of society life in Georgian times in Bath and they’re still just as resplendent today. You’ll be wowed by the rooms when you enter as they’re large, colourful and jam-packed with historic features. The chandeliers in particular are incredible! It’s thought that Jane Austen frequented the rooms during her time in Bath to dance and enjoy evenings mixing with socialites.
- Cardiff Castle, Cardiff
Cardiff Castle has around 2000 years of history. The oldest part of the castle is the old keep in the centre and this is surrounded by the more modern extensions that made it a family home for the Bute family. On your guided tour, you’ll get to see some of the lavishness of the insides of the castle although we did find the guide a little tedious. The building though is marvellous, so don’t let that put you off.
- Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Calton Hill was developed as an urban park where distinguished gentleman could walk with their ladies. The city’s elders wanted to create a cultural area and with its superb views over Edinburgh, Calton Hill was the perfect place. Today, there are fewer Victorian gentlemen, but it’s a great place to come for some time out from the busy Princes Street shopping area below. You won’t believe how good the panoramic views are until you make the effort to climb to the top.
- Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford upon Avon
Think of the most attractive “chocolate-box” thatched cottage that you can, and it still wouldn’t be a patch on this one! This was the family home of Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway and he would have visited the cottage when he was ‘courting’ her. Shakespeare never actually lived here though as once they were married, they moved into Stratford to Shakespeare’s family home, now known as Shakespeare’s Birthplace.
- Bath Abbey, Bath
The current Abbey was founded in 1499 and it oozes history despite still being used as a modern place of worship today. The sheer size of the place is the first thing that strikes you when you head through the visitors entrance. The other really noticeable thing is how bright the place is because of the large windows on either side.
- National Ice Centre, Nottingham
Nottingham is the home of the world famous ice dancers Torvill and Dean and they began skating on this site. The National Ice Centre is an impressive shiny replacement for the tired old rink that used to be here and inside you’ll find two olympic sized rinks. One is dedicated to public skating and the other one known as the arena which is used for shows, concerts and Nottingham Panthers Ice Hockey games.
- Borough Market, London
Borough market is the perfect example of a flourishing market in Britain. It sits alongside the railway arches in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral, just off Borough High Street and it’s a celebration of great quality food. You name it, you’ll find it here – cheeses, fruit, vegetables, home-made pies, flowers, olives, meat, curries and pastries! It’s actually London’s oldest food market and it varies in size and numbers of stalls but even in the winter months it’s always busy.
- Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
The Millennium Stadium is the modern home of Welsh Rugby, but it’s also an arena that can be used for other sports like soccer or as a music venue. It has also played host to large shows. They’re able to use it for so many different things because the pitch is set into moveable concrete blocks which can be picked up and moved out. The stadium is one of the new water-side additions to the city centre and we can thoroughly recommend the regular tours.
- Holyrood House, Edinburgh
Holyrood House, also known as Holyrood Palace, is the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh. She comes to stay only once a year but she does call in on other special occasions. We thought this palace was fascinating, partly because it’s much more “down to earth” than some of the bigger Royal residences.
- Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
Hardwick Hall is a National Trust Property nestled on a hillside near Chesterfield in North Derbyshire. You can spot it from the M1 heading out of Derbyshire into Sheffield. Bess of Hardwick first created Hardwick in the late 1500s and her stamp on the place is very much there to see with the décor displaying her initials everywhere. We’d describe it as a typical Elizabethan property, full of dark furniture, serious looking pictures and huge tapestries.
- Wollaton Hall, Nottingham
Wollaton Hall is set in one of England’s finest urban parks complete with deer and it’s just a few miles from the city centre of Nottingham. The hall was used as Wayne Manor in the 2012 Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” with Christian Bale, but it’s actually the city of Nottingham’s Natural History Museum.
- The O2, London
This dome-shaped structure resembles a very large tent and was the centre piece of the UK’s millennium celebrations. For many years it was known as the Millennium Dome, but now it houses a massive concert arena, restaurants, shops and a cinema. This building has a special place in the hearts of British people, somewhere between hate and love.
- London Eye, London
This huge wheel was supposed to be temporary, but instead has become a permanently popular attraction. It’s not cheap, but it is a great way to see London from a different angle
- Royal Mile, Edinburgh
This is one of the world’s oldest and most famous streets and it links Edinburgh Castle at the top of the hill, with the palace of Holyrood House at the bottom. Walking “The Mile” as it’s known is an activity that visitors and locals have undertaken for hundreds of years. To save your legs, it’s best walked down hill and along the way, you’ll see the castle, the Scotch Whisky Experience, St Giles Cathedral, the Scottish Parliament building and endless tartan-covered souvenir shops.
- Thermae Bath Spa, Bath
This is the modern way to enjoy the hot springs of Bath. It’s a world away from the Roman Baths and even from the outside, the spa building design is impressive, melding a historic building in Bath City Centre with ultra modern glass panels. Inside they offer a range of spa treatments and pool sessions. What you get here is a luxury experience with prices to match but we’d recommend the 4 hour spa session in the main building at twilight for the best experience.
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