Top 10 Places to Visit in the UK

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The
United Kingdom (UK) or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
consists of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a host of small
islands and territories across the world (Falkland, Tristan da Cunha etc.). The
UK is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The UK is
brimming with diverse scenery and extraordinarily rich cultural heritage. The
entire country is also filled with world-class art galleries, museums, and
wonderfully maintained estates and castles (including a few which are
supposedly ‘haunted’).

The
beautiful and diverse United Kingdom (UK) is one of the easiest countries to
explore and travel through. The country is smaller than the American state of
Texas and the entirety of it can be covered by basing yourself in a major city
like London or Liverpool. The country has an extensive network of motorways and
a very good railway service which can be used for exploration with ease.

A
quick, 90 minute train ride is all it takes to go from the modern metropolis of
London to the old charm of Salisbury. A short bus ride from Salisbury takes
tourists to one of UK’s most well renowned attractions, the Stonehenge. And if
you want to travel through William Wallace’s Scotland, a one hour train ride is
all it takes to travel between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland’s two largest
cities.

So without further ado, here are the

Table of Contents

10 best places to visit in the UK:

1. London: The Capital and the Heart of the UK

While
you may be able plan a trip to the UK without visiting London, it’s definitely
NOT advisable to do so. The UK’s sprawling and beautiful capital boasts plenty
of attractions to keep all kinds of tourists busy. For those interested in
learning more about the UK’s rich history, one of the top things to do in London
is to visit the Tower of London. It is located very close to the world
famous and spectacular Tower Bridge on the banks of the River Thames.
This former palace and prison includes highlights such as the iconic
1,000-year-old White Tower, with its fascinating displays of armour and
weaponry, and the Jewel House, home to the Crown Jewels of the
British Monarchy.

Fans
of Britain’s Royal Family will want to head to the fabled Buckingham
Palace
, London’s Royal home since the reign of Queen Victoria I. Once at
the Buckingham palace, you can enjoy the colourful pomp of the Changing
of the Guard
 or even take a tour of the Palace’s State Rooms (be sure
to book in advance as they’re only open for a few weeks in a year).

Whitehall
Road is another must-see in London. On this legendary street, tourists can see
London’s iconic landmarks such as the Big Ben and the Parliament
Buildings
, as well as Westminster Abbey, scene of many a royal wedding.
Another area to visit in London is South Kensington, home to the city’s best
museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History
Museum, as well as the incredibly famous Harrods department store (supposedly
the largest of its kind in the world). And no trip to London can be complete
without a visit to the Trafalgar Square, home to the iconic Nelson’s
Column
 and the National Portrait Gallery.

2. Edinburgh: Capital of Scotland

No
trip to the UK can be complete without stepping foot in one of Scotland’s most
attractive cities, the capital city of Edinburgh. It is one of the UK’s most
visited destinations. While it has many well-preserved historic buildings, the
city of Edinburgh is best known as the home of the majestic and glorious Edinburgh
Castle. Perched high above the old city on a rocky promontory, the highlights
of this 13th-century royal fortress include things and events such as the
famous One O’Clock Salute, held daily at Half Moon Battery; the Scottish Crown
Jewels in the Royal Palace; the Scottish National War
Memorial
; and the famous Stone of Destiny (the Stone of
Scone), which only came back to Scotland after a 700 years stay in the English
capital of London.

Once
tourists reach the castle, they can easily explore the other famous and
important historic sites in the city. The most notable among them is  the Old Town’s Royal Mile with
its fine architecture, boutique shops, cafés, restaurants, and amazing art
galleries. Aside from that, there is also the beautiful Palace of
Holyroodhouse
. Other highlights in Edinburgh include the broad Princes
Street
. It’s  popular for its
shopping and dining options. It is also famous for the Royal Botanical Garden
and the National Gallery of Scotland.

3. Medieval Salisbury and Ancient Stonehenge

The
Stonehenge is one of the oldest sites on UNESCO’s revered ‘World Heritage Sites’
list. For all residents of the British Isles, the Stonehenge has been a place
of pilgrimage for more than 4,500 years. It was believed to have been erected
as a place of worship, but these days, the crowds consist of tourists drawn by
the sheer scale of this magnificent monument to mankind’s ingenuity. It is also
considered to be one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Stonehenge’s
sprawling site covers an area of more than 20 square kilometres and boasts a
state-of-the-art visitor centre. The centre offers a fascinating glimpse into
the construction and history of Stonehenge. It will help if you can plan ahead
and purchase a timed ticket for the day of your visit.

16
kilometres south of Stonehenge, is the beautiful medieval city of Salisbury. While
in Salisbury, you can visit one of the UK’s most famous cathedrals, dating back
to 1220 and home to an original Magna Carta. Afterwards, you can
also wander around the old city centre with its numerous beautiful churches and
historic medieval architecture.

4. Historic Town of Windsor

The
historic town of Windsor, is just a short train ride to the west of London. It
offers a plethora of fun things to do for all types of tourists. In addition to
the spectacular Windsor Castle, the most famous of the UK’s royal castles,
the town of Windsor also has a lovely Thames-side setting and many medieval
half-timbered buildings along its quaint old cobblestone laneways.

The Windsor
castle has served as the summer residence of British royalty for almost a
thousand years (it was built by William the Conqueror in 1078) and is the
world’s largest inhabited castle. Highlights of the castle include the splendid
State Apartments with the Queen’s Gallery and dining hall, each feature
magnificently painted ceilings and woodcarvings. The castle also features the
St. George’s Chapel, famous as the home of the Knights and Ladies of the
ancient Order of the Garter.

When
you’ve had your fill of these historic buildings, you can head out and explore
the castle’s large and beautiful grounds, which extend for almost 10 kilometres
from one end to another. Here you can enjoy some truly memorable panoramic
views over Windsor and its magnificent castle.

Aside
from the castle, tourists can also head over to Legoland Windsor, a
fun family resort built on 150 acres of parkland and just a short bus ride from
the town centre. Royal Ascot, the UK’s most famous horse-racing venue,
also lies in Windsor (plan your trip to coincide with the Royal Meeting held
each June).

5. Lake district and the Cotswolds

The beautiful Cotswolds are undoubtedly one of the most photographed corners of the UK. Featuring 1,287 square kilometres of pristine and stunning countryside, the Cotswolds are just a day’s trip from London. The Cotswolds are very close to the old towns of Bath and Bristol. The Cotswolds feature some of the most heavenly parts of the counties of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire.

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Travelers usually visit the Cotswolds to experience a true taste of
rural English life. The Cotswolds are filled with many quaint village
greens and idyllic pasturelands. One of the most popular ways to soak up
all of this natural beauty is via the area’s extensive trail network,
including the excellent 16-kilometer-long Cotswold Way. Some other fun
things to do are horseback riding and biking, or simply soaking up the
history of popular market towns such as Castle Combe or Tetbury.

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When
you travel north of the Cotswolds, you arrive at another slice of ravishing English
countryside. 1,448 square kilometres of spectacular English scenery: the Lake
District National Park
. Encompassing 12 of the country’s largest lakes
(Windermere and Ullswater are the biggest), this region of the UK is great to
explore on foot thanks to the fact that it features more than 3,218 kilometres
of trails. Highlights include the highest mountain in England, the Scafell
Pike
, 978 meters above sea level, as well as its many picturesque towns
including Grasmere.

6. University towns: Oxford and Cambridge

The
UK has long been a centre of learning, with two of its most famous university
towns also ranking highly as tourist destinations. An easy commute north of
London-and just 128 kilometres apart-Cambridge and Oxford have for centuries
been rivals for the title of the country’s top academic establishment. That
rivalry is celebrated annually during The Boat Race, the famous rowing
event between the teams of both universities. The race takes place each
spring on the River Thames.

A
planned visit to Cambridge will give tourists a chance to wander the UK’s
largest collection of preserved historic buildings. Most of the buildings appear
as you take a walk through Cambridge Universitys 31
colleges, the oldest of which was founded in 1284.

In
addition to touring the stunning college grounds (only a handful of the
university’s buildings offer tours), visitors to Cambridge should also take a
punt along the River Cam, as well as explore the old town centre.

Oxford University’s 38
colleges are equally attractive, each set around a quadrangle and several inner
courtyards along with chapels, dining halls, libraries, and student
accommodations (some offer unique tourist accommodation packages, too). Oxford
highlights include the Carfax Tower, with its fine views over
the city centre, and the numerous fine old buildings of the town’s High
Street
.

7. Canterbury

When tourists visit the historic town of Canterbury in Kent, they immediately realise why this beautiful town is so loved by everyone. It’s just an easy hour long train ride from central London (or just minutes away from the EuroTunnel). For over 1,500 years, Canterbury has been a draw for pilgrims. It all started when St. Augustine started converting pagan Anglo Saxons to Christianity here in AD 597.

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The
city’s most famous attraction is the Canterbury Cathedral. It is the seat
of the Archbishop of Canterbury. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stunning
cathedral offers a plethora of architectural marvels to see.  It features some intricately carved masonry across
its exterior and interior. The highlight of the Cathedral is the beautiful
choir place with its statues of six English kings. Also of note are the
exquisite Miracle Windows, dating from the 12th century and depicting scenes
from the life of murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket.

Afterwards,
be sure to spend time wandering the pedestrianized area of Old City Canterbury
with its many preserved, historic, timber-framed buildings, particularly along
Mercery Lane. Other must-sees include the Canterbury Tales, a fascinating look
at the life and times of famous English poet Geoffrey Chaucer (aka the
“Father of English Literature”), and the amazing Canterbury Roman
Museum
. The museum is built around the remains of an original
Roman townhouse and it features some unique and beautiful mosaic.

8. Lochness and Inverness

Despite the fact that the legends of mythical monsters have largely been debunked (just don’t tell the locals), spectacular Loch Ness remains an extremely popular tourist attraction for travellers heading to Scotland. While it’s unlikely you’ll encounter any monsters, you will, however, be rewarded with seeing some of the UK’s most beautiful scenery.

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Highlights
include the ruins of Urquhart Castle, overlooking the loch,
one of Scotland’s largest fortifications (the current structure dates from the
14th century). For those wanting to learn more about the area’s many legends,
the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition recounts its history,
along with that of its monster, including details of ongoing searches for the
elusive creature.

A
little farther north is Inverness, which boasts numerous excellent attractions,
including Inverness Castle, the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, and the late
19th-century St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

History
buffs should also check out the Culloden Battlefield and Visitors
Centre
. It was in Culloden in 1746 that the English and Scots fought their
last battle and where the fate of Scotland as a British dominion was
determined. Also of interest are the gravestones of warriors from the Scottish
clans, as well as the six-meter-high Memorial Cairn erected in 1881 to
commemorate the battle.

9. Manchester and Liverpool

Featuring a spectacular international airport and some of UK’s
most internationally renowned sites, Manchester is
often the first stop for many visitors planning to explore northern England,
Scotland, or Wales. Highlights of Manchester include Castlefield,
which is extremely popular for its numerous well-preserved Victorian houses,
canals, and Roman ruins, along with numerous old warehouses which now serve as
trendy shops, hotels, and restaurants. Other attractions include Manchester
Cathedral
 and the historic Town Hall, as well as a rich cultural scene
that includes museums (Museum of Science and Industry), galleries (Manchester
Art Gallery), and entertainment (Chinatown). Old Trafford, the home ground of
the Manchester United Football Club is a must-see for all football fans.

Just an hour away from Manchester, is the fabled city of Liverpool. The city offers a lot of cultural excitement for tourists. After
all, it is the town which gave the world its biggest band ever, The Beatles.
All fans of the ‘fab four’ can get their fix of ‘Beatlemania’ in Liverpool.
Some famous attractions include Beatles Story in the renovated Albert
Docks area; the famous Cavern Club, where the band made its
debut in 1961; as well as the former homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney
(numerous walking tours and bus tours of Beatles sites are also readily
available).

A
visit to Liverpool also lets tourists explore the city’s numerous historic
buildings. Tourists can also walk through the city’s  lovely gardens and parks. For the art and
culture fans, Liverpool is loaded with great museums such as the Merseyside
Maritime Museum
, the Museum of Liverpool, and world-class art
galleries like the Walker Art Galleryand the Tate Gallery.

10. Cardiff: Capital of Wales

Despite its diminutive size when compared to Scotland and England,
Wales contains some of the best tourist attractions of the UK. Wales
features breath-taking scenery and offers a chance to indulge in fun
outdoor adventures in its national parks. Wales also features a lot of
historic castles to tantalize the history buffs.

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Cardiff,
the capital of Wales is a great place to sample everything that Wales has to
offer. One of the city’s highlights and most famous tourist attractions, is the
Cardiff castle. Located in the middle of the city and built on the ruins of an
ancient Roman fort, parts of the current structure date as far back as 1090,
with much of it restored in the 1800s. Highlights include the State Apartments,
the Clock Tower, the Chapel, and a spectacular Banqueting Hall with its fine
murals.

Afterwards,
be sure to spend time wandering the city’s many old Victorian shopping arcades,
the best of which can be found around The Hayes. Also worth checking out is
Cardiff Bay. One of the UK’s largest redevelopment projects, this vast area is
now home to numerous fine restaurants, theatres, galleries, and shopping
opportunities, many of them housed in former warehouses on lovely Mermaid Quay.

Cardiff
Bay is also the home of the World of Boats. It features a unique
collection of sea going vessels from all across the globe. Another point of
interest is the Techniquest, a fun science centre featuring a
planetarium and theatre.

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