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Must-Visit Attractions in England

A scenic view of Fleetwith Pike, from Lake Buttermere in the Lake District
A scenic view of Fleetwith Pike, from Lake Buttermere in the Lake District | © Realimage / Alamy Stock Photo

History, culture, glorious countryside, dramatic coastline – England really does have it all. With so much to see and do, you’re spoilt for choice. Here, Culture Trip lists the best attractions you really shouldn’t miss.

Tower of London
Historical Landmark, Building, Memorial, Museum

This magnificent castle, once a royal palace and infamous prison, is now listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, offering a fascinating look into 1,000 years of history. It’s home to the Queen’s Crown Jewels and the famous Beefeaters, as well as a resident family of ravens.

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Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly

Atmosphere:

Touristy, Outdoors, Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark, Photo Opportunity

Stonehenge
Ruins

Stonehenge is one of the best-known prehistoric monuments in Europe, and nothing can quite match the awe of witnessing the grand stone circle up close, surrounded in all its wonder by idyllic countryside. It isn’t still fully known what the structure was intended for, only adding to the mystique of this world-famous site.

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Eden Project
Park

Head to this stunning eco-park near St Austell, in Cornwall, where you’ll find the largest indoor rainforest in the world. The instantly recognisable tropical biomes are home to jaw-dropping global gardens, bursting with different sights, smells and textures.

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Tate Modern
Art Gallery, Bridge, Building, Museum
Visitors on the entrance ramp to the the vast Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, Bankside, London, UK

Visitors on the entrance ramp to the the vast Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, Bankside, London, UK | © Alex Ramsay / Alamy Stock Photo

Home to a vast collection of international contemporary art, the Tate Modern is the shining star in London’s art scene. With groundbreaking installations and an ever-changing programme of exhibitions all housed in a former power station, no trip to the capital would be complete without a visit here.

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Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Atmosphere:

Indoors

Durdle Door
Natural Feature

On the dramatic Jurassic coast in Dorset is where you’ll find this ancient limestone arch jutting out into the sea. The adjoining beach, with its secluded cove and inviting waters, is the perfect place to take in the sight of this majestic natural wonder.

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Warwick Castle
Historical Landmark

Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, this impressive medieval castle is one of the finest in the country. Its incredible history is brought to life with interactive attractions, mazes, terrifying dungeon tours and spectacular bird of prey displays.

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Buckingham Palace
Building

The official London residence of HRH the Queen welcomes visitors every summer. Take the opportunity to visit the magnificent State Rooms, the Royal Mews, the Queen’s Gallery and the gardens for an unforgettable glimpse inside the world of the British monarchy.

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Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Accessible (Wheelchair), Accessible (Blind), Accessible (Deaf)

Atmosphere:

Touristy, Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark, Instagrammable, Photo Opportunity, Indoors, Outdoors

York Minster
Cathedral

This grand cathedral in the fabulous city of York is one of the largest of its kind in northern Europe. Join a guided “hidden” tour, where you’ll get access to places usually closed to the public, then climb the central tower for unbeatable views over the rooftops and beyond into the Yorkshire countryside.

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Lake District National Park
Park

Stretching for more than 2,331sqkm (900sqmi), the Lake District National Park in Northwest England is famous for its rugged fell mountains, dazzling lakes and tarns and picturesque scenery. The best way to explore the natural beauty of the area is on foot, so get your walking boots on and get hiking.

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Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum

Inside one of London’s most magnificent Victorian buildings, you’ll find hundreds of exhibits, including the amazing dinosaurs gallery, the Darwin Centre Cocoon and an incredible blue whale skeleton. The museum even hosts movie nights and is home to a romantic outdoor ice rink at Christmas-time.

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Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Accessible (Wheelchair), Accessible (Blind), Accessible (Deaf)

Atmosphere:

Indoors, Touristy, Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark, Instagrammable, Photo Opportunity

St Michael’s Mount
Church
United Kingdom, Cornwall, St Michael's Mount

© Westend61 GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

This delightful tidal island, 1,600ft (500m) off the coast of mainland Cornwall and crowned by a medieval church and castle, is a sight to behold. At low tide, you can walk across the causeway to St Michael’s Mount, or hop on a boat when the tide is high to make the short trip. Once here, you can explore the ancient cobbled lanes and sub-tropical gardens of the island.

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The Cotswolds
Natural Feature

Covering almost 2,072sqkm (800sqmi) and running through five counties in the southwest of England, the Cotswolds is home to some of the most unspoilt, picturesque towns and villages in the UK. With lush rolling hills and rural scenery, it’s a truly idyllic place to visit.

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Roman Baths
Archaeological site, Historical Landmark

In the heart of the elegant city of Bath you’ll find the Roman Baths, the unbelievably well-preserved remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world. The Baths are on the site of the city’s thermal springs and as a result flow with natural hot water. Don’t bother packing your swimwear, though – the water quality isn’t great so you can’t take a dip.

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Cambridge
Natural Feature

Spend a day taking in the sights of this historic city on a punting tour. Here you can just sit back and relax as you float down the River Cam – with someone else doing all the hard work for you. Once you’re back on land, explore the world-famous university and marvel at the architecture at King’s College Chapel.

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Tintagel Castle
Ruins

Set high on the rugged North Cornwall coast, with stunning views west across the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find the magical ruins of Tintagel Castle. With a wild history stretching as far back as the Romans, the castle is steeped in legend and mystery and is said to be the birthplace of King Arthur.

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Big Ben
Building

Think of London and chances are you’ll think of Big Ben. Part of the impressive Houses of Parliament, this world-famous clock tower is one of London’s most landmarks, although technically Big Ben is the name of the giant bell inside what the Victorians called St Stephen’s Tower – now known as the Elizabeth Tower – which rings out on the hour across the city.

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Accessibility & Audience:

Accessible (Wheelchair), Accessible (Blind), Accessible (Deaf)

Atmosphere:

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark

Alnwick Castle
Building
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England

© Robert Wyatt / Alamy Stock Photo

Surrounded by glorious Northumberland countryside, Alnwick Castle is the second-largest inhabited castle in the country. Along with magnificent medieval architecture and opulent state rooms, it boasts a fascinating history packed with drama and intrigue. Alnwick Castle might look familiar, too, as it features as Hogwarts in several Harry Potter films.

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Norfolk Broads
Park, Ruins

With more than 201km (125mi) of unspoilt waterways and lakes, the Norfolk Broads National Park is a unique place full of incredible British wildlife and fabulous scenery. Cruise through reed marshes and past wild meadows and woodland for the ultimate getaway.

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Hadrian’s Wall
Ruins

Built by the Romans in 122CE, Hadrian’s Wall is the most famous of all the frontiers of the Roman Empire. Stretching 73mi (117km) of northern England, it was originally built to “separate the barbarians from the Romans”, but now it is a unique historic monument surrounded by an extraordinary landscape.

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Brighton Palace Pier
Building

No trip to England would be complete without experiencing the great British seaside. Arguably the most renowned of all the seaside towns is Brighton, with its famous beach and beautiful pier. At 525m (1,722ft) long and more than 100 years old, the Grade II listed pier happily merges old-school, traditional charm with modern fun and games. As English as fish and chips!

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The New Forest
Park

Running between Wiltshire and Hampshire, the New Forest was granted royal status by William the Conqueror, and covers more than 566sqkm (219sqmi) of land, making it the third largest forest in the country. It is also one of the most richly populated nature reserves in the UK – there’s virtually no native wildlife you couldn’t spot here, including rarities such as snakes and otters.

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White Scar Cave
Natural Feature

There are various show caves up and down the country, usually in hillier areas, and the Yorkshire Dales is home to many, but White Scar is easily the largest and most impressive. It runs 6km (3.7mi) in total, and the section open to visitors includes the 900m-long Battlefield Cavern, one of the largest known cave chambers in the UK.

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Sutton Hoo
Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark

Egypt has the Great Pyramids, Mexico has Chichen Itza, England has Sutton Hoo. Discovered in the 1930s, it is the site of several Anglo-Saxon burial mounds dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries, including an entire ship burial filled with treasures, which has since been relocated to the British Museum. Even without these, the site is a marvel to behold and gives an amazing insight into the practices of people from that era.

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The Needles
Natural Feature
THE NEEDLES, I OF W

© RAQUET PHOTOGRAPHY / Alamy Stock Photo

The Isle of Wight, a short ferry ride off the south coast of England, is worth a visit, not least to see the chalk cliffs that line its coast. On the western edge, facing Cornall, you’ll find the Needles, a line of sharp, white spires stretching towards the mainland, and punctuated by a 19th-century lighthouse. This geological rock formation is easily accessible via coastal walking routes, and is a great stop on a wider exploration of the island.

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Scafell Pike
Natural Feature

England isn’t known for high peaks – in fact, Wales and Scotland have it beat in terms of altitude – but the tallest, Scafell Pike, in the Lake District, is still a worthwhile excursion. There are several trails by which you can summit, including the popular Hollowstones, but however you tackle it, the views at the 978m (3,210ft) tip are among the best you’ll find anywhere in the UK.

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Additional reporting by Callum Davies