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
Photo of Sarah Dawson
31 August 2020

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
Map View
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.

Stonehenge

Ruins
Map View
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.

Tate Modern

Art Gallery, Bridge, Building, Museum
Map View
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.

Buckingham Palace

Building
Map View
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.

Atmosphere:

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

York Minster

Cathedral
Map View

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.

Natural History Museum

Building, Museum
Map View

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.

St Michael’s Mount

Church
Map View
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.

Roman Baths

Archaeological site, Historical Landmark
Map View

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.

Cambridge

Natural Feature
Map View

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.

Big Ben

Building
Map View
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.

Alnwick Castle

Building
Map View
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.

Brighton Palace Pier

Building
Map View
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!

The New Forest

Park
Map View

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.

White Scar Cave

Natural Feature
Map View
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.

Sutton Hoo

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark
Map View

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.

The Needles

Natural Feature
Map View
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.

Scafell Pike

Natural Feature
Map View
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.

Additional reporting by Callum Davies

These recommendations were updated on August 31, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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