England, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, has practically limitless options for travellers looking for exciting things to do and top sites to see.
This tiny but powerful nation, which is part of the lovely British Isles, is brimming with interesting history, vibrant cities, and rich cultural traditions. Historic sites abound, ranging from prehistoric megaliths and ancient Roman structures to centuries-old castles and mediaeval town centres.
England is also relatively easy to go about, with trains and buses connecting the country’s most renowned tourist spots. You may also travel between areas of interest on a well-planned network of highways. You’ll have a great experience whether you opt to visit the nation by automobile or by public transportation.
Stonehenge, located on Salisbury Plain 10 miles north of the mediaeval city of Salisbury, is Europe’s most well-known prehistoric monument. It is so popular that visitors must purchase a timed ticket ahead of time to ensure admission.
The excellent Stonehenge visitor centre sets the mood for a visit, describing how the megaliths were created between 3000 and 1500 BC and offering facts about life at the period through audio-visual experiences and more than 250 historic objects.
Visit the realistic reproductions of Neolithic Houses after wandering around the many viewing sites close to these massive stones to observe the tools and implements of regular Neolithic life as volunteers exhibit skills from 4,500 years ago.
Although you cannot enter the circle to walk among the stones during normal opening hours, you may book early morning or late evening admission via English Heritage, which oversees the monument.
The Tower of London has done it all: prison, castle, treasure vault, observatory, and menagerie. It is one of London’s top attractions. This World Heritage Site has plenty to see and do to keep tourists occupied for hours. It is often regarded as the most important structure in England.
The White Tower is the focal point of this Thames-side stronghold. It was built in 1078 by William the Conqueror and now houses incredible displays such as Line of Kings, the world’s oldest visitor attraction, which opened in 1652 with a stunning exhibition of royal armour.
The spectacular Crown Jewels exhibition, historic Yeoman Warder Tours, the Royal Mint, and exhibitions and displays about prisoners and executions are among attractions. The Tower of London spans 18 acres, so there’s plenty of room for exploration.
If you’re travelling with children, look for special activities like “Knights School” and other immersive programmes that give a delightful glimpse into the castle’s past.
If you only have time to visit one little city in England, Bath is the place to go. This stunningly gorgeous city in Somerset has more wonderful tourist attractions than you could ever see in a single day.
While it is most known for the spectacular 2,000-year-old Roman Baths built around the city’s healing hot springs, it is also widely renowned for its honey-colored Georgian townhouses, such as those on Royal Crescent.
Some 500 of the city’s structures are considered historical or architecturally significant, and as a result, the entire city has been designated as a World Heritage Site. Bath is an excellent starting point for seeing some of England’s most beautiful landscapes, including the Avon Valley, the Mendip Hills, and a plethora of other outstanding Somerset monuments.
The British Museum has one of the world’s best collections of antiquities, with over 13 million objects from Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, the Roman Empire, China, and Europe. The Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Athens, as well as the famed Rosetta Stone, are the most famous ancient antiquities.
However, there are many more exceptional pieces on display here that contribute to this being one of the top sites to see in London. The Ancient Egyptian collection is the greatest outside of Cairo, and the Mildenhall Treasure, a treasure of Roman silver dating from the fourth century that was discovered in Suffolk in 1942, is nothing short of remarkable.
If you have time, consider joining a guided tour (private after-hours tours are fun) or attending a class or lecture. On-site dining and shopping are also available.
Great Russell Street in London is the address.
Only the cathedral at Canterbury is more important in the Church of England than the beautiful York Minster. It’s located in the heart of old York, surrounded by half-timbered houses and shops, mediaeval guildhalls, and cathedrals.
York’s beautiful streets, in turn, are ringed by three miles of majestic town walls, which you can stroll atop for amazing views of the city and its surrounds. Visit the National Railway Museum, one of England’s most popular tourist sites, while you’re here.
York is also an excellent starting point for exploring northeast England, particularly the rugged grandeur of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. Other lovely mediaeval towns and cities in this part of the nation include Durham, which is famed for its castle and cathedral, and Beverley, which also has an exquisite minster.
England is a place steeped with tradition, history, spectacle, and grandeur. It’s no wonder, therefore, that some of the most popular tourist attractions centre around the Royal Family, who have had a significant role in moulding the kingdom – as well as many other regions of the world – for centuries.
If you only have time for one royal attraction, make it Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle, a 40-minute train trip from Central London, is well-known as one of the Royal Family’s official residences, and it welcomes tourists on a regular basis when the Queen is not present.
And it has a long history, dating back to the 11th century, when a victorious William the Conqueror had a stronghold built on this precise place.
The chapel, the State Apartments, and the spectacular Queen’s Gallery are all highlights of a visit to Windsor Castle.
Bring your walking shoes as well. The grounds are extensive, running for six miles around the castle and offering some of the greatest photo chances in the world with this ancient structure as a backdrop.
Address: Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire
Located in Upton, little over a mile north of Chester city centre, Chester Zoo is England’s most visited destination outside of London and is one of the greatest locations to visit in England for families.
The more than 11,000 animals residing in this 125-acre property represent around 400 distinct species. But the zoo’s attraction stretches beyond only animal enthusiasts, with prizewinning manicured gardens also accessible for visitors to explore.
You may traverse these huge grounds on the zoo’s monorail system to access features that include Chimpanzee Island, a penguin pool, and Europe’s largest tropical home. There’s lots of other exciting things to do at Chester Zoo, too, so expect to easily spend a day exploring this top-rated tourist destination.
While at Chester, take time to stroll its historic city walls, the best preserved of their sort in Britain. You should also spend time examining Chester’s other notable feature: its galleried pathways.
Known as the “Chester’ Rows,” these outstanding mediaeval architectural jewels stretch the whole length of stone and half-timbered houses originating from the 14th century, and make for a distinctive and gorgeous environment. Chester Cathedral is certainly worth exploring if you can get it into your holiday plan.
Address: Cedar House, Caughall Road, Chester
Covering nearly 900 square miles, Lake District National Park is a must-visit site for tourists to England. With 12 of the country’s major lakes and more than 2,000 miles of rights of way ready to be explored, there’s little wonder the region continues to fascinate, with its breathtaking views and landscapes straight out of a picture.
Other things to do include exploring the park’s many fells, including Scafell Pike (3,210 feet), the highest mountain in England. Be sure to also spend time visiting some of the charming tiny towns and villages strewn across the region, such as Grasmere.
Better better, climb onboard a tour boat expedition around Lake Windermere and Ullswater, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the nicest vistas anywhere in the UK.
Address: Murley Moss, Oxenholme Road, Kendal
Located in the centre of the mediaeval city that bears its name, Canterbury Cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is home to the Archbishop of Canterbury and is the cradle of English Christianity. It all started when St.
Augustine converted the pagan Anglo Saxons here in 597 when he became the first bishop. Excellent guided tours of the cathedral are available, and for a truly memorable experience, consider booking an overnight stay in the grounds at Canterbury Cathedral Lodge.
But there’s much more to this beautiful mediaeval city than just its cathedral. Canterbury is also a popular cultural and entertainment destination with great shopping, galleries, and cafés, as well as attractions such as those focused on Chaucer’s mediaeval England and the city’s Roman past.
Some of the other best places to visit in Canterbury include the Old City, the ruins of St. Augustine’s Abbey, and mediaeval Beaney House.
Address: 11 The Precincts, Canterbury
As English as an afternoon tea, references to The Beatles are everywhere in Liverpool. Located in the northeast of the country, Liverpool is just two hours away by rail, and offers music fans plenty of opportunities to soak up some city sites, along with Fab-Four-related attractions.
Topping your list should be The Beatles Story. Located in the revitalised Albert Dock area of the city, this fun museum features enough facts and exhibits to keep the biggest fans busy for hours.
Other related points of interest in Liverpool include visiting the famous Cavern Club, along with the real places about which they sang, including Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane.
Other must-dos include themed walks and guided tours, visiting the former homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and getting in some souvenir shopping at The Beatles Shop, located just steps away from the Cavern Club.
The incredible Eden Project is a collection of unique artificial biomes containing an amazing collection of plants from around the world. Located in a reclaimed quarry in Cornwall, this spectacular botanical gardens complex consists of huge domes that look rather like massive igloo-shaped greenhouses.
Each of these impressive (and futuristic-looking) buildings houses thousands of different plant species in tropical and Mediterranean environments.
As well as these stunning displays of plant life, the Eden Project hosts numerous arts and music events year-round. If you’re able to extend your visit, consider booking a stay at the on-site hostel, or enjoy a meal in one of its restaurants. Adventure activities such as ziplining and giant swings are also available.
The Cotswolds cover some 787 square miles and encompass parts of some of England’s prettiest counties: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire. And all of it begs to be explored.
Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty due to its rare limestone grassland habitats and old-growth beech woodlands, the beauty of the Cotswolds has much to do with its quaint villages and towns, such as Castle Combe, Chipping Norton, and Tetbury.
Like so much of England, the Cotswolds is perfect to discover on foot. One of the best routes is along the Cotswold Way, a 102-mile footpath with spectacular views of the Severn Valley and the Vale of Evesham. This route runs the length of the Cotswolds, and can be picked up pretty much anywhere you visit.
Address: Alexandra Warehouse, Llanthony Road, Gloucester
Displaying one of the most comprehensive collections of paintings in the world, the National Gallery is London’s second-most visited museum.
The collections, which present an almost complete cross-section of European painting from 1260 until 1920, are especially strong in the Dutch Masters and the Italian Schools of the 15th and 16th centuries.
In the Italian galleries, look for works by Fra Angelico, Giotto, Bellini, Botticelli, Correggio, Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese, and especially for Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna and Child with St. Anne and John the Baptist, Raphael’s The Crucifixion, and The Entombment by Michelangelo.
In the German and Dutch galleries are works by Dürer, van Dyck, Frans Hals, Vermeer, and Rembrandt. Among artists from the 18th century through 1920, standout works are by Hogarth, Reynolds, Sargent, Gainsborough, Constable, and Turner.
French works include those by Ingres, Delacroix, Daumier, Monet (including The Water-Lily Pond), Manet, Degas, Renoir, and Cezanne.
With no-cost admission, a visit to the National Gallery is one of the top things to do in London for free. Guided tours and lunchtime lectures are also available for free and are highly recommended.
Address: Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London