Are you planning a vacation to the UK and wondering what sort of things to see and do? Often when we start to plan a trip the sheer amount of things we want to fit in can make it difficult to produce a doable itinerary. When I am planning to visit a new country I try to identify the key things that are absolute must do’s and build an itinerary around those.If you have particular interest too for example castles, UNESCO World Heritage Sites or places of natural beauty this list will help.
If you are looking for inspiration this ultimate UK bucket list consists of arguably 100 of the absolute best things to do in the UK (though not London as that has an ultimate bucket list all of its own!) which will give you a perfect starting point for your travels or even provide focus on one or two areas.
I have spent half of my life living in the UK and really enjoy exploring by car or preferably (and whenever possible) by train for day trips, weekend trips or longer.
I have included a few scenic train journeys into the list but you can also read my posts about train travel in the UK with example itineraries, must-do train journeys and train travel tips to make the most of your rail travel experience in the UK.
To make the list more user friendly I have divided it into 4 parts to focus on England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland separately.
England’s list is then further sub-divided into 7 regions – the North East, North West, Yorkshire, West Midlands, East Midlands. South West and South East/EastAnglia.
If there is a particular area you are interested in visiting use the content tab below to skip straight to that section.
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Check out my UK Travel Planning Facebook group – come and join us! It is a great resource to help plan your UK trip – come and chat, ask questions and find out more about the UK.
THINGS TO DO IN ENGLAND
MY TOP 10 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES IN THE NORTH EAST INCLUDE
TAKE A DRIVE ALONG THE NORTHUMBERLAND COAST
Although I may be a little biased as I was born in Northumberland I do believe that it is one of the most beautiful counties in the UK. There are lots of beautiful villages to stop at along the way as you follow the Northumberland coastal route north. The scenery is spectacular and in summer the long sunny days are perfect for exploring the castles and beaches.
Northumberland has more castles than any other county in the UK. Bamburgh Castle and Alnwick Castle (as seen in Harry Potter) are my favourites. You can read more in my guide to 6 of the best Northumberland castles which includes a map showing their locations in the county.
VISIT HADRIAN’S WALL (THE REMAINS OF THE ROMAN WALL BUILT BETWEEN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND)
The Romans found the Scottish a difficult bunch to fight off so decided to build a wall to keep them out. That wall was Hadrian’s Wall which runs from Wallsend in the North-East and ends west of the village of Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria. It formed the north west boundary of the mighty Roman Empire.
A wonderful hike if you are up to it or if you prefer something more sedate take a visit to some of the larger ruins.
Head to Vindolanda to see the remains of a Roman fort and visit the museum which displays some of the artefacts that have been found in the area.
Read more | Vindolanda
VISIT BARTER BOOKS IN ALNWICK
Barter Books is the largest second hand book shop in the UK. Housed in an old train station I would recommend spending a few hours perusing the stock and enjoying the ambiance (and model railway that runs on an elevated track around the shop). Read more about visiting Barter Books.
Read more | Books to read before you visit Northumberland
VISIT BAMBURGH CASTLE & ALNWICK CASTLE
I have already mentioned Bamburgh Castle as it is along the Northumberland Coastal Route. The castle was the Royal Seat of the Kings of Northumbria and is still inhabited today. Siting on a rocky plateau on the coast this castle is really impressive and the perfect destination for history lovers.
Alnwick Castle may be more familiar to Harry Potter fans due to its appearance as Hogwarts in the first 3 films.
SPOT PUFFINS ON THE FARNE ISLANDS
Another absolute must along the Northumberland coast is a trip out to the Farne Islands. Accessible by boat from Seahouses along the Northumberland Coastal Route the Farne Islands are home to seal colonies as well as puffins.
Read more | Farne Islands
CROSS THE CAUSEWAY TO THE HOLY ISLAND OF LINDISFARNE
A visit the the North East of England has to include a trip to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (just check the tides before you go) The island is separated from the mainland by a causeway. Once on the island enjoy a visit to Lindisfarne Priory or take a stroll to the castle for views across to Bamburgh and the Farne Islands. Read more about visiting Lindisfarne and tips to make the most of your visit.
Read more | Holy Island
The historic city (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) of Durham with its famous Norman Cathedral and castle is a beautiful city to enjoy on a day trip in the North-East. If you are taking a road trip around the UK use the park-and-ride facilities as parking can be very difficult in the city itself. If you are visiting Durham by train it is a 45 minute walk from the station up the hill to the Cathedral.
SPOT THE ANGEL OF THE NORTH
As you drive along the A1 towards Newcastle you will not be able to miss Anthony Gormley’s statue the “Angel of the North.” Completed in 1998 the 20 metre angel with a 54 metre wingspan dominates the landscape.
VISIT BEAMISH LIVING MUSEUM
If you are interested to discover what life was like in the North of England during the 18th and early 19th centuries there really is nowhere better to visit than Beamish Living Museum. Probably the best open air museum I have been to anywhere in the world Beamish is highly recommended. I would plan to spend the day there to fully explore the 300 acre site.
Read more | Beamish Living Museum
CRAGSIDE HOUSE AND GARDENS
This National Trust property is located in Rothbury in Northumberland. Often described as “the wonder of its age” and “the home where modern living began” this Victorian property was the first home in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity.
As well as the house there are the wonderful gardens to explore with a pinetum and rock garden as well as Victorian formal gardens to enjoy.
Read more | Cragside House and Gardens
MY TOP 10 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES IN THE NORTH WEST INCLUDE
VISIT THE LAKE DISTRICT
The most popular destination for visitors to the UK is the beautiful Lake District. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017 the area is popular with walkers as well as those in search of stunning scenery, a wonderful literary heritage and landscapes more closely associated with Switzerland than England.
TAKE A BEATLES TOUR IN LIVERPOOL
If you are a Beatles fan then make sure to visit Liverpool’s waterfront to snuggle up to the Fab Four (well their statue) The statue was unveiled in 2015 and was donated by the famous Cavern Club where the Beatles were first discovered.
If you are a Beatles fan check out my complete itinerary to the city which includes what to see, where to stay and the best Beatles tours to take to make the most of your visit.
Read more | Best Beatles tours
VISIT THE QUINTESSENTIALLY ENGLISH SEASIDE TOWN OF BLACKPOOL
Don’t miss the iconic Blackpool tower (not quite the Eiffel Tower but inspired by it) which was opened in 1894. Inside the tower you will find a circus, a dungeon and a spectacular view of the town. However the main attraction is the Blackpool Tower Ballroom which is one of the most beautiful in the world.
Read more | Blackpool Tower
TAKE A STROLL AROUND THE ROYAL ALBERT DOCK AND MUSEUMS IN LIVERPOOL
Liverpool was one of the most important trading ports in the world and the docks and Grade 1 listed buildings that surround it are now UNESCO World Heritage listed.
If you visit the docks along with the statue of the Fab Four mentioned above you will find lots of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops as well as a selection of excellent museums. These include the Tate Liverpool, The Beatles Story, the Slavery Museum and the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
VISIT ANTHONY GORMLEY’S ANOTHER PLACE
If you enjoy art I would recommend catching the train out of Liverpool to Crosby Beach to see sculptor Anthony Gormley’s famous art installation. Consisting of 100 life size case iron identical figures placed along a 1 1/2 mile stretch of beach, and facing out to sea, Another Place is truly a sight to behold.
Read more | Another Place
SETTLE TO CARLISLE TRAIN JOURNEY
Described as one of the most scenic train journeys in the UK the Settle to Carlisle route travels 73 miles through the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines. Passing through 14 tunnels and over 20 viaducts including the Ribblehead viaduct in North Yorkshire this is one train journey any rail travel lover has to do when in the UK.
A FOOTBALL TOUR – LIVERPOOL/MANCHESTER UNITED
If you enjoy football then a tour of one of these famous grounds will no doubt be on your bucket list. Whilst not my cup of tea I could not leave this off the list as I am aware just how popular football is and in particular these 2 football teams!
Book ahead if you want to join a tour.
VISIT THE NORTHERN QUARTER IN MANCHESTER
Full of bars, restaurants, vintage shops and street art the Northern Quarter in Manchester is the hip part of town. This to the place to head for a night out if you are staying in Manchester.
LITTLE MORETON HALL
This beautiful Tudor half timbered manor house is a beautiful day out for those with an interest in history particularly life in England during Tudor times. Owned by the National Trust this is a great summer destination with beautiful gardens as well as the hall to enjoy.
Read more | Little Moreton Hall
A DAY IN CHESTER
Chester is probably my favourite city in the north west. With bags of character and lots of history it is a great city to visit for a weekend break. Don’t miss the “Rows” which is a shopping district comprised of 2 level arcades and Tudor buildings or the city walls dating back to Roman times.
Read more | Chester
MY TOP 10 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES IN YORKSHIRE INCLUDE
VISITING THE BEAUTIFUL FOUNTAINS ABBEY AND STUDLEY ROYAL WATER PARK
One of my favourite destinations in Yorkshire is a visit to the remains of Fountains Abbey and a stroll around Studley Royal Water Park. The Abbey was closed in 1539 after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII is now surrounded by the water gardens which were designed in the 18th century. They were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.
GOING FOR A WALK IN THE YORKSHIRE DALES
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful walks in Yorkshire. My favourite is the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail. The loop circuit is 7 km long and incorporates lots of steps but some incredibly beautiful scenery along the way too.
Read more | Walking the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail
A WALK ALONG THE SHAMBLES IN YORK
Take a stroll along the cobblestones of York and shop on a street which dates back to the Domesday book of 1086. Some of the buildings along the Shambles were built in the 14th century and are over 700 years old!
Read more – Visiting York
VISITING THE VICTORIAN MODEL VILLAGE OF SALTAIRE
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site to visit in Yorkshire is the Victorian village of Saltaire. Created by Titus Salt for his factory workers he revolutionised the conditions for workers by providing them with schools, hospitals, wash houses and decent housing.
Read more | Guide to visiting Saltaire
VISIT THE TOWN THAT INSPIRED DRACULA WHITBY)
The coastal town of Whitby and its ruined abbey were the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Its a popular seaside town for visitors with quirky shops the best fish and chip shops anywhere in the UK.
Read more | Visiting Whitby
VISIT THE NATIONAL RAIL MUSEUM IN YORK
The best train museum in the UK and situated next to the main railway station in York this is a must for any rail enthusiast. The Flying Scotsman and the Mallard can all be seen in the museum as well as examples of more modern trains such as the Japanese bullet train. Admission to the museum is free.
Read more | Visiting the National Railway Museum in York
VISIT CASTLE HOWARD
This stately home in North Yorkshire is the ancestral home of the Howard family who still reside there to this day. The house and gardens are open to the public and there are regular events scheduled throughout the year. Don’t miss the annual Castle Howard Proms an outdoor concert which includes a firework display, lasers and a Spitfire flyover.
Read more | Visit Castle Howard
TAKE A TRAIN RIDE ON THE NORTH YORKSHIRE MOORS RAILWAY
This heritage railway running from Pickering to Whitby is one of the most popular steam heritage lines in the UK.
Passing though a number of stations from Pickering to Whitby including Goathland which appeared in the Harry Potter films as Hogsmeade this 24 mile journey through the North Yorkshire countryside is an absolute treat for all the family.
Read more | North Yorkshire Moors Railway
VISIT YORK MINSTER
Don’t miss a visit to York Minster if you are in the city. A church has been on the site since the 7th century with the construction of the minster itself dating back to 1220. It took 250 years to complete and was finally consecrated in 1472 20 years before Colombus discovered America. Built in the Gothic style it is home to the Archbishop of York.
Read more | York Minster
HAVE AFTERNOON TEA AT BETTYS IN YORK OR HARROGATE
Bettys Tea Rooms are a Yorkshire tradition and,if you are a fan of afternoon tea, I recommend booking at Bettys in Harrogate or York. Founded in 1919 by a Swiss baker you will find vast array of cakes and biscuits to tempt your taste buds.
Read more | Bettys Tea Rooms
MY TOP 10 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES IN THE SOUTH WEST INCLUDE
SEARCH FOR FOSSILS ON THE JURASSIC COAST
A UNESCO World Heritage Site the Jurassic Coast is one of the best places in the world to search for fossils!
Head down to the south coast between Exmouth and Studland Bay in Dorset and visit one of the natural wonders of the world. Don’t miss Lulworth Cove.
Read more | Visit the Jurassic Coast
EXPLORE THE COTSWOLDS
The Cotswolds are one of the UK’s most popular destinations are the. Here you will find many of the quintessentially quaint English villages which often typify everything British in American movies such as Bridget Jones or The Holiday.
The best way to visit the Cotswolds is via a road trip or tour as train travel is not always practical in this part of the UK. Popular villages in the Cotswolds include Burford, Bourton-on-the -Water, Bibury, Stow-on-the-Wold and Painswick.
VISIT WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL
Who doesn’t love the novels of Jane Austen? Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park and more? Jane sadly died at the age of 41 in Winchester, England. She was laid to rest in Winchester Cathedral on the 24 July 1817. To pay homage to this most famous of English 19th century novelists a visit to Winchester is a must!
Another popular destination for visitors to the UK is the ancient site of Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Constructed between 4 to 5 thousand years ago visit the exhibition centre and then take a stroll around the stones themselves.
Read more | A guide to visiting Stonehenge
VISIT THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE CITY OF BATH
There is so much to do and see in Bath whatever the time of year. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage site – highlights include the Royal Crescent and Roman Baths. Fans of Jane Austen will know that she lived in Bath during the early 1800’s. Visit the Jane Austen museum in the city.
- TAKE A STREET ART TOUR OF BRISTOL HOME OF BANKSY
For fans of street art head to Bristol, the home of the most famous street artists of them all – Banksy. There are art tours around the city to see some of his work around the city.
Read more | Banksy and Bristol
Situated off Penzance take a short trip on the Scillonion ferry to the Scilly Isles. Only 5 of the 140 islands are inhabited and the islands are famous for their sandy beaches and clear blue waters.
Read more | The Isles of Scilly
VISIT FAMOUS CORNISH AND DEVON TOWNS AND VILLAGES SUCH AS ST IVES, PORT ISAAC, LYNTON, LYNMOUTH, LOOE, POLPERRO AND ILFRACOMBE
You really are spoilt for choice in Devon and Cornwall as there are so many beautiful coastal towns and villages to visit. Don’t forget to try afternoon tea – scones with cream and jam or is it scones with jam and cream. The answer will depend on which county you are in!
Famous castle of legend, Tintangel is associated with King Arthur and his knights and is believed by some to be Camelot.
Entry to Tintagel is via English Heritage timed tickets and booking ahead of your visit is highly recommended.
Read more | Visiting Tintagel
VISIT THE EDEN PROJECT
The Eden Project located in Cornwall is a fantastic day out for all the family. Visit the Biomes and see the largest rainforest in captivity. There are stunning plants, exhibitions and more for visitors to enjoy.
Read more | Visiting the Eden Project
MY TOP 10 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES IN THE SOUTH EAST AND EAST ANGLIA INCLUDE
VISIT THE BRIGHTON PAVILION
When in Brighton head to the Pavilion. Transformed in 1815 by the Prince Regent and subsequent King – George IV. I guarantee it will leave you open mouthed! Its opulent Eastern and Indian influences and flamboyant design is something to behold!
Unfortunately you are not permitted to take photo or video when in the pavilion but take my word for it – you will be astonished by the beauty of it!
Read more | 10 must-do day trips from London
MARY ROSE & THE VICTORY
These historic vessels can be found at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
The Victory was Nelson’s flagship used in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
The Mary Rose was Henry VIII’s flagship between 1510 and 1545 and was involved in numerous battles against his enemies.
SAIL THE NORFOLK BROADS
Ever fancied sailing a narrow boat along the canals of England? Get yourself to Norfolk! Norfolk is possibly most famous for the man-made Broads. The National Park with over 125 miles of navigable lock-free waterways is set in beautiful countryside filled with charming and picturesque villages and towns.
Read more | The Norfolk Broads
VISIT ARUNDEL CASTLE
Arundel Castle in West Sussex dates back nearly 1000 years. The former home of the Duke of Norfolk is a great day out from London. Whilst I recommend visiting the castle the star of the show for me are the magnificent gardens which are the best gardens I have visited in the UK and a total delight to see.
The castle is open May to November (see the official website linked below) with lots of open air shows and family friendly events on over those months.
There are a variety of ticket options available which give access to various areas of the castle. If you simply want to enjoy the gardens the bronze ticket at £13 each for adults covers that. Access to the castle is included in gold+, gold and silver ticket options.
If you are visiting the castle by train (which I highly recommend as parking is not easy) it is only a 10 minute walk or short taxi ride from the train station.
Read more | Arundel Castle and gardens
CHICHESTER AND FISHBOURNE ROMAN PALACE
I grew up in the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland and love anything to do with Roman Britain. If you are in southern England the best place to find out more about their lives in this rather chilly and damp part of the Roman Empire is just outside Chichester at Fishbourne Roman Palace.
This lavish Roman Palace with its beautiful mosaic floors is really worth a visit. Most of the palace has been excavated and the gardens reconstructed so you really get a feel for life in Roman England. The palace is the largest Roman residence in northern Europe and unbelievably was only discovered and excavated in the 1960s!
Read more | Fishbourne Roman Villa
Leeds Castle is famously the former royal residence of 6 of England’s medieval queens. During the reign of Henry VIII it was transformed into a retreat for the rich and powerful.
Situated in Kent the castle is open all year round (closed Christmas Day – do check the website for up-to-date opening times) and in 2019 celebrates its 900 year anniversary. Tickets are valid for entry for one year from the date of purchase.
Leeds Castle also offers a range of accommodation options in the grounds including my favourite – Medieval designed glamping pavilions!
Read more | Leeds Castle
The star of Chaucer’s medieval Canterbury tales, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury this is a popular tourist destination for visitors to the UK.
The cathedral famous as the murder site of Thomas Becket in 1170 became a medieval destination for pilgrims. Today it is only an hour away from London by train (no walking necessary) and is a great day trip from the capital.
An absolute must for fans of the period drama Downton Abbey. Highclere Castle is the home of the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and of course the setting for the show.
Highclere is not open all year round. As it is an extremely popular destination for both UK residents and visitors alike I would recommend booking in advance.
Read more | Highclere Castle
Another great day trip from London is a visit to the university city of Oxford. Take a walking tour and find out about the various colleges that make up this famous university.
There are loads of things to see and do in the city so make sure to wear comfortable footwear because it is made for walking. Harry Potter fans look out for numerous locations that were used in the films.
The birthplace of Winston Churchill and ancestral home of the Dukes of Marlborough Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in
Visitors can enjoy a tour of the palace and a wander round the extensive grounds (designed by Capability Brown) The butterfly house and famous maze are also worth a visit!
Read more | Guide to visiting Blenheim Palace
MY TOP 10 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES IN THE EAST MIDLANDS INCLUDE
VISIT THE PEAK DISTRICT INCLUDING THE TOWN OF BAKEWELL AND VILLAGES OF EYAM AND EDALE
With so many beautiful towns and villages to visit this part of the world deserves a holiday all of its own. Stay in a cottage and spend days hiking or cycling through the Peak District National Park which stretches across Northern Derbyshire and into the counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire, and Yorkshire.
Visit the town of Bakewell and try a Bakewell tart – a yummy experience that is not to be missed!
Eyam is famous as the plague village whose self imposed quarantine prevented the spread of the Black Death but to the deaths of 260 villagers. Visit the museum in Eyam to learn more.
Edale is the start of the Pennine Way a 268 mile walking trail which ends in Kirk Yetholm near the Scottish border. If you fancy a slightly shorter walk there are some great day walks from Edale and a couple of pubs serving real ale in the area too.
VISIT CROMFORD MILLS
The cotton mills of Richard Arkwright at Cromford are part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
These water powered cotton mills were essentially the beginning of the factory system – production of goods from homes to factories. Although Arkwright also provided housing for his workforce he was not quite as benevolent to his workers as Titus Salt in Saltaire a century later.
Read more | Guide to Cromford Mills
VISIT LINCOLN CATHEDRAL & CASTLE
Lincoln Cathedral was once the tallest building in the world and this Gothic designed structure is still one of the most impressive buildings in England. Take a walk around inside and keep an eye out for the famous Lincoln Imp!
If you are interested in seeing one of the remaining copies of the Magna Carta head to Lincoln Castle. The castle itself was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. Don’t miss the medieval wall walk for spectacular views over Lincoln and surrounding countryside.
If you are feeling fit take a walk (climb) up steep hill (officially the 4th steepest street in England) and pop into some of the galleries and tea rooms on your way up. Parts of the route are very steep but it is worth it to see the old buildings that line the road some of which date back to the 12th/15th and 18th centuries.
NATIONAL SPACE CENTRE LEICESTER
For a day away from all the culture and history the UK has to offer why not visit the National Space Centre in Leicester. It is a great day out and there is lots to see and do including the fantastic planetarium show where you can not only travel out of the UK but to the furthest edges of the universe.
Read more | National Space Centre
The legendary home of Robin Hood and his Merry Men Nottingham is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. Wollaton Hall and Park, the City of Caves and of course a Robin hood Town Tour are must do’s in this Midlands city.
MATLOCK BATH AND THE HEIGHTS OF ABRAHAM
Just on the edge of the Peak District is the Derbyshire town of Matlock Bath. Visitors to this pretty Derbyshire town will find plenty of shops and cafes as well as the popular Heights of Abraham attraction.
Opened in the 1780’s the attraction can now be reached by cable car. Once at the summit enjoy a guided cavern tour or take a stroll through the woodlands and enjoy views of the surrounding countryside.
Matlock Bath itself was a popular tourist destination in the 19th century when wealthy Victorians would visit the town for the spa waters.
If you visit at a weekend you will find parking is at a premium as the town is a popular destination with bikers.
Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire the beautiful Chatsworth House and estate is an absolutely fantastic day out for all the family.
I recommend a visit to the farm shop which has some beautiful produce for sale.
There are also plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat. Afternoon tea at “The Flying Childers” is particularly delicious if you want a treat.
If you wish to spend longer exploring the estate and surrounding countryside why not stay in one of the three properties owned by the family?
KING RICHARD III VISITOR CENTRE IN LEICESTER
Recently located under a carpark in Leicester the remains of King Richard III are now on display in this excellent visitor centre in Leicester.
Find out about the story of Richard II, his rise to power and violent death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 during the war of the Roses.
Read more | King Richard III Visitor Centre Leicester
Situated near the village of Ticknall in the county of Derbyshire Calke Abbey is a Grade I listed country house and estate looked after by the National Trust. It perfectly illustrates the decline of the country estate during the 20th century when more and more families were unable to afford their upkeep.
There is always lots to do all year round at Calke Abbey including walks in the parkland (look for the deers), tours and other events.
Read more | Calke Abbey
The Tissington Trail follows the route of the former rail line 13 miles from Buxton to Asbourne in Derbyshire. The trail is flat and therefore perfect to cycle or walk. Horses are also allowed along the trail.
This is a perfect way to see the beautiful countryside of the Derbyshire Dales.
Read more | The Tissington Trail
MY TOP 10 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES IN THE WEST MIDLANDS INCLUDE
VISIT THE BIRTHPLACE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
A trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon is often high on the bucket list for visitors to England. William Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford and died there in 1616.
There are lots of great tour options to take in Stratford including a hop-on hop-off bus which takes you to all the important spots in Shakespeare’s life. I found that the easiest way to get around to see all the sights so do recommend it.
VISIT WARWICK CASTLE
There really are so many fantastic castles to visit in the UK but Warwick Castle is one of my favourites. With loads of activities on during the summer months including jousting tournaments, the dragon slayer show, birds of prey shows and more this is an absolute must visit.
Warwick is an easy day trip from London too and is a great stop off on a UK travel itinerary.
Read more | Warwick Castle
Irinbridge in Shropshire is named after the iron bridge that spans the river Severn. The bridge built in 1779 was the first to be constructed of iron anywhere in the world.
Ironbridge was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
VISIT BOURNVILLE AND CADBURY WORLD
The original 1879 site of the Cadbury brothers’ chocolate factory is in Bournville in Birmingham. Bournville (like Saltaire in Yorkshire) was a Victorian model village where workers at the Cadbury factory were provided with housing, schools, hospitals and other amenities.
There is a Bournville Heritage Walk around the area which details places to visit and points of interest. If chocolate is your thing then take a visit to Cadbury World and discover how chocolate is manufactured (and try some of the samples along the way)
BLACK COUNTRY LIVING MUSEUM
Like the wonderful Beamish Open Air Museum in the north of England the Black Country Living Museum gives visitors a sense of what life was like in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Costumed characters share stories of life in the area and shops and houses preserved in time really give a sense of what life was like in one of the world’s most heavily industrialised areas. There is so much to see at do at the Black Country Living Museum so prepare to spend the day there.
This was a favourite destination for school trips when I was a history teacher and if you have an interest in learning about life in England for thoe working classes this is an excellent museum to visit. Unfortunately not everyone lived in Downton Abbey or a country estate.
Read more | The Black Country Living Museum
BIRMINGHAM CITY CENTRE & CANALS
Did you know that Birmingham has more canals than Venice Italy? No me neither. With over 100 miles of canals Birmingham’s industrial heritage is undeniable. Head to the Mailbox where the Worcester and Birmingham Canal passes along the back of the building. There are some great bars and restaurants with lovely views overlooking the canal.
Read more | The Mailbox Birmingham
BURTON ON TRENT NATIONAL BREWERY CENTRE MUSEUM
If you like beer you will probably know that the town of Burton-on -Trent is synonymous with the brewery trade.
Burton was the home of the Bass family who played a vital role in the development of brewing. To find out more about the brewing process and the history of the trade in the town take a guided tour of the museum.
Read more | The National Brewery Centre
GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKET IN BIRMINGHAM
Since 1997 German traders have come to Birmingham for the annual Christmas market. It is recognIsed as the largest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria and is extremely popular particularly during evenings and weekends.
With more than 80 stalls and some tasty food options (think bratwurst, mulled cider, gluwien and weissbier) don’t miss the Christmas market in Birmingham from mid November to late December.
Read more | German Christmas Market
Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire is a Georgian mansion famous for its walled gardens and follies found in the beautiful grounds.
Shugborough Hall is owned by the National Trust
Read more | Shugborough Hall
MY TOP 10 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES IN SCOTLAND INCLUDE
(and yes it was incredibly difficult to only choose 10!)
Kelpies are mythical creatures who take the form of horses. The beautiful Kelpie statues can be found in Falkirk (half way between Edinburgh and Glasgow) are stunning and should be included into any Scottish travel itinerary.
Read more | A guide to visiting “The Kelpies”
There is so much to see and do in Edinburgh including visiting Edinburgh castle, walking the Royal Mile, shopping on Princes Street, and strolling the botanical gardens. Edinburgh is a great base for a weekend trip or for further travel into Scotland or Northumberland in England.
Plan to spend at least a couple of days in Edinburgh as there will be lots to include in your itinerary.
You can read more in my complete guide to visiting Edinburgh which includes itineraries, what to do and see and where to stay.
Read more | Edinburgh Castle
ISLE OF SKYE
A popular destination made even more famous following the success of the TV series “Outlander” the Isle of Skye is the largest island of the Inner Hebrides.
With stunning scenery and landscapes Skye is a nature lovers paradise. Don’t miss the Fairy Pools, the Old Man of Storr and a photo opportunity with some Highland cattle! Take the train to the Kyle of Lochalsh then a bus over to Skye or alternatively hire a car or take a tour.
Read more | The Isle of Skye
THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
Inverness, Loch Ness, Fort William, Aviemore, the Cairngorms National Park, Mallaig, Culloden, Wick….the list of what to see and places to visit in the Scottish Highlands is long. In fact I could easily put together an extensive bucket list for this area alone so along with some of the highlights (Skye, Urquhart Castle, the Glenfinnan Viaduct) I am placing the entire area into this list.
If you are planning to visit Scotland a trip to the Highlands should be on your itinerary. If you are pushed for time take a tour for a couple of days to see the highlights or if you have longer plan a car trip or rail journey. We have traveled extensively throughout Scotland by train and I will be publishing some recommended train travel itineraries for Scotland in the near future.
Read more | Day tour of the Highlands from Edinburgh
SPEYSIDE WHISKY TOUR
If you enjoy malt whisky a tour of the Speyside distilleries is a must. Speyside is one of 5 whisky making regions in Scotland and home to 50 distilleries (over half of Scotland’s distilleries and the famous Speyside Malt Whisky Trail.
Distilleries in Speyside include Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Dalwhinnie. The trail takes 3 days but if you want to relax and enjoy the whisky a guided tour is your best option.
Read more | Speyside Malt Whisky Trail
THE WEST HIGHLAND LINE GLASGOW TO FORT WILLIAM AND THE GLENFINNAN VIADUCT
One of the most scenic train rides in the UK is the West Highland Line between Glasgow and Fort William. Catch the Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig (often described as the best train journey in the world) and cross the Glenfinnan viaduct made famous worldwide after appearing in a number of Harry Potter films.
TIP – If you plan to book the Jacobite (which only runs during the summer months) it is essential to do this as early as possible as it can be fully booked for months ahead.
Read more | The Jacobite
The Orkeys are located of the northeastern shores of Scotland. Famous for seals, puffins and Neolithic sites the islands are high on my UK bucket list. Highlights include Scapa Flow, the Old Man of Hoy and Skara Brae.
Take a road trip to the Orkneys or alternatively into Kirkwall wth Loganair from the main Scottish airports.
It is also possible to travel to the Orkneys via train and bus with connections to ferry services to the islands.
Read more | The Orkneys
LOCH NESS AND CASTLE URQUHART
Situated 21 kms south of Inverness don’t miss beautiful Loch Ness. I recommend driving around the loch and stopping off along the way to enjoy the spectacular scenery. Castle Urquhart, once Scotland’s largest castle stands on the banks of the Loch and is a must for any visitor.
Alternatively take a cruise along the Loch.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the Loch’s famous alleged resident – Nessie!
Read more | Loch Ness cruise
LOCH LOMOND & THE TROSSACHS NATIONAL PARK
Located in southern Scotland Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park offer visitors stunning scenery and picturesque villages. The loch is the largest inland stretch of water in Britain.
Read more | Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
Stirling Castle in Stirling is one of Scotland’s most famous castles. Associated with Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce the castle has played an important role in Scottish history and independence.
Read more | Stirling Castle tickets
MY TOP 10 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES IN WALES INCLUDE
The UNESCO World Heritage Conwy Castle is a medieval fortress that overlooks the town of Conwy in Wales. Built over 700 years ago by Edward I don’t miss a walk around the battlements for views of the town and Snowdonia.
Read more | Conwy Castle
The Welsh capital is the largest city in the country and easily reached by train for a day trip. Main attractions include Cardiff Castle and a boat trip around Cardiff Bay.
If you are a fan of the TV series Dr Who don’t miss one of the tours which highlight areas around the city that have featured in the series.
Read more | Cardiff Dr Who tour
Located in north-west Wales the castle was used for the investiture of the Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) in 1969.
The castle is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd”
SNOWDONIA NATIONAL PARK
Situated in north-west Wales Snowdonia is home to Mount Snowdon which, at 2,560 feet, is the highest mountain in Wales. There is loads to do for outdoor adventure lovers including hiking, cycling, climbing, golfing and water sports.
Snowdonia is home to numerous zip wires including the fastest in the world – Velocity 2 which takes you at speeds over 100mph over the Penrhyn Quarry. Book early to avoid disappointment as this is a popular activity.
For train lovers take a ride to the top of Snowdonia on the Snowdonia Mountain Railway. The train runs from mid-March until the last weekend in October (weather permitting) I would recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment.
RAILWAY STATION – LLANFAIR…GOGOGOCH
This is a question often found in uk pub quizzes! Probably the most famous train station in the UK the station (and town) with the longest name in Europe is on my bucket list as has been for a few years. Who doesn’t want to have a photo next to the sign?
The station is a request stop on the main line between Holyhead and Bangor.
FFESTINIOG AND WELSH HIGHLANDS RAILWAY
The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways take you for 40 scenic miles through the Snowdonia National Park.
The Ffestiniog Railway runs from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog on the world’s oldest narrow-gauge railway while the Welsh Highlands Railway runs for 25 miles from Caernarfon to Porthmadog.
Read more | Ffestiniog and Welsh Highlands Railway
Built between 1925 and 1975 this village in North Wales featured in the famous 1960’s TV series “The Prisoner”. Built to emulate an Italian village by architect Clough Williams-Ellis there are hotels, cottages, spas, restaurants, gardens and cafes to explore.
Read more | Portmeirion
Anglesey is an island off the northwest coast of Wales. Famous for its ancient monuments and sites Anglesey is reached from the mainland over the Menai Suspension Bridge.
Take a walk along parts of the 125 mile Anglesey Coast Path much of which is classed as an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Read more | Visiting Anglesey
This coastal town in north Wales is famous for its 19th century pier. A classic British seaside town LLadudno has been popular with holidaymakers since Victorian times.
Read more | Visit Llandudno
MY TOP 10 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES IN NORTHERN IRELAND INCLUDE
A UNESCO World Heritage Site the Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland is one of the most popular tourist attractions with over 1 million visitors a year. Whilst the famous basalt columns are free to view parking is only available to those who purchase tickets for the full visitor experience to this National trust site at the visitor’s centre.
Arrive early or later in the day to avoid the crowds.
Read more | The Giant’s Causeway
LUSTY BEG ISLAND
Lust Beg Island was nominated by my husband for this list and it is somewhere I have yet to visit. The island resort is reached by ferry (nearest town is Enniskillen) and is a perfect destination for those looking for rest and relaxation.
Read more | Lusty Beg Island
BELFAST TITANIC MUSEUM
Built in Belfast the most famous ship that ever sailed (and sank) the Titanic is honoured with its own museum in the city. Find out about the ship and its fateful journey at the world’s largest Titanic exhibition.
Read more | Belfast Titanic Museum
Fans of Game of Thrones will recognise this avenue of beech trees! The Dark Hedges area located between the villages of Armoy and Stranocum in County Antrim.
Avoiding the crowds will be difficult as the Dark Hedges are incredibly popular with everyone trying to take that iconic shot (with no one else in it). Probably not possible during the summer months so arrive early or late in the day before the tours buses arrive!
The rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede connects the island with the mainland. Due to the popularity of the bridge there is a timed ticketing system in place so booking in advance is recommended.
If you have a fear of heights this rope bridge is not for you as it is suspended 30 metres above the water!
Read more | National Trust Carrick-a Rede
This ruined medieval castle can be found along the coast of County Antrim. Dramatically perched on a cliff overlooking the sea if you enjoy taking photographs of ruined but beautiful buildings this is an absolute must visit.
There is a small entrance fee.
Read more | Dunluce Castle
Mussenden Temple is located near Castlerock in County Londonderry. Built in 1785 as a summer library cliff erosion is recent year has left the temple perilously close to the edge. Cliff stabilisation work was completed 20 years ago by the National Trust to prevent the loss of this iconic structure.
Apparently the Temple and surrounding area are one of the most photographed scenes in Ireland.
Read more | Mussenden Temple
Castle Ward is a National Trust property in County Down. The mansion famously built in both gothic and classical styles was used as a film location for Game of Thrones with its historic farmyard appearing as Winterfell in the series.
Read more | Castle Ward
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Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!