When it comes to the best places to visit in England, it's hard to know where to start. Roman ruins, the wild outdoors, thatched cottages, rolling hills, the birth of punk... Welcome to your starter kit for exploring the best places in England.
THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN ENGLAND FOR THE “WOW” FACTOR
Find a mix of rich history, outstanding natural beauty, art galleries, cobbled streets, castles and UNESCO World Heritage to boot.
THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN ENGLAND: THE CITIES
Like millions of others, I was born here, studied here and worked here and it remains one of my favourite cities after all these years of travel.
BUT. The mistake I see made is that people come to visit London and leave it at that.
Beautiful Bath bathes in honey-gold stone and the legacy of Jane Austen and the Romans. Quite literally. There are Roman Baths right in the centre of this pretty city.
Unlike so many places in England, Bath's city centre and attractions are compact. Many visitors zip in from London and back but it's a stretch. If at all possible, I'd recommend spending at least two nights here as a gorgeous weekend break.
The striking suspension bridge in Bristol England
Bristol's city life has been ruled by navigation, in the shipyards where Isambaard Kingdom Brunel designed and built world record shattering feats of engineering to the Bristol Museum of Aviation where Concord now rests.
But it's also an edgy, arty city, full of controversial artists, like Banksy, vegan eateries and a thriving music scene.
Brighton pier in England
Salty in more ways than one, Brighton marches onto England's pebbly southern shore beneath a rainbow flag and quest for reinvention. It houses Victorian grandeur like the Royal Pavilion, subversive sweets like Brighton Rock and the country's only Green MP.
Punting along the river Cam in Cambridge England
The other city of Dreaming Spires where Sir Isaac Newton worked out gravity, Watson & Crick discovered the secret of DNA and, well, I spent a great time there as a student in my youth (!)
Compact and walkable, Cambridge works as a day trip from London, although, as ever, you'll see more and find more if you can manage to stay overnight.
Inexplicably the more famous of England's two old university towns ;-) Worth visiting in its own right, Oxford also serves as a gateway to the Cotswolds, an expanse of rolling green and thatch. At a push, you can also visit Oxford as a day trip from London. Once you're there, enjoy these gorgeous walks around Oxford.
Beautiful areas of natural beauty in England (AONB)
THE BEST AREAS TO VISIT IN ENGLAND FOR NATURAL BEAUTY
From rolling hills to death-drop cliff falls, England excels at natural beauty. There are even designated areas, somewhat unimaginatively titled Areas of Natural Beauty.
Northleach in the Cotswolds: Home of J.K. Rowling's Casual Vacancy
The Cotswolds in south central England mix hills and meadows with quaint market towns and honeystone walls. This area is perfect for walkers and cyclists, with plenty of award-winning hotels, pubs and many festivals.
The Lake District: Natural Beauty and Poetry
THE LAKE DISTRICT
In the northwest of England, the expansive Lake District National Park basks in the glory of its World Heritage Site Status awarded in 2017. Between the many hills, woodland, and valleys, poetry and heritage from Wordsworth drifts through.
With so many beautiful landscapes to chose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Check out this guide to the best walks in the Lake District to start finding your bearings.
Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean
THE FOREST OF DEAN
The Forest of Dean is a more quiet nature experience for outdoor lovers. Tucked in between Bristol and Wales, it is characterised by dense forests, historic mining operations, mystical walkways and some surprisingly good food.
You'll find fantastic cycle paths, kayaking routes and hiking trails.
The Turkish Baths
THE YORKSHIRE DALES
At the other end of the country lies North Yorkshire, Harrogate and the Yorkshire Dales.
Beloved by the Russian Tzars and murder-mystery genius Agatha Christie, Harrogate became a world famous spa destination and scenic location. The water contained iron, sulphur and sea salt. The countryside filled out with the deep valleys and winding roads of the Dales. Cycling and hiking through the heather moorland continues to attract visitors today. The sour tasting water, not so much.
Wild Cornwall and Clotted Cream Devon Wow Travellers Time and Again
DEVON AND CORNWALL
Back in the southwest, the bays and seaside towns of Devonshire and Cornwall charm in a clotted cream and cider kind of way.
Lots of Natural Drama on England's Jurassic Coast
THE JURASSIC COAST WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Running 95 miles from East Devon to Dorset, the Jurassic coast earns its World Heritage status and wears it with pride.
This coastline is truly stunning and is, not surprisingly, one of the most popular destinations in Britain. Iconic towns speckle themselves along the coast, amid fossils and skyscraper steep cliffs. With many of the towns and villages connected, cycling is very popular, along with fossil hunting and hiking.
The Rest of the United Kingdom
Don't forget the rest of the UK! This article may be about the best places to visit in England, but don't forget about Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
More on Travel in England
- How to plan the perfect Cotswolds weekend itinerary
- The Old Stocks Inn Review: A Design Hotel in the Cotswolds
- Quite simply, the best places to visit in England
- A luxurious retreat and acres of things to do in the Forest of Dean
- Short on time? How to travel from London to Bath as a day trip
- The best things to do in Harrogate, the spa town of the North
- Exploring Symonds Yat Rock (Yes, It's a Real Place)
- The best things to do in Kingston upon Thames
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