March 1

The Best Places to Visit in England You Need to Know

England

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

Striding across towards Westminster with a carry on suitcase in London

London

A global city that speaks more than 300 languages and has more than 2000 years of documented (and tangible) history, London is a world class city and travel destination all on its own. 

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. 

UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO IN LONDON
72 HOUR ITINERARY IN LONDON
WHERE TO STAY IN LONDON


Royal Circus Bath - staying in Circus House


BATH

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.

Suspension bridge in Bristol England

The striking suspension bridge in Bristol England

BRISTOL

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.

UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO IN BRISTOL
Brighton pier in England

Brighton pier in England

BRIGHTON

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.

Cambridge punting on the river

Punting along the river Cam in Cambridge England

CAMBRIDGE

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. 

Oxford University England indoor image

OXFORD

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.

Beautiful areas of natural beauty text fuide for England

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.

View from Northleach in the Cotswolds - part of a Cotswolds weekend itinerary

Northleach in the Cotswolds: Home of J.K. Rowling's Casual Vacancy

THE COTSWOLDS

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.

Lake district view at sunrise

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.  

Puzzlewood - things to do in the Forest of Dean

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. 

THINGS TO DO IN THE FOREST OF DEAN
Things to do in Harrogate, the Turkish Baths

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.

THINGS TO DO IN HARROGATE TO RELAX AND RECHARGE 
Stone arch of Durdledoor in Cornwall dips into the sea

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.

Dramatic cliffs at Bridport the Broadchurch location on the Jurassic Coast of England

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.

Did you enjoy this article on the best places to visit in England? Do you have any other places you'd like to add?


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About the author

Abi King

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Find out more.

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