Your UK Trip Planner: Where to Start for First Time Visitors to England and Beyond

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Welcome to your UK trip planner! Whether it’s your first time visiting England or whether you’re going to branch out into each of the countries that make up the UK, here’s where you can get started.

We’ve broken things down into trip planning highlights and then will signpost you off to where you need to go and what you need to do. Let’s get started!

London Eye by Abigail King inside the Travel Lab
Photographs from central London in the United Kingdom.

Your UK Trip Planning Guide

First, start with the type of trip you’d like to have.

City Breaks

City breaks are a brilliant option for those keen to soak up the sights and immerse themselves in culture.

The UK offers a diverse range of options for those looking to plan a city break. London is the most obvious place to start. The captivating capital is one of the most popular cities in the world and it’s not hard to see why. There’s a never-ending list of things to see and do and the ‘Big Smoke’ caters to travellers with a wide range of interests. Attractions include museums, galleries, castles, palaces and landmarks, but it’s also worth getting off the beaten tourist track. Walking tours are a great way to see parts of the city that don’t always make it into the guidebooks and discover spots that are popular among locals.

Away from London, the North of England offers warm hospitality and an impressive selection of sights and attractions. Visit Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and Liverpool to embrace a love of sport and music, or indulge a passion for history in Chester, York or Durham.

North of the border, Edinburgh is a fabulous choice for tourists looking for a blend of history and cool, contemporary city living.

For those searching for locations in Wales, Cardiff is the place to be for high-profile sports competitions and clashes between titans, live music and shopping. Nestled on the Pembrokeshire coastline, St David’s is the UK’s smallest city. It offers an idyllic base to combine sightseeing with outdoor adventures and relaxation.

UK - England - Cornwall coastal landscape
Cornwall: luring first time visitors to the UK for years…

The Great Outdoors

Spending time in the great outdoors is proven to boost mental health, and it also provides incredible opportunities to enjoy spectacular views and breathtaking scenery.

If you’re interested in active pursuits, such as cycling, wild swimming, climbing, kayaking or rafting, you’re an enthusiastic rambler, artist or photographer, or you’re keen to escape it all, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

Popular spots to enjoy outdoor adventures include the Lake District, the Peak District, Dartmoor, Pembrokeshire, Snowdonia and the Cairngorms. Depending on when you visit, you can try a raft of activities from mountain biking and hiking to caving, canoeing and skiing. 

ng ruins at Sudeley Castle
Tumbling ruins at Sudeley Castle

Historical sights and attractions

The UK has a rich history and there is a huge selection of attractions to choose from. If you’re keen to travel back in time or learn more about folklore, why not take a trip to Loch Ness and see if you can spot Nessie, watch the sunrise at Stonehenge, or marvel at the Crown Jewels on display at The Tower of London?

Follow in the footsteps of the Romans and take a walk along Hadrian’s Wall or explore the many country houses and stately homes featured in TV shows, books and films. Examples include Lyme Park, Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth House, Harewood House, Stoke Park, Highclere Castle and Hatfield House. 

There are more than 4,000 castles scattered across the UK. You could easily spend weeks touring castles, but if you’re short on time, the most popular historical sites include Hever Castle, Warwick Castle, Alnwick Castle, Caernarfon Castle, Dover Castle and Windsor Castle. 

UK - England - Cornwall beach and rocks
You’ll find gorgeous sandy beaches in Devon, Cornwall and Wales

Beach holidays

Hitting the beach may not be the first thing that comes to mind when visiting the UK, but seaside breaks are a popular choice for travellers of all ages. The weather may not always play ball, but there are some beautiful beaches on offer.

For family-friendly, slow-paced beach holidays, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset are fabulous choices. Here, you can enjoy sweeping golden sand beaches, charming towns and villages and easy access to water sports and outdoor activities. In the South West, you can escape the crowds and enjoy tranquillity at small beaches and secluded coves or soak up the atmosphere in bustling towns like Newquay, Truro and Salcombe.

Discover the rugged coastlines, learn to surf or enjoy the vistas from the comfort of a holiday cottage, hotel lounge or traditional tea room with a good book and a cup of tea. 

For a quintessential resort stay, head to Blackpool, Skegness, Minehead or Bournemouth, or discover the bright lights of Brighton.

Brighton is an eclectic, vibrant city, with a progressive edge and enormous sense of character. There’s a huge range of things to do during the day, as well as a lively nightlife scene. History and art aficionados should head to The Lanes and book a tour of the famous Brighton Pavilion. 

Yescapa - UK Campervan Routes - woman reading on the beach in campervan
Yescapa© – Explore the UK another way

Road trips

Road trips are a brilliant way to see the UK. If you plan an itinerary, you have control of the distances you cover and the pace at which you travel. You can move from one place to the next, scheduling stops to visit attractions or take a break. If you’re looking for inspiration, popular road trip itineraries include Snowdonia to Anglesey, Lake District road trip, the Atlantic Highway, the Yorkshire circuit and North Coast 500 Scotland. 

If you’re planning to get off the motorways and explore scenic routes, it’s always wise to plan in advance. Plot the route on a map, use satellite navigation and make sure you know where to stop for fuel. Stock up on water and snacks, pack a first aid kit and ensure you have plenty of layers, warm clothes and waterproofs. Check the weather forecast and make sure the route is open before you travel. In the winter months, it’s common for small roads in the hills, mountains and valleys to shut.

UK - Somerset - Sunrise Cottage - Sunrise Cottage Entrance

Planning a Trip to the UK

The UK offers awe-inspiring adventures for travellers with a diverse range of interests and passions. If you’re planning to visit the UK, or you’re a Brit and you’re hoping to explore new places, there’s a stunning array of destinations to discover. From historical sites, landmarks and bustling cities to national parks, beaches, seaside resorts and picturesque villages, there’s something for everyone.

Hopefully, this guide will have helped you to start planning your trip to the UK. Read on for more, much more…