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Boasting a diverse scenery and rich cultural heritage, the United Kingdom is home to historic cities, excellent museums and medieval castles. Comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom offers a mix of modern attractions with centuries-old landmarks. From the big city buzz of London to the picturesque countryside in the Lake District, here are the best places to visit in the United Kingdom.
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The nation’s sprawling capital, London is a fascinating city filled with history, where you can explore beautiful green parks, world-class museums and art galleries and explore iconic landmarks such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. Walk along the banks of the Thames to admire the Tower Bridge, visit Michelin-starred restaurants or head to Trafalgar Square to see the National Portrait Gallery.
Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s most captivating cities, popular for its well-preserved historic buildings and majestic Edinburgh Castle. Admire the Gothic buildings and the UNESCO-listed Old Town before visiting the Royal Palace to marvel at the Scottish Crown Jewels, or explore the city’s buzzing nightlife scene that unfolds when the sun goes down. Make sure to see the Royal Mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, while Princes Street is known for shopping and dining.
A walled city with a rich heritage, York is a picturesque city where the River Foss meets the River Ouse. York Minster is the city’s crown jewel, as this commanding stone cathedral that dates back to the 3rd century is filled with stunning pieces of art. See the City Walls that stretch three miles around the old medieval city centre, which offer stunning views over The Shambles and its timber-framed buildings.
You’ll be mesmerized by the 300 miles of blustery coastline in Cornwall, as its secluded beaches and flower-filled meadows create the perfect backdrop for a day of surfing or bodyboarding. Its charming ambiance is reflected in its rugged landscapes, while artists flock to the area to gather inspiration from its rolling sand dunes, craggy cliffs and medieval architecture.
Offering some of the most picturesque landscapes in the entire United Kingdom, the Lake District is nestled in northwest England in the county of Cumbria. Dotted with lakes, mountains and hills, the area’s lush green valleys and sprawling woodlands are considered an outdoor lover’s paradise. With 2,000 miles of scenic trails, the area is best explored on foot and you can take respite in the area’s charming towns and villages.
An eclectic seaside city with restored piers, family-friendly games and classic British beaches, Brighton has plenty to explore. From the exotic Royal Pavilion and its Indian styled exterior to the modern British Airways i360 that takes you 450 feet in the air, both kids and adults will enjoy this city. Meander down the Brighton Pier, indulge in a day of kayaking or hire a bike and see the beautiful countryside of South Downs.
Just a short jaunt from London’s city center sits Windsor, a picturesque town with medieval half-timbered buildings that sit alongside old cobblestone laneways. Nestled in its center is the Windsor Castle, which is one of the most famous castles in the United Kingdom, serving as the summer residence for British Royalty for a millennium. Families can enjoy the kid-friendly attractions at Legoland Windsor, while those looking for an exciting day out can visit the Royal Ascot.
A charming English city sitting along the River Cam, Cambridge has all the cultural and entertainment options you’d expect from a university town. Take a walk through the United Kingdom’s largest collection of preserved historic buildings, where you can admire the splendid Gothic architecture at the King’s College Chapel, go punting along the river or explore the stunning grounds of Cambridge University.
Oxford is a beautiful city with plenty of attractions to explore the city’s architecture, history and culture. Visit the University of Oxford to see scenes from Harry Potter, climb the University Church’s tower to see the city from above, then explore the Pitt Rivers Museum to see archaeological and ethnographic items from around the world. Before you leave, make sure to have a drink at the Eagle and Child, a famous meeting spot for J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
The capital city of Northern Ireland, Belfast boasts warm Irish hospitality and a wealth of attractions. Visit the Titanic Building to learn all about the famous ship, marvel at an Egyptian mummy in the Ulster Museum, then visit the Botanic Gardens to see a beautiful display of tropical plants. Make sure to take a Black Cab Tour to see the famous murals and peace walls or explore the Belfast Castle that dates back to 1870.
Considered the United Kingdom’s rural gem, the beautiful Cotswolds is one of the most photographed corners of the country. Visit this area to experience the true ambiance of rural English life and admire its quaint villages through the extensive trail network. It’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors, with horseback riding, biking and hiking popular activities, while farmers markets and orchards give you a taste of the local culture.
Liverpool is best known for its strong association with the Beatles. While music fans are lured in by the city’s Beatles-related landmarks such as the Cavern Club where they debuted in 1961, there are other great reasons to explore this city, such as its picturesque gardens and parks. You can also enjoy great cultural gems like the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the Museum of Liverpool and the Walker Art Gallery.
Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow is beloved for its culture, style and welcoming locals. You’ll find a collection of internationally-acclaimed museums and galleries to explore, while its stunning Victorian architecture, cutting-edge arts scene and vibrant nightlife will lure you in to experience its energetic atmosphere. Known for its wealth of performances and concerts on offer, the city boasts a long-standing reputation for its impressive live music scene.
The capital of Wales, Cardiff impresses with its endless array of activities on offer. Soak up the picturesque views at Cardiff Bay, browse the quirky shops in ornate arcades, and take a step back in time at the 11th century Cardiff Castle. Make sure to visit Millennium Stadium, considered an architectural landmark in the city, where you can pick up Wales’ rugby union souvenirs at the shop alongside.