20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in United Kingdom
Crowned by the dazzling Palace of Westminster, London is a vibrant blend of ancient and modern. Visitors can experience the vibrant atmosphere of Piccadilly Circus, shop in the ritzy boutiques of Knightsbridge, and marvel at the massive stained glass window at St. Paul's Cathedral.
Discover the best tourist attractions in London with our top 10 attractions in the city. From the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and the London Eye to art galleries, museums, palaces, and secret gardens, there's something here for everyone. And although the British are known for their sense of humor, don't forget to admire their culture: The UK produces the best English football team (if not the best soccer team in the world), the best style (think Harvey Wallbangers, fish 'n' chips, and M&Ms) and the best TV shows (Downton Abbey, anyone?).
With more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country, the UK is a fascinating tour full of the classic destinations, from charming heritage towns to majestic castles and breathtaking landscapes. And if you want to see the UK's best sights in just a few days, you can do it in just one. Plan your trip with our list of the top tourist attractions in the UK.
Home to the reigning monarch, the sprawling fortress known as Windsor Castle sits above an arm of the River Thames. The main attraction is Windsor Castle, a magnificent 15th-century building set on a vast foreboding site with a history going back centuries. Originally the Norman fortress built on the hill, the castle's present structure is largely the result of Victorian additions. However, many of the castle's most popular and original structures are open to the public. Most interesting is the state apartments, which offer visitors a chance to view the changing royal portraits of the family's members. Close to Windsor is Great Windsor Park, a verdant valley that is home to the Royal Family's safari and much of the palace grounds. Additional highlights include Windsor Castle, an excellent zoo and the Batsford Arboretum, home to trees more than 500 years old and the oldest Tudor beech in the United Kingdom. The town of Windsor is well-connected to London via the A318.
Scotland's capital has not been spared the charms of time. Besides offering fine views and the chance to appreciate how one of the world's oldest royal capitals has seen it all, Edinburgh Castle also provides a unique experience with its spectacular setting, and its medieval prisoners' dungeons, packed with lots of real life stories, are the stuff of which legends are made. Every year, 200,000 to 400,000 people visit Edinburgh Castle, which was built by Scottish King William the Lion in the 12th century to protect the capital of Scotland. Edinburgh Castle, which took its current appearance in the 15th century, houses several museums including the Regimental Museum of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, which details the history of one of Britain's oldest regiments.
Westminster Abbey is one of London's most stunningly beautiful buildings. Dating from the 12th century, this ecclesiastical edifice is considered one of the world's most famous cathedrals. Built over two centuries, the Abbey is an opulent and beautiful example of gothic architecture. It is one of the world's finest examples of a medieval cathedral, and houses the tombs of kings and queens, members of the royal family and some of the world's most significant religious figures. In addition to its religious connection, the Abbey also has a long political and cultural history. In fact, since 1199, the site has also been home to the House of Commons and, from 1547 to 1660, it was the site of the monarchy. Among the impressive displays in the abbey are two royal tombs. The most important of these is that of the monarch William the Conqueror, who was the first king of England. The most famous occupant, however, is probably Thomas Becket, who became Archbishop of Canterbury after the murder of the King's favorite and whom William canonized, making him a saint. The abbey has its own resident choir, and there are regular choral events which take place on Saturdays. One of these, which are a highlight of the Abbey's calendar, is the Evensong in the Abbey.
Officially the largest Ferris wheel in the world, the London Eye has taken seven years to complete and can be seen from most of London, albeit from the central and southern parts of the city. Rising 198 meters from the banks of the River Thames, its spectacular 87 meters in diameter, the wheel contains 32 capsules that open to reveal views of the London skyline and beyond. Its five-story observation deck provides visitors with panoramic views of the city and beyond. Upon boarding, visitors enter through the world's first revolving bar. If you choose to pay an additional 50 pounds per person, you can have a drink or two. After closing time, the bar shuts and the wheel continues to turn without any passengers for an hour, allowing everyone to experience the London skyline in all its glory. Visitors can also ride the wheel on a bike. Although it is a bit out of the way, the London Eye is by far the best value sightseeing ticket for money, allowing you to ride the wheel for just a few pounds, as opposed to the eye-watering 50 pounds. The London Eye can be reached from Embankment, the Strand and the South Bank.
Originally the earliest Christian cathedral in the country, Canterbury was founded in AD 604 and has been a place of worship ever since. Highlights of the cathedral include the ancient 7-meter-high Romanesque west front, one of the world's finest; the 12th century Carolingian Palace and the original Norman crypt. The West Gate, a magnificent 12th-century structure, is decorated with numerous mosaics of biblical figures and scenes of flowers and animals. At the north end of the cloister, there's an unusual painted oak shrine that was donated to the cathedral by Henry II in 1180.
Buckingham Palace in London is a series of buildings, on various sites, surrounding a vast courtyard that contains various royal apartments. What began as a small 14th-century palace has grown over the years to include additions such as the Hanoverian Wing, East Wing, Library, and South Gardens. It was rebuilt as the residence of the sovereign after fire destroyed the medieval palace in 1697 and the work continued until 1837. Some of the highlights of a visit include the King's Gallery, with portraits of the current monarchs; the State Dining Room; the Throne Room, where the Queen and members of the Royal Family meet; and the Grand Staircase, which leads to the grand entrance hall. Following the opening of Buckingham Palace Park in 1845, much of the palace itself became open to the public in 1847, although the King remained the sole user until he moved back to the palace in 1925.
St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral, London's famous Anglican cathedral, was completed in 1675 to replace a wooden structure in the 15th century, destroyed by fire. Notable landmarks include its massive twin towers and stained-glass clerestory windows. Inside is a grand and striking wooden ceiling decorated with hundreds of painted panels, intricately detailed along with a gilded gallery above the altar. Outside the cathedral is the famous Abbey Road, with the original psychedelic graphic of the Beatles song etched on the sidewalk. Other famous landmarks include Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, and Victoria Station. This is an important transport hub and is served by the Eurostar train service to Paris. The London Eye is also here and is Europe's tallest observation wheel.
Kew Gardens in southwest London is the largest public botanical garden in Europe and has more than 200,000 different plants, some of them rare and some endangered. In addition to conserving and showcasing over 10,000 species of flowering plants from around the world, it contains greenhouses which house plants from all over the world, as well as unique tropical plants. The Kew Palace is a Renaissance-style villa built by William III. Open for tours twice a week, the residence includes a small number of pictures and a display on the history of the area, both of which are a good introduction to the gardens and the wildlife and fauna in the surrounding areas.
In the 1700s, Sir Walter Scott wrote of Glenfinnan, the 'Giant's Glen,' where a great castle stands on a cliff over the thundering Atlantic. The famous castle, originally built to protect traders from Cooley Peninsula and nearby Ardnamurchan Point in Scotland's western Highlands, is well worth a visit today and is now a popular spot for walkers and photographers. Designed and built in 1747, the castle has a reputation for being Scotland's most haunted building, and the rooms have been used for a number of movie shoots, including the BBC's Braveheart and Enduring Love starring Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom. On the Scottish west coast, it's easy to get around by train, bus, or even on foot, although those from the south have to drive to reach the village. Fort William is served by many local services and is easily reached from London by ferry, train, or air.
Tyne Bridge (Tyneside Spine) is an elegant concrete bridge that links Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Gateshead across the River Tyne. The unique design of the bridge was inspired by the famous Colossus of Rhodes, a 31-meter-high statue of the sun god Helios erected on the Island of Rhodes around 280 BC. Opened in 1894, the bridge is part of the rebuilt Tyne Bridge development, and today a must-see if visiting Newcastle. Highlights of a visit include the magnificent exterior - the bridge is lined with a cast-iron gable and the bottom carries huge blocks and figures from both Northumberland and County Durham. Step inside the base of the bridge where photos are available to take as a souvenir of your visit, or wait until the later opening hours of sunset for great views across the Tyne to Tyne Dock.
Big Ben is a 340-meter-high (1,115 ft.) clock tower in the centre of London. While it doesn't have as much history as the others, the huge bronze bell that was donated to the Houses of Parliament in 1858 has been the subject of numerous legends. Built between 1856 and 1859, Big Ben's official name is Elizabeth Tower. You can climb to the top for amazing views, but the best way to see Big Ben in action is to visit one of the tours. Tours are usually given daily between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm, from just £4. To get to Big Ben you must take a tour. Tickets can be bought in advance from the Houses of Parliament Information Centre or from the tubes in Green Park, Trafalgar Square and Victoria.
A visit to Chester Zoo is the best way to experience the wildlife and diversity of the United Kingdom. The zoo has a wide range of animals in close proximity. The zoo is divided into four sections, that are best seen on foot, including the open enclosures, arboretum and mountain walk. One of the most popular attractions at the zoo is the Penguin Beach, an open enclosure with African penguins. It's located on the southern side of the park, and visitors can get close enough to touch the giant birds. Also popular at the zoo is the Kangaroo Walk, which allows visitors the chance to get up close and personal with the kangaroos. They're contained in a walkway surrounded by the park's gardens, which allow visitors to walk along paths with the kangaroos on both sides.
If you haven't been to Blackpool, it's time you got around to doing so. Its spectacular coastline, its colorful Pier, its historic past, its endless attractions...Blackpool has it all. Walk the Promenade in the bustling resorts of North Shore and South Shore before strolling down World's Fair Way to enjoy a sight of its wonderful sea front. At the center of Blackpool is Blackpool Tower, a massive steel structure on the promenade which overlooks the entire city. It is best seen at night and offers amazing views of the water and city. Other attractions to check out are Blackpool Zoo, the famous Pleasure Beach and the Blackpool Tower Circus.
Part of the celebrated redevelopment of London's business district, The Shard boasts stunning views over the River Thames and Tower Bridge from its viewing gallery. The tallest building in the European Union when it opened, it's the centerpiece of the "Shard," a glass-domed, multi-tower development next to the Tate Modern gallery. Highlights of a visit include the views and skyline view. Outside, a multitude of rooftops and balconies decorated in glass and chrome look down on the Thames. Meanwhile, inside, the IMAX cinema and observation areas on the 82nd floor are large enough to take in the vistas across London. There are five bars, an internet cafe, several cafés and a gallery to look at. For the views on a clear day, the Sky Garden terrace is a good bet. To reach the building, you can take the tube or bus to Westminster or the Shard itself, or take the funicular railway to the building. A cable car can take you to the viewing gallery, located on level 88, and a liftshaft takes you all the way to the observation decks on levels 85 and 85. Visitors also can take the stairs to the viewing galleries on levels 60 to 79. Check the website for times and prices.
The capital city of Western Australia, Perth is the cultural and commercial center of the state. With over one million people, it is the fourth-largest city in Australia and its major port. The main attractions in the city center are the imposing hotel towers that punctuate the skyline. The most prominent of these are Hotel InterContinental and The Perth Hotel, while the country's first skyscraper, the 63-story Hilton, was completed in 1988. A number of other notable buildings have been constructed in recent years, including the General Post Office and Bank of New South Wales, built to resemble two royal breasts. There is also plenty of open space and green areas to relax in, including the Swan River which flows past the central business district. A walk along the river is particularly beautiful on clear days when it is possible to see the gaily colored hydrofoils on the Swan River. One of the most distinctive landmarks in the city is "Pink Palace", the magnificent Art Deco Perth City Art Gallery, which, despite its pink facade, is actually clad in cream-color tiles. The surrounding buildings and landscaping offer a lush oasis in the city, set as it is in an undulating landscape between the Darling Scarp to the east and the Darling Range to the west.
Tintagel Castle, a set of 14 round stone towers located on the north coast of Cornwall in England, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United Kingdom. The Norman fortress was built by the duke of Normandy and stands on the site of the Arthurian castle that was home to King Arthur and his knights in Arthurian legend.
A visit to Cheddar Gorge brings to life a lost world, as the area lies at the bottom of a huge ravine in the Mendip Hills, South West England. Deep below the river valley is an astounding limestone gorge filled with steep river walls, disused mines, and interesting rock formations. At the southern end of the gorge lies Cheddar village, where there are caves to explore, forts to climb and gourmet delis to enjoy. The Cheddar Music Festival is held here in June.
Churchill War Rooms
Built in 1938, this underground room was used by prime ministers Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee during the Second World War to keep Britain's resolve to defeat the Germans a secret. The venue is a national museum and includes exhibits on World War II, including the Cabinet Room at the heart of the bunker, which is preserved as it was in 1945, and a special bunker section set up to exhibit Churchill's private quarters. Visitors can also get a glimpse of the workings of the famously secret-keeping wartime office by entering a replica of Churchill's study. In the room itself are displays about the history of the war, including the declaration of war by the House of Commons, the gas masks used by Churchill and Attlee during an air raid, and an extensive archive of items found in Churchill's desk at the time of his resignation. A faithful audio-visual rendition of Churchill's most famous speeches offers visitors the chance to eavesdrop on many of the war leader's most important speeches, as the real Churchill was confined to bed during his time in office.
Loch Ness is the most famous body of water in the Scottish Highlands and was first sighted in 1822 by American naturalist Sir Walter Scott from his horse near the village of Inverness. Its reputation for monsters and mystery has endured for generations and visitors today flock to the area in droves to walk along the shores, investigate lochside dwellings, and soak in the centuries-old atmosphere. On one of Scotland's most historic routes, the A82, visitors can spend the night at one of several luxurious hotels or at one of the simple lodges dotted along the area's scenic roads. Attractions in the area include Foyers Glen and the medieval town of Inverness, an old walled city of narrow, winding streets, with Norman and Victorian ruins. There is also the town of Fort Augustus, which serves as the hub for Loch Ness tours, while at the other end of the road are Loch Ness and the bewitching, soaring peaks of Cairngorm Mountain, the highest in Scotland. The area is also home to several castles, including Urquhart Castle, which is considered the best-preserved example of a 14th-century Scottish castle.
Originally the location of a twelfth-century monastery, Shakespeare's home Stratford-upon-Avon is known for its connections to the famous playwright. The town became one of the most important in the country during the Tudor period and is considered to be the birthplace of the man born on April 23, 1564. A renowned actor himself, Shakespeare was buried in Holy Trinity Church in nearby London. Stratford-upon-Avon is a bustling tourist spot filled with theatres, walking tours, and countless places to visit, including Shakespeare's Birthplace. Highlights of the town include Shakespeare's grave and the Stone House Museum, the birthplace of the Bard, which features his father's house and original records of his life. Nearby, the Lea's Hall Shakespeare Museum is another site worth seeing.