The more I travel in the UK, the more I realize how many amazing places there are to see in this country. Every time I leave London I’m amazed at all the beautiful cities and towns, islands and countryside. Since it’s a new year, I thought I would put my favorites in a list for you. So here are A Lady in London’s 51 places to visit in the UK.
51 Places to Visit in the UK
My list is by no means a complete one. In putting it together I realized I could make it twice as long and still not feel like I had done the country justice. But these 51 places are my favorites, and I hope they give you some inspiration for where to travel this year.
As much as I love London, Edinburgh is hard to beat when it comes to beautiful cities in the UK. From the castle on the hill to the storybook houses in Dean Village, the Scottish capital has a lot going for it when it comes to aesthetics.
And since I started this post with a capital city, I’ll continue the theme. Cardiff is underrated as UK cities go, but the castle alone makes it worth a trip. Cardiff Castle is magical inside, its gold interiors and ornate furnishings making it one of the most lavish historic royal residences in Britain.
Over in Northern Ireland, Belfast is another UK city that often gets overlooked. But I love Belfast for its lively nightlife, friendly locals, and rich history.
4. Causeway Coastal Route
Speaking of of Belfast, the Causeway Coastal Route starts in the city and runs north through the nine Glens of Antrim and along the waterfront. From medieval castles and precarious rope bridges to distilleries and Game of Thrones filming locations, there’s a lot to discover along it. And that’s to say nothing of the Giant’s Causeway, where interlocking basalt columns are a beautiful natural phenomenon.
5. Isle of Arran
Jumping over to Scotland, the Isle of Arran has always had a special place in my heart. My Glaswegian grandmother used to spend her summers on the island, and on my own visit I discovered everything from waterfalls to whisky distilleries, castles, and stone circles. There’s a reason this island is called Scotland in Miniature; it really has everything in one place.
If the Isle of Arran is Scotland in Miniature, Portmeirion is Portofino in Wales. This colorful hillside village is a whimsical treat. From bright buildings to historic treasures, its hodge-podge of styles makes for a fairy-tale experience. And that’s to say nothing of the coastal trails and beaches around it.
7. Castle Combe
Back in England, Castle Combe is one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. Despite having seen a million photos before I visited, I still fell in love with it as soon as I arrived. From warm stone cottages to tea rooms and bridges, this place offers everything I ever imagined a storybook village could have.
And speaking of beautiful places, Cambridge is hard to beat. The historic architecture of the colleges and the punts on the river make it photogenic from any angle, and the interiors of the chapels and dining halls add another layer of wow.
While some people see Stonehenge as a pile of old rocks, I see the Neolithic site as magical. The mystery, history, and heritage behind the site are enchanting, and it never gets old to circle the stones and imagine how they got there and what they were intended for.
Not far from Stonehenge, Winchester is another of my favorite places to visit in the UK. It too is steeped in history, with a cathedral and castle ruins to prove it. But it’s also home to a beautiful riverside walk, several secret gardens, and enough pretty streets to keep me reaching for my camera at every turn.
Another great cathedral city is Canterbury. Its religious history dominates the city’s story, but there are also beautiful streets to explore and lots of shops and restaurants to entertain. The cathedral is spectacular, though, from the site of Thomas Becket’s murder to the stained glass windows with women who look like Disney princesses.
Up north, Durham has another of England’s most famous cathedrals. It looms over the river below, creating a stunning view from the waterfront (not to mention the East Coast Main Line train). But Durham is also home to a castle, a university, and enough cobbled streets and squares to make my inner side-street lover swoon.
Not far from Durham, Newcastle is another of England’s great cities. I love the historic architecture here, and Grey Street is just the place to see it. But the bridges over the Tyne are also a sight to behold, as are the interiors of some of the city’s historic pubs.
Heading farther north, Glasgow is another of my top picks for places to visit in the UK. I’ve been visiting this Scottish city all my life, and its independent spirit, architecture, and friendly locals win my heart every time. I love exploring the lanes in the West End, soaking up the history in Merchant City, and wandering through the over-the-top tombs in the Necropolis. And that’s to say nothing of the restaurants and bars in Finnieston.
15. Isle of Skye
Elsewhere in Scotland, the Isle of Skye might be the most famous island in the Hebrides. I’ve visited several times, but the most memorable was on a sailing trip. We moored off the coast on a misty day and were escorted to land by friendly seals. Hiking along a loch surrounded by waterfalls made me feel like I was in an enchanted world.
And speaking of enchanted, Lunga is just magical. In springtime, this Hebridean island is carpeted with bluebells and frequented by puffins, all of which makes for hours of entertainment and lots of good photo opportunities. The puffins are completely relaxed around humans, and I loved lying on the grass and getting up close to them.
Back down in England, Bibury is another place filled with otherworldly beauty. This village in the Cotswolds is famous for Arlington Row, a street with cottages that draws visitors and photographers from all over the world. It’s every bit as pretty in real life as it is in photos, and it’s definitely worth a special trip.
Oxford deserves its place among the magical spots in the UK, not least because it was used as a filming location for the Harry Potter movies. But even if it hadn’t stood in for Hogwarts, Oxford’s historic beauty would easily earn it a place on my list. This city has rich history, beautiful architecture, covered markets, and museums galore.
19. Scottish Highlands
Back up north, the Scottish Highlands are hard to beat when it comes to natural beauty. Their hills and glens, lochs and coos all make for a rugged beauty rarely seen outside of Scotland. Add to that medieval castles, legendary monsters (in Loch Ness, anyway), and tragic history, and the Scottish Highlands are not to be missed.
Another place with stunning scenery, England’s Derbyshire is not only full of natural beauty but also some of the most famous stately homes in the UK. Chatsworth House is renowned in its own right, but is also known for standing in for Mr Darcy’s Pemberley in screen adaptations of Pride & Prejudice. Other stately homes in the area have played houses from Bronte sister novels, and the villages are just lovely.
21. Gower Peninsula
Down in south Wales, the Gower Peninsula shows the Welsh coastline at its finest. From crescent beaches to ruined castles, this area has a lot to discover when it comes to nature. Worm’s Head and Rhossili Beach are particularly beautiful spots, but it’s hard to narrow it down to just two.
And speaking of beautiful spots, Painswick is one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. With storybook cottages and topiary hedges, Painswick feels like something out of Alice in Wonderland. There are great walks and gardens to explore around the area, too.
Over in Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon is famous for its Shakespeare connections. Not only is the town full of houses he lived in and theaters showing his plays, but also historic streets and great pubs.
24. Burnham Market
And speaking of lovely streets, Norfolk’s Burnham Market is brimming with them. The shops alone make this village worth a special trip, and the nearby beaches seal the deal. Its proximity to London also makes Burnham Market one of my favorite places for a weekend getaway in England.
Northwest of Burnham Market, underrated Lincoln is another of the best places to visit in the UK. With a stunning cathedral, a Norman castle, and pretty streets, this chocolate-box city is a photographer’s dream. I spent a day here with friends years ago and the memories still feel magical.
26. The Eden Valley
Up north near the Lake District, the Eden Valley is another under-the-radar gem. This part of England is just as pretty as its better-known neighbor, but lacks the tourist crowds that can make the Lake District overwhelming in high season. I spent a couple days here one summer and had the most amazing time walking through the countryside, communing with sheep, and falling in love with historic pubs in the area. I even saw a red squirrel.
If the Eden Valley is under-the-radar, Alnwick is the opposite. But even though this town and its castle are firmly on the visitor trail, it’s still worth a trip. Alnwick itself has one of the best bookshops in the UK, and Alnwick Castle is known for being the filming location for everything from Harry Potter to Downton Abbey.
Less firmly on the visitor map is Iona, but mostly because as an island it’s not quite as easy to get to. But this Scottish isle is worth a boat ride both for its history—St. Columba started his monastery here and eventually converted much of pagan Scotland and northern England to the Christian faith—and for its beaches—the white sand and turquoise water are straight out of the Caribbean (the air temperature less so).
29. Holy Island
Down off the east coast of England, Holy Island is another of the most appealing islands in the UK. Famous for its religious history—it was settled by St. Aidan, who came from Iona—it’s also home to a hilltop castle with stunning Arts and Crafts Movement interiors. And that’s to say nothing of the upside-down boat sheds, beautiful coastline, and woolly sheep.
Not far from Holy Island, Berwick-upon-Tweed is one of my favorite towns in Britain. This underrated gem sits conveniently on the East Coast Main Line, so is easy to reach by train from London and Edinburgh. It’s also home to historic city walls, a windswept lighthouse, cobblestone streets, and bridges with North Sea views.
31. The Lake District
Back west, the Lake District is one of the best places to visit in the UK for nature lovers. This part of England has spectacular natural scenery and great walking and hiking trails. It’s also home to Beatrix Potter’s house and pretty villages with gingerbread shops. Need I say more?
32. The Yorkshire Dales
Another great place to get outdoors in the UK is the Yorkshire Dales. This area has rock formations that lend it an otherworldly atmosphere, and waterfalls galore. There are peaks to climb for the ambitious, and coves to meander to for those that prefer a slower pace.
33. Robin Hood’s Bay
On the coast in Yorkshire, Robin Hood’s Bay is one of my favorite places in Britain. This fishing village ascends a steep hill, dotting the landscape with pretty cottages, narrow paths, and wood-paneled pubs. Famous for its smuggling past, Robin Hood’s Bay’s tangle of streets bears witness to the illicit dealings that once took place here.
And speaking of Robin Hood, Nottingham is another of the best places to visit in the UK. While the legend of the man who robbed from the rich to give to the poor lives on, the city has a lot more going for it than just that. With one of the oldest pubs in England, a castle, great shopping streets, and historic architecture, Nottingham is worth discovering.
Bristol is another city that deserves a place on my list. It has an independent spirit—the city is home to a lot of Banksy street art and has its own currency, the Bristol pound. It also features a stunning suspension bridge, colorful houses, contemporary museums, and riverside charm.
Back up in Scotland, Falkland is one of the prettiest villages in the UK. Known historically for its Mary, Queen of Scots connections and more recently for being an Outlander filming location, the village has everything from charming houses to a royal palace.
37. St Andrews
Not far from Falkland, St Andrews is one of the most beautiful places in Scotland. With its university, golf courses, waterfront, and cathedral ruins, there’s something to impress at every turn. And that’s to say nothing of the cozy pubs and lovely streets.
38. The Scilly Isles
Way down off the southwestern tip of Cornwall, the Scilly Isles are some of the most surprising places to visit in the UK. Their remoteness makes them feel like they’re in a different world, and their pristine beaches and secret gardens reinforce the feeling.
39. St Ives
Back in Cornwall, St Ives has more beaches. This coastal town is also packed with everything from world-class art museums to surf spots and seafood restaurants. It’s a great place for a well-rounded getaway.
And speaking of beaches, Brighton is famous for its seaside charm. Its pier is full of funfair rides, and on land there’s a lavish royal residence to explore, lanes full of shops, and culinary delights galore. Given its proximity to London, it’s an ideal spot for a day trip from the capital.
Not far from Brighton, Rye is one of the most charming villages in England. It’s one of the best places to visit in the UK for its pretty streets, half-timbered facades, and literary connections (Henry James lived in Rye). It even has a haunted inn.
Out in Somerset, Bath is another of the prettiest places in the UK. Known for its Roman baths and Jane Austen connections, Bath has everything from beautiful historic architecture to great shopping. But the real treat is wandering the streets to take in the crescents and bridges that make this place so stunning.
43. Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is another must-see in the UK. An official residence of the Queen, this place is also steeped in history. It’s a treat to tour the interiors and take in the art and furnishings, and also exciting to see St George’s Chapel. And that’s to say nothing of Windsor itself, which has cobblestone streets and expansive parks to explore.
44. The New Forest
If you really want to get into nature, the New Forest is a good place to do it. This is one of the best places to visit in the UK for lovers of the outdoors. The walking paths lead through beautiful forest land, and the resident ponies are a treat to see up close. It’s a great place to go in the autumn when the leaves are in full color.
Back to cities, Chester is one of the most underrated in the UK. This city has layers of history dating back to Roman times, and all of it is still visible around the city center. I love the half-timbered facades and mix of architectural styles on the high street, not to mention the thousands of years of architectural history in Chester Cathedral.
Leeds is another city worth a special trip. I always enjoy exploring its Victorian shopping arcades, many of which leave me with a sore neck after tempting my eyes to the ceiling for so long. Outside, there’s plenty of historic architecture to keep me excited, and lots of hidden courtyards to explore.
Not far from Leeds, Harrogate is a picture-pretty spa town in North Yorkshire. Once popular for its waters, it’s now a great place to meander through gardens, go for tea, and enjoy a quieter pace of life.
Back in the cities, York is one of the best places to visit in the UK. This city not only has an abundance of history, but also painfully beautiful streets, medieval walls, a castle, and a stunning cathedral. I love exploring the narrow alleys and walking along the cobbled streets when I’m visiting.
Liverpool is another city that deserves a place on my list. With everything from The Beatles to the Tate calling this place home, the city has a lot going for it culturally. Cafes, vintage shops, and street art round out the scene.
Birmingham is another UK city that doesn’t get enough attention. I love visiting for its world-class art museum, stunning contemporary library, and colorful cafes. Everything from shopping arcades to historic pubs has caught my eye here, and on each visit I discover more to get excited about.
If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering why London hasn’t figured into my list. It’s because I’ve saved the best for last. The history, culture, art, diversity, and beauty of this city never cease to inspire me. This city is like no other, and I’m so grateful to call it home.
So there you have it. 51 places to visit in the UK. I hope you’ve had fun reading about them and that you enjoy visiting them even more.
New here? Join thousands of others and subscribe to the A Lady in London blog via email or Bloglovin’.