The United Kingdom has a whole heap of gorgeous towns, sleepy little villages and vibrant cities to explore! Yeah, I know I’m biased (being a Brit myself) but there’s so much to see across our beautiful islands. From sunny spots in the south of England to ancient villages that have stood for over a thousand years, there is an incredible mix of spots to explore.
This is why I wanted to share some of the very best towns, cities and villages you should see in the UK. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time visiting the UK or even if you live here… I’m almost certain there’ll be a new spot you’ve yet to visit, below.
Best of all, there’s something for every taste.
Take a look at some of the best places in the UK to explore, below.
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and is easily up there as one of the best places in the UK to explore.
It has a real mix of old and new, especially between the Royal Mile and the New Town around George Street, plus it has that warm Scottish hospitality (which I miss from living in the city).
Now, there’s literally so much to do in Edinburgh that you’ll need at least 3 days to even make a dent.
That being said, if you’re short on time, make sure to wander the Royal Mile, climb Arthur’s Seat, explore Edinburgh Castle and try some Haggis! It’s a Scottish delicacy.
Oh, don’t forget about visiting Blackness Castle, too. It’s about a 35-minute drive from the city centre but it’s totally worth it.
Also, If you’re feeling peckish, pop into Forage & Chatter where they serve up some local dishes that are so yummy.
2.) The Lake District
Officially, the UK’s newest UNESCO protected site, the Lake District is one of the best places in the UK to spend a few days relaxing. All whilst enjoying the stunning beauty of Northern England!
Now, the clue is in the name… there are quite a few lakes to see. That being said, each lake is slightly different. Probably the most popular is Windermere but my favourite has to be Ullswater.
Once you’ve arrived, check into the Another Place: The Lake Hotel and explore the stunning area around Ullswater itself.
Oh, and make some time for paddle-boarding on the lake, the Ullswater Steamer and a hike up the mountains. The views are great.
Windsor is only around 30-minutes from Central London but it actually feels so different and completely distinct from London itself. It’s one of those totally best places in the UK that just seems to ooze history. Especially with the castle!
Once here, make sure to book tickets to go inside Windsor Castle, one of the homes of the Royal Family (and often considered a favourite for the family over Buckingham Palace).
Afterwards, take a stroll over to Eton, explore the little streets and see if you can take a tour of the college (which is open on most Fridays).
The gorgeous little town of Dunster is situated in the south-west of England in the county of Somerset. The town itself has been lived within in some form or another for thousands of years. It really is one of the best places in the UK to visit.
Plus, it really pretty small so it’s a great stopping off point on your trip further down to beautiful Cornwall.
With the grand Dunster Castle overlooking the town, this ancient spot is perfect for an afternoon exploration. Make sure to take some time to wander the little alleyways and down the cobbled streets.
It really is beautiful to see – especially as all the houses look so old and crooked.
Oh, and stop off for food at Reeves Restaurant. It’s one of the best meals I’ve had in Somerset. Oh, and they make so pretty yummy cocktails, too. Yum!
Of course, we couldn’t mention cities in the UK without thinking about London. It’s easily up there as one of the best places in the UK to visit if you’re wanting a British take on a global city.
There’s a little slice of London that’ll suit every taste. And you know what, that’s what makes me love it so much… it’s a city for everyone.
If it’s your first time to visit, make sure to explore the Tower of London (with over 23,000 gemstones inside), take a ride on the London Eye and head to Richmond Park to see the deer. Yes, London’s Richmond Park has deer in it.
It’s the kind of town you visit for a little experience of Olde England.
The great thing about Tetbury is that it’s somewhat close to more of the best places in the UK to explore. Places like Lacock, Upper and Lower Slaughter (not as scary as they sound) and spots like Bibury.
On the way over, make sure to pop into The Wild Duck Inn (in Ewen) for a classic British lunch; they make the best sticky toffee pudding too.
Once you’re in Tetbury, check into The Royal Oak Tetbury. It’s such a historic property and is so charming.
We didn’t wanna leave!
Perched on the north-west coast of Wales, you’d be forgiven that Portmeirion was actually in Italy.
The town itself is filled with ornate Italian influences, lots of pottery and plenty of places to grab a gelato. Now, you will have to pay an entrance fee to see Portmeirion; but honestly, it’s so worth it.
Portmeirion is easily up there as one of the best places in the UK to visit, especially if you want a little taste of Italy.
Perched on the east coast of Scotland, Stonehaven is a tiny little town that’s well worth visiting when heading further north to explore more of the best places in the UK.
Once here, make sure to stop off on the seafront for a classic British dish; fish and chips!
Splash on lots of vinegar and have a proper seaside experience. Finish it all of with an Irn Bru (a soft drink that’s really popular in Scotland).
Once you’re full, head straight over to Dunnottar Castle that’s perched on its own little tuft of land in the sea. Dating back hundreds of years, there was actually a lion that was once kept in the castle as a status of power and wealth.
9.) Corfe Castle
Corfe Castle is situated in the south of England and has thousands of years of history that easily makes it one of the best places in the UK to visit on your adventure.
Once here, make sure to wander around the ruins of Corfe Castle itself, pop into the little thrift stores and antique stalls and stop off for lunch at The Castle Inn.
Afterwards, take the steam train from the town itself – it’s a pretty special thing to do.
10.) Robin Hood’s Bay
Nestled on the eastern coastline of Yorkshire, Robin Hood’s Bay is an old smugglers town where contraband items used to be brought to the area. Nowadays, the contraband (brandy) has stopped being an issue and there’s plenty to see.
Take a wander around the sandy beach, explore the little alleyways and pop into the old post office that makes the best pots of tea in Yorkshire.
Afterwards, drive around 20-minutes to Whitby and explore the historic Abbey too.
11.) Watergate Bay
Watergate Bay is one of those Cornish bays that’s great for a relaxing weekend away. Better still, it has that Cornish Beach Vibe which always seems so chilled and totally charming.
This alone makes it one of the best places in the UK to visit (and the Cornish pasties, obviously). 🤣
Once here, make sure to try your hand at surfing, walk the cliffs and coastal paths, too.
For a great spot to stay, check into the Watergate Bay Hotel, it totally leans into that chilled, beach-vibe that makes this area so special.
12.) St Andrews
Perched in the Kingdom of Fife in Scotland, St Andrews is an ancient town that is steeped in history.
Once here, make sure to walk the beaches next to the Old Course, visit the castle ruins and explore the cobbled streets that criss-cross the town.
Best of all, the beautiful university buildings are dotted around the town too. This all makes it totally easy to explore.
Oh, and it’s really easy to partner a visit to the new V&A Museum in Dundee which is around 20-minutes away.
13.) Jurassic Coast
Another gem in the south of England is the UNESCO protected area of the Jurassic Coast. It’s pretty unique as part of the UK where the land has been pushed up by tectonics and other natural events (don’t ask me too much, I’m no geologist 🤣).
That, along with coastal erosion has been this one of the best places in the UK to go fossil hunting.
Best of all, you can keep the fossils you find (just no digging into the cliffs).
That being said, if you find T-rex, I think you might have to hand it over to someone! Ha! You’re almost guaranteed to find fossils if you keep your eyes peeled too.
Once here, make sure to see the 600-year-old St Cyriac’s Church, wander through the little streets and stop off for an afternoon tea in one of the tea houses.
In the summer, they open their gardens to sit and sip tea all afternoon. It’s lovely.
Better yet, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, then you’ll be glad to know that some of the films were shot here.
15.) Scottish Highlands
So, the Scottish Highlands is an incredibly vast and possibly one of the very best places in the UK to explore; especially if you love nature.
Now, there are lots of ways to get around the Scottish Highlands, but by far the easiest is by car.
That being said, some of the roads can be narrow and quite unfamiliar if you’re used to driving on North American-style roads.
Around 45-minutes from Central London (by train), Cambridge is one of the best places in the UK to explore for a day or two.
It’s the kind of spot that has lots to see within one relatively small area. This alone makes it an ideal city to just wander around and almost get lost in.
Once here, make sure to check out King’s College Chapel, go punting on the river and gorge on brunch at Fitzbilies.
Around 100 miles from Central London, Norwich is a medieval city that’s relatively easy to visit if you’re already in London. Better yet, there’s no need to drive as you can get the train from London itself.
Once you arrive, make sure to visit the Norwich Cathedral, explore Norwich Castle and wander through the narrow streets that have everything from second-hand stores, art galleries and the cutest cafes.
For me, Norwich also has one of the best fish and chips in the UK. Head over to Grosvenor Fish Bar (on Lower Goat Lane) where you’ll be spoilt for choice. It’s so good!
Around a 90-minute drive from Central London, Arundel is a historic market town based in West Sussex. Once you’re here, make sure to explore the iconic Arundel Castle (which is home to the Duke of Norfolk) and take a wander around the impressive cathedral too.
It’s easily one of the best places in the UK to visit if you want your fix of castles. It’s easily one of my favourite castles in England to explore – it’s just sooooo grand.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, head straight over to The Parsons Table for the most delicious dinner in the town. Just make sure to book a table in advance – it’s a relatively small (and popular) spot.
One of the more iconic sites to see in England, Stonehenge needs little introduction as one of the best places in the UK to visit on your trip.
Once you’ve arrived, make sure to head around the prehistoric monument and learn more about where the stones came from (Wales) and listen to the theories about the stones themselves. It really is a fascinating place to see.
After a little visit, pop over to Nearby Salisbury to see the cathedral and explore the town itself.
20.) Isles of Scilly
Nestled around 30-miles (or so) from the Cornish coast, the Isles of Scilly is an almost tropical environment filled with palm trees, crystal clear waters and a gorgeous history.
Now, the thing that benefits these island is that it’s right in the line of the Gulf Stream, this keeps the islands that little bit warmer than other parts of the UK. This alone makes it one of the best places in the UK to visit for a little bit of a tropical-style break.
There are quite a few different islands to visit and it’s quite easy to jump on the boats and just island-hop at a moments notice. In fact, it’s the best thing to do!
The capital city of Wales, Cardiff is one of the smaller cities in the UK. But don’t let its size put you off, it has so much to see and do.
Once you’re there, make sure to stop off at Cardiff Castle, visit the Senedd Building and explore the National Museum.
Oh, and stock up on lots of Welsh cakes and bara brith too (with lashings of butter).
Also, Cardiff is one of the best places in the UK for its character and lovely Welsh charm! Just learn a little Welsh and I promise you’ll be loved by all!