Made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is no surprise that the best things to do in the UK are varied and fascinating. You’ll find different dialects, ancient Celtic languages and unique communities, traditions, myths and legends. There are surfer havens and soft, sandy beaches, rugged rock formations, punishing mountain climbs and deep, glassy lochs all waiting to be discovered.
While rural spots promise lush, verdant greenery, ancient woodland, utter silence and nights so dark you can see all the stars, the UK’s towns and cities – Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Belfast, Oxford, York and London, among others – are home to buzzing nightlife, striking modern architecture, historical landmarks and incredible celebrations of culture.
Planning a trip this year? Here are some of the best places to visit
Every August, the capital of Scotland is taken over by comedians and performers for a month of shows, plays and theatre. Expect a mix of first-timers and big-name stars, new material, old favourites, snappy one-liners and unusual experimental comedy. It’s the world’s largest arts festival and transforms Edinburgh into a pulsating, exciting hive of energy. Turn up with a cluster of tickets in your pocket or plan nothing and see where the Fringe takes you
Being a groundling (that’s getting yourself a £5 standing ticket and watching Elizabethan-style) at Shakespeare’s Globe in London is unmissable, but it doesn’t get more special than sitting in the audience of one of the Bard’s beloved plays in his actual hometown. Head to pretty Stratford -upon- Avon to see a Royal Shakespeare Company production in the riverside theatre, before visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace and the church where his body was laid to rest in 1616.
Cornwall, Devon, The Ritz in central London – wherever you are in the UK you can’t go too wrong with an afternoon tea. Just don’t go putting the clotted cream on before the jam. Or is it the other way round? Bettys is a Yorkshire institution. The York branch has been serving up scones (or Fat Rascals, as they call them) and tea in china cups since 1936. Work up an appetite before you visit by wandering around The Shambles, York Castle or the ancient city walls
Home to independent shops and theatres, Bath is a pretty, honey-hued city famous for its grand, sweeping crescents and former resident Jane Austen. It’s also home to a fascinating, and impressively intact, Roman bath right in the heart of the city. It still flows with natural hot water, thanks to the city’s thermal springs, but no one’s swimming in it these days. Once you’ve wandered around the historic site, head to Thermae Bath Spa for your own chance to wallow in Bath’s warming waters.
The sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 made headlines around the globe, and continues to intrigue people to this day. The ‘unsinkable’ ocean liner was the largest ship afloat, before it hit an iceberg and disappeared into the depths of the Atlantic, along with over 1,500 of its passengers. Belfast is where the boat was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard, and it’s where an impressive museum dedicated to the ship now stands. Explore interactive galleries that, thanks to reconstructions, rides and special effects, allow you to walk the decks of the Titanic, descend to the depths of the ocean, tour the shipyard and witness the boat’s launch.
The United Kingdom might be small but its countryside is mighty, and incredibly diverse, from rolling green hills and ancient woodland to impressive mountain peaks, idyllic lakes and rugged moors. To see all the different kinds of landscapes the UK calls its own, take a tour of the UK’s 15 National Parks, from the flat Norfolk Broads and the wilds of Exmoor to the high drama of the Lake District and Peak District and the internationally recognised dark skies of Northumberland.
You could spend a month in London and not get tired of visiting its museums, galleries, parks, historic landmarks, and world class restaurants But if you’re short on time, a stroll along the South Bank is an ace way to soak up some city sights. Start at the London Eye , where you’ve got views of Big Ben and the House of Parliament , and head east. You’ll pass cultural giant the SouthBank Centre ,and , the National Theatre and countless pop-up bars and street food stalls. Pause by Tate Modern for a quick look around its free galleries, or to spy St Paul’s Cathedral across the river, before carrying on past Shakespeare’s Globe. Stop under the Shard for incredible food in Borough Market before finishing your walk by City Hall with views over the Thames of the Tower of London and the iconic Tower Bridge
Film fans the world over will know the United Kingdom as the home of Harry Potter. There are filming locations and spots that supposedly inspired JK Rowling dotted all over and you can even visit places where she wrote the books, like The Elephant House in Edinburgh. Potterheads will want to visit Leavesden Studios on the outskirts of London, where the majority of the movies were filmed, too. Wander around the Great Hall, peek into shop fronts on Diagon Alley, order a butterbeer and even ‘fly’ your very own broomstick on the Warner Bros Studio Tour London .the making of Harry Potter