If you are visiting the UK, you will never be at a loss for must-see historic sites to visit. From castles to Roman baths to ancient cities, the scope and breadth of cultural gems in the UK is unsurpassed. What will you visit first? Hidden treasures are sure to thrill, and when it comes to heritage attractions, the UK has so much to see, do, and learn that you will wish your visit was longer. Here, we offer some suggestions of things to see and do around the UK.
Stonehenge, Wiltshire: What can be said about Stonehenge, except that visiting it should be on your bucket list. Constructed in three phases, sometime around 3100 BC, it is estimated to have required more than thirty million hours of labour to build. It is made of Bluestone, Sarsen, and Welsh Sandstone, and no one knows exactly why it was constructed. Various theories include astronomy, worship, healing, funerals, or even human sacrifice. Stonehenge is free to visit, but you must book your tickets in advance to ensure your preferred date and time of entry.
The Tower of London: Located in the heart of London, the Tower of London is a major tourist attraction for good reason. With a history that spans over 1,000 years as royal residence, prison, and execution site, it is a spot with plenty to see and do, and aspects that will appeal to every member of your family. While adults will be interested in the history, with key events like Anne Boleyn’s beheading and the imprisonment of Princess Elizabeth, children will enjoy exploring the corridors and running around the courtyard. The Beefeaters, the ceremonial guards at the Tower of London, are tour guides at the Tower, and because they live onsite, they have fascinating and humorous stories to tell. Of course, it’s also home to the Crown Jewels, and who can resist ogling those? You can purchase your tickets online or at the door.
Warwick Castle: With over a thousand years of history within its walls, Castle is a great place to learn about history. It is so much more than that, though, and your family will delight in all the different activities this castle has to offer. Live jousting, the UK’s largest birds of prey show, themed holiday events, beautiful castle interiors, medieval themed accommodations, and much more, Warwick Castle may just be Britain’s ultimate historical experience. Certainly, it brings something to the table for every member of your family. You can buy tickets in advance at a discount, to visit for a day or stay overnight.
Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire: Famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Stratford is a medieval market town set in the picturesque rural countryside of Warwickshire, on the banks of the river Avon. Visit Stratford to see Shakespeare’s Birthplace, a lovely half-timbered house where his descendants lived until the 19th century, as well as many other locations significant to the bard. These include the grammar school he attended, his home from 1597 until his death, the house where his oldest daughter, Susanna, lived, and Anne Hathaway’s cottage, where she lived before they were married. There is also the Tudor farmhouse that was home to Shakespeare’s mother before her marriage, and Holy Trinity Church, where William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway are buried. However, there’s also much more to do and see in Stratford, including a Butterfly farm, cruise boats and tour boats, open air entertainment, local galleries and museums, a famous theatre, a thriving street market, excellent shops and restaurants, and more.
Leeds Castle, Kent: Known as “the loveliest castle in the world”, Leeds Castle is certainly worth a visit. Interestingly, it’s in Kent, not in Leeds, though there is a lesser known Leeds in Kent, as well. Surrounded by 500 acres of sprawling parkland, and sitting in the middle of a lake, this castle was originally built in 1119 as a Norman stronghold and has been the private property of six of England’s medieval queens, as well as serving as a palace for Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. It’s been a Jacobean country house, Georgian mansion, and a 20th century retreat for the rich and famous, and much of the castle was decorated by Lady Baillie, a wealthy Anglo-American heiress and the owner of the castle from 1926 until her death in 1974, when she left it to a charitable trust. Leeds Castle features a number of uniquely beautiful gardens to explore, a yew tree maze, seasonal events, bountiful wildlife, and much more. You can visit for a day, stay for a while, or even get married in this beautiful setting.
The Roman Baths, Somerset: One of the most well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage sites the UK has to offer, the Roman Baths are in the city of Bath. Having been founded on a bed of natural hot springs, Bath gained these baths when the Romans invaded Britain in 43AD and built a religious spa on the site of the springs. This soon became a centre of bathing and socialising, which led to the establishment of a Roman urban settlement, Aquae Sulius- ‘the waters of Sulius’. Sulius was a goddess believed to have healing powers. Unfortunately, while you can tour the baths and on-site museum, you won’t have the chance to experience these healing powers for yourself, as visitors are not allowed in the water. You can buy tickets online to visit the Baths, and they are open every day except 25 and 26 of December.
Edinburgh Castle: One of the oldest fortified sites in Europe, Edinburgh Castle has served as a royal home, military stronghold, fortress, and prison during its long history. The castle is the site where Scottish ‘honours’ are held, the oldest Royal Regalia in Britain, used in the coronation of monarchs. The first mentions of the castle were noted in 600AD, during Roman Britain, and it became a royal castle in the Middle Ages. Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to King James VI here, but the castle’s primary role has been to serve as a military fortification. It swapped hands many times throughout the century, and the final siege of Edinburgh Castle was carried out by the Jacobites in 1745. Visit today, and you can explore the castle and its rich history through guided tours and exhibitions.
York: King George VI is quoted as saying, “The history of York is the history of England”. Today, visitors can experience this long and colourful history just by meandering through the city’s streets. Ancient city walls, Roman baths, a Viking settlement, medieval churches, and beautiful Georgian architecture mingle with modern additions like the British National Railway Museum, shopping malls, Cold War bunkers, and loads of pub culture. The birthplace of Guy Fawkes, York is also home to the York Minster, a Gothic-style cathedral which has been a sacred site since Roman times. Don’t miss the Shambles, narrow medieval laneways with quirky stores, historical residences, and, charmingly, a trail of cat statues. There are plenty of attractions and exhibits, but York also has much to do that’s free.
Hadrian’s Wall: Another fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site in UK, this wall was built by the Roman army under Emperor Hadrian, back in 122AD. For nearly 300 years, it secured the North-West frontier of the Roman Empire; it was about 15 feet (4.6 metres) high, and 10 Roman feet (3metres) wide. There were observation points every third of a mile, with pairs of mile castles with two turrets between each pair. There were forts and ditches to protect against invading armies, and 30 miles of the wall were made of turf. The rest was stone, and because it was such a great source of stones, it was used as a sort of quarry until that practice was stopped in the 1800s. If visiting a wall sounds boring, you should know that it also features forts, barracks, trails, and museums to explore along the way. Walking Hadrian’s wall is a very popular activity, and you can download this pdf guide to determine where you want to work.
Tintagel Castle: For an amazing combination of legend and history, visit Tintagel Castle. Located in Cornwall, these ruins on the edge of a cliff are the remains of the castle on which the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is based. There is a cave with a carving of Merline the wizard, and the castle ruins feature wonderful views out over the sea. It is a fun place to explore history, a designated English Heritage site where you can learn all about the different parts of the castle as you walk around the ruins. It is steep climb up the steps on the hillside, and you will need to bring water because there are no facilities at the top, but visiting this famous landmark is well worth the effort. You can buy your tickets online, for a discounted rate.
Where will you go on your UK holiday? When you are ready to travel to a destination rich with history, bursting with charm, relaxing and beachy, or surrounded by exquisite natural beauty, Together Travel Co. is here to bring your holiday dreams to life, no matter where you want to go. All across the UK, we have luxurious, comfortable, unique properties located wherever you want to be, spending your family holidays connecting, relaxing, and enjoying all these vacation spots have to offer. Find out how we can make your trip amazing by contacting our expert concierge team at +44(0)1625 416430 or emailing us for more information.