Best Things To Do in the United Kingdom

Best Things To Do in the United Kingdom

Explore the Best Things to Do in the UK

WRITTEN BYLorraine Giron
PUBLISHED ONOctober 23, 2023
Source: Photo from Dominika Gregušová via Pexels

The United Kingdom, a tapestry of history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes, invites explorers to delve into its rich heritage and modern vibrancy. From the ancient stones of Stonehenge to the bustling streets of London, the UK offers a plethora of experiences for every traveler. Each corner of the UK holds unique adventures, making it a destination that promises unforgettable moments for all who visit. So whether you plan to drive or want to take public transit, we’ll help you find the best things to do in the UK.

What to Consider When Going to The UK

Currency and Payments

The currency used in the United Kingdom is the British Pound Sterling (GBP). When visiting the UK, it is recommended to have some British currency on hand for small expenses and places that may not accept cards.

  • Debit or credit cards. Visa, Mastercard, and contactless payment methods such as Apple Pay or Google Pay are widely accepted. Many establishments, restaurants, shops, and the best hotels in the UK also accept American Express and Discover cards, although acceptance may vary.
  • ATMs (cash machines). ATMs are readily available nationwide, allowing you to withdraw cash in GBP. Be mindful of potential fees your bank or ATM provider charges for international withdrawals.
  • Tipping. It is customary to leave a gratuity for good service in cafes, bars, and even the best restaurants in the UK. While not obligatory, a general guideline is to add 10-15% of the bill or round up to the nearest pound. Some establishments may include a service charge on the bill, in which case additional tipping is unnecessary.

Prices are typically displayed when making purchases, including the Value Added Tax (VAT). Non-European Union visitors may be eligible for a VAT refund on certain goods purchased, so be sure to inquire about the process and eligibility criteria when shopping.

Accommodation Options

Historic Terraced Buildings with Colorful Shopfronts
Source: Photo by Konstantina Zag on Unsplash

When choosing where to stay in the UK, consider location, amenities, and proximity to attractions or transport links. It is advisable to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons or for popular destinations.

Websites and booking platforms like, Airbnb, and VisitBritain provide a comprehensive selection of accommodation options in the UK. These will make finding the perfect place to stay during your visit easier.

  • Hotels. Hotels are widely available throughout the UK, from luxury to budget-friendly options. You can choose from renowned international chains, boutique hotels, or family-run establishments. Major cities like London, Edinburgh, and Manchester offer various hotel options to cater to different needs.
  • Bed and Breakfast (B&B) or Guesthouses. B&Bs and guesthouses provide a more intimate and cozy accommodation experience. Often located in charming towns and countryside, these accommodations offer comfortable rooms and a hearty breakfast. They are popular choices for those seeking a personal touch and local insights.
  • Self-Catering Accommodations. For those who prefer their own space or longer stays, self-catering options such as apartments, cottages, and holiday homes are available. These accommodations include amenities like kitchen facilities, allowing you to prepare meals and have a more independent experience.
  • Hostels. Ideal for budget-conscious travelers or those seeking a social atmosphere, hostels provide dormitory-style or private room accommodations. They often have common areas, communal kitchens, and organized activities, making them a popular choice for solo travelers or backpackers.
  • Inns and Pubs. Traditional inns and pubs with accommodation can be found across the UK. These establishments offer a classic British experience, providing comfortable rooms, hearty meals, and a lively atmosphere. They are common in rural areas and offer a glimpse into local culture.
  • Camping and Caravan Parks. Camping and caravan parks are available across the UK if you enjoy the outdoors. From campsites in national parks to coastal locations, these options allow you to connect with nature and explore picturesque landscapes.

Weather Conditions

Weather in the UK can be unpredictable, so it is always a good idea to check the local forecast before your trip. Additionally, it is advisable to pack layers, a waterproof jacket or umbrella, and comfortable footwear suitable for walking in potentially damp conditions. Here are some general aspects to consider:

  • Temperature. The UK has a temperate maritime climate because of its location near the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream. Summers (June to August) are generally mild to warm, with average temperatures ranging from 15-25°C (59-77°F). Winters (December to February) are cool, with temperatures averaging around 2-8°C (36-46°F).
  • Rainfall. Rainfall is expected throughout the year in the UK, so it’s advisable to be prepared for it regardless of the season. The wettest months are October and November, while the driest are typically April and May.
  • Regional Variation. While the UK may be small, there can be significant variations in weather between regions, which is crucial to consider when determining the best time to visit the UK. Southern parts of England generally experience milder winters and warmer summers than Scotland and Northern Ireland, where cooler temperatures and more frequent rainfall can be expected. These factors impact the best time to visit the UK for different activities and experiences.

Seasonal Considerations

  • Spring (March to May) brings blossoming flowers and longer daylight hours.
  • Summer offers pleasant weather and is the peak tourist season, with longer days and various events and festivals.
  • Autumn (September to November) is characterized by beautiful foliage and can be a good time to visit.
  • Winter brings shorter days, colder temperatures, and the possibility of snowfall in some areas.

Transportation Options

Public transportation networks are well-developed in urban areas, but it’s always recommended to plan your route and check for service disruptions. Booking tickets in advance can often save you money for longer journeys.

  • Trains. The UK has an extensive rail network connecting major cities and towns nationwide. The National Rail Service operates trains with different operators serving various regions. High-speed trains, such as the InterCity and Eurostar, are available for faster travel between cities. It is advisable to book tickets in advance, especially for long-distance journeys.
  • Buses and Coaches. National and regional bus services provide an affordable and convenient means of travel within and between cities. Companies like National Express and Megabus offer long-distance coach services that cover various destinations. Local bus services are also available for intra-city transportation.
  • Underground (Tube). London is famous for its extensive and efficient underground railway system, commonly called the Tube. It covers most city areas and provides quick transportation between various neighborhoods and attractions.
  • Taxis. Taxis, both traditional black cabs and private hire vehicles, are readily available in cities and towns across the UK. In London, black cabs are iconic and easily hailed from the street. Private hire vehicles, commonly booked through apps like Uber, are popular nationwide.
  • Rental Cars. Renting a car can provide flexibility, especially for exploring more rural areas or remote regions. Road systems are well-maintained, and driving in the UK is on the left-hand side. It is essential to familiarize yourself with local traffic rules and parking regulations. Foreigners typically need an international driving permit for the UK to be able to rent cars.
  • Cycling. Many towns and cities have cycling infrastructure and dedicated bike lanes, making cycling a popular option for short journeys or sightseeing. Bicycle rental schemes, such as Santander Cycles in London, provide a convenient way to explore urban areas.
  • Ferries. Due to its island geography, ferries are a standard mode of transportation in the UK. They connect various parts of the country, such as the mainland with the Scottish islands or Northern Ireland. Popular ferry routes include Dover to Calais (France) and Holyhead to Dublin (Ireland).

Local Cuisine

Prepare your taste buds for a delightful culinary adventure in the UK’s local cuisine. From traditional dishes to modern interpretations, here are some iconic British delicacies you shouldn’t miss:

Fish and Chips

This classic combination consists of a crispy golden batter enveloped by perfectly cooked fish and a generous portion of chunky, crisp chips. This beloved dish is found in seaside towns, bustling city streets, and quaint village eateries.

Full English Breakfast

This hearty meal isn’t only for the breakfast enthusiasts to enjoy. This features a delightful medley of bacon, sausages, eggs, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, black pudding, and buttered toast. It’s a delicious way to start the day and fuel your explorations.

Afternoon Tea

This British tradition is a quintessential experience not to be missed. Delicate finger sandwiches, warm scones served with clotted cream, a variety of jams, and an assortment of delectable pastries await you. Sip on a fragrant cup of tea as you embrace the elegance and charm of this cherished ritual.

Other cuisines you should try:

  • Haggis. A traditional Scottish dish made from sheep’s offal, oatmeal, and spices, usually served with neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes)
  • Scotch Eggs. Hard-boiled eggs encased in sausage meat, coated with breadcrumbs, and deep-fried to perfection. It’s a great on-the-go snack or picnic treat.
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding. Indulge in a warm, moist sponge cake smothered in a rich toffee sauce for dessert. This is often served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of custard.
  • Shepherd’s Pie. This comforting dish consists of minced lamb or beef mixed with vegetables and topped with a layer of mashed potatoes – baked until golden and bubbly.

Pubs and Breweries

Pubs and breweries, havens for beer enthusiasts, are scattered across the United Kingdom. Visit historic pubs, some dating back centuries, and immerse yourself in the warm and convivial atmosphere. Taste a wide range of local beers, ales, and ciders, each with a distinct flavor profile and brewing tradition. Engage in lively conversations, embrace the local pub culture, and unwind with a pint.

Ceremonies and Festivals

The United Kingdom is rich in unique cultural experiences, festivals, and ceremonies that showcase its diverse heritage. Here are some notable ones:

  • Changing of the Guard. Witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace in London. This iconic event features a grand display of precision marching and military tradition as the new guard replaces the old guard.
  • Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Considered the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place annually in August. It features a wide array of performances, including comedy, theater, dance, music, and more, attracting artists and visitors from around the globe.
  • Notting Hill Carnival. Held in August, the Notting Hill Carnival in London celebrates Caribbean culture and heritage. It features colorful parades, live music, dance performances, and delicious Caribbean cuisine.
  • St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrated on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day is a lively festival honoring the patron saint of Ireland. Festivities occur across the UK, particularly in London, Birmingham, and Manchester. They feature parades, music, dance, and wearing green attire.
  • Burns Night. Celebrated on January 25th, Burns Night commemorates the life and works of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Traditional Scottish food, including haggis, is served, and guests enjoy recitations of Burns’ poetry, lively Scottish music, and dancing.
  • Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes Night). On November 5th, Bonfire Night commemorates the foiled Gunpowder Plot 1605. Fireworks displays and bonfires are held across the country, with effigies of Guy Fawkes burned atop the flames.
  • Glastonbury Festival. Glastonbury is one of the world’s most famous music festivals annually in Somerset, England. It features an incredible lineup of musical performances across multiple stages, various artistic installations, and cultural activities.
  • Royal Ascot. This prestigious horse racing event in June combines sporting excellence, fashion, and royal tradition. Attendees can witness top-class horse racing while indulging in a glamorous atmosphere.

Natural Wonders

In addition to its impressive castles, the United Kingdom boasts various natural wonders worth exploring. Each region has its unique natural features and opportunities for outdoor adventures. Here are a few notable ones:

  • Giant’s Causeway (Northern Ireland). Located on the north coast of County Antrim, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its unique hexagonal basalt columns formed by volcanic activity. It offers breathtaking coastal views and fascinating geological formations.
  • Isle of Skye (Scotland). Known for its dramatic landscapes, the Isle of Skye in Scotland is a paradise for nature lovers. It features majestic mountains, rugged cliffs, fairy pools, sparkling lochs, and the iconic Old Man of Storr rock formation.
  • The Peak District (England). Situated in central England, the Peak District is a stunning national park characterized by rolling hills, deep valleys, enchanting woods, and picturesque villages. It offers ample opportunities for hiking, cycling, and exploring caverns.
  • The Lake District (England). Known for its sublime natural beauty, it is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It features sparkling lakes, towering mountains, charming towns, and picturesque valleys, inspiring many poets and artists.
  • The Cliffs of Moher (Ireland). While not technically part of the UK, the Cliffs of Moher in western Ireland are a magnificent natural wonder worth mentioning. These dramatic cliffs rise 214 meters (702 feet) above the Atlantic Ocean, offering awe-inspiring views of the rugged coastline.
  • Jurassic Coast (England). Spanning 95 miles along the southern coast of England, the Jurassic Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its geological importance and stunning cliffs. It reveals 185 million years of Earth’s history, with fossils, arches, and beautiful coastal formations.
  • Snowdonia National Park (Wales). Nestled in northwest Wales, Snowdonia National Park features breathtaking landscapes, including the highest peak in Wales—Mount Snowdon. Visitors can explore its rugged mountains, pristine lakes, cascading waterfalls, and ancient forests.

Historical and Cultural Landmarks

The United Kingdom is a treasure trove of historical and cultural landmarks. From enchanting castles and palaces to iconic sites in literature and film, it offers a journey through centuries-old history. Explore heritage sites, enjoy unique shopping experiences, and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of the UK’s fascinating past.

Castles and Palaces

  • Visit Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, where you can witness the changing of the guard ceremony.
  • Explore the grandeur of Edinburgh Castle, perched atop an extinct volcano, and delve into the fascinating history of Scotland’s capital.
  • No historical journey would be complete without a visit to Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the British monarchs.

Literature and Film

  • From visiting the iconic Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station to exploring the magical Diagon Alley, fans will delight in the opportunity to experience the world of Harry Potter.
  • Immerse yourself in the wizarding world as you embark on a thrilling ride at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour near London.

Heritage Sites

  • Climb Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and marvel at the panoramic 360-degree views of the city below.
  • Explore the Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its picturesque lakes, rugged mountains, and charming villages.
  • Lose yourself in the beauty of Hyde Park, one of London’s many green spaces, offering a tranquil escape from the bustling city life.


The UK offers a plethora of markets to satisfy your desires.

  • Explore Covent Garden, boasting a mix of shops, street food stalls, and entertainment.
  • Indulge in a shopping spree at Portobello Road Market, known for its antique shops and vibrant atmosphere.
  • Lose yourself in the vibrant colors and unique offerings of Greenwich Market, or browse through the diverse array of items at Camden Lock Market.

Centuries-old History

Take a tour of the majestic Hampton Court Palace, once the residence of King Henry VIII, and get a glimpse into the extravagant lives of British royalty.

  • Immerse yourself in London’s far-reaching history at the Tower of London, where you can witness the iconic Crown Jewels and delve into the stories of its past.
  • Explore the Globe Theatre, a reconstruction of the original venue where Shakespeare’s plays were performed.

Museums and Galleries

The United Kingdom is a haven for art buffs, with numerous museums and galleries that offer a rich cultural and historical experience. From London to Edinburgh and beyond, cultural and artistic gems are waiting to be discovered. Here are some popular ones that visitors should consider:

  • British Museum (London). One of the most renowned museums globally, the British Museum houses a vast collection of artifacts and artworks from various civilizations. It includes treasures such as the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies, Greek sculptures, and much more.
  • Natural History Museum (London). This museum is known for its fascinating exhibits on natural history, including dinosaur fossils, human evolution, meteorites, and a magnificent collection of animal specimens.
  • Victoria and Albert Museum (London). The V&A Museum showcases art and design from around the world, spanning centuries of creativity. Its extensive collection includes sculptures, paintings, textiles, fashion, jewelry, and decorative arts.
  • Tate Modern (London). Housed in a former power station, the Tate Modern is a contemporary art museum featuring modern and contemporary artworks worldwide. It offers various paintings, sculptures, installations, and interactive exhibits.
  • National Gallery (London). Located in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery houses a vast collection of Western European art featuring masterpieces by renowned artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt, and da Vinci.
  • National Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh). This museum showcases the country’s rich history, archaeology, science, and natural history. It highlights Scottish inventions, design, culture, ancient artifacts, and notable artworks.
  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (Glasgow). Kelvingrove is a famous museum and art gallery, housing a diverse collection that includes European artworks, Scottish history and culture exhibitions, and natural history displays.
  • Titanic Belfast (Belfast). Located in the city where the Titanic was built, this museum tells the story of the ill-fated ship. It features interactive exhibits, artifacts, and a fascinating insight into Belfast’s maritime history.

Historical Sites

Canterbury Cathedral
Source: Photo by Mike Bird via Pexels

The United Kingdom teems with historical sites that glimpse its rich and diverse past. Here are some notable historical sites that are worth exploring:


It is located in Wiltshire, England, a prehistoric monument that has fascinated visitors and archaeologists for centuries. This ancient stone circle is a testament to the ingenuity of our ancestors, who constructed it over 4,500 years ago. Its purpose remains a mystery, yet the awe-inspiring sight of the towering stones against the backdrop of the English countryside is an experience that leaves a lasting impression.

The Roman Baths

The Roman Baths transported visitors back to the time of Roman civilization. These well-preserved Roman bathing and socializing complexes showcase the Romans’ sophisticated engineering and architectural skills. Exploring the various sections, including the sacred spring, the Roman temple, and the bathing chambers, provides a fascinating insight into ancient Romans’ daily lives and rituals.

Hadrian’s Wall

Stretching across Northern England is an impressive monument that once marked the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. Built under the orders of Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, the wall spans approximately 73 miles and includes fortresses, milecastles, and barracks. Walking along this ancient barrier reveals a powerful symbol of Roman defense and control, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

Tower of London

A historic castle on the Thames, the Tower of London has played a significant role throughout history. Take a guided tour to discover its dark past, see the Crown Jewels, and learn about its use as a royal palace and prison.

Canterbury Cathedral

Situated in Canterbury, England, Canterbury Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the oldest Christian structures in England. Explore its stunning architecture, visit the shrine of Thomas Becket, and soak in its religious significance.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey is an impressive Anglican parish church with fascinating architectural features. Explore its stunning Gothic architecture, climb to the top for breathtaking views, and, if possible, attend a choral performance.

Giant’s Causeway

Situated along the coast of Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is a geological marvel and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Marvel at the stunning hexagonal basalt columns formed by volcanic activity thousands of years ago.

York Minster

In York, England, York Minster is a magnificent medieval cathedral showcasing Gothic architecture. Admire its towering stained glass windows, climb the Central Tower for panoramic views, and explore its rich history.

Windsor Castle
Source: Photo by Simon Hurry on Unsplash

Windsor Castle

Steeped in history and grandeur, Windsor Castle is an iconic fortress and a must-visit destination for anyone who appreciates British heritage. With over 900 years of history, the castle has witnessed countless generations of British monarchs and played host to momentous events that have shaped the nation.

Key Highlights

  • Consider taking a guided tour. A guided tour allows you to explore areas of the castle that are not open to the general public. You’ll get exclusive access to hidden corners and secret rooms, uncovering the castle’s hidden gems and lesser-known stories. Your guide will provide fascinating insights into the castle’s past, revealing tales of intrigue, romance, and politics that have shaped its history.
  • St. George’s Chapel. A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, this is where monarchs are laid to rest and where royal weddings, such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s, have been celebrated. The ethereal beauty of the chapel is bound to leave you in awe.
  • State Apartments. These opulent rooms are a feast for the eyes, with their lavish furnishings, intricate artwork, and stunning architecture. From the Crimson Drawing Room to the breathtaking Waterloo Chamber, every room tells a story of wealth and power.
  • Changing of the Guard ceremony. A time-honored tradition within the castle grounds. Marvel at the precision and pomp of the marching soldiers, accompanied by the stirring sounds of a military band.

Edinburgh Castle

Perched proudly atop the Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle symbolizes Scotland’s rich history and enduring spirit. Dating back to the 11th century, this ancient fortress has witnessed countless battles, royal intrigues, and historic moments. It’s a must-visit destination for history buffs and those seeking stunning views.

Visit Edinburgh Castle and journey through time, where legends intertwine with recorded history and where the stories of kings, queens, and ordinary people come to life.

Key Highlights

  • Consider going on a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle. It is an immersive and educational experience that will leave you with a deep appreciation for Scotland’s storied past. Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of stunning views, or simply curious about the world, this tour is a must-do when visiting the United Kingdom.
  • Siege of Edinburgh Castle in 1573. Hear about the audacious plot hatched by courageous soldiers who seized control of the castle from English occupiers, turning the tide in Scotland’s quest for independence. It’s a tale of bravery and defiance that echoes through the ages.
  • Life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Within these walls, she gave birth to her son, who would later become King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England and Ireland. As you stand in the room where this historic event occurred, you can’t help but feel the weight of Scotland’s intertwined fate with England.
  • Crown Jewels of Scotland. This is a collection of priceless artifacts dating back centuries. Your guide will regale you with stories of the Crown, the Sceptre, and the Sword of State, instilling a sense of awe and appreciation for these symbols of royal authority.
  • National War Museum. Dive into Scotland’s military past with this impressive weapons, armor, and artifacts collection. Uncover the story of the Scottish crown jewels, the Honours of Scotland, and learn about the infamous Stone of Destiny, which has played a central role in Scottish coronations for centuries.
  • St. Margaret’s Chapel. Step inside the oldest surviving building in the city and admire its intricate stained glass windows and ornate stone carvings. It’s a serene and reflective space that offers tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of the castle grounds.
  • Daily firing of the One O’Clock Gun. This tradition dates back to 1861 and serves as a time signal for ships on the Firth of Forth. Stand in anticipation as the gun is fired, feeling the reverberations echo through the ancient walls, a reminder of the castle’s enduring presence in Scotland’s past and present.

Buckingham Palace

Located in the heart of London, Buckingham Palace serves as the principal residence of the British monarch. Witness the iconic Changing of the Guard ceremony and explore the opulent State Rooms during summer.

Hampton Court Palace

Situated southwest of London, Hampton Court Palace is a grand Tudor palace surrounded by splendid gardens. Immerse yourself in its grandeur, wander through the famous maze, and witness the opulent State Apartments.

Stirling Castle

Located in central Scotland, Stirling Castle is an impressive fortress with a rich history. Explore its beautifully restored Great Hall and Royal Palace and learn about the famous battles nearby.

Warwick Castle

Nestled in Warwickshire, England, Warwick Castle provides a glimpse into medieval life. Discover its imposing towers and medieval activities, and immerse yourself in reenactments that bring the castle’s history to life.

Caernarfon Castle

Positioned in North Wales, Caernarfon Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its impressive architecture. Explore its formidable walls and towers, and enjoy scenic views of Snowdonia National Park.

Exploring the Rich Cultural Heritage of the United Kingdom

From the grandeur of historic castles to the natural wonders, the UK offers several remarkable attractions, making it home to some of the top destinations to visit in the UK. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that countless artists and writers have been inspired by the rich cultural heritage and landscapes of these top destinations in the UK.

So whether you seek the charming streets of London, the mystical landscapes of Scotland, the rugged coastlines of Northern Ireland, or the picturesque beauty of the English countryside, the United Kingdom will leave you with cherished memories and motivation to seek more diverse experiences!

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